Op maandag 18 september 2017 verliet ik de Arc de Triomphe in Parijs, met als doel om binnen 80 dagen weer terug te keren. Geïnspireerd door het verhaal van Phileas Fogg, uit Jules Verne's roman ‘De reis om de wereld in tachtig dagen’, wilde ik 's werelds snelste circumnavigatie van de wereld op de fiets voltooien.
78 dagen, 14 uur en 40 minuten later keerde ik terug naar de plek, met maar liefst 29.008 kilometer in de benen. Daarbij versloeg ik het vorige Guinness Wereldrecord met 45 dagen en vestigde ik een tweede record voor de meeste gereden kilometers in een maand.
In deze Collectie kun je de exacte route zien die ik nam voor mijn wereld-rondtrip, beginnend met het doorkruisen van Oost-Europa, Rusland, Mongolië en China, voordat ik naar Australië en Nieuw-Zeeland vloog. Daarna volgden Alaska, Canada en Noord-Amerika, voor de laatste kilometers door Portugal, Spanje en Frankrijk, allemaal gericht op de gouden 240 mijl (386,2 kilometer) per dag. Zoals je in elke Tourbeschrijving zult zien, waren zeker niet alle dagen even gemakkelijker.
Dit was niet mijn eerste rit rond de wereld. Op 15 februari 2008 keerde ik terug naar de Arc de Triomphe na 194 dagen en 17 uur. Bij die poging had ik solo en zonder ondersteuning gemiddeld 160 brute kilometers per dag afgelegd, waarmee ik destijds het Guinness World Record met 81 dagen had verbroken. Bijna tien jaar later wilde ik zien wat ik kon doen met een volledige ondersteunende ploeg, waarbij ik echt de grenzen van het menselijk uithoudingsvermogen verlegde.
De prestatie was een echte teaminspanning, volledig ondersteund met chauffeurs, monteurs, prestatiemanagers en fysiotherapeuten die mij de gehele rit ondersteunden.
A second 4am start, leaving Northern Belgium behind and crossing into the Netherlands with a sore left Achilles, to be joined for a while by Aloys, the founder of Koga, the brand of my round the world bike.
Into the heart of Germany, we finished the day at half nine near Hannover, another 390-odd km in the bank.
Krijg aanbevelingen over de beste singletracks, bergtoppen en vele andere mooie outdoorplekken.
The task on the third day was to cross Germany and get as close to Poland as possible, starting by circling around Hannover and then later Berlin.
This was my first 400km day, 250 miles, which was utterly remarkable, because it has been a day of setbacks, just bizarre road closures and ducking on and off little cycle paths, and I was amazed that we
covered that distance.
It was a surprisingly cold start to the day, mist lying
low on the fields. At this time I'd just passed 1,000 miles, only 17,000 to go!
As the day …
Today's task was to navigate through Moscow, and it went from a single carriageway through several hundred
miles of forests suddenly on to a ten-lane highway and ring-roads with an …
Although today I managed just over the 240 miles, it was an absolute battle – first day properly into the headwinds.
I was not loving Russia for the trucks and traffic – I have been in a bit of a darker place today because of the conditions.
As well as the headwind, there was also about 3,000 metres of climbing... But on the bright side, I was eleven
days in and very much on target.
The twelfth day had been a biggy, with 250 miles, and well over 3,000 metres climbing.
Even though we would be going through the Ural Mountains on the next day, it should be a lot less climbing.
After that, it dropped to less than 500 metres of climbing a day. My cleats were really hurting too, so I was very much looking forward to getting past the mountain range.
It was a dry day, one of the first days in Russia when it hadn’t rained at all. And being a Saturday, there were a lot less trucks so I felt a lot safer on the road – I actually quite enjoyed it.
It was a beautiful finish top the day too. It is getting quite cool; just as the sun sets, there is this mist lying over the valley floor.
This was only the second day since Paris that we didn't nail the 240 mile target, but I had a headwind all day, so there was a time that I thought we would lose a lot more than that.
Quite a change of scenery: I made it past Novosibirsk, and it was just flat, flat, flat, just marshes. Just done about 600km flat and straight – now we are into big
rolling hills, and into the woodlands.
This day was an absolute battle, covering 236 miles, and far hillier than I expected it to be.
With heavy rain for the first three hours, it wasn't the
easiest way to warm up; but I soon dried out and it ended up being a beautiful day through much quieter roads.
There has been a really noticeable change, even the houses – feels like we are going into the wilderness,
and a poorer part of Russia.
A big milestone at the end of the 19th day, because this is officially a quarter of the way around the World.
It was a big day, just shy of 400km, so about 248 miles. And it was so nice to stop and say hello to my Russian crew – to acknowledge them and say thank you.
Covering 241 miles on the 20th day made for a good day, in that sense, but it was a funny old day. The story of the day was rain, rain, rain. It started dry but massive, massive rain today, so quite nice for it to clear for last couple of hours, following a train track into this evening which had been beautiful.