The previous record for cycling around the world has been smashed, and it was conclusively smashed by British engineer from Yorkshire, Mike Hall – a man who is rumoured to be 99% titanium and 1% human!
On the 18th February 2012, twelve riders set off to race 18,000 miles around the world on the World Cycle Racing’s Grand Tour in what has been described as ‘arguably the longest, toughest, adventure race in the world’. It is almost 10 times longer than the Tour de France. The goal is to not only to win the race, but also to hopefully claim the ultimate prize of a new Guinness World Record.
The final yards
Originally planning to finish after 90 days, Mike’s first comment to the large crowd that had gathered to celebrate his return, including his mum, was “Sorry I’m late”.
Some interesting facts about what the competitors will endure during the race:
- They will eat and drink their entire body weight every two weeks.
- On some days they will burn the equivalent of 67 Mars bars worth of calories and be creating enough electricity to power a laptop at work for two years.
- After four months they will cycle what the average commuter cycles in three years.
The following photograph shows Mike and his closest challenger Richard Dunnett. They quite co-incidently, bumped into each other in New Zealand whilst travelling in opposite directions!
World Cycle Racing Grand Tour competitors Mike Hall and Richard Dunnett
… in New Zealand
The previous record was set in 2010 by Alan Bate in 106 days. However, Alan’s cycle around was supported, which makes Mike’s achievement all the more remarkable. He cycled on average 200 kms a day. Had he taken part in the Bike Radar Training 1000-mile challenge, he’d have reached the target in just over five days!
It is, of course, impossible to bike the entire planet so certain standards have been set. Guinness World Records states that: “The minimum distance ridden should be 18,000 miles and the total distance traveled by the bicycle and rider should exceed the Equator’s length, i.e. more than 24,900 miles.”
Trackleader ‘tracked’ Mike the whole way and this was his route:
He started in England, ported across the English Channel, rode across the entire continent of Europe, through to Turkey, where he caught a plane in Ankara, skipping the middle East, and landing in Southern India. From there he road up the Eastern Indian coast all the way to West Bengal, where he caught another plane to Perth Australia, touched down and rode East along the coast till he reached Brisbane. From Brisbane, he flew to Invercargil, New Zealand and continued a North-eastward journey across that entire country; flew from Auckland to Vancouver, Canada, rode along the West Coast, through Washington, Oregon and half of California, where he cut East to pursue a zig-zagging journey through Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South and North Carolina, all the way up the coast till he flew out of Farmington, due East. He landed in Lisbon, Portugal, rode down through the South of Spain and then cut back upward, through the rest of Spain and back up the West Coast of France, back across the English Channel, and terminating back in Greenwich Park, where he started.
Mike Hall’s custom built bike
Hall had to take some days off due to illness, and bearing this in mind he is quite sure that “around the world in 80 days” is possible. Would he do it again? “Not for my own reasons, I don’t have any curiosities to be out there and I think you need a personal reason to do this otherwise you end up coming home when it gets bad.”
Out of the 12 who began the race, following various accidents and incidents along the way, there were only four still on on the road at the end – besides Mike Hall. As of yesterday, 15th June – day 118, none of the remaining 4 cyclists – Richard Dunnett, Simon Hutchinson, Sean Conway and Kristina/Nic, a tandem duo – were anywhere near the finish line… I must note here that, against all odds, South African Sean Conway is still in the saddle as, at one point, he was riding in a neck brace with a compression fracture to the spine!
Here’s a brief interview about Mike, his sponsors and his bike;
He also raised money for the Newborn Vietnam charity, a U.K. registered charity dedicated to reducing neonatal mortality in Southeast Asia, with a specific focus on Vietnam.