Kozhikode To London, A cyclist’s odyssey | India News – Times of India


Fayis Asraf Ali’s journey across 36 countries on a cycle spanned two years. The most cherished souvenirs he collected were the heartwarming acts of kindness bestowed by strangers
An intrepid Malayali adventurer has cycled over 18,000 miles through 36 countries from Kerala to London in a mind-blowing odyssey which took him almost two years. Fayis Asraf Ali, 37, an electronics and communications engineer from Kozhikode, left Thiruvananthapuram on Aug 1, 2022 and reached London on June 1, 2024 after riding through blistering heat and freezing cold weather on his Surly Disc Trucker, which weighed 50kg with his luggage.
His two sons, Fahzin Omar (9) and Izin Nahel (5), his dentist wife, Dr Asmin Fayis, his mother and a bunch of his British Malayali friends, greeted him at Dover on May 29 after he crossed the English Channel by ferry from Calais. He camped on the beach and then spent two days cycling to his destination, the iconic Tower Bridge in London.


Speaking from Newcastle, Ali told TOI: “Reaching the final point was a very big moment. My kids rushed up and hugged me. My children missed me but you have to sacrifice something to achieve something. They are proud of me.”
The trip cost Rs25 lakh and Ali put in Rs2 lakh of his money towards it and raised the rest as he travelled, getting donations of money or food from local people and the Indian community, via a sign he parked in front of his bike telling passers-by he had cycled from India.
Ali was taken aback by the hospitality he faced, with many locals inviting him into their homes.
“People like cycling and they were shocked when they heard I cycled from India so were happy to donate money or food,” he said. In Antwerp, a homeless woman wandered up to him and gave him five euros.


The journey took him through countries including Oman, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq, Armenia, Georgia, Turkey, Greece, North Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Poland, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Netherlands, and France. “In Saudi, they provided police protection for me on the highways,” he said.
The most he cycled in a day was in Turkey—175km. Otherwise, he cycled slowly as his bike was so heavy. He camped in the wild and near the roads rather than on campsites. His favourite country of all was the Netherlands. “The cycle lanes are perfect, and they even have them in small villages,” he said.
In Denmark, a mother and daughter saw him cycling and when he told them he had cycled from India, they invited him to their house for a coffee and cake. “They were curious to know about my journey,” he said.

London Tower Bridge

He had no major mishaps along the way apart from losing his wallet during his 25-day stay in Iran. “I lost it when I was buying a sim card. For four days I had no money. An Iranian family, who spoke a little English, invited me to their house and said I could stay there and they gave me money also. Iran is beautiful, there are so many places to see,” he said. “Iraq was the most dangerous country I visited but now it is under control and is not that dangerous,” he explained. “I travelled on highways and there were lots of military checkpoints. I was scared, but I realized the people are really nice.”
His favourite food of all was the Iskender kebabs in Turkey. During the trip, he gave talks at schools and universities and visited embassies. His goal was to spread awareness of fitness, eradicating polio, promoting conflict resolution, encouraging net zero and speaking against drugs. “People treated me like family,” he said, his phone bulging with the contact numbers of people from all over the world.


It was his father’s illness which triggered this passion. He gave up his job as a network engineer in Saudi Arabia in 2015, when his father became critically ill, so he could look after him, being his only son. “I realized health is more important than money. I decided I should do some activities and started cycling and cycling became part of my life,” he said. His father passed away aged 67 in 2018.
In Aug 2019 Ali did his first big cycle trip from India to Singapore across seven countries, pedalling nearly 5,000 miles arriving in Nov.
Next, he plans to cycle through South America and North America. “I never felt lonely. Every day I was meeting new people and having new adventures and my wife was always on the end of the phone. It was exciting to experience new cultures. When I reached Tower Bridge I felt both happy and sad. Happy as I had achieved my goal and sad that it had ended.”

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