5 April 2018

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

And for some, it begins with a pedal.

Harry Wiseman, 23, is on the trip of a lifetime. He’s embarked on an exciting 12,000 mile cycling expedition across the world in memory of his brother and best bud, Tom.

Harry has already proved his strength, by overcoming mental health issues which led him to drugs and alcohol as a distraction. Seven years after his brother’s death, he’s turned his life around and he’s now on the road – and moving forward every day.

His cycling challenge began on March 23 in the UK and will end in a year’s time when he reaches Hong Kong.

Harry Wiseman
Ready for his challenge, Harry can't wait to cycle through 20 countires

Throughout his amazing journey, through 20 countries and across two continents, Harry will be fundraising for CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) — a charity that’s focused on supporting men in the UK and dedicated to suicide awareness and prevention.

Harry had been devastated when Tom suffered a fatal heart attack after a methadone overdose in 2011 at the age of just 21. As Harry tried to come to terms with the death of his brother, he found it hard to cope emotionally, and turned to CALM for help.

I didn't realise how much I looked up to him until he died

“I experienced some really tough times after losing my brother. For this reason, I know how important it is to have the appropriate support for young men who are in a similar mental state as I was,” he explained.

The two brothers didn’t have a Dad growing up, and so, had shared an incredibly close and protective bond.

“I didn't realise how much I looked up to him until he died,” Harry says.

“Tom was the only role model I really had.”

During their childhood there were many happy days, trading Pokemon cards, and building forts in their garden in Hastings.

And when Tom had friends over for parties while Mum was away, he depended on his little brother.

“I’d annoy the hell out of him in front of his mates, but I managed to get £30 out of him to clean up his mess” laughs Harry.

“We had the classic younger/older brother relationship.”

It’s memories such as these that will keep Harry going as he makes his way to China on his bike.

Happy times
Happy times

Growing up, Harry always felt especially proud to see his older brother on the football field. From a young age, Tom was passionate about the sport, playing for a number of local teams.

He skillfully played his way up to the ‘A’ side at school, and had opportunities to play professionally in the future.

Tom was the only role model I had

“I remember going to his games and watching him play, or sitting in the car whining about how cold and rainy it was. I was always proud of Tom,” smiles Harry.

Sadly though, Tom suffered a permanent knee injury while training and realised that he wouldn't be able to play football professionally anymore.

“He started to replace his football training with drinking and parties,” explains Harry.

Tom Wiseman Tom Wiseman in all his glory

Charismatic and confident, Tom had a large group of friends. He was an effortlessly cool guy, who didn’t follow the crowds or mainstream trends and had his own distinctive style.

When it came to clothes, ‘fashion over function’ was Tom’s motto.

“And when it came to music, he liked listening to alternative artists like Jonathan Richmond, The Doors and The Libertines,” says Harry.

But behind his charming, laid-back exterior, Harry was aware of his brother’s sensitive and insecure hidden side.

Tom started using recreational, ‘party’ drugs at a young age, but later in his teens began experimenting with harder drugs including crack and heroin.

“The last time I ever spoke to Tom, he showed me his bruised arms, from injecting heroin, and pleaded me not to experiment with hard drugs,” says Harry.

Despite being helplessly aware of his brother’s addiction to drugs, Tom’s death came as a complete shock to Harry.

Brothers and best of friends
Brothers and best of friends

Young, grieving and confused, though, Harry began to wonder if drugs and alcohol could numb his own pain and ease the overwhelming trauma of losing his older brother.

“In a weird way using drugs made me feel closer to him,” explains Harry, who ended up in and out of hospital due to mental breakdowns that were triggered by substance misuse.

“After yet another trip to the hospital, I was at a crossroads in my life. I could carry on smothering my emotions with drugs or, face up to them by getting sober and finding help.”

And that’s the first challenge that Harry successfully took on.

“Through my own will power and the support of my extremely patient mum and girlfriend, I’ve been sober for almost two years” he says.

Harry realised that he was now at the stage to move on and create a positive experience from the emotional rollercoaster he’d been on. Inspired by Tom’s memory, he also wanted to raise an awareness of the charity that had been there for him.

Harry’s Hastings to Hong Kong trip is a continued part of his healing process and a loving legacy. It’s motivated him to keep looking forward, be positive and make the most of his life, carrying Tom’s memory with him all the way.

Happy Tom
Happy Tom

Long distance cycling is a completely new challenge for Harry. Although he’s completed a couple of miniature tours, from England to Paris and England to Wales, these trips are considerably shorter than what lies ahead.

I should be averaging around 50 miles a day

He says his 12,000 mile trip should take a year to complete, with 240 days spent cycling, and 120 days to rest.

“I should be averaging around 50 miles a day which, I think, is manageable,” he explains.

And there’s one rule: no public transport allowed. Harry’s road trip is completely self-funded, so he will be relying on the kindness of strangers for the occasional roof over his head.

Harry's bicycle
Harry's bicycle, ready for its voyage

Everything else he needs will be with him on his bike, including a tent, sleeping bag, clothes, food, water, cameras to film the journey and solar panels to charge his devices.

Throughout the journey he’s hoping to raise £10,000 for CALM, and to raise an awareness for men’s mental health.

Despite the excitement of embarking on the biggest adventure of his life, Harry knows that the expedition will come with its challenges. The biggest one, he admits, is stepping out of his comfort zone and being away from his mum and girlfriend, although he is looking forward to new experiences and making new friends on the road.

“Since being sober for two years I'm not exactly a social butterfly,” he smiles.

“I know not seeing anyone for almost a year will be taxing on the mind, but that’s why staying positive is so important.”

Harry and Tom shared a typical youinger/older brother relationship
Harry and Tom shared a typical youinger/older brother relationship

But throughout his journey he’ll have his big brother Tom, close to his heart.

“I'm looking forward to challenging myself, experiencing things I couldn't of dreamt of doing at home and it’s going to be easy to get lost in the task of it all. So I need to remember who I am doing this for,” he says.

“Tom didn’t have the opportunity to travel, so I am doing this for the both of us.”

Harry's route
Harry's Route through 20 countries, on two different continents

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