Around the world cycling record
The Guinness World Record (GWR) for fastest circumnavigation of the globe by bicycle is awarded for completing a continuous journey around the globe by bicycle and other means, consisting of a minimum 29,000 km in total distance cycled.
In 2013, GWR rules changed and the old record of 106 days 10 hours 33 minutes (22,997 km/14,206 miles) set by Jay Aldous and Matt DeWaal of Salt Lake City, Utah, USA in 1984 will now stand in GWR archives. The new rules now state that the journey should be continuous and in one direction (East to West or West to East), that the minimum distance ridden should be 18,000 miles (29,000 km), and that the total distance travelled by the bicycle and rider should exceed an Equator's length. The clock does not stop for any waiting time for transit flights or ferries or for the duration of the transit (see full rules below).
The unsupported record is held by Jenny Graham of Scotland (member of the Adventure Syndicate). Graham completed her attempt in October 2018 in a total of 124 days. She cycled the route solo and totally unsupported often sleeping rough in drainage ditches or behind bushes. The supported record is held by Mark Beaumont of Scotland, who completed the route accompanied by a motorized support vehicle in 78 days 14 hours, and 40 minutes.
Guinness makes no differentiation between unsupported and unsupported attempts. Most cyclists choose to do the challenge supported, especially through the Australian outback.
The principles for unsupported rides are:
- do it all yourself, under your own power;
- carry all your own gear (i.e. no domestiques); and
- no outside support (deliveries only to public addresses or 'open' homes, no support vehicles of any kind meeting the rider along the way to provide supplies). 'Pure' unsupported rides also preclude any visits from friends or others along the way. These rules require riders to be alone for the entire ride, with a minimum 5-bicycle-length distance from any other riders or support vehicles.
The rules state "the journey should be continuous and in one direction (East to West or West to East), that the minimum distance ridden should be 18,000 miles (29,000 km), and that the total distance travelled by the bicycle and rider should exceed an Equator's length, i.e. 24,900 miles (40,100 km)." They also state that: "Any considerable distance travelled opposite to the direction of the attempt must be discounted from any calculations of the overall distance travelled," and that the route "must be ridden through two approximate antipodal points."
Alan Bate writes, "The record criteria requires [sic] the rider to cover 28,970 kilometers by bike, in an East to West or West to East direction, wavering no more than 5 degrees off course. The total journey distance must be a minimum of 40,075 kilometers, to include all transit by flight or sea. The ride must start and finish in the same place and must pass at least two antipodal points (these are two points that line up through the earth's centre). When the rider reaches a transit point to connect with a flight or boat to the next continent or country start point, the clock stops with regard to the actual riding time *(no longer the case any more since the rules have changed in relation to transit time, which is NOW included in the total time). As most of the earth's surface is water, this is unavoidable and fair as it applies to all athletes attempting the record. Once customs is cleared at the next destination, the clock immediately starts again. The same bicycle must be used throughout the attempt, although repairs and replacement parts and bikes are allowed for mechanical failure. Satellite tracking is highly recommended by Guinness World Records and a daily log, signatures of dignitaries and photographs at strategic points must be collated as evidence."
The requirement to pass at least two antipodal points causes some problems in route planning. For example, among popular countries for around the world cyclists, the antipodes of Australia is spread out over the Atlantic Ocean, North America over the Indian Ocean, Africa over mid Pacific Ocean, and Europe and most of Asia over the South Pacific Ocean, without any land mass there. Those land areas would not give any opportunities for an antipodal pair while cycling. Some possible pairs are China / Argentina, Malaysia / Peru, and Spain / New Zealand (Madrid and Wellington fall within the ±5-degree difference permitted by Guinness).
The length requirement also requires consideration. To cycle Lisbon–Vladivostok (13900 km), Perth–Brisbane (4300 km) and Los Angeles–St. John's (7200 km) with air travel between legs gives 25,400 km. So some detours are needed (such as e.g. Invercargill–Auckland, New Zealand, 1800 km, for the sake of the antipodes requirement).
Nick Sanders set the original record in 1981, riding 13,609 miles (21,900 km) around the Northern Hemisphere in 138 days. Sanders still holds the Guinness World Record for fastest ride around the coast of Great Britain, riding a verified 4,800 miles (7,720 km) in 22 days. In 2017 Mark Beaumont completed a 5,142 kilometres (3,195 mi) route around the British coast in 14.5 days.
Jay Aldous & Matt DeWaal
From 2 April to 16 July 1984 Jay Aldous and Matt DeWaal rode 22,997 km/14,290 miles in 106 days to break Nick Sanders record set in 1981. Aldous and DeWaal started and ended in Salt Lake City, USA and traveled in an easterly direction passing through 15 different countries.
In December 1993, Andrew Slodkowski completed a record riding ‘Around the World in 80 days on a bicycle’. Andrew started and ended in London UK, and traveled in an easterly direction passing through 14 different countries.
On 13 February 2005, Steve Strange completed the first record attempt under the new Guinness rules, achieving a world record of 276 days and 19 hours.
In April 2005, Phil White completed a record attempt in an estimated 299 days. His time did not beat the one set two months earlier by Steve Strange.
Mark Beaumont (2008)
In September 2009 James Bowthorpe completed a circumnavigation in 175 days. This was not ratified by Guinness World Records.
In June 2010 Julian Sayarer completed a circumnavigation in 169 days.
On 1 August 2010, Vin Cox completed a circumnavigation of the globe, which was certified by Guinness as the new world record with a time of 163 days, 6 hours, 58 minutes.
