Oli Broom biked from London to Australia to see one of cricket’s biggest tournaments and raise money for charity. He tells the story of his trip in photos.

In 2009, England hosted Australia for the Ashes, a major cricket tournament the two countries have played regularly since 1882. Soon after it ended, English fan Oli Broom quit his job as a real estate agent and began biking from London to Australia, where the Ashes would be taking place in 2010.

Over the next 13 months, Broom cycled 15,500 miles across Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia with a cricket bat in tow. He raised $50,000 for charity along the way and played pick-up games with cricketers in 20 countries. Below, Oli shares the story of his year-and-change as a roving ambassador of the sport.

And yes: England won.


1. On October 10th, 2009 my dad gave me a lift to Lord's Cricket Ground in North London. I wasn't sure what I had gotten myself into. I was excited, but nervous, and for good reason.


2. The first few weeks were tough. When I set off, I hadn't sat on a bike for almost a year--no training, nothing. I always looked forward to the end of the day, when I could watch the sunset and fall asleep in my tent.


3. I learned quickly that country folk in Europe are amazingly hospitable and generous towards cyclists. I met George, a Hungarian turnip farmer, on his land. He had no idea that he was holding a replica of the treasured Ashes urn.


4. I organized games of cricket all over the world as I passed through on my bike. My first outdoor game in whites was played in Arctic temperatures in a third-century fortress in Belgrade, Serbia. We warmed ourselves up after the match with the local tipple, rakia.


5. It was a harsh winter in Turkey, where I pedaled at an altitude of 1,000 meters for a couple of weeks. The plains were broken up by the occasional mountain.


6. The weather had warmed by the time I reached Wadi Halfa in Sudan. The road you see snaking through this border town took me through the Nubian desert, all the way to Khartoum.


7. Sudanese hospitality was second to none. This modest and kind man, Muhammed, gave me a bed, plenty of meals (or rather, feasts) and offered to take me duck shooting.


8. The people I encountered in India were the most rewarding part of my trip through the country. I cycled into an orphanage just before dark one night and was thrilled with the welcome I received. We played cricket and I answered their questions about my ride.


9. I reached Calcutta just in time to witness the defeat of the communist party in local elections for the first time in about 30 years. Before they knew of their defeat, though, I got to practice the techniques I learned from the ‘Laughing Club’ I had met. The party members weren’t laughing later that day.


10. After a week in hospital with dengue in northern Thailand I headed for the Burmese border. There I got drunk with Thiha Yarzar, a former Burmese freedom fighter and political leader now in exile over the border in Thailand.


11. Hospitality across Asia amazed me. In the Muslim south of Thailand, I was given a bed at a military checkpoint, where I stayed before signing off duty the next morning and continuing southwards.


12. In Indonesia I played cricket with expats and Indonesians at what is possibly the most extraordinary cricket ground in the world, the Grame Yallop Oval south of Bogor. Surrounded by volcanoes and with near-vertical valley walls for boundaries, it’s really something else.


13. Seven days at sea from Bandar Lampung to Darwin in Australia cured my phobia of the ocean. I spent the time reading and watching movies as the twelve-strong Filipino crew wouldn't let me lift a finger. The Danish captain had been at sea for 45 years, and somehow still had a wife.


14. On arrival in Darwin I re-arranged my panniers for the long and almost deserted Australian leg. I needed more food, more water, and, as it turned out, more patience.


15. Australia's interior is barren by any standards. I cycled 1,600 km through the Northern Territory without passing a village or town. My panniers fell off halfway through because of the corrugated dirt roads.


16. As I neared Queensland I found a bed for a few nights on Brunette Downs Cattle Station, a 3.9 million acre spot of land where 150,000 head of cattle roam. A chopper was the best way to appreciate the enormity of the place.


17. After 411 days on the road, I arrived in Brisbane on November 24th, 2010, weighing a lot less than when I set off. I rolled into the Brisbane Cricket Ground to meet English cricket captain Andrew Strauss and take my seat for the first day of The Ashes. I enjoyed my first beer.