The record time for cycling around the world is 194 days 17 hours set by Mark Beaumont early last year. Now British cyclist James Bowthorpe is aiming for 150 days, with a goal of raising funds and awareness for a Parkinson's disease charity.
The 31-year-old will leave London on 29 March, with a goal of riding 120 miles a day and travelling 18,000 miles through 21 countries. He hopes to raise £1.8 million (US$2.5m) – £100 (US$140) per mile cycled – for the Psychiatry Research Trust's What's Driving Parkinson's? campaign.
Setting off on his Dutch Santos Travelmaster bike with Rohloff hub and, possibly, the Santos belt drive system, Bowthorpe will pass through Western and Eastern Europe, Iran, Pakistan, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada, Portugal and Spain.
If he can complete the first stage to Istanbul, in Turkey, in the planned three weeks, he feels that will set him up physically for the rest of the ride. Practical steps being taken to support the ride include organising caches of tyres (courtesy of Schwalbe) and other things likely to need replacing at points along the route. Santos will be providing backup in terms of spares for the whole bike.
To chart his progress, Bowthorpe is taking a GPS tagging camera attached to the front of his bike which will take a photo every half mile or so to be uploaded to a dedicated website, so people can see what he sees. He will also send Twitter and blog updates from his phone. His camera, phone and other gadgets will be solar-powered.
Bowthorpe is training in and around London where he lives and spending time organising his trip. Training includes lots of gym work and time on his training bike – the Santos bike for the trip will be arriving shortly and he’ll do a good 1,000 miles on this before departure to get used to it.
Previous long distance rides have included riding from Alaska to Los Angeles. He’s also biked across the Indian Himalayas and his first long distance ride was in the far north of Canada as an 18-year-old.
When queried about his concerns for the trip, Bowthorpe said: "Some days I’m not worried at all but on others there is no aspect of the ride that does not strike fear into my heart!"
Bowthorpe expects to be back in mid-September and has put out a general invitation for people to get on their bikes and join him anywhere between Dover and London for his return – he says he will try to make it a weekend! For more information, visit www.globecycle.org.