In 2008, Scottish adventurer Mark Beaumont became the fastest man to cycle round the world, completing his 18,297-mile route in 194 days. But his record didn’t stand for long. After less than two years it was snatched away from him by another rider, and a sequence of successful attempts by cyclists including Mike Hall (who was killed in a tragic road accident this year), has brought the record down to just 123 days and 43 minutes.
But Mark won’t let this sit. On 2 July, he’s getting back on his bike for a very serious attempt with a full support team behind him. He’ll be setting out to not only claim back his record, but to lay down a time that will allow him to hold onto it for a number of years, as he explained to OutdoorsRadar’s Will Renwick
“I’ll be trying to go sub 80 days, so it will be a considerable leap in performance with very little margin for error – the logistics will be critical. I’ll be doing 75 days on the bike and then three days flying and two days contingency.
“Ultimately, my route and the nature of the ride will make it a totally different experience to my first cycle around the world. I’ll basically by trying to ride twice as fast this time, going 240 miles a day rather than 100 miles a day and setting off at 4am every morning to ride until 9:30pm in the evening. 10 years ago, I was spending time looking for my next meal, sleeping under bridges -proper wild man style. This time it’s about performance, it’s about endurance, it’s about racing.
“The last time I did it, I went through Iran, Pakistan and India, whereas this time I’ll be much further north, aiming to go through Mongolia and China. Then my America leg will be through Alaska, Canada and the northern parts of the U.S. whereas the last time I rode from San Francisco to Florida.
“But it’s the same rules – I’ll need to hit 18,000 miles altogether and reach the antipodal points (points on opposite sides of the planet).
“I’ve got very fond memories of that first cycle around the world and I’m under no illusions about how brutal this one is going to be. I’m going to push myself beyond anything I’ve ever done before.
“But this is a one-time prize. To be that first person to go round the world in less than 80 days will be incredible. I won’t be able to stop and soak up the detail this time, but in the end this is all about an athlete trying to show what’s possible.
“In terms of the parts I’m looking forward to, leg one, from Paris to Beijing will be exciting as that will take me through countries I haven’t cycled through. But I’m also a bit nervous about it, as there’ll be unknowns: tricky border crossings, unfamiliar languages – things beyond our control. Once we’re through to Australia, New Zealand and America, that’ll be more straightforward.
“I’ll have a performance manager on the road with me called Laura Penhaul. She just stepped down from Team GB and was out with the athletics team in Rio. She’ll be making sure I eat the right stuff and get the 8,000 calories per day that I’ll need. I’ll be on a lot of liquid meals as they’re easy to take in quickly and digest when my body is under a lot of stress.
“It’ll be a low key send off on 2 July in Paris as I start at 4am. I’d rather make a big fuss on the return, when I’ve actually done something.”