Trip in a heartbeat

Craig Maddison.
Craig Maddison.

Two Sheffield film-makers are setting off for China next week to document an extraordinary attempt by a man recovering from heart surgery to cycle 1,900km in just 10 days.

Craig Maddison underwent an operation to repair a valve in his heart - and with a massive scar down his chest to show for it - is challenging himself to ride across China on a self-built single speed bike.

Lucas Jedrzejak and Richard Heap are filming it as a seven-part series on internet TV and ultimately will edit into a documentary.

Cycling enthusiast Lucas met Craig Maddison on the 140-mile Coast to Coast in England ride earlier this year. c

“When Craig told me that he still wanted to fulfil his dream of cycling across China, after surviving a rare Endocarditis virus attacking his heart and having had heart valves implanted, I decided to make a documentary about him.”

Epic TV, an internet-based TV channel which specialises in high adrenaline sports, have commissioned seven episodes and the pair will head off next week for Guangzhou in South China, then hire a car with driver to get them to Hanoi in Vietnam for the start of the whole journey to Shanghai on the eastern side of China.

“Sadly, they don’t pay in advance and we would need to find some cash elsewhere,” says Lucas. “We thought we had secured sponsorship from a major airline but they pulled out at last minute we found ourselves on a very limited shoestring budget but are still very determined to go.

“On the budget of £1,000 we have so far it will be very tough, even in a very cheap Asian country like China. We are hoping though that some companies would realise that a two million audience for Epic TV alone each month may be an attractive proposition to do product placement and branding throughout the TV series. In addition the resultant documenary will be entereed to many film festivals and some broadcasters express their strong interest to screen it, once ready.”

The BBC have lent them a special lightweight camera and might end up screening the documentary.

The preliminary episode - which featured North Easterner Craig training on the hills of the Peak District - began airing this week on Epic TV and they expect to have the next two ready before Christmas and the rest completed by the end of January.

“Starting with the humid tropical weather of Hanoi and ending in freezing snowy Beijing the cultural and weather change of conditions on route should appeal to viewers,” observes Lucas who runs Bison Films in Sheffield.

“This should be a journey unlike anything that has been done before. I can confirm that no man with artificial valves in his heart has cycled across China in 10 days before with a single speed bike,” he laughs. “Perhaps we should be contacting the Guinness Book Records committee”.

There will be a blog documenting the journey and they plan to try and reach some of the areas in South China hit by Typhoon Haiyan to film it to draw the West’s attention to their plight.

Anyone who is interested in getting involved with the project should email lucas@bisongrass.co.uk