In between being a full-time journalist and helping to run my family’s bar (that’s a story for another time haha), I also host for Airbnb.
Two of my most recent guests were Kate Leeming and Chris Pennington, from Australia. They arrived right before I left for work in a large Uber with boxes containing bikes and their bags. I directed them to the backyard where they could start to reassemble the bikes, and then had to dash off to work. I love it when people from other countries stay with me (I had just hosted a group from Russia a few weeks before and we had a great time), so I was looking forward to chatting with them more.
The next day, I visited with Kate and Chris over morning coffee, and learned that the two were Australian adventurers.
Kate Leeming is one of the top explorers in the world, quite possibly the first person to cycle across Africa in a continuous line, has pedaled enough miles to go around the world twice, and has done expeditions in every climate imaginable.
Chris Pennington is an adventure filmmaker, who is training to ride a single speed push bike across the width of Australia, raising funds and awareness for childhood blindness.
Pretty amazing, right?! They told me they were in San Diego, getting ready to ride down the Baja Divide on their bicycles, nearly 2000 miles of rugged terrain, in less than a month.
Chris is an adventure filmmaker who partnered with Kate for this expedition so he could train, and record this part of her journey.
“Definitely learning a lot and yeah, I just can’t wait to get out on the bike and actually see how everything falls in place when an expedition starts like this,” Chris said.
For Kate, this was the first of several expeditions around the world starting her training to become the first person to cycle across Antarctica via the South Pole.
When they found out I was a journalist, we all kind of looked at each other, and then KNEW we had to do a story together before they left! Over the next three days, I followed them around with my camera while Kate presented at a local elementary school, while they prepped their gear in my backyard, and then when they finally set off on their journey.
One of my favorite parts of Kate’s story is how her great-great-uncle William Snell first inspired her when she started cycling.
“In 1897, he became the second person to cycle across Australia when he cycled from the west across to Melbourne in the east to propose to his childhood sweetheart. And fortunately, she said yes,” Kate laughed. “I guess it’s pioneers and stories like that that really inspire me that I was interested in as a kid, so it’s grown into this.”
“This” is Breaking the Cycle, a global education program. Breaking the Cycle focuses on ending extreme poverty, providing education and promoting gender equality.
“I guess I have a real passion for the importance of education,” Kate said. “We want kids to get out there, experiment, find what their own passions are, and then be able to relate them to the world, and to understand how they fit into that world a little bit better and hopefully to make better decisions about the future and where we’re heading.”
After the Baja Divide, Kate has expeditions in Iceland, Africa, Australia, South America and Asia, before tackling Antarctica.
Here is the story we did together that aired on 10News: Breaking the Cycle: Australian adventurers begin journey in San Diego.
I firmly believe we were supposed to meet: out of all the Airbnbs in San Diego, they just “happened” to book with me?! Not only was I able to tell a meaningful story and share their journey, but I was able to help them a little bit by giving them a place to store stuff while they were on their expedition so they didn’t have to worry about it. They were able to crash on our couches when they finished their expedition (ahead of schedule, I might add! That’s how good they are!) and came back to San Diego to fly to their next destinations.
As I write this, Kate is on her way to her next expedition in Iceland; Chris is back home in Australia getting ready for his ride in a few months. We have plans to hopefully meet up someday in the future, and I’ll be following both of their journeys closely.
It just goes to show that sometimes you meet the BEST people when you least expect it, but when you need it the most.