It is a gruelling adventure which tests the durability of one man’s body and mind, but Scottish endurance cyclist Mark Beaumont has already written his name into the history books as he seeks to beat the world record for circumnavigating the globe.
The 34-year-old, who is more than three quarters of the way through his epic cross-continental challenge, has set a new world record for the most miles cycled in a month.
Mr Beaumont, from Bridge of Cally near Blairgowrie, is currently cycling through Ottawa on the 69th day of his attempt to traverse the world on two wheels in just 80 days.
He hit a major milestone yesterday after it emerged the first month of his adventure – which took him from Paris through eastern Europe and Russia into China – saw him cycle for a total of 7,031 miles, the equivalent of cycling from Edinburgh to Wick every day for four weeks.
For Mr Beaumont, the confirmation from Guinness World Records represents a shot in the arm. Speaking from his saddle as he raced through southern Ontario, he told The Scotsman the experience so far has been “absolutely brutal,” involving two crashes, a written off support vehicle, and innumerable mental highs and lows. “It’s quite a cool thing to get the record and I’m very proud of it,” he said. “In ultra endurance, it’s a really nice record to hold. I managed to stay on target throughout the first month and I knew I was in with a chance of breaking it. The only caveat is I know at least two people in history who have ridden further over the same period of time, but like any record, it has to be independently verified.”
Should Mr Beaumont meet his ultimate goal, there will no such caveats required.
The existing circumnavigation record, set by New Zealander, Andrew Nicholson, stands at 123 days, but Mr Beaumont, inspired by the Jules Verne’s classic adventure novel, Around The World in Eighty Days, intends to best it by 43 days by cycling 16 hours a day.
Even with a performance manager, mechanic, nutritionist and physiotherapist by his side, it is an extraordinarily ambitious target. But, he says, inspiration has come from the way his team, friends, and family have bought into his vision.
“At the start, there were a lot of people, even those nearest to me, who wondered it was a leap too far,” he explained. “They supported me, but I think they were more scared of failure than they were excited by success. That made me feel very isolated.
“But since the halfway point, there’s been a turning of the tide. Nobody is doubting the plan, nobody thinks it’s crazy.”