Scottish couple cycle around the world after agreeing to the adventure in first Tinder message
A couple who agreed to cycle around the world together in their first Tinder message have spent 18 months pedalling through four continents.
When Mike Langridge and Helen Clarkson matched on the dating app they jokingly planned on quitting their jobs and biking around the world.
By their second date, the couple decided to embark on the trip in earnest and began saving £27,000 for the journey, even moving in together to save on rent.
A year and four months later, Mike, 32, and Helen, 30, cycled through Europe, Asia, Australia and North America.
The loved up duo, who now live in Edinburgh, tied the knot mid-way through their 19,000 mile trip in a romantic ceremony in national park Yosemite in California, USA.
Helen, a social media coordinator, said: "We just thought: 'What's stopping us? We could do it, couldn't we?' "Neither of us were happy in our jobs.
"There was literally nothing stopping us and all we needed was bikes, money and the determination to do it."
Mike, a solicitor, posted a picture of him standing in Yosemite on his Tinder profile and wrote that his life goal was to cycle the world.
When Helen matched with him in January 2016, her first message was: "When are we leaving?"
She said: "My first message, before I even introduced myself, was, 'When are we leaving?'."
Mike replied: "How about Tuesday?"
The couple soon arranged their first date.
Mike said: "We jokingly chatted about our cycle journey and the route we would take. It was a good way to flirt."
But by their second date, the couple realised they were completely serious about the expedition.
Helen had cycled the length of the UK by herself the year before and Mike had done extensive bike trips in Canada and North America.
Helen said: "It felt like we had known each other for a long time.
"We just clicked."
The couple estimated that the trip, including bikes, insurance, flights, visas and spending money, would cost around £27,000.
They planned to camp as much as they could, only splashing out on hotels if there were no camping sites available.
They immediately began to save money, cutting down on all luxuries.
"We spent no money at all," Mike said.
"We sold all our valuables, we moved in together after five months to save rent, we didn't go out for drinks.
"We would maybe buy a £3.50 bottle of wine once a week.
"Then I got an evening job working in a restaurant and Helen transcribed legal and medical documents at night to earn more money."
After 14 months, the couple had stockpiled enough cash and on 4 April 2017 - a Tuesday - they set off.
"We wanted to go on a Tuesday because that's what Mike suggested in our first Tinder exchange," Helen explained.
"We left Glasgow and cycled to Newcastle to catch the ferry to Amsterdam.
"Once we were in mainland Europe, we felt like we had really begun."
The couple cycled through Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Bulgaria.
They cycled through Turkey and into Georgia, then flew to Beijing.
The pair pedalled for two months in China, then along the coast of Vietnam to Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore before flying to Perth, Australia.
They spent three months biking through the southern and eastern coast of Australia and flew from Brisbane to California.
In April 2018 they tied the knot in Yosemite in front of their parents and two friends from the UK.
Helen said: "We were together for 10 months when we got engaged in November 2016.
"We always wanted to get married in Yosemite and we started planning the wedding when we were in China."
Mike added: "It is one of the most beautiful places in the world.
"It was my profile picture on Tinder so it felt right that we got married there."
Helen and Mike singled out cycling along a 1,000 mile stretch in Australia as the most intense bonding experience on the trip.
"Our biggest bonding challenge was cycling across the Outback," said Mike.
"There's a section that joins Eastern and Western Australia.
"It's a road that is 1000 miles long and there's just about nine gas stations, that's it, there's not even a bench.
"There's a 90-mile stretch where the road doesn't bend or go up or down a hill - it's a straight line into the wind.
"It took us a day and a half and it was the hardest mental challenge of the trip.
"The wind never stopped blowing into our faces.
"It was like cycling into a hairdryer.
"The smell of dead kangaroos was unbearable.
"It took us a day and a half to ride it and Helen broke down in tears at the end of it."
Helen added that for five months they travelled in countries where most people did not speak English and she could only speak to Mike.
She said: "Because of the language barrier, the only company we had was each other.
"That was a big test.
"We knew we could get married at that point."
After the wedding, the couple headed north to Salt Lake City, Utah, and as they left the city, Mike collapsed with hypothermia.
A storm came in and Helen watched in horror as Mike weaved along the hard shoulder of the interstate highway.
She said: "His features were contorted into a screaming cry, his eyes were shut and his mouth was wide open."
She flagged down a car and the driver called an ambulance.
Paramedics treated Mike with heated packs and, once his temperature was back to normal, he was discharged.
The couple decided to drive on to Denver, Colorado, but once there Mike felt well enough to get back on to his bike.
They cycled into Canada and then flew to France, returning home in August 2018 by way of Switzerland, Luxembourg and Belgium.
"The Brexit vote reduced our spending power so we had to cut our trip short," said Helen.
"We missed out on New Zealand."
The couple had difficulty adjusting to life back home when they returned.
"It was really hard," Helen said.
"Part of me was glad to have a rest from cycling, it wasn't like I still wanted to do it every day.
"We missed that freedom though.
"When we were on the bike all we had to worry about was what we were going to eat, where we were going to sleep and where we were headed."
The couple plan on "filling in the gaps" of their epic worldwide trip and want to cycle New Zealand.
They have no regrets about the trip and insist they would do it again - but added that biking around the world wasn't for everyone.
Mike said: "Only do it if you like each other and you like riding a bike even more."
Helen said: "It's a really tough ask on a relationship.
"You have to be open to a lot of compromise and understanding.
"But if someone was to give me unlimited money, I'd do it again in a heartbeat."
Helen and Mike are writing a book about the experience.