From the Evening Express, Aberdeen, February 26
A brave postie is setting out on a mammoth two-year journey to Australia – by bike. Determined Eric Smart will cycle around 15,000 miles to celebrate his return to good health.
The 42-year-old, from Aberdeen, is taking on the massive challenge in aid of ME – the illness which has caused him almost two decades of suffering.
Eric contracted ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis), which can cause severe tiredness, painful muscles and joints and poor memory and concentration, aged just 21 after he was struck down with glandular fever.
But 20 years on, Eric has now recovered and wants to celebrate in style with his charity bike ride.
"I really just want to celebrate being healthy again, and raise awareness of the illness that has shaped my life," he said.
Eric will be setting off on Sunday, May 4, from his city centre home.
He said: "My planned route will be challenging, taking me through 15 countries across Europe, Asia and Australia."
The countries he will visit include Italy, Albania, Pakistan and Thailand.
He thinks the whole trip could take him anywhere between 18 and 24 months.
All cash raised will go towards the ME Association to help others who suffer from the illness.
The part-time postman is doing the Aberdeen to Adelaide Charity Cycle Ride alone.
He added: "I have friends and family who want to meet me during the ride." Eric plans to cycle around 50 miles a day, five days a week.
To train for the gruelling trip he cycles the 10-mile trip to and from work in Altens every day, some days extending his route to push himself a bit more.
He will be relying on his light-weight tent and low cost accommodation for shelter.
He joked: "Every penny pledged will propel my pedals faster."