Interview with Mark: A few final thoughts on the challenge ahead

80 DAYS caught up with Mark Beaumont before he left for Paris to get a few final thoughts on the challenge ahead…

Mark Beaumont

Mark on his Around Britain training cycle. Photo by Kieran J Duncan.

IN TERMS OF LOGISTICS WHAT IS GOING TO BE THE MOST CHALLENGING LEG OF YOUR JOURNEY?

Leg 1 is by far the most complicated and I’ve employed a great guy who knows nothing about cycling but everything about logistics to organise it.

To cycle across Russia, we needed a letter of invitation and the plan is to cross incognito.

We’re going to take the sponsor logos off, and we’ve employed local drivers and are using local vehicles on the roads to attract as little attention as possible.

We also have letters from the highest possible authorities explaining what we are doing and asking they leave us to carry on with the World Record attempt.

The Chinese wanted us to come through Kazakhstan rather than Mongolia and spend longer cycling in China – but we had to say no as it was a longer route, and our aim is to break a World Record rather than to make any compromises. 

WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO MISS MOST?


My family, without question. I’m not a material person so it’s not a case of items or luxuries. However, they will be with me in spirit and when I’m on the road I will be thinking about them but also focused on my performance.

HAVE YOU EVER GOT TO THE POINT WHERE YOU’VE WANTED TO GIVE UP?


I’ve had some pretty desperate moments over the years.

Being sleep deprived, being in pain and just wanting to stop – it’s a pretty horrible and dark place to be in.

But the reality is that you can keep going. It’s the old carrot and stick philosophy.

Some people think that when you’ve hit a low point it’s the thought of the glory and achievement that keeps you going – but it’s not.

It’s the fear of failure that keeps you pushing on. It’s very much the stick and not the carrot that kicks in. The inspiration comes in the planning stages, and hopefully after, once the challenge is over, the overwhelming sense of achievement – but when you’re on the road, it’s the fear or failing that will keep you going at whatever cost.

That’s what keeps you from stopping. Go slowly, but never stop.

IF YOU COULD BRING ONE BOOK WITH YOU – WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?

Well I’m not much of a bookworm and over the last four years, with young children, I’ve not had much time to pick up a book.

But in those last few years the book I’ve become most familiar with is The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton because I’m reading it to my daughter.

So, I’m well up on all the characters, The Saucepan Man, Silky the Fairy and Moonface.

Mark Beaumont

Mark on his Around Britain training cycle. Photo by Kieran J Duncan.

 

WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO THINK ABOUT AS YOU CYCLE?


When you’re on the road your senses are very much tuned into your environment, the tapestry of people and the changing landscapes. Every day is different.

That said, I will be focusing on my performance and the incremental targets – looking after myself, making sure I’m hydrated, the next hill, the next horizon.

If everything is going to plan your mind does wonder off into the past and the future. That’s when you dig out memories, makes plans for the future. In the quieter times that’s where my mind will go.

HOW ARE YOU GOING TO CELEBRATE AT THE END?

A long warm bath, room service, a nice glass of red wine, given that I’m in France, probably a Bordeaux, and a huge plate of steak and chips.

IF YOU COULD DO THIS CYCLE WITH ANYONE IN THE WORLD WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY?


David Peat, the late great film maker who I shared a passion for travel with.

His eye on the world, the way he had of looking at life and people and capturing what was happening – was always so engaging and fresh.

He saw things differently in a way that would enhance any journey you were on.

That said, the nature of the beast is that this is not a social event. All my focus will be on cycling so I certainly wouldn’t be able to chat as we went along.

APART FROM SETTING A NEW WORLD RECORD – WHAT ELSE ARE YOU HOPING TO ACHIEVE FROM THIS CYCLE?


I’m out there to try and smash the existing world record but I also want to inspire the younger generation to find out about the world and challenge themselves.

Educational publishers Twinkl have put together lesson plans about the route and countries I cycle through for children to follow which has been translated into nine different languages.

I’m also raising money for the charity that I’m patron of, Orkidstudio, which is a small humanitarian architecture charity.

After my record-breaking Africa Solo cycle from Cairo to Cape Town we raised enough money to build a hospital in Zambia, so it would be lovely if we could do something like that this time.

Mark Beaumont

Mark on his Around Britain training cycle. Photo by Kieran J Duncan.