Mark Beaumont aims to smash the current record of 123 days by cycling 240 miles a day.
A British adventurer and endurance athlete will test the durability of the human body and mind when he attempts to cycle around the world in 80 days. Mark Beaumont is aiming to smash the current record of 123 days by cycling 240 miles a day.
His plan is to spend 75 days in the saddle, leaving three days for flights and a couple of contingency days in case something goes wrong.
Beaumont launched his project in London on Sunday, and on Monday is setting off on a practice ride – 3,500 miles around the British coast at “80 days” pace ahead of the circumnavigation attempt in July.
He said he was feeling excited and nervous at the prospect of the 18,000-mile circumnavigation. “I’ve dreamed of it for years,” he said. “This is the culmination of the past two decades, since I was a 12-year-old boy cycling across Scotland. I would love for this journey to give people the confidence to take on what they are capable of, for young people in particular to stop and to think: ‘What’s my 80 days?’”
In 2008, Beaumont cycled around the world in a little under 195 days, breaking the previous record easily. The current record of 123 days was set by New Zealander Andrew Nicholson in 2015.
Beaumont turned his attention to other challenges and in 2012 was part of a team that tried to break the world record for rowing across the Atlantic, but they capsized 27 days in and had to be rescued.
“After capsizing, I gave up being an athlete for a couple of years, and enjoyed making documentaries about other athletes – but in truth I had unfinished business. I couldn’t idly watch others push their limits. I want to redefine the limits of human endurance by proving what seems impossible really is possible.”
Beaumont will leave Paris on Sunday 2 July and cycle to Beijing via Poland, Lithuania, Russia and Mongolia. He will then cycle between Perth and Brisbane in Australia, and from Invercargill to Auckland in New Zealand. The fourth leg of his challenge is between Anchorage in the US and Halifax in Canada, and he will complete his journey by cycling from Lisbon to Paris. He will spend 16 hours in the saddle each day.
Beaumont said: “Physically it’s a step into the unknown. I’ve never pushed over 200 miles a day back to back to back over two months. Mentally it’s going to take all the strength and experience I’ve got from riding my bike for the last 20 years. I’ve trained for the last two years to get to this point.”
Usually Beaumont is pretty much alone on his cycling adventures; this time he has a full back up team.
“Unlike every other trip I’ve ever done I don’t have to carry much at all. It’s all in the support vehicles, which on one hand makes my job much easier. If anything goes wrong I’ve got spares for pretty much everything.”
He has some home comforts. “I’m even bringing my own mattress in the camper van to make sure I get a good night’s sleep every night.”
His team has been working hard to secure his passage through Asia, though he worries that some border guards could struggle to understand what he is up to. “Leg one from Paris to Beijing could be difficult because of bureaucracy and politics. After that, it’s simply a long bike ride.”
He said that even when he cycled across the US on a previous expedition, people had struggled to comprehend the distances he was covering, and he took to telling them he had just come from the last big town on the route – which people found impressive enough.
Beaumont said he loved stories like Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days. “I grew up with those great Victorian adventure stories. That story is known around the globe and still fires the imagination.”
There is a fundraising and educational element to the adventure. Beaumont, 34, will be raising money for Orkidstudio, which works to benefit communities worldwide through innovative architecture and construction. The journey will also be tracked through Twinkl, a global educational platform for primary schools.
The launch was tinged with sadness following the death of the British ultra-distance cyclist Mike Hall, who was involved in a collision with a car during a coast-to-coast race in Australia. Beaumont said: “I’m very saddened to hear about the loss of Mike Hall. He was a quietly inspirational man and a phenomenal endurance rider. My thoughts are with Mike’s friends and family.”
Hall died on the outskirts of Canberra in the final stages of the 3,300-mile event days after complaining of vehicles passing too close to him. On Sunday, hundreds of cyclists gathered at the Sydney Opera House and in other cities across Australia to remember Hall.
Hall, who was 35, died at the scene after a collision with a car on Monaro highway at about 6.20am local time on Friday. At the time, he was in second place in the unsupported race behind his friend Kristof Allegaert of Belgium. Crash investigators are piecing together the circumstances surrounding the collision and a report will be prepared for the coroner.