IT’S a scenario most guys are familiar with… you’re a few pints deep and locked in serious chat about the next crazy idea.
But for most of us, as sobriety creeps back in, the time comes to dismiss our drunken ramblings as nothing more.
Not the case for two mates from Hertfordshire, as a booze-filled decision to cycle around the world kick-started what promises to be the biggest challenge of their lives so far – and one which could save the lives of young men just like themselves.
George Cullen, 25, and Ben Cook, 24, will embark on a 6,000-mile bicycle journey from London to Tokyo in March next year, all in the name of men’s health.
Known as The Hairy Handlebars, the pair will tackle the enormous trip with nothing more than their bikes, tents, some lycra and a whole lot of grit in the hope of raising £30,000 for The Movember Foundation.
Passing through 21 countries in total, their route takes them from Covent Garden through mainland Europe, following the Danube River to Istanbul, then on to Aktau in Central Asia.
They will then continue through the Kazakhstan desert and across the famous Pamir Highway, before travelling around 2,500 miles through China and over to Osaka to reach their final destination in the Japanese capital.
Having spent the early stages of their careers as a professional rugby player and a Royal Marine, respectively, both George and Ben are used to high-pressure situations.
Even so, their cycle will pose a number of new challenges and dangers, as it sees them battle harsh weather, terrain, wildlife and even potential terrorist activity during their six-month haul.
Since setting their minds on the task more than year ago, the duo have linked up with the global men’s health charity to become the faces of this year’s Movember campaign.
But while they are passionate about raising funds for such a worthy cause, the journey itself came about due to a longing for something more.
The desire to escape the monotony of everyday life and see the world in a unique way was initially the key motivator for their trip.
As the idea evolved, it then became obvious that an adventure of this scale was the perfect opportunity to get people talking about the key health issues facing men just like themselves.
Explaining their motives in their first blog, The Hairy Handlebars said: “We see that mental health is an issue that is spiralling out of control in young men.
“Suicide in young males is a brutally high killer as men are forced into adhering to certain social norms that simply don’t reflect their true self.
“Now, of course, our adventure could be seen as the very embodiment of a testosterone-fuelled escapade.
“However, we are undertaking this for what can be construed as far more romantic reasons; a desire to actually escape these norms that are creating the problem in the first place, coupled with a desire to see the world in the rawest way possible.
“As well as raising as much money as possible, perhaps we can provide inspiration to men to not adhere to the boundaries that have been set for them and steer them away from subsequent mental health issues.”
With plans to finish their trip in time for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, the pair have also developed strong links with members of the rugby community.
England captain Dylan Hartley is a keen supporter of the cause, and they have also joined up with Premiership side Harlequins’ charity foundation.
And the pair’s rugby club, National One side Bishop’s Stortford, will hold a Movember Round in support of their cause.
Part of their fundraising effort will also go towards setting up a foundation in memory of Ian Williams, a former professional rugby player who passed away suddenly in February.
The foundation will focus on mental health and cardiac issues in young athletes.
George Cullen said: “A huge motivation for us is the chance to raise awareness of mental health issues in men.
“As things stand, the ability for men to get things off their chest, a proven relief of mental health problems, is simply not where it needs to be.
“We have to get to a point where men are able to talk openly about their issues and seek help, whether from mates, family or a professional.
“We both recognise the fact that we have had our own issues, and as a result know the value of having people around you who will listen.
“We hope that we can do our own small bit in ensuring no man has to suffer in silence – if that means getting one man to reach out to someone about their problems, then taking on our cycle will be worth it.”
The Hairy Handlebars hope to raise £30,000 for The Movember Foundation. If you would like to donate, you can access their fundraising page here.