The happiest and healthiest of 2019’s to you, your family and friends…may it be a year full of adventure and happiness.

As the ‘Fat Kid Diaries’ came about during what turned out to being the most life changing and crazy 27 months of my life cycling through Africa to the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England, I thought I’d take the liberty of bringing this ‘newsletter’ back to life in advance of the next iteration of this theme; the 2019 “Race to Rugby World Cup”. Somewhat shorter in duration and distance, but more than double the weekly mileage, and twice the team size, Race to RWC is the completely unintended, but I guess somewhat direct consequence of that decision 6 years ago to sell up, pack up, and take those first few tentative pedal strokes away from Cape Town Stadium towards the town of Brighton, for what turned out to be 42,000 of the hardest and happiest and rewarding km’s of my life.

After spending much of my time since 2015 in Asia, whether it be for travel in general, speaking engagements, completing ‘The Longest Hole’ golfing (or more accurately ‘caddying’!) across Mongolia, or working in rugby in Hong Kong, it’s been very hard not to get caught up in the excitement of Asia’s first Rugby World Cup taking place in Japan later this year. This combined with my passion for Sport for Development, and World Rugby’s decision to appoint Laureus supported ChildFund Pass It Back as the official charity of the 2019 RWC, as well as undergoing a hip replacement last year which was a less than subtle reminder that I’m not getting any younger and that the options for getting out there and dreaming up multi month endurance adventures will inevitably drop off at an alarmingly fast rate over the coming years, all lead to the idea of plotting a cycling route from Twickenham Rugby Stadium in London, host of the 2015 RWC final, to Tokyo Stadium, host of the opening game of the 2019 RWC, to raise funds for Pass It Back – just seems too obvious!

So, with a willing and enthusiastic accomplice in tow this time, in the form of fellow Valley Rugby Club (Hong Kong) alumnus James Owens, who has worked for Pass It Back in Laos and Vietnam since 2015, and has been integral to its incredible impact and success, my old friends at DHL (without whom I’d probably still be stumbling my way through Africa!) as partner and sponsor, and who in addition to being a Worldwide Partner of Rugby World Cup, have also been long time supporters of ChildFund Pass It Back, and after months of careful planning and preparation by an ever expanding team of stakeholders and supporters, and a growing number of hours on the road getting accustomed once again to life in the saddle, James and I are confident that we will leave London on the 2nd February with the best possible chance of reaching Tokyo by the 20th September for the opening game of the RWC, in mostly one piece, and in addition to having had the adventure of a lifetime, hopefully having contributed significantly to Pass It Back’s RWC fundraising efforts.

In keeping with DHL’s #RugbyDelivered theme, and if any more motivation is needed to get out of our tents each morning and hit our daily riding targets, James and I are also humbled, and somewhat daunted by being given the honour and responsibility by World Rugby of delivering the referee’s whistle to be used in the opening game of the RWC…a physically small, yet significant and valuable addition to our luggage!

The basics

Our route, far from the most direct option to ensure we get to Laos and Vietnam to visit some of the extraordinary people and projects of Pass It Back, will see us cover some 18,500km, through 27 countries, in 231 days. In addition to the physical exertion of having to cover some 600km/week on our fully loaded touring bikes, we’ll have the challenge of a European winter, crossing the Himalayas (twice), the mountains and hills of SE Asia in the middle of summer to negotiate, and every type of terrain and weather in between to look forward to. And of course, the highlight of any expedition, most of all, will be the people we meet and otherwise engage with, across numerous cultures and countries…can’t wait for it all!

So if you’re in the UK, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, China, Hong Kong or Japan, please keep an eye for two blokes on yellow bikes and say hi!

In London? And/or otherwise keen to get involved…please read on…

Thanks to our sponsors DHL, and their agency team in London, Bright Partnerships, we’re hosting a couple of events next month to give people an opportunity to participate and get involved in Race to RWC without having to quit their jobs and leave family and friends and comforts of home for 8 months! 

Thursday 31st January, Harlequins Rugby Club at The Stoop – departure fundraising dinner – hosted by DHL Ambassador Sir John Kirwan, with globe trotting MC Dan Nicholl on the mic, and rugby trickster Dan Cutting and other rugby and sporting royalty in attendance, and of course including representatives of ChildFund Pass It Back, it promises to be a memorable, uplifting and unique evening of laughter, conversation, great food and music, and of course fundraising for Pass It Back. A great corporate entertainment opportunity with a difference!

Two days later, at 8am on Saturday 2nd Feb, it’s an opportunity to put the winter riding gear to good use, and join James and I, as well as Sir John, and many others, on day 1 of our ride to Tokyo for a 80mile ride to Canterbury Rugby Football Club. This supported mass participation ride, albeit the furthest thing from ‘a race’ imaginable, is designed will all riding abilities in mind, from the keenest and fittest club riders, through to regular weekend warriors, to the one off ‘let’s give this thing a crack’ types and everything in between…it’s all about participation and having a fun winter’s day ride for a great cause – finishing in time, of course, at Canterbury to watch the Irish/England from Dublin on the big screens. 

And finally, if that’s not far enough, we have a 5 day option for those wanting to kick off 2019 with somewhat of a more extended challenge – London to Bonn from 2nd – 6th Feb; via Canterbury, Bruges, Antwerp and Maastricht – 5 countries, 6 cities and 600km – limited to just 15 spaces, this will be a trip to remember!!

 Please visit our official web page at for entry details for all 3 events (‘Register Here’ tab for link to the rides, and ‘Events’ tab for link to the dinner), and PLEASE spread the word to family, friends, colleagues, clients, cycling buddies, team mates etc…we’re hoping to kick of Race to RWC in style and really set the tone for our fundraising efforts for Pass It Back. And please also feel free to email me for flyers that I can send you with further details on all these 3 events.

And if you can’t make any of these events, and are still keen to participate, please do read up more on the work of Pass It Back on our website, or at World Rugby’s site and if you feel so inspired, please do consider contributing to our fundraising efforts via the link on our site – 100% of all proceeds go directly to the work of Pass It Back.

Our website will also have live tracking of both James and I, as well as the whistle of course, as we make our way towards Japan from the 2nd of Feb, and will also be the portal for links to all social media and other regular updates we’ll be making from the road, including details of how to get involved in other events we have planned in Laos (July), Hong Kong (August) and Japan (September), as well as a more detailed schedule of where and when we plan to be in each country as we progress.

I will also be doing regular (but shorter I promise) updates via these ‘Fat Kid Dairies’ newsletters, and please feel free to drop me a line at anytime on should you have any questions or comments or suggestions on any of the above, or if you’re in any of the countries we’re passing through and want to say hi, meet for a beer or bite, or join us for a few miles!

And of course, if the thought of these extra emails from time to time is all just too much to contemplate as you start 2019, please feel free to unsubscribe at the link below – no offence taken I promise!

Yours in adventurous fundraising, 


Keep in touch: