A 1200 kilometre bicycle ride around Sri Lanka has paid off in more ways than one for former Awatere Valley man Pete Oswald.
He and his partner Sophie Stevens completed the gruelling trek in 25 days and have so far raised a very impressive $5644 for a Sri Lankan school.
The experience was a once in a lifetime adventure that left the pair dehydrated and a good few kilograms lighter but smiling from ear to ear.
"The people were the best part. They tell you some heart breaking stories but they are so happy and stoked with what they have, which is just about nothing.
"They are so genuinely generous," Pete says.
The couple live in Queenstown when in New Zealand, but have not yet been back after finishing their trip in late January.
Both are eager skiers and spoke to the Marlborough Midweek from Austria where they are working at a ski resort.
"The riding was really tough. The biggest thing was just the heat and the incredible humidity - we were basically wet with sweat all the time.
"All I could think about was skiing on snow," Pete says.
The pair rode a circular route mostly following the coastline before cutting through the centre of the island nation.
They covered an average of 64km a day, riding for 20 days and resting for five, and climbed a total of 8,170m.
Incredibly they didn't suffer a single mechanical problem, not even a puncture, with their sponsored full suspension mountain bikes smoothing out the ride on some of the worst roads.
"The roads were really varied. In the more touristy areas they were quite good but off the tourist routes they were terrible. Mostly though it was just the heat and humidity that made things hard," Sophie says.
Apart from one planned stop with a school friend of Pete's and a few days spent at the school they are fundraising for, they just decided their route the night before.
Finding accommodation at the end of the day sometimes proved to be difficult, especially when arriving at night, but camping was not an option.
Visiting the school was a special experience for Pete and Sophie, who could see how the money they had raised was already making a difference.
The children had received new books and stationary, there had been building work on the school, a new playground constructed and even toothpaste and toothbrushes for each child.
"We initially set a goal of $1500, but we quickly raised a lot at the fundraiser we held in Queenstown, so we set the goal higher," Pete says.
We are really stoked with how much we have got and that we were able to see it being put into use at the school."
Pete and Sophie are still fundraising for the school.
Visit peteoswald.co.nz to find out how to contact Pete or the charity.
"We have to say a big thanks to our sponsors Icebreaker and R&R Sport, who helped make this possible," Pete says.
- The Marlborough Express