AN INTREPID Basingstoke adventurer, who has already rowed the Atlantic Ocean solo and climbed Mount Everest, has set off on his latest challenge.

James Ketchell, from Severn Way, in Eastrop, has embarked on an unsupported bike ride around the world, and the 31-year-old hopes to complete the 18,000 mile trip by the end of the year. The former Harriet Costello School pupil set off from Greenwich Royal Observatory, in London, on his Trek cyclo-cross bike.

The six-month adventure will see determined James pedal through Eastern Europe, and into Iran. From the Iranian capital Tehran, he will fly to India, where he will cycle 4,000 miles around the country.

From Calcutta, he will fly again to Bangkok, in Thailand, and cycle to Singapore before flying to Australia where he will go from Perth to Sydney.

After polishing off New Zealand, James will fly to Vancouver in Canada and pedal to Miami in the USA where he will take his last flight to Portugal’s capital Lisbon and on to London.

He will need to do up to 100 miles each day to stay on schedule. Speaking to The Gazette, James said he hopes more than a year’s planning will pay off.

“I have got what it takes to do it,” he said. “I could have spent the next six months researching the route but sometimes you just have to jump into the water and swim.” He will be unsupported and “travelling light” by picking up food along the way.

“It is more of a calorie counting competition,” he said. “My main concern will be finding out where I am getting my next meal from.”

James hopes to raise £18,000 for the ELIFAR Foundation, a volunteer-run charity that help disabled children and young adults. The organisation is close to James’ heart after a near fatal motorbike accident in 2007.

Doctors told him he would never walk again after he broke both legs, an arm, and badly smashed an ankle. However, in 2010, he spent 110 days single-handedly rowing 3,000 miles across the Atlantic, and a year-and-a-half later climbed Everest.

In honour of his efforts, he has been named as the first Hampshire County Scouts Ambassador. To mark the occasion, the organisation launched a Scouting badge in his honour. The ‘Captain Ketch Challenge’ encourages youngsters to complete a series of cycling challenges.

James said his ambassador role has made him more determined to succeed. “There are 22,000 Scouts in Hampshire,” he said. “I really can’t let these people down. It can only be a catastrophic event that stops me.”