On 1 August 2010, Vin Cox rode to Greenwich observatory and into the Guinness Book of records for the fastest circumnavigation of the world by bicycle. Vin’s time of 163 days broke previous Guinness ratified records set by Mark Beaumont (195 days), James Bowthorpe (176 days) and Julian Emre Sayarer (169 days).
Vin himself is quick to point out that there’s plenty of scope for even faster round-the-world rides. “With a few subtle route changes, you’d probably be able to knock two weeks off the record I think. If you take the bad bits of my record out and average the rest, it’s more like 125 miles a day, and that would make a big difference.”
However, for the time being he has decided to hang up his pedals in favour of a behind the scenes role in other people’s adventures. On Saturday 18 February 2012, Black Heath, just south of Greenwich Park in London, will see the start of the first ever Global Bicycle Race. Cox’s idea was to encourage would be round the world record attempting riders to all start at the same place at the same time, giving greater scope for media and public interest, and making the whole thing a much more significant event than just a few plucky riders getting lost in the noise.
The timing is such that the winning cyclist is expected to complete the ride in time for the opening of the Olympics, with a total of 160 days from start to finish. Riders are free agents, choosing their own routes, but must adhere to rules set by the race and to a great degree by Guinness. They must complete a provable minimum of 18,000 miles in generally the same direction, visit antipodal points (opposite sides of the World) and use a GPS linked to the race website (partly to allow the media and public to follow the race progress). They must also send a text message and mileage update at least once a week, take photos, video and witness statements from around the world and stay on the same bike, although parts may be replaced as necessary.
Despite the staggering personal cost associated with putting together a global cycle circumnavigation record bid, interest in the Global Bicycle Race has been considerable. The majority of confirmed entrants so far are young, male and from the UK or Ireland, but there are also older entrants and overseas competitors such as 49-year-old amputee Karl Sacks and 34-year-old Australian Shaun Timberlake, who are joining the battle for that crucial sponsorship to help offset costs. A number of, as yet unnamed, female riders are also considering throwing their hats into the ring.
The Global Bicycle Race is being sponsored by Brooks and other supporters are being encouraged to get involved. The Olympic Organizing Committee are considering recognising the race as an Olympic Inspire event. For more information, or to get involved, visit www.greatbikeride.com/globalbicyclerace.