Tim Millikin: the photographer who’s cycling around the world

WE FIND out what made Tim Millikin set himself the challenge to cycle around the world and hear about the worthy charities he's raising money for.

Tim Milikin

Tim Millikin pictured in the Australian desert.

TIM MILLIKIN had an epiphany when he was travelling in Australia. He was inspired to cycle home from the country but his idea was halted by his girlfriend who thought he was mad!


However, on his return to England he couldn’t shake off this idea to explore the world by bike  and soon set himself the challenge to cycle from Reading in the UK to Reading in the US, cycling through as many countries as possible along the way. You can follow his journey and read his blogs at www.reading2reading.com.


Here Tim takes time out from his daily ride to talk to us about his travels so far and some of the interesting people he’s met along the way. Read on to find out about the toughest moments he’s faced as well as the highlights of his truly mesmerising journey.


Where did the idea to cycle around the world come from and who has joined you on the challenge?


The idea first came to me when I was living in Australia. I was sitting on a twelve-hour bus and looking out the window realising I was missing everything. I was just driving pasta ll these little towns and countryside.


I decided to make a plan to cycle home from Australia but my girlfriend at the time, Finola thought I’d gone mad! She thought the idea was crazy so we both flew back to England but the idea never left me.


Once we were back in England the idea grew from half way around the world to cycling from Reading, England to Reading, USA. I also managed to convince my girlfriend, Finola, to cycle with me this time.


At the beginning of the trip it was just Finola and I but you quickly meet other people and it is great cycling in little groups. In Turkey and Georgia there were five of us, in Kazakhstan four, and once in Peru we were even an eight for a very short amount of time!


At the moment though I am cycling solo with Finola going home in New Zealand but I hope to meet up with some friends towards the Peru/Ecuador border and cycling in a little gang again!


Tim Milinin

Tim pictured with his bicycle in China.

Where are you currently and how much further do you have to ride?


I am currently in the mountain town of Huanaco in Central Peru heading towards the beautiful Cordillera Blanca mountain range. The other day I passed the 35,000km marker on my bike! My route from here will take me north to Ecuador then Columbia before Central America, Mexico and finally across the USA. I think there are about 10,000km left to cycle and aim to be in Reading, Pennslyvania sometime in May 2018!


What have been some of the highlights so far?


There have been so many. I just recently returned from cycling sidetrip around the Jungle region of Peru from Satipo to Pullcalpa. It was beautiful with fantastic weather and food but with old jungle trails running alongside fast flowing rivers. I was able to camp with native Ashinaka tribes and play football with the kids in the villages. After cycling over mountains for the previous two months it was a beautiful change.


My favourite countries to ride in so far have been Krgzstan, Georgia, Romania, Mayalasia and Peru. Each one has been beautiful in its own way and on a bicycle you really get a sense of the country and its people. You are slow enough to interact with the communities and environments but fast enough to make some distance if you want to. It is the interactions which make this trip so special, I have been taken inside peoples homes and shared food all over the world even when we cannot speak each others language. The world is a really good place!


cycling Georgia

Tim pictured cycling through Georgia.

What have been some of the toughest moments you’ve endured during the challenge?


The toughest moments for me come the extremes in temperatures and loneliness. I remember in Krgzstan the weather was -15 degrees at night and we had to sleep with all of our clothes on inside our sleeping bags to stop ourselves from freezing. Our feet and hands would constantly be so cold that to stop was too painful but the surroundings were so beautiful it was worth the pain.


Likewise in Australia the weather was +40 and there was 150km between water stops, I was cycling alone around Kakudu national park and ran out of water, since the water location on my map was incorrect. I was scared but got up super early before the sun and cycled in the coolness of dawn to ensure I could get some. You have to be really careful when your on you’re own as you are totally responsible for your own health and safety.


The other tough moments are inside my head as when cycling alone it can get quite lonely at times and you need to keep yourself motivated with good food and positivity otherwise you can go quite mad! I remember in the Australian outback with long distances and no one around I was constantly singing to myself to keep myself sane but it would have been much more fun to cycle with other people.


If you find yourself getting down it can be quite difficult to get out of so it is important to keep your spirits up, food is a big saviour as is good music on your iPod. I like to listen to Def Leppard and Black Sabbath when I feel myself waning!


Luckily cycle touring is growing in popularity so quickly that it is never too long before you seen another cyclist no matter where in the world you are.



Tim pictured in Krgzystan.

Who are you raising money for and how can our readers get behind you and back the cause?


I am raising money alongside the trip for two charities. Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, England is the local charity and SOS Childrens Villages is the international one. I am accepting any charitable donations to either alongside the length of my cycle and to donate please go to www.reading2reading.com/charities.html.


Tell us about what we can expect from your blog and website?


My blog is my storytelling page where I write about once a month to show where I have been and what I have been doing. I try to keep it light, more about how I feel than writing a how to or guide about certain places. You are able to go there check out my latest photos, read past and present blogs, and make contact using the contact me tabs. The other day I actually met a fellow cyclist who recognised me from my blog! That was really cool!


My website is www.reading2reading.com and www.facebook.com/reading2reading.


tent beach

Tim’s trusted tent acts as his shelter for much of his journey.

Do you have any other challenges planned for the near future?


I have many I would like to do. I would like to cycle from East London, UK to East London in Africa. I would also like to go one a few sea kayak expeditions as that has always been a big passion of mine but is something I have not been able to do for many years. Something like sea kayak around England or from Scotland to Norway.


First thing first is to return home to Reading, England around May time and say a big hello to all my friends and family! I don’t think my mum will let leave again so we will see….

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