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Oli Broom has spent the past 13 months biking from London to Brisbane to see one of cricket’s biggest tournaments. Along the way, he’s raised over £20,000 for charity and visited 23 countries to “spread the cricketing gospel.”

BROOM, 29, HAS biked over 14,000 miles since October 2009, when he and his steel-frame Santos Travelmaster bicycle left Lord’s Cricket Ground. Now in the Australian interior, the young Briton is on the last leg of his journey, and expects to arrive in Brisbane the day before the first match of The Ashes.

Played every two years, The Ashes is one of cricket’s biggest series, a five-match classic between England and Australia, which host it on a rotating basis. The contest’s name dates back to the English cricket team’s 1882 tour of Australia, when England captain Ivo Bligh was presented with an urn containing the cremated remains of a piece of cricket equipment as a symbol of the “death” of English cricket.

While Broom began planning a long-distance bike trip in 2008, he says he didn’t think of biking to The Ashes until a few months before his departure; a physiotherapist in the UK donated two tickets to the first test in Brisbane. After quitting his job as a surveyor and dedicating over a year of his life to the trip, Broom expects the English side to make it worth his while.

“I’m not cycling 25,000km to watch us get beaten 5-0 like last time,” Broom wrote on his website, referring to Australia’s sweep of the 2006/2007 series. “I think we’ve got a much better chance this time around.”

Along the way, Broom, who keeps a bat stashed in his luggage, has already fit in a fair bit of cricket. He’s played in 20 of the 23 countries he’s visited, and his blog has pictures of games in places like a Kenyan wildlife reserve, the streets of old Istanbul, and the Nubian Desert. It’s hard for me to understand how someone could go back to being a spectator after those adventures, but Broom says that watching cricket is anything but boring.

“Come off it, really? Cricket is man’s greatest invention,” he writes in his website’s FAQ. “I only ever get asked this question by Americans, or by people who haven’t seen David Gower bat.”

Community Connection

Broom’s trip aims to raise £100,000 for two charities that help people with spinal cord injuries and other disabilities, The Lord’s Taverners and the British Neurological Research Trust. He’s less than a quarter of the way there. If you’d like to donate, visit Cycling to The Ashes.

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