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Croxley Green couple ride tandem-bike across South America for charity
A COUPLE from Croxley Green have returned home after riding 10,000 miles across the length of South America on a tandem-bicycle for charity.
Tim and Naomi Steere, both 27, of Windmill Avenue, began their epic six-month adventure in the southern-most city in the world, Ushuaia, Argentina, last December.
The pair are attempting to raise ÃÂ£10,000 for the Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths (FSID), after Naomi's baby brother, Ben, was a victim of cot death 20 years ago.
So far, they have collected about half their total.
After setting off with their ÃÂ£250 bicycle from Ebay, the couple braved punctures, extreme weather conditions and even masked bandits during their journey.
Naomi took a break from her job as an intensive care nurse while Tim left his job as a data analyst to complete the trek.
He said: "We wanted to do something different to raise money for the charity, which really helped Naomi's family after Ben died.
"So we took a year out from life and spent the first six months volunteering in Tanzania.
"We had originally planned to spend the following months travelling across North America, but the weather in the Rockies would have been too cold, so we chose the Southern Hemisphere.
"We began by cycling into Ushuaia in the windiest conditions ever, as the airport is on an island in the sea. The weather is so changeable, within two minutes it can go from bright sunshine to driving rain, and the wind is unreal."
From there, the duo cycled 60km a day through Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Columbia and Venezuela, going from town to town in search of food, water and a place to pitch their tent.
"Most of the time we were in the middle of nowhere and when we were in Patagonia, Argentina, we cycled for days without seeing a single building, so we filtered all our own water from rivers and streams, and we lived on high-energy foods such as biscuits, pasta and porridge," said Tim.
"One of the most challenging parts of our journey was through the mountains in Bolivia, as we were about 14,000 feet above ground, so it was below freezing and there was very little oxygen.
"Despite that, it was one of my favourite places; it was incredibly beautiful and so different from anywhere else we visited.
"We also had a few scary moments - when we were in the desert in Peru, we saw lights coming towards our tent a few times.
"In Columbia, we were cycling along a road when three people in a row warned us the area was very dangerous, and after seeing a group of men in balaclavas, we cycled 50km without stopping, although we never actually had any trouble."
With all the ups and downs of their journey, the couple were amazed to reach their final destination, the Caribbean coast, three days ahead of target.
They are now preparing themselves to go back to work, and dreaming of their next adventure.
Tim added: "We spent a lot of time fixing the bike, and at one point we had six punctures in a row, but it survived and we have it here at home.
"It's strange being back to civilisation and being able to get water from the tap, but the journey truly was an unforgettable experience."
To sponsor Naomi and Tim, visit http://www.justgiving.com/10000milesforfsid
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