Adventure

Cycling The World, Again, Phileas Fogg Style

Long-term followers of the website – and I mean very long-term as in those who were here at the start back in August 2008 – may remember one person getting more column inches on this blog than any other. He was first mentioned in this post and this is what I wrote at the time:

There was a documentary on TV tonight about a Scottish chap called Mark Beaumont who decided to cycle around the World. “In August 2007, the 24 year-old Scot left Paris at the start of an 18,000-mile journey across four continents, one of the greatest endurance challenges ever attempted. Aiming to cover 100 miles a day, he faces the challenge of finding food and water while racing against the clock. Crossing Europe, he battles with broken spokes, faces soaring temperatures, and tackles the terrifying traffic of rush-hour Istanbul.” Strangely enough I too was in Paris on the 4th August 2007 when he set off but I can’t say that our paths met. He ended the programme, as it says above in Istanbul. Very instructive to my August 2010 plan… What a guy!

The post was called ‘Another Inspiration: Mark Beaumont‘, and he was just that. Both his documentary and his book were devoured for any clues that might help me as I planned my own, somewhat shorter cycle from southern England to southern Italy; we even exchanged emails and he went on to complete other adventures including cycling from Alaska to Ushuaia along the spine of the Americas and then the length of Africa (as well as an ill-fated foray into long-distance rowing). I even went to hear him give a talk in Camberley in early 2010 to listen to his words of wisdom.

It will soon be 10 years since he set off from Paris on that trip around the World. It took him 194 days and 17 hours. He smashed the record of course and I suppose the greatest recognition of his own efforts was that others followed in his wake and the record for cycling around the globe has been broken many times since.

Mark is clearly not a person who is happy to sit back and bask in the glory of past triumphs however and many of you will have seen that on July 2nd he set off again to do something quite remarkable…

Screen Shot 2017-07-04 at 08.16.43

…which is to cycle around the world, again, but much more quickly than before. His plan is to cycle the 18,000 miles in just 80 days. Yes, the fabled 80 days in which Phileas Fogg was able to complete his (admittedly fictional) journey back in the days before the plane had been invented.

When I cycled from Tarifa to Nordkapp – my longest trip to date – in 2015, I cycled a total of 4,832 miles in 96 days of cycling averaging a smidgen over 50 miles per day. In 2013 whilst cycling along the Mediterranean from Greece to Portugal I averaged a little more but over just 50 days. I did however managed one day of cycling – from Tarragona to Valencia – of 173 miles. It took me over 11 hours and the terrain was as flat as a paella pot.

Back to Mark Beaumont. What he is attempting is somewhat more challenging. 18,000 miles over 80 days is 225 miles per day (although his website puts it at 240 miles per day). That’s 225 miles on average. Forget the terrain; he needs to make sure that over the course of the nearly three months he is doing that every day. Astonishing.

I don’t want to diminish his feat in any way, shape or form – what he is attempting is remarkable – but he does have a couple of things in his favour. Firstly this:

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A beautiful, custom-built Koga bike. I dread to think of how much it might have cost. You will notice the lack of panniers and that’s the clue to the other thing he has on his side; a support crew helping him along he way so no luggage to carry.

I take my hat off to the bloke. He was instrumental in inspiring me to set off and cycle across Europe, a modest quest that I have now managed to complete three times on ever lengthening routes. People contact me occasionally and say that I myself have inspired them, through the website and the books, to set off on their own long-distance adventures and that’s nice. But it’s Vauxhall Conference inspiration compared to what Mark Beaumont has done and continues to do. He encouraged me back in 2008. Perhaps he is going to do the same in 2017…

Irrespective, good luck to Mark and his team. If anyone can complete such a feat, it is him. You can follow his progress via his website.

Mark-Beaumont-profile

(Images from artemisworldcycle.com and markbeaumontonline.com.)

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Categories: Adventure, Cycling, Travel

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