A FORMER corporate management consultant is paddling a handmade bamboo water bike more than 90 miles down the River Thames from Lechlade to Middlesex, collecting plastic bottles.

Dhruv Boruah set off from the Trout Inn on Monday morning in his customised bike as part of The Thames Project to encourage people to stop discarding harmful plastics.

“I’m collecting plastic bottles, plastic corks on the way,” said Dhruv, who hopes to finish by Sunday.

“Obviously, it's more symbolic because I can't clean the whole river.

“Whatever I collect I'm going to give to the lockkeepers so they can dispose of it in the right way. It's symbolic. To raise awareness of plastic pollution.”

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During his travels, Dhruv will also be encouraging people to sign the frame of his bike as a “pledge to think twice before buying the next plastic bottle”.

The 35-year-old, originally from India and now living in London, has been involved in a number of beach clean-up schemes, and was shocked by how many plastic bottles were collected.

What’s more, he has “always wanted to go biking on the River Thames”.

“Why cycle on the footpath when you can cycle on the river?” he said.

Dhruv made his bamboo bike himself with the help of the Bamboo Bicycle Club in London last year for a trip to Columbia, and has been using it as his main means of transport ever since.

“The whole frame itself is bamboo,” he said. “It is strong. Stronger than steel is what I've been told.”

When he decided to take on this challenge, Dhruv chose to simply customise his bamboo bike with inflatables and baskets for storing the plastic he collects, rather than buy a readymade water bike.

His bike goes at a maximum speed of 2.5 knots an hour.

The original plan was to paddle all the way to the capital but he was prevented by the Port of London Authority (PLA), due to concerns with the bike’s inflatable chambers.

“The PLA has been testing the vessel last week but the only problem they see is this whole tube has just one chamber and if there's a puncture, because in the tidal section of the Thames, there are logs and everything, I will fall in the water in less than nine seconds.

“So they want me to come up with a different tube with multiple chambers where if there is a puncture in one I can still keep it afloat for a bit longer.”

Dhruv said if he is making good time, however, he will paddle board from Teddington to Big Ben instead – and aim to reach London on his bike during a follow-up challenge.

He hopes to encourage others to do the same and make it a regular event.

“I always try and do lots of adventures all the time,” he said, admitting that his friends and family were shocked when he told them about his latest challenge.

“I have done a lot of sailing and I have done a lot of biking and paddle-boarding, but now seeing me put this thing together, they are like 'you are mad'.”

Dhruv moved to London eight years ago, and having worked in the corporate business world for many years he had something of an epiphany.

“How many hours do people spend in front of a computer screen every day? That's what I ask my friends.

“And I ask them, ‘when is the last time you saw a star?’ And the people in London, typically have not seen a star for months at a time. And then it's like, you have got just one life and you need to make sure that you use your eyes, your ears, your nose, for what God has actually given it for, you know?”

Dhruv will be reporting his findings each day and geo-tagging his photos to send to Thames21 and Thames Estuary Partnership so they can get an understanding of the hardest hit areas.

Visit thethamesproject.org for more information on Dhruv’s challenge.