A cyclist who is riding 100,000km around the world in Superman attire is causing sensations around the globe, elevating himself to a temporary D-list Eastern Europe celebrity.
Will Hodson, 38, left his Putney home in May to travel all seven continents on a five year journey until February 2020.
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Speaking to Cycling Weekly from a Turkisk kebab shop in the country’s most populous city, Hodson revealed how his choice of clothing has earned him television appearances.
“I was a D-list celebrity in the Balkans! Serbian TV was filming the refugee crisis on the border with Hungary when I rode through the opposite way. They filmed from the car and the next day I watched myself on the news!” he said.
“Then I bumped into a TV presenter in Macedonia and he asked me to appear on a daytime TV show, which I did. Random things keep happening!
“When I look back at the photos of the last four months, it’s been such a lot of fun. I’ve met the nicest people.
“I’m in a kebab shop speaking to you right now. I’m not even eating but they are saying “you use our WiFi”. I’ve only ordered a coffee. The fondness and kindness is tremendous.”
Hodson is keeping his budget low by using cycling touring accommodation site warmshowers.org. His hosts – including a Belgian equivalent of Chesney Hawkes – have provided the former primary school teacher with gifts.
“The act of kindness is amazing,” he revealed. “People have packed me off with homemade jam, enough sandwiches to last two days, wooly hats, and some even ride with me for a day. It’s the ultimate generosity.
“My hosts sometime ask me to go into their kids’ schools. Some have also organised local press and TV for me.”
Visiting schools is an essential part of his half-a-decade adventure, for Hodson wishes to get as many people as possible riding their bikes and having cycling-related adventures.
“I’ve been to about ten schools and I show them a presentation of where I’m from, asking them if they recognise Tower Bridge and who can name the seven continents, et cetera,” he added.
“I tell them that this is a dream and they can achieve whatever it is they want to do with a bit of hard work.
“I’m an ordinary guy having an adventure of a lifetime. Adventures like this aren’t just for people in some imaginary exclusive club. Anyone can do it.”
“Teachers give me contacts in other parts of the world, asking me to take things to other schools.
“The kids follow me on Twitter and Facebook, asking silly questions and tweeting me saying that they’ve been on their first bike ride or a micro-adventure.”
It’s not just children who are immersed by Hodson’s story, though. “I like to ride at rush hour to break people’s routines up,” he said. “People are stressed and seeing someone wearing a costume is a bit of fun. It puts a smile on people’s faces.”
Hodson is remaining in Istanbul to get a puffer jacket resembling Superman made for him. If that fails to materialise, he will wear a Superman-emblazoned poncho.
He will head east through Asia, crossing Georgia, Azerbaijan and the -stan countries.
He is raising £100,000 for four charities, the World Cancer Research Fund, Parkinson’s UK, World Bicycle Relief Fund and Sustrans. You can donate here.