Over the past 10-15 years cycle touring has become more and more popular. Cycle participation in general within the United Kingdom has been rising steadily, most noticeably since the 2008 and 2012 Olympics where Team GB did so well, winning a fair chunk of their medial haul on the velodrome. This has led people to start exploring the sport of cycling and all it has to offer. One area that continues to develop and have people testing the boundaries with new ideas is cycle touring.
I was first introduced into cycle touring after reading Alastair Humpreys book 'Moods of Future Joy" whilst at university. It well and truly inspired me, gave me the confidence to pursue so many of my goals, and really made me question how I spent my time and what was important to me. Alastair cycled 40,000 miles (64300 km) around the world over 4 years . I would absolutely recommend reading his books and checking out his blog if you need that help and encouragement to get up and go.
Hard but rewarding days in the Saraha Desert
Alastairs era of cycle touring became the point where people were aiming to do things quicker and lighter. The packs on the bikes started to streamline, the daily distance increased and the aim of being the fastest to cycle around the world became a hotly contested title.
From when the new Guinness World Record rules were changed in 2005, in that year Steve Strange completed a circumnavigation of the world in 276 days, the following 12 years there were 14 new records achieved (although with rule changes this is a controversial topic!).
One of the record breakers was a man call Mike Hall. Mike became very successful and helped promote ultra-endurance cycle routes/events, which was completed in the "Bikepacking' fashion. This is similar principle as Alastair's mode of transport where you carry your sleeping gear with you, but as you can see from the picture below, the bike is a lot more aerodynamic, there is a lot less kit - saving weight and further helping the aero aspect of the rider, and the kit is attached more to the frame of the bike verus the traditional pannier rack or trailer. This mode of travelling has been preferred with events such as the Transcontinental Race, a brutal 1 stage unsupported bike race across Europe, which was developed by Mike Hall. This is the preferred option if you want to cover huge distances quickly, and happy to compromise on some of the camping luxuries.
Mike Hall and his Bikepacking set up
The most current record holder of the around the world circumnavigation by bike is Mark Beaumont. Who on the 18th September rode an astonishing 18,039 miles (29030 km) in 78 days. This is an average of 230 miles or 370 km per day! Unbelievable. Mark had a support vehicle with him so did not have to carry any gear, worry about where he was sleeping or the route he was taking; he would just cycle for 4 hour blocks and survive on 5 hours sleep a day. An absolute super human effort and a great display of physical and mental strength.
Mark receiving his Guinness World Records
Lucy meeting up with Mark Beaumont in Wellington, New Zealand
Now Alastair's, Mike's and Mark's trips are all amazing however not everyone has got the time or physical prowess to complete such routes. Me being one of them! So what if we were able to combine the best parts of each method of transport?
What if you were able to experience the country you are travelling through by getting off the beaten track, complete epic climbs and long distances, and have he support and luxury of a pro cyclist. To fulfill that life long goal of cycling across an entire continent, or perhaps cycling to a new continent all together.
This is our philosophy and aim at Mammoth Journeys. We want to ensure you truly experience the country you travel through, and allow you to explore the areas you are cycling through by getting off the beaten track. Creating unforgettable experiences and following in the ethos of Alastair's 4 year epic. We want you to have earned that rest at the end of a hard days cycle, so some sections there will be some tough climbs over 2000 metres and the odd 100+mile days, just like Mike would have cycled. However we want you to be ready for the next day and enjoy your time on the Journey, so all of our routes have hotel accommodation on every night, a support vehicle carrying all your gear and someone else worrying about the route, just as Mark would've done.
Now I can't guarantee there will be any Guinness World Record to be gained at the end of your Journey. However I can guarantee you will have a euphoric feeling of self pride and accomplishment that you had been searching for. That you will leave with an endless supply of epic stories to keep friends and families entertained for years. And in the future, whenever you question whether you can achieve a goal - you will recall the moments on this Journey and it will give you the confidence to push forward and tackle the challenge ahead.
Have I missed any cycle touring legends from my list that you would want to add? If so comment below and let us know.