Round-the-world cyclist Mark Beaumont tells of the ‘massive mental rollercoaster’ of ultra-endurance feats – Alastair Dalton

It’s the opposite of what many would consider to be the joy of cycling.

On the road at 5am and riding 240 miles a day, back to back for two weeks, with your body taking such a beating you develop a hamstring injury that’s a rarity among cyclists – and which requires roadside massage by your support team on a medical stretcher.

That was Edinburgh-based Mark Beaumont’s training run as preparation for pedalling round the world.

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Five years on, and after challenging himself to cycle the globe in just 80 days – successfully lopping an extraordinary 44 days off the record – a documentary chronicling the round Britain epic that preceded it has been released by GCN+.

As someone who’s found it miserable enough riding from Edinburgh to Glasgow in horizontal rain, Beaumont’s circumnavigation of our island sounded to me like a cycling holiday from hell.

But such feats just increase my admiration for ultra-endurance riders like Beaumont, who take the agony with the ecstasy, or as he put it in the film, the daily “massive mental rollercoaster” from despair to “an absolute high”.

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In addition to the appalling weather on the Scottish leg, with days on end of torrential rain – well, what did he expect doing it in April? – Beaumont said everything down to his fingernails hurt, with nerve damage to his hands.

Mark Beaumont on the Sottish leg of his Around Britain cycle in 2017 (Picture: GCN+)

But talking about the experience last week, I also got a fascinating insight into what he reckons has made him successful.

Effectively, he described himself as no one special, but with a gritty determination to succeed.

He’s not the best bike rider in Edinburgh, let alone the world, Beaumont modestly claimed.

Instead, he said his winning formula was as boring as a “ruthless consistency of behaviour which cracks those records” – sticking to routines and having a fine-tuned support team, who got even less sleep than he did on the 3,200-mile round Britain tour.

Beaumont reckoned his single-mindedness might have derived from being home schooled on the family farm at Bridge of Cally in Perth and Kinross until the age of 12.

He admitted to being “shocking” at team sports at high school, having never previously had those formative playground interactions with fellow pupils.

Instead, he said he had always loved going on adventures, and first rode the length of Britain aged 15.

Beaumont said he was “just a kid inside wanting to ride his bike”.

That’s why he described entering challenges such as the 3,000-mile Race Across America in June as competing against himself rather than other riders.

But with daughters aged five and eight, who he wants to see growing up, expect to notice more of Beaumont closer to home, such as on more council boundary explorations with fellow round-the-world cyclist and Edinburgh resident Markus Stitz, starting in Argyll this month.

With former mountain bike star Lee Craigie already banging the drum as Active Nation Commissioner for Scotland, it will be great to see another of the nation’s cycling greats further championing such an exhilarating – and, if you want it to be, punishing – activity north of the Border.

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