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TWO YOUNG men from Northern Ireland are setting off on ‘Toy Compass East’, an epic journey around the world on self-made bicycles, guided only by a toy compass.
Andrew McClean (27) and Matthew Creighton (23) from Co Antrim said that through this challenge they aim to experience the kindness and generosity of random people in the countries that they will cycle through.
Their desire to travel “as far away from Belfast as possible” is motivated by the recent violence in Northern Ireland.
The departure date is this Friday and the pair aim to cycle “around the planet” with no specific target in sight and raise money for Re-cycle, a charity that distributes old bicycles to Africa.
The home-made bicycles have been built using various parts including new wheels, gears, brakes, handlebars and steel frames which date back more than thirty years.
Originally from Greenisland, McClean now resides on a house boat in London and works as a biology teacher.
Creighton, who is a native of Jordanstown, is a guitarist and has spent the last two winter seasons working at ski resorts in the French Alps.
He said of their inspiration behind this adventure, “we have done short cycle trips before and one of the main highlights is the random acts of kindness complete strangers are willing to offer you.
“I have been invited on luxury yachts in the Med, picked up and taken home to random family houses for meals and been given lifts to places well out of the people’s way.
“It is this kindness and generosity which we believe truly exists in humanity throughout the world and we are hoping to document this as we go.”
Referring to the disharmony in Northern Ireland he added “I have no real true concept of the Troubles. I do, however, have a grasp on the scars that have been left behind.
“This unhappiness and constant ‘angered’ way of living is sad, and it regrettably portrays our humanity negatively.
“What we want to potentially do is try to show people in Northern Ireland and hopefully farther afield that kindness does exist.
The friends plan to head eastwards towards Turkey, before moving onto Asia, Australia and New Zealand. The final leg of the journey will see McClean and Creighton travel across America.
They are taking a guitar to earn some money along the way and to use as a “ice breaker” and “way of bringing joy.”
Their journey can be followed on their twitter page ‘@ToyCompassEast’.