Three World Record breakers – Mark Beaumont, Julian Sayarer and James Bowthorpe – offer their advice to anyone considering their own cycle around the world.
Circumnavigation completed February 2008 in 194 days
Anyone who wants to cycle around the world tends to be good at the cycling bit but the missing link that really stumps people is how to get to the start line. Most great enterprises never become more than the dream.
If you need sponsors, whether that be money or kit, the fastest method is by direct networking. In my experience, cold calling, emailing, and phoning wastes a lot of time and tends to be very demoralising. If a company or person is well enough known for you to consider approaching them, then they will be used to being regularly asked and are unlikely to be able to help everyone.
When I started out I reasoned that I didn’t have any money or network so I had to cold call for support. But that is not true, we all know people who know people. Each of my major capital sponsors came on board through a second point of contact. Follow every lead, and ask for introductions, it’s by far the best way to get the start any expedition needs.”
Circumnavigation completed September 2009 in 175 days
When I first imagined cycling around the world I was 18. I thought that it would probably take around 4 years to do it properly and to work a bit along the way. Although I did a lot of touring in the subsequent years I always returned home, back to university or work, that particular dream on a distant back-burner.
13 years later I was able to reignite the idea, whilst looking for something to do to raise money for the charity that I work for, ‘What’s Driving Parkinson’s?’. The ideal four years went out the window; speed was now the aim, with that urgency intended to reflect the importance of the cause I raise money for.
My advice therefore, to anyone considering an entire circumnavigation or section thereof, is this… Be flexible, remember your reasons for being out there (be they idealistic or pragmatic), and adapt your way around the world.”
Circumnavigation completed June 2010 in 169 days
Make sure you fall seriously in love with the prospect of the ride, and so long as that’s taken care of then everything else is just common sense and will just fit into place. Diet, mechanics, foreign cultures, baggage, navigation… none of it is at all problematic once riding becomes daily reality rather than far-off undertaking that would seem to require careful planning.
Other basic points, less idealised and more pragmatic :
Have a decent bike, not fancy, but solid. Riding against a heap of junk isn’t the way to fall in love with riding as a mode of transport. Pack less luggage than you think you need. All of the things that you scratch your head about whether or not to take, once on the road, it transpires that you didn’t need them after all.
And don’t take much money… the more comfort and plenty you can afford, the less interesting your trip becomes, and the more it stops you appreciating simple things as they truly should be appreciated.”
How to Get to the North Pole:
and Other Iconic Adventures
Newly published for April 2012