Half the world away: Highlights of the first 9,000 miles
As we celebrate the 9,000 mile mark of the Artemis World Cycle, Mark Beaumont is still going strong having cycled from Paris to near Melbourne so far. However, cycling 240 miles per day is not – as you would expect - without its challenges.
Below we look back at some of the highlights and incidents of the adventure so far:
Mark set off from Paris at 4am on the 2nd July. One week later he has cycled almost 1,500 miles across 7 countries (France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Lithuania & Latvia) – a pace that Mark describes as “taking it easy”!
Of course, as well as Mark on the bike there is a full support crew working behind the scenes on this world record attempt. The first week has seen all their planning finally put into practice and the adventure is off to a successful start.
The border hopping takes a back seat in week 2 as Mark starts making his way across the vastness of Russia. The difficult road conditions in Russia made themselves known early on Day 9, when Mark took a tumble after hitting a pothole – leaving him with a badly chipped tooth and an elbow injury.
Undeterred, he went on to cycle 228 miles that day and recovered well from the injury over the next few days:
At the end of day 14 – having just completed another 250+ mile day – Mark proclaimed: “Two weeks in and feeling good”, retaining his trademark enthusiasm and explaining another reason behind his journey around the world: To support the charity Orkidstudio and encouraging donations from those enjoying following his adventure.
To sponsor Mark please donate online or text “ORKD80 £10” to 70070
The cycle across Russia continued in Week 3. Mark described Day 16 as “one of the toughest so far”, owing to poor road conditions, heavy traffic and challenging head winds (he still cycled 237 miles that day though!)
The rest of the week plays out in a similar fashion – as Mark says, “The story of Russia has been insane horizons, a vast country with lots of traffic, lots of trucks and lots of roadworks which is tough going on the bike”.
Alex, Mark’s mechanic and the man responsible for keeping the bike & kit in good working order, concurs that the bike’s “taking a lot of abuse” but “has been faultless”.
Week 4 gets off to an unsettling start when Mark’s support team are first on site at a fatal road accident, which serves as a stark reminder of the risks being undertaken.
The ride must go on though and on Day 24 the team cross the border in to Mongolia, but given their remote location the online updates become sketchy.
By Day 25, Mark has covered 6,000 miles – one third of the journey – and is delighted to be “bang on target”. Day 25 also marked the biggest ride so far – covering a massive 264 miles in a single day.
The following day, Mark powers through Mongolia toward the Chinese border… but not quite in time to cross as the border is closed from 6pm – 8am. Staying positive however Mark reflects, “I’ve not slept more than 5 hours in 26 days, so I can use tonight to my advantage and start to get some recovery.”
Once safely across the border, Mark then has to deal with a brutal head wind as he cycles through China, and at one point it looks like this might delay the flight on to stage 2. Mark keeps pushing on through till midnight, leaving only 3 hrs sleep before he is back on the bike again, but then gets to enjoy a moment of reflection on the journey so far as he reaches Badaling and The Great Wall of China:
Stage 1 ends right on schedule – with Mark and the team just managing to catching the flight to Australia that they booked before ever setting off from Paris.
Week 5 gets underway with a flight to Perth, Australia – including a very swift transfer thanks to Menzies Aviation and Singapore Airlines – and then it’s straight back on the bike less than an hour after landing. Of course, it’s winter in Australia which means lots of night-time cycling, cold and rain ... not exactly how one might first imagine cycling across Australia!
Week 5 also marked the end of the first month’s cycling and a potential new Guinness World Record for the most miles cycled in a month! While the cycling continued in Australia, back home in Scotland Una aka Mum aka Base Camp is working with Guinness to verify the data of the journey so far – 7,043 miles in 30 days.
The cycle across Australia included a trip down memory lane… or more accurately Eyre Highway, the world’s longest straight road (at 90 miles) which Mark first cycled 10 years ago on his first round-the-world adventure:
Week 5 also ended with Mark meeting a fellow explorer – Ed Pratt, who is cycling around the world on a Unicycle (see www.unicycleworldtour.com for more details); it’s taken Ed 2 ½ years to get to this stage of his cycle vs. Mark’s 35 days – two incredible journeys being undertaken with different goals, but with the same spirit of adventure:
… and so we now find ourselves at the halfway mark of an epic journey.
“It’s a huge relief and achievement to be at the half way point. The impact of riding 240 miles per day is a test of physical and mental strength. I’m having to draw on all of my experience as an endurance athlete, but through all of the trials, I am loving every minute of it.”
While Mark is celebrating the first half of the journey under his belt, there is still a huge distance left to cover. Still to come Mark will have to complete Stage 2 up through New Zealand, before flying to Alaska and cycling across Canada & USA, then flying on to Lisbon for the last stretch back to Paris.
Please also consider donating to Orkidstudio, the charitable organization Mark is supporting as part of this cycle, either by donating online or texting “ORKD80 £10” to 70070.