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A bicycle built for two: One person, one skeleton

Imperial College London undergrad bones up on his biking to embark on a 1,000-mile fundraising trip for student scholarships at the science-based school.

"I was lucky enough to not have to worry about funding myself through university, and I am eternally thankful to my parents for supporting me," Shubber says of his fundraising mission. "But not everyone has this luxury." Imperial College London

We at CNET of course believe in the importance of science education -- and if going on a 1,000-mile bike ride with a life-size skeleton as a passenger helps more students get one, why, all the better.

Kadhim Shubber, a physics undergraduate at the high-ranking science-based Imperial College London, is currently riding the length of the British Isles to raise money for his school's Rector's Scholarship Fund. It's a long and sometimes tedious journey, but Shubber has constant company in the form of King Arthur, an artificial skeleton riding on the back of his Claud Butler racing tandem.

Why a skeleton? Well, it's probably going to grab more attention than the average Lycra-wearing biker. Also, it's less likely than a human riding companion to annoy Shubber with "are we there yet?"

Imperial College London

Plus, Shubber figured he might as well try to beat the world record for longest tandem ride with an artificial skeleton (yes, there is such a thing). It was first set by an American anti-smoking campaigner, Art Hoffman, who rode 437 miles with Oscar the skeleton during a 1987 race in Iowa.

Shubber broke Hoffman's record when he hit the 514-mark miles a few days ago.

King Arthur and Shubber set out from the Scottish village of John O'Groats on June 30 and will skirt Edinburgh, Carlisle, Wigan, Warrington, Birmingham, Gloucester, Taunton, and Exeter, aiming to end their trip on July 15 (see the course sketched out on Google Maps).

"I plan to take a more leisurely pace and complete the journey in 15 days; this is partly because I'm extremely unfit, and partly because I don't imagine the skeleton is going to do much pedaling," Shubber writes on his blog.

He's set a fundraising goal of 10,000 pounds (about $15,500), and is making steady progress, though he is currently feverish and "illin," according to the Twitter account where he's chronicling his journey. King Arthur has clearly has his tough patches too. He has his dead-tired moments. And his too-close-for-comfort ones too. "We cycled past a hearse..." Shubber noted in a tweet earlier today. "#awkward."