South African biker pedals from London to Istanbul for autism

The map of the journey (from Cameron-Smith's Facebook account)

The map of the journey (from Cameron-Smith’s Facebook account)

A South African cyclist who rode his bike for 8,860 kilometers to draw attention to the plight of autism has reached his destination, Istanbul. Grant Cameron-Smith, 56, began his journey on March 13, pedaling across several European countries towards Turkey to raise awareness and funds for autistic and neuro-diverse children in South Africa. The arduous, unsupported and solitary charity mountain-bike ride from London to Istanbul by Cameron-Smith, also known as “CrazyBikeGuy” was unprecedented.

He pedaled through France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey in his bid to raise enough funds to launch an autism life skills training center and coffee shop in Johannesburg, South Africa, that would integrate amazing neuro-diverse people into the workplace. Upon completing his ride in Istanbul’s famous Taksim Square, Cameron-Smith told Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency that “no one among his family and close friends is autistic,” but he felt dissatisfied with lack of awareness about autism worldwide. He said that he targeted two things with his initiative. “First, I did this activity to draw attention to children, youth and adults who have autism who have been left in the background in the countries they live in and to have more attention worldwide show on them. Secondly, I did this activity, by drawing attention to this issue, to raise funding especially for the autism association in South Africa,” he told Anadolu Agency.

“Before starting this initiative, I could not have imaged how people on all of the routes I have passed through would be so sensitive and good people. Despite me being a foreigner [to them], everyone in the European countries that I have pedaled through have hosted me in their houses. Although most of the people were people who could scarcely make ends meet, they did not stay silent to be sensitive to this [issue] and support this activity with even a little share.” “The greatest contribution of this journey for me is that I have seen that there are people in the world who are very special, very different and sensitive to such issues,” Cameron-Smith said.

From the journey diary (Day 68- Škofja to Štorje, Slovenia):

“This rates as one of the hardest rides I have ever done. If there was ever a day that was sent to inspire me to give up cycling – today was definitely that day without a doubt! Just surviving to fight another day it seems….” 100 km and a climb of 990 meters today. Loose gravel, muddy tracks, rain, sunshine, drizzle, thunder and lightning were the order of the day. The ground was so soft in certain areas that it was impossible to ride and at one stage Grant had to remove the panniers, leave them, carry his bike and then put the bike down and come and fetch the panniers as the bike was too heavy to carry fully loaded on such soft muddy terrain….load up again and ride and then come to the same soft muddy ground and repeat the exercise. Exhausting.

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