Round-the-world cycling expeditions are all the rage at the moment, but we doubt anyone has tried it the way the organisers of the World Cycle Challenge are planning. Starting in London on 16 September next year, they're hoping to set a new world record by leading a group of around 30 cyclists across 18,000 miles and 21 countries over nine months.
The difference to many such challenges is that it'll be fully supported – the riders will be tailed by a specialist bike maintenance team and will be provided with tailored training, medical assistance and insurance, flights and ferries, transport of kit, communication equipment and meals. This means they'll be left to do just one thing – ride.
Granted, this means covering an average of 100 miles per day for the best part of nine months, but at least they'll be free of the burden of lugging equipment and the logistical nightmare of planning a global bike ride. It’s the brainchild of entrepreneurs Adam Gosling and Crispin Vitoria, who'll both direct the challenge. We caught up with Vitoria at Cycle Show 2011 this week to learn about the origins of the idea.
“Both myself and Adam were inspired by reading Mark Beaumont's book The Man Who Cycled the Americas,” Vitoria said. “We got the idea that there are regular people out there who'd love to tackle a challenge like this but are put off by the sheer scale of planning involved.”
Gosling added: “It makes global adventure and the achievement of a lifetime accessible, and real, for people from all walks of life. We envisage that not everyone will be an experienced cyclist at the outset, but with the expertise and practical guidance involved in our individual and group training schedule, they'll be ready."
The Beaumont connection hasn’t stopped with simply providing the inspiration behind the WCC. The Scotsman, who broke the round-the-world cycling record in 2008, has joined the team helping to plan the challenge. It'll be broken down into eight stages, starting with a 2,300-mile, 33-day trek from London to Istanbul and finishing on 16 June 2013 with Lisbon to London.
The full schedule can be found on their website, but will involve rides through Iran, Pakistan, India and Singapore. There's space for 30 riders to complete the entire 18,000-mile challenge and individual stages will be opened up to others. Although Vitoria, a veteran of British Military Fitness, would have loved to take part in the challenge, his brief is to stay back in the UK making sure it runs as smoothly as possible.
He told BikeRadar that riders will be separated each day into three groups, depending on fitness and how individuals are feeling on the day, with the opportunity to mix it up. He added that the organisers are in talks with the RAF to get soldiers injured in Afghanistan involved in logistics. While the trip is fully supported, Vitoria said riders won’t be mollycoddled and will be encouraged to get stuck in when off the bikes. Accommodation will be a mixture of hostels and tents.
Anyone wanting to find out more about the WCC can either visit their website or head down to Cycle Show 2011 at the NEC in Birmingham this weekend, where Vitoria will be on hand to answer any questions. A special price of £29,500 for the entire trek will be on offer to those registering before the show ends on 2 October, a discount from the full cost of £34,000.