On 4 August 2010, Alan Bate completed the circumnavigation in 125 days 21 hours and 45 minutes, which was ratified by Guinness World Records.
On 4 June 2012, Mike Hall completed his circumnavigation in 91 days 18 hours. His ride was totally unsupported. After the ride, Guinness World Records changed the rules to include total travel time. Under the new rules Hall recorded a time of 107 days 2 hours 30 minutes, which was not ratified by Guinness World Records.
On 22 December 2012, Juliana Buhring, of British-German nationality (though born in Greece), completed the circumnavigation in 152 days including total travel time, becoming the first woman to attempt and to complete a circumnavigation of the world by bicycle using a route that complies with the requirements of Guinness World Records. This was an unsupported ride.
On 31 December 2012, Thomas Großerichter from Germany, completed the circumnavigation in 105 days 1 hour and 44 minutes. This was not certified by Guinness World Records.
On 13 June 2014, Lee Fancourt completed a circumnavigation in 103 days, 23 hours,15 minutes. This was not ratified by Guinness World Records. Fancourt's record attempt was disqualified after failing to return to the point in India where he took a taxi in order to help out his support crew.
This record was 144 days for Paola Gianotti who started and finished at Ivrea, Turin, Italy, from 8 March to 30 November 2014. This was a supported ride. During her voyage, on 16 May 2014, Gianotti was injured in a road accident which resulted in a fractured vertebra. Although the Guinness World Record rules state that the clock does not stop, Gianotti's time was frozen for four months till she recovered and resumed her attempt on 18 September 2014. Her route is here. Its legitimacy was much debated at the time, when this was ratified at the time by Guinness as being the world record.
Former speedskater Andrew Nicholson (New Zealand) completed an unsupported cirmumnavigation in 123 days and 43 minutes, starting and ending his journey at Auckland International Airport, New Zealand, between 12 August and 13 December 2015.
Mark Beaumont (2017)
On 18 September 2017, Mark Beaumont arrived in Paris having completed a supported circumnavigation of the globe by bicycle in 78 days 14 hours, and 40 minutes. This beat his previous unsupported attempt by 115 days and beat the previous world record by 44 days and 10 hours and should be regarded as the record. This attempt was verified by Guinness World Records as he finished in Paris. The BBC reported, "During the trip, Mark was also awarded the Guinness World Records title for the most miles cycled in a month, from Paris to Perth, Australia, verified at 7,031 miles (11,315km)". Beaumont had significant support on his ride from a "base camp" team who stayed in Scotland, and "on the road" teams who followed in camper vans which provided him a comfortable place to rest when off the bike. The support team covered duties ranging from preparing his meals and ensuring optimum nutrition, optimising his route to avoid ratification pitfalls, providing massages to help alleviate the discomfort of spending long hours in the same position, and psychological support during low points.
Vedangi Kulkarni (2018)
Between July and December 2018, Vedangi Kulkarni attempted to become the fastest woman to circumnavigate the world on bicycle, but due to several mishaps, she failed in her attempt. Instead she became the youngest woman to do so by cycling 18000 miles in 160 days. She was 19 when she started and 20 when she finished the ride. Most of her ride was solo and unsupported.
Jenny Graham (2018)
On 18 October 2018 Jenny Graham arrived in Berlin having completed an unsupported circumnavigation of the globe by bicycle in 124 Days, 10 hours and 50 minutes. This has now been verified by Guinness World Records and as such is the new woman's record.
John Whybrow and George Agate
On 25 March 2017, John Whybrow and George Agate (known as 'The Tandem Men'), set the first tandem bicycle circumnavigation record. Starting and finishing in Canterbury, UK, the pair completed their attempt in 290 days, 7 hours and 36 minutes aboard an Orbit Tandem. This was an unsupported ride.
Lloyd Collier and Louis Snellgrove
On 16 May 2019, Lloyd and Louis cycled 29,140km and crossed the finishing line at the Adelaide Oval, Australia in 281 days to achieve the Guinness World Record. They cycled through 24 countries and 5 continents. Both Emergency doctors, they raised money for Spinal Research and The Brain foundation. Their cycle was unsupported and they cycled westerly around the world to achieve their title.
The "Year Record"
The "Year Record" was awarded for the longest distance cycled in a single year. It was awarded to Tommy Godwin, who held the record for 75 years, riding 75,065 miles (120,805 km) from 1939 to 1940. Godwin also set the record for fastest time to cycle 100,000 miles (160,934 km)(now held by Amanda Coker). The record was verified by Guinness World Records and recognised at the time by Cycling magazine.
In 2014, the UltraMarathon Cycling Association published a set of rules for a "highest annual mileage record", conceived as a continuation of Tommy Godwin's 1939–40 record. Three riders set out to break this record in 2015: Steven Abraham of the UK, Kurt Searvogel of the US and William Pruett, also of the USA. Kurt Searvogel went on to break the record.
In 2016-2017 Amanda Coker set the world record by 86,573.2 miles.
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The rules of round the world bike racing and the Guinness World Record qualifications are unforgiving, as World Cycle Race competitor Lee Fancourt has found out. The 36-year-old was disqualified after failing to return to the point in India where he took a taxi in order to help out his support crew, while on schedule to break the record by weeks.
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In 1939, Tommy Godwin rode 75,065 miles (120,805 km) in a single year to set an endurance riding record that some believe will never be beaten. In fact, he kept on going until 14 May 1940, setting the record for the time taken to ride 100,000 miles (161,000 km).
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