Britons Nick Codrington, 24, and Laurence Gribble, 23, make it to The Peak yesterday. Photo: David Wong

Wolves, noodles and bushy beards: Brits finish epic London to Hong Kong bike ride

Familiar faces greet Brits at end of nine-month cycling odyssey from London to HK that raised HK$173,000 for prostate cancer research

Lana Lam

Two young British cyclists capped off an epic nine-month, 17,000km journey from London to Hong Kong - via scorching deserts, freezing mountains and unforgiving terrains - with a triumphant final ascent up The Peak yesterday, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for prostate cancer research.

Family and friends from all corners of the globe cheered as Nick Codrington, 24 and Laurence Gribble, 23, rode up Peak Road to finish their marathon effort that began from Buckingham Palace in July.

"Just look at that beard," one friend called out. Others shared teary hugs with the pair, whom many had not seen since they embarked on the endeavour that had raised almost £15,000 (HK$173,000) for charity Prostate Cancer UK by the journey's end.

The pair had aimed to reach The Peak at noon; they arrived just before 1pm. "Sorry, we made you wait," were the first words out of Codrington's mouth as he hopped off his bicycle and friends rushed to embrace him.

For Gribble, it was an emotional reunion with his girlfriend Insun Jung, 28, who had flown in from Seoul just hours before to surprise him at the finish line.

Richard Codrington, Nick's father, was "massively proud" of his son's efforts, while Corinne Alexander, Laurence's mother, called it an amazing effort.

"When they first told me, I thought they were stark raving barmy," she said. "I didn't expect them to come back alive."

The journey started as a pipe dream during a trip to Vietnam, but the pair soon decided to turn it into reality, determined to cover every kilometre on land by bike. Opting to support prostate cancer was an easy choice.

"So many people are affected by cancer," but people, especially men, were reluctant to talk about the disease, said Gribble, who once lived in Hong Kong.

For Codrington, the route was about "the places in between".

Memorable moments included a treacherous trip through the Pamir Mountains that took in Tajikistan - where the duo had just four showers in one month - and Afghanistan, where they survived on instant noodles and Snickers bars while battling wild wolves, icy paths, the odd bout of food poisoning and a mixed response to their beards.

"In Afghanistan, it was like an icebreaker, but it was different in Uzbekistan," where it was illegal for citizens to have beards, Codrington said. "But it is ok for foreigners," Gribble added.

In the final leg, they cycled across the Taklamakan Desert in Xinjiang before passing through Qinghai and Sichuan provinces. The Lunar New Year was marked in Chongqing , after which they headed south through Guizhou , then east to Guangzhou and finally Hong Kong.

Asked if they never wanted see a bike again, Codrington replied: "It's a love-hate relationship ... but I'll be glad not to have to wear lycra."

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Epic ride on the seat of their pants