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Mark Beaumont rides 400km across Scotland ahead of round-the-world challenge

Trevor Ward
26 Jun 2017

Aiming to go around the world in 80 days, we caught up with Mark Beaumont on a Scottish training ride

Ultra-endurance cyclist Mark Beaumont has completed his last big training ride before the start of his attempt to ride around the world in 80 days.

He rode 400km (250 miles) in 15 hours from Tayinloan on the west coast of Scotland to Aberdeen on the east, and had a photographer recording his efforts.

Beaumont sets off from Paris on 2nd July attempting to recapture the record for cycling around the world, currently 123 days, set by New Zealander Andrew Nicholson in 2015.

He’d previously held the record when he cycled solo around the world in 194 days in 2008.

'Back then it was done "wild man"-style, with me foraging for food and looking for a safe place to sleep every night,' he says.

'But this time it’s all about the performance, so I’ll be on a carbon frame with no panniers and have a team of six in two support vehicles looking after me.' (Guinness World Records makes no distinction between supported and unsupported rides.)

This training ride saw Beaumont hit the magical numbers that will ensure he makes his 80-day target – cycling more than 240 miles at an average speed of more than 16 mph.

If he averages at least 15 mph for 16 hours a day – split into four-hour shifts - through Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and North America, he will complete the official circumnavigation distance of 18,000 miles in 75 days, allowing three days for flights and two days for contingencies.

'It’s the first leg from Paris to Beijing that worries me the most,' says Beaumont, who I joined for a 65-mile "recovery ride” near his home in Crieff, Perthshire, last month.

'I’m excited because it’s a journey into the unknown – I’ve cycled in 130 countries during the last 10 years, but not this part of Asia – but I also know it’s the place where things could go wrong, because of language and border issues.'

He’s already had to re-route part of the Chinese leg because of weather concerns.

'We’ll be entering China via Mongolia where our research has shown that the wind is a more favourable north-westerly nine days out of ten,' he says.

The Round The World in 80 Days attempt has been three years in the planning and is the latest in a series of challenges that has seen Beaumont ride the length of the Americas and break the Cairo to Cape Town record.

'I prefer setting up my own challenges to entering events like the Race Across America (RAAM) or the TransCon,' he says.

'There, I’d be just one rider amongst many, whereas doing my own challenges means I get maximum exposure for my sponsors.'

In between his training rides he has been meeting these sponsors – who range from investment funds to bike brands – and answering questions at conferences.

Surprisingly, the most-frequently heard question wasn’t about his bike or gear ratios (a customised Koga Kimera disc with a Di2 compact 11-28 chainset, since you ask), but about something much more personal.

'I’m asked a lot about Sarah, the marine biologist I met in Australia during my original round the world ride,' Beaumont tells me.

In his 2009 book, The Man Who Cycled The World, Beaumont writes: 'She was beautiful, had an amazing job and was great fun'.

He then turns down her offer to spend a week with him.

'That’s what people remember, the beautiful woman I turned down because I didn’t want to risk anything that might slow me down,' Beaumont laughs now.

For more information about the Around The World in 80 Days Cycle Challenge go to artemisworldcycle.com or follow @MrMarkBeaumont on Twitter

Photos: Kieran Duncan

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