After 18 months after being baked by the sun, buffeted by sandstorms and keeping wolves at bay in deeply sub-zero temperatures, Eric Smart is almost within striking distance of his original destination. Having cycled 15,000 miles from his home in Aberdeen, he is now a day or two away from Adelaide in South Australia.
"I'm now only 85 miles north of Adelaide in a small place called Clare. I shall stay here for another two days to update my online map and may even manage a wee blog entry", the 44-year-old Aberdeen to Aberdeen cyclist told us this morning.
Once he's arrived, the 44-year-old former Aberdeen Post Office worker is then going to do something truly amazing.
Having already travelled half the way round the world, he is then going to complete his pedalling circumnavigation – by carrying on through New Zealand, the United States of America and Ireland. Instead of arriving home this winter, he could be another year on the road.
He, his family and friends have already raised £8,360.15 for The ME Association and he sees no problem at all in reaching his target of £12,000 before the end of the trip.
"My fundraising page will remain open as I travel through NZ, USA and Ireland so I am sure we shall reach the target.
"It seems such a long time ago that I set off and if I think about it I cannot really believe that I am almost within touching distance of Adelaide but I never look so far ahead so it has always been incremental.
"Thanks for the nice articles you have written in the magazine – keeps peoples awareness up of what I am doing. I sincerely hope that this helps to inspire other people into believing that they can recover from M.E.
"During the next leg I shall try to focus more on the blog – I will buy a dictaphone so I can speak into as I see things on the road. This will be better than always stopping and writing notes.
"The wind storms have stopped but there is still a chilly head wind holding me back. The terrain is now a little hilly, my first ones since entering Oz but the fields are now a glowing green which is a great contrast compared to the rich red earth down the middle."
Eric's sister Tricia organised a fundraising disco in Aberdeen a couple of weekends ago to help pay for the next stage of her elder brother's journey. This raised £1,000 which was put into his bank account, and another £100 which was sent directly to the MEA.
If you would like to make a secure online donation directly to the ME Association through Eric's fundraising page, please click on the box below.