Jimmy Ashby, the young South Australian who at just 18 years of age set himself the challenge of riding his bike around the world, has been named the Young Adventurer of the Year by the Australian Geographic Society. 

Jimmy, now 20, was stunned by the award, which he received at a gala event in Sydney last Friday, November 1.

“A brand like Australian Geographic, everyone knows them,” Jimmy said. They’re one of the biggest magazines in Australia and to be recognised by someone so enormous and to have the prestige of an award like Young Adventurer of the Year is huge, it’s humbling.

“Six months ago, I was just this smelly boy on a bike just cycling along and now suddenly this is happening. I could never have dreamed it.

‘’I just loved cycling and the thought of getting to ride my bike through new, beautiful countries over new roads every day for 393 days was a dream come true. To me it was just an incredible adventure getting to do what I love and it just happened.”

He expects that this honour and the people he met at the amazing presentation night “could open some incredible doors’’.

Already he is delivering motivational speeches, mostly to students but also adult audiences and it is here that he feels he can use the title he’s earned to best effect.

“I see my potential as inspiring younger people to do what they love,” he said.

“I’m not saying: ‘Go and cycle around the world’, but we all have our own road to cycle and it’s a matter of finding that because look at what happens when we find something we’re passionate about and embrace it fully which, for me, was just riding a bike. Incredible things happen, and incredible opportunities – opportunities I could never have dreamed of and it was just because I did what I loved. It’s that simple.

“People think my adventure wasn’t simple, but it was. All I had to do every day was get up, ride when I wanted to, eat when I was hungry and sleep when I was tired. I didn’t have to choose what shirt to wear because I only had one shirt. It was a simple, beautiful life.”

Jimmy has only been back for six months but in that time he has already ridden more than 10,000km despite jumping immediately back into his work as an outdoor guide. On another solo trip he cycled 1600km around Tasmania in eight days then later joined a mate and spent two weeks riding a 2000km loop around Eyre Peninsula then to Roxby Downs, the Oodnadatta Track and down through the Flinders Ranges on remote dirt tracks.

His thirst for adventure is still strong and his long-term plans include exploring Mongolia and venturing from Tierra del Fuego at the bottom of South America all the way north to Alaska as well as taking on Africa and northern Europe – all by bike, of course. His Curve Cycling GXR has covered more than 40,000km but he’s sticking with his faithful companion.

Before any of those adventures though, Jimmy plans to test himself on home soil. In March next year he will contest the Indian Pacific Wheel Race from Perth to Sydney. “I know I can go far but now I’m starting to ask the question: ‘Can I go fast as well and do those big days back to back?’ It’s really exciting to go out there and see where my limits are,’’ he said.

He will also be doing another speech in Melbourne for his bike sponsor, Curve Cycling, in December, a work opportunity which is a perfect marriage of his love of cycle exploration and his desire to inspire others to chase what they love. ‘’It’s not just me telling the story of my ride and where I went. It’s who I’ve become and the lessons I’ve learned,’’ he said.

If you’d like to hear Jimmy speak about his adventures and his passion for chasing what you truly love in life, go to his website Jimmy Ashby – Around the World by Bike.