A cyclist who ‘brushed with death’ while riding 5,000 miles across South America has reached his final destination in time for the start of the World Cup tomorrow.
Pete Henderson tackled baking desert and freezing mountains, at one point almost contracting hyperthermia while crossing a remote mountain track in deep snowfall; at another, he battled sun exposure.
Pete, 20, worked in Berkhamsted’s Make Believe Ideas cafe for two years to save up for the trip.
He said: “It’s been the greatest seven months of my life.
“With outstanding kindness and altruistic love from everyone I have met, and the breathtaking landscapes... South America has taken my heart forever.”
Pete has been using the trip to make money for Street Child World Cup, a global charity that aims to give homeless children more protection and opportunities in life.
He said: “It would be great to have the backing from my home town, and boost the potential of this amazing charity.”
Pete has lived in Berkhamsted for all of his life, and always been interested about people from the area going on expeditions to far-flung places.
He said: “As I reached the halfway point of my journey, I had covered all my major challenges.”
He had cycled the Andes, before crossing the driest desert on earth, the Atacama desert, through 2,000km (1,424 miles) of headwinds.
He said: “In the two weeks it took me to cross the Andes, I climbed over 11,000 metres in height, I battled severe sun exposure, and ran out of food and water at one point.
“I was set to cross northern Argentina and float up to Brazil, on much flatter, and less challenging terrain.
“But I decided, instead, to follow my heart and head south, through the Patagonian wilderness, bringing an entirely new climate into play.”
Pete had aimed to finish his trip in Rio de Janeiro, but changed his mind after other travellers told him the highways going there were busy and the scenery was boring.
Instead, he pedalled dirt track roads, through jungles and alpine forests, past huge glaciers and down the baron Patagonian Desert – crossing a 400km (248-mile) stretch without any civilisation.
He said: “I brushed with death, when I became near hyperthermic on a remote mountain track, but continued on cycling through 30cm of snowfall, at the start of winter.”
By the end of it all he had reached his new destination – the southernmost city on earth, Ushuaia in Argentina.