At the first meeting of the new Probus year the new President Richard Wood of Bramley,welcomed two ladies to their initial meeting of their 41st year. The Worshipful the Mayor of Basingstoke & Deane, Cllr Diane Taylor, was their guest of honour. She was presented with cheque by Richard Wood as a contribution towards her charity appeal.
The speaker was round the world cyclist Barbara Cummings. Not one to sit at home and lose physical and mental resilience after being made redundant from the NHS, Barbara, from Old Basing, decided to retire in 2012 and embarked on what has become a series of long distance cycle rides.
Her thinking was very simple – going north was up hill while going south was down hill. With that simple philosophy she decided that her first long distance ride was down the east coast of America as it had a “Greenway” path from north to the south. With a stop off in Iceland she saw a sculpture put up by an American benefactor which claimed to have a similar one in Florida. That became a target – to see the one near Key West. That trip was 2,500 miles but had not been too difficult.
After that her cycling adventures multiplied with one from the Russian border near St Petersburg which took two months, and another across France from the east coast to the Mediterranean. A four months trip in Australia and New Zealand was completed by visiting Fiji and Hawaii. India was next, followed by North Africa.
In a few months Barbara will be tackling the USA Pacific coast, and like all her trips she travels alone. Never being concerned about being a single woman on a camp site she has been overwhelmed by the kindness of strangers who have given her soap powder, a luminous watch so that she could see the time at night in her tent, given her lifts to a country’s border and even taken her into their homes with overnight accommodation.
She has now cycled in 24 countries and during that time only suffered three punctures, and that was on her east coast trip in USA. She has cycled on every continent except Antarctica but even that is planned for 2021.
She self finances all her trips but gives talks about what she has seen as a means of raising funds for two charities, Headway, where she is a trustee, and Asthma UK.