British cyclist James Bowthorpe has completed the first leg of his round-the-world record bid. The 31-year-old crossed Europe in just three weeks and has now reached Iran.
He is hoping to beat the record set by Mark Beaumont last year. Beaumont completed his trip in 194 days; Bowthorpe reckons he can do it in 150.
On his blog, he describes how he has battled headwinds in Romania, suffered with tendonitis and saddle sores, come to rely on the kindness of petrol pump attendants and how language issues have forced him to play 'menu lottery' at restaurants.
He says: "I did the first three weeks without a break... It’s a big advantage to know that the longest unbroken stint is behind me. If any of you have seen The Princess Bride, it’s a lot like the sword fight at the top of the Cliffs of Insanity. But on wheels."
Bowthorpe has decided to change his route to avoid Pakistan, where there have been attacks on Western travellers. He will instead ride as far as the border, catch an internal flight back to Tehran and then another flight onto Amristar in India.
The US leg of his journey is being rescheduled to add the distance that he's missed from having to avoid Pakistan. This change has been approved by Guinness for the purpose of the world record attempt.
He says: "The bike... has been remarkable for its total absence of problems. I have had to tighten up one bolt on the pannier rack… And that’s it. The belt-drive is a complete revelation; no oiling, no cleaning and no noise. The Rohloff hub is also amazing; if I stop on a hill in the wrong gear I can change down while stationary, which is a boon on a fully loaded bike, and on the flat it’s a mile-eater.
"Not wishing to tempt fate, but I’ve had no punctures so far; the Schwalbe Extremes living up to their name. My Brooks saddle isn’t anything new or fancy (I took it off my last bike) but it’s doing a great job and now carries perfect indentations of my sit bones."
Bowthorpe is raising funds and awareness for the Psychiatry Research Trust's What's Driving Parkinson's? campaign. He hopes to raise £1.8 million (US$2.5m).