A new grant for young people has been launched this week, with the aim of getting travellers to make cross-continental journeys by bike by providing equipment and expert mentorship.
The Janapar Grant, coming from the Armenian word for ‘journey’, ‘way’ or ‘road’, has been set up by Tom Allen in order to ‘promote journeys that involve immersion in unfamiliar places, cultures and ideas’.
Allen cycled across three continents, taking in 32 countries – including Armenia – on the way in his early twenties and said the journey was the inspiration for setting up the scheme.
“The purpose of the Janapar Grant is to help young people begin a ‘rite-of-passage’-style journey, at a time in their lives when it will benefit them most, and with the fewest possible strings attached,” Allen said.
“The journey [I took] changed my life immeasurably and in ways I could never have imagined. On returning, I found many others who’d made similar trips. They’d all benefitted from a new perspective on the world, a maturing of character as a result of the challenges overcome, and a heightened appreciation of what’s possible in life.
“With this grant, we hope to evangelise these benefits to the next generation of young people in the UK.”
Emily Chappell, who rode in the 2015 Transcontinental Race, eventually being forced to withdraw in Ljubljana, Slovenia, having got that far from Dover, is a keen supporter of the idea.
“I’m really excited that this grant will encourage young people to explore the world by bicycle, and to have some of the same experiences that have given me so much,” she said.
Alastair Humphreys, who took four years to ride around the world between 2001 and 2005, only not cycling when taking boats across water, was also keen on the idea, saying: “There are few better educations than setting out on a bicycle, with simple equipment and loose plans, to go and explore the world for weeks, months or years.”
Applications open in late February, with the successful applicant to be announced in May for a journey beginning this year. Unsuccessful applicants will receive free cycle-tour planning kits to encourage them to take the initiative to make their journey, regardless of the outcome of the grant.
For more information, visit www.janapar-grant.org.uk.