Mr Rogers, who speaks with a distinct Oxford accent and has sold the Big Issue for more than seven years at the Perth Station, plans to cycle around Australia solo, leaving on September 15.
‘It was on my list of things to do, and I thought before it gets much later, I better do it,’ he said. ‘The hardest part will be mental rather than physical, due to the solitude.’
Raised on a tea plantation in Darjeeling, Mr Rogers moved to England in 1945 with his family and came to Australia in 1965 with his wife.
The father-of-three and grandfather-of-six plans to travel across the arbor first on his way to Adelaide, travel up the east coast, before heading west after Townsville. The avid cyclist once cycled from Perth to Kununurra and picked up many tips for his Australian adventure.
‘When I got to a roadhouse, I had those wine bladders filled with water and I’d ask the manager if I could leave it in his fridge, and if he saw a car heading in my direction, ask them to look out for a cyclist.’
Like many of the Big Issue vendors, there is more to Mr Rogers than meets the eye.
Born in the shadows of the Himalayas, he’s had run-ins with wild tigers in India, witnessed the birth of a volcanic island as it emerged from the sea while flying over Iceland in 1963, worked through West Africa for British Leyland and raised a family in Perth.
After working for all of his adult life, the Subiaco resident struggled to make ends meet on the pension and fell on hard times, and was then put in touch with the Big Issue.
‘I went to England and had private education but I will say the best education I’ve ever had is the Big Issue, because we’ve lost sight of the simple art of living,’ he said. ‘We’ve made a god out of money and the whole thing has got out of hand.’
After losing his wife to cancer two years ago, Mr Rogers decided to ride around Australia after always saying he would.
The well-known figure on the overpass, often dressed with novelty glasses and whistles, has taken smiling photographs of his favourite customers, which he plans to flip through if he ever feels lonely.
‘If I get a bit lethargic, I just flip through the smiling pages and off I go again,’ he said.