To a rousing chorus of ‘hip hip hooray’ led by the deputy mayor of Gosport, Victor Neal, cyclist Ray Reece set off from Gosport Town Hall on the first leg of a13,000-mile pedal safari.
About 100 well-wishers said goodbye to Ray, 40, as he left to cycle round the world on his 16-year-old racing bike.
Ray, who lived at Landon Court, Alverstoke, was given four months’ leave by Plessey, Havant, where he worked as an electronics engineer, to fulfil his ambition.
His route would take him through France, Switzerland, Italy, Yugoslavia, Greece, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, and West Pakistan to India.
From there he would fly to Perth and cycle across Australia. Another flight would take him to San Francisco, where he would pedal on to New York.
After flying to Ireland, Ray, pictured, hoped he would be back home by November with his wife, Hazel, and two daughters.
Before he set off, complete with koala bear mascot tied to his handlebars, Ray was given a note by Cllr Neal containing the address of his son who lived in Sydney.
The note read: ‘At least one Gosport representative will be there to meet you in Australia.
‘Gosport is known for its sportsmanship and outward-looking attitude. ‘You epitomise this and we are delighted you are embarking on this trip. God speed – have a safe journey.’