Gordon Miller prepares for his cycling challenge (Gordon Miller/PA)
A cyclist is setting out to break a world record as he traces a documented human-trafficking route to raise awareness of the issue of modern slavery.
Gordon Miller, from London will cycle roughly 1,800 miles (2,900km), starting in Cadiz in southern Spain on Friday October 1 and ending in London on October 18 which is Anti-Slavery Day.
Part of the journey will see him attempt to break a Guinness World Record for the greatest distance covered by an electric bicycle in one week, on an Orbea Gain e-bike, which starts in Cadiz and finishes in Mallabia in the Basque Country on October 7.
Mr Miller told the PA news agency that reading about modern slavery had left him feeling “vexed”, thinking: “What can I do about it?”
“I want to do a Guinness World Record challenge because of the profile it gives the activity and the awareness it helps raise,” he added.
“(The route) was chosen because this is an acknowledged route by anti-slavery/trafficking charities.
“I’m not saying it’s the exact route that people will be trafficked along as no one actually knows the route but the victims themselves as some have been blindfolded or chucked in the back of a wagon so they have no idea.
“It is highly likely that this kind of route is the route that people will have been trafficked along.”
Women are often forced into prostitution
“People are trafficked from Africa, across the straits of Gibraltar from Africa into Spain, and are taken across on dinghies or speed boats so they can be handed over.
“Women are often forced into prostitution. If they’re men, they’re often forced to work on construction sites, in illegal activities or they are threatened with losing their lives or their families losing their lives.”
Mr Miller has taken on a series of epic challenges to raise awareness of modern slavery, including spelling out the words “end modern slavery” to set a Guinness World Record for “the largest GPS drawing by bicycle (individual)” in October 2020.
The name of his upcoming cycle – El Gordo – has a special connection, as the lottery in Spain is called El Gordo, which translates to “big one”.
The cycling challenges support the development of Freewheel by Ride For Freedom, a community interest company set up by Mr Miller which empowers survivors of modern slavery to cycle, with the hope that survivors will gain independence and mobility.
✈️Up, up and away! Heading out to Spain🇪🇸to begin on Friday (1 Oct) my flagship 1,800 mile ‘El Gordo’ #cycling chal… https://t.co/doYEo4G15i
“Several survivors who are at the unseen safe houses have said that they would like to have some bicycle training and road proficiency awareness training,” Mr Miller said.
“We’ve given them a bike, lock, helmet, lights, all the things that you need to be safe and secure on the road.
“When we’ve proven this model, as we want to demonstrate that cycling helps them with mental and physical health and wellbeing and their mobility and independence, the ambition is that we roll this programme out across the UK, in other cities.
“I’m already talking with other charities about getting involved with them, for them to put their survivors forward so we can roll it out around the country.”
Mr Miller has been training for the last six months with a coach from Clancy Briggs Cycling Academy as part of their coaching programme.
Ed Clancy, who has been supporting Mr Miller’s challenge, won three consecutive Olympic titles in the team pursuit in 2008, 2012 and 2016.