1/4 Of The Way Round - The Highlights So Far
Since July the 2nd, Mark Beaumont has cycled through France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and most of Russia; 8 countries in 19 days!
A quarter of the way through his incredible 18,000-mile cycling challenge, Mark is aiming to be the first to cycle around the world in 80 days, knocking 43 days off the current record.
Of course, with such a relentless pace and pressing deadline, Mark has little time to stop and reflect;
“The first 4,500 miles have proved challenging at times and we’ve had a few bumps along the road, quite literally in Russia. But so far, so good. We’re very much proving this is possible and I look forward to celebrating the next milestone, half way round!”
We thought it would be interesting to explore some highlights of his challenge so far;
Day 1 was the first of many early starts for Mark as he departed the Champs-Élysées, Paris, at 4am. For the next 80 days Mark must cycle 240 miles a day, 16 hours a day, if he is to become the first to cycle around the world in 80 days.
Despite a long day, Mark was full of enthusiasm at the end of day 1, describing it as “awesome” upon arriving at Bree, Belgium.
Having covered an impressive 247 miles since setting off from Paris, Mark noted “even day 1 hurts”, setting the tone for what will be a gruelling journey ahead.
Mark described Day 2 as one of ‘stopping and starting’ as he navigated through lots of towns in the Netherlands and Germany, while the Dutch and German police helped steer Mark away from closed roads. Despite that, he bagged another 246 miles, describing it as a “great day”.
Day 3 brought even more mileage, as Mark clocked up his first 250 miles+ day in an “utterly remarkable” ride where road closures threatened to hamper his progress. Meanwhile, Laura Penhaul, Mark’s Performance Manager, battled food poisoning in a race to recovery and being able to support Mark.
Crossing the Polish border at the start of Day 4, Mark raced to another 246 miles covered, despite being “pretty sore” and some busy roads, big trucks and lots of traffic!
Day 5 saw Mark surpass 1,000 miles cycled as he sped through Poland on a “surprisingly cold and misty” start to the day, with Lithuania and Latvia in his sights. Thankfully it brightened and Mark enjoyed a strong westerly wind giving him a “helping hand” on what turned out to be a “glorious day”.
Despite some interesting off-road action when the tarmac unexpectedly ended, Mark made it through Lithuania and into Latvia on day 6, having cycled 7 countries in 6 days! A meteoric achievement and Mark described it as a “dream start”, even though he was “taking it easy” (!) during the first week to minimise the risk of early injury.
Day 7 brought another country, Russia, and the start of a long journey across the world’s biggest country. Mark met with his new support crew and finished the day 600km from Moscow.
Days 8 saw Mark ride from Mostovskoye to New Annino, amassing an incredible 261 miles.
However, a rainy start to day 9 brought some unwanted drama as Mark suffered a bad fall about an hour into his ride. A pothole that looked like sitting water caused Mark’s bike to stop immediately, dropping from 15mph to 0 in the space of a second and sending Mark over the handlebars, hitting the road with his face and left hand and arm.
Thankfully, despite a heavy hit, a badly damaged tooth and painful elbow, Mark brushed himself off exclaiming “the ride goes on”. He even achieved 228 miles, despite the crash!
Day 10 brought new challenges. Not only had Mark to contend with cycling 240 miles, he had to do so while injured. However, as his Performance Manager, Laura Penhaul, noted that Mark’s condition was “much better than I expected”. 3 hours into the day and Mark was “flying as usual”! Despite some pain and discomfort Mark recorded an impressive 245 miles!
Days 11 and 12 saw Mark powering through Russia, battling difficult roads and weather conditions, but clocking up another 487 miles between Hentyh and Suksun. This despite having to adapt his riding style to accommodate his left arm injury.
Europe finally became Asia on Day 13, as Mark crossed the line between the two while clocking up yet another 240 miles on his way to Kamyshlov. The scale of Russia becoming ever more apparent to Mark, he noted “I feel like I’ve been in Russia forever, you can’t imagine how big this place is!”.
The rain stopped for day 14 and being Saturday there was a lot less traffic, helping Mark record another 250 mile+ day. “Two weeks in and feeling good”, Mark retained his trademark enthusiasm, explaining another reason behind his journey around the world was to support Orkidstudio and encouraging donations from those enjoying following his adventure.
Yet another 250 mile+ day on day 15 saw Mark push over 3,500 miles cycled in total as he rode from Golyshmanovo to Omsk.
Day 16 started with a spectacular sunrise and “flat out riding”, as Mark shared an update on his morning routine and meal plan. Mark needs to eat 8,000 calories a day, tricky when you’re riding for 16 hours! The day turned out to be “one of the toughest so far” with poor quality roads and a challenging head wind proving to be a “battle” for Mark. In a candid video update, Mark shared his concerns over injury affecting his world record attempt, describing Russia as “tough miles”. Never has a cyclist been so keen to see tarmac after miles and miles of bumpy roads, as Mark exclaims at the end of the video “smooth rolling, I’ll take that!”.
Keeping focus was the aim of the game on day 17 as Mark battled head winds once again, but a positive mental attitude helped him tap out another 228 miles through a “never ending wilderness”.
Day 18 saw Mark cycle another 236 miles across Russia, from Bolotnoye to Tyazhinskiy, as he edges ever closer to Mongolia. Despite an “absolute battle” through heavy rain at the start of the day, Mark welcomed lots of “friendly toots and waves” throughout the day as word of his epic around the world adventure spread. One opportune supporter even managed a selfie from his car while Mark was cycling along!
And so to day 19, when Mark broke the 4,500 mile milestone and was officially a quarter of the way around the world! Mark took the opportunity to thank his support and performance teams, describing it as “a big day, today”.
Just another 13,500 miles to go!
All photos courtesy of Johnny Swanepoel