A staggering two weeks is set to be shaved off the round-the-world cycling record by Englishman Mike Hall, a competitor in the World Cycle Racing challenge.
He arrived in Lisbon on Saturday for the final 1,700-mile leg of his adventure and is projecting a 4 June finish back in Britain – just 92 days on from his departure from the capital. With 16,332-miles already under his belt in his 82 days on the road (as of last Friday), his average daily mileage is a shade under 200 at 199.2 miles per day – an astonishing figure for a totally unsupported ride. Had he taken part in the BikeRadar Training 1000-mile challenge, he’d have reached the target in just over five days!
Major catastrophes aside, Hall is on target to re-write the record books and now it’s just a question of by how much.
The race started back on 18 February at the Greenwich Meridian, London, with 12 competitors taking a shot at Alan Bate’s Guinness World Records-verified duration of 106 days, 10hrs and 33mins. It’s fair to say fortunes have been mixed so far; of the 12, only four remain, along with a tandem duo who started late in the day.
Injuries and mechanical failures have put paid to most ambitions. Stuart Lansdale, the youngest cyclist in the race, was involved in a collision in India that severely damaged his bike. He struggled on to Bangkok, where he waited a month for a new frame to be shipped in from Germany. His motivation to get back on the bike dwindled and after a couple of false starts, he finally admitted defeat this weekend and flew home.
Policeman Stephen Phillips was forced home from the US in March with a damaged Achilles tendon, but returned for another crack when the injury healed. Mid-May saw the end of the road in Singapore, though, with the Englishman too exhausted to continue after a bout of illness in Australia.
Against all odds, one rider still in the saddle is South African Sean Conway, who at one point was riding in a neck brace with a compression fracture to the spine. He’s currently in Darwin, Australia, with 9,390 miles on the clock.
The nearest threat to Hall is Richard Dunnett on 11,854 miles, though he’s still almost 5,000 miles behind. It was clear from the start only one man was on target to get anywhere near Bate’s record, with the others having to settle for a tilt at Vin Cox’s 163-day unsupported record.