Around the world in 80 days...on 2 wheels
18,000 miles on, Scot will cycle into Paris after 11 weeks of 4am starts, a shattered tooth, a broken elbow, (only) 1 near miss with a car and ‘torture’ at every meal
HE is on the brink of achieving what many thought was impossible – cycling around the world in 80 days.
On Tuesday, Scots adventurer and ultra-athlete Mark Beaumont is due to arrive back in Paris to complete an 18,000-mile bikeride that has taken him right round the planet.
Ahead of his triumphant return – which should see him smash 43 days off the existing world record – he spoke to The Scottish Mail on Sunday to reveal the highs and lows of his gruelling trip.
Cycling for 16 out of every 24 hours, he has covered 240 miles a day. En route he has endured the freezing winter temperatures of New Zealand, the powerful winds of Alaska – and scorching heat.
And aside from exhaustion and aching limbs, the athlete has faced some serious setbacks – from smashing his face on the road and breaking his tooth and elbow in Moscow to cheating death in Melbourne.
Now, the cycling legend is on his final stretch of the journey – which brings to life Jules Verne’s classic novel Around the World in Eighty Days – and is set to arrive in Paris on Tuesday.
Speaking with ‘just’ 1,000 miles to
‘I had a lot saying it was impossible’
go – father-of-two Mr Beaumont, 34, said: ‘This has been a dream and a plan for years, an obsession you might say, but it’s absolutely brutal out here. For the last two months, I have been riding 16 hours a day, doing 240 miles a day and sleeping five hours a night. In mind and body, it’s beyond anything I have ever done before. But it has gone to plan – and looks like I might be able to get the 80 days, which most people doubted.’
Mr Beaumont set off from Paris on July 2, and having crossed 14 countries across Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and North America – where temperatures have varied between 24C and minus ten, with terrain which has varied from excruciating 4,000m a day climbs to dead straight roads stretching for 90miles, he is now making his way back to France.
He conquered the world on his bike ten years ago, where, unsupported, he set a then-record of 194 days.
He said: ‘What I did ten years ago, at the time, was considered a big step forward. But this feels much bigger than anything else I have done. There was a huge amount to prove. I had a lot of people saying it was impossible.’
Mr Beaumont starts cycling at 4am and has to devour 9,000 calories a day containing around 30-40g of protein, the equivalent of about four to six eggs, in each meal. This is made up of numerous breakfasts throughout the morning of yogurt, fruit, smoothies and scrambled eggs – and then hefty evening meals based around a carbohydrate of pasta or rice.
He said: ‘When I get off the bike, for 20 mins at a time every four hours, I get a painful deep tissue massage whilst I throw down food. I’m looking forward to having a meal and not being tortured at the same time, as well as getting a proper night’s sleep and not getting up at half three in the morning.’
Mr Beaumont said his highlights were cycling through Mongolia and the Gobi Desert – as well as revisiting places he had cycled through ten years ago.
But he also described the many dangers he has faced. He said: ‘On day nine, just east of Moscow, at half five in the morning, in heavy rain and darkness, I cycled over what looked like standing water but it was actually a hole. I hit the road with my face and left arm, and broke one of my front teeth. I could just feel broken teeth and taste blood and I gave myself a hairline fracture in my left elbow. Trying to heal a bust elbow while riding 16 hours a day is not ideal.
‘Also, the support vehicle had a serious crash in Melbourne where a local driver tail ended it and wrote off both vehicles.
‘If I had been on the road just a metre to my right, the driver probably would have killed me.’
ROAD RUNNER: Mark Beaumont barrels across Russia in his epic bike ride