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'The only thing worse than going slowly was stopping': Mark Beaumont on his record breaking ride around the world

Mark Beaumont portrait
Joe Robinson
19 Sep 2017

Battered feet, personal sacrifices and the worst hangover in the world: Mark Beaumont rides around the world in less than 80 days

Circumnavigating the world in 79 days, Mark Beaumont smashed the record for the fastest person to travel around the world by bike. 

The previous record was 123 days, meaning that Beaumont covered the 18,000 mile route 44 days quicker than the previous best before him. 

A heroes welcome and official Guinness verification welcomed the 34-year-old Scot in Paris, France, yesterday evening. Today was the first day Beaumont had not set off at 3am to ride 240 miles over the preceding 16 hours in almost three months. 

However, after putting yourself into the hurt locker for 79 days, returning to reality can be quite difficult, especially when the world's media are waiting for you at the finish line. 

Whilst you may have expected Beaumont to ride in to Paris whooping and cheering, it ended up being quite the opposite. 

'It was mind-blowing really, I ran through the finish hundreds of thousands of times,' adding, 'it was such a mental media scrum I kind of observed it rather than lived it.'

'It didn't feel how I thought it'd feel. Everybody was super excited and I was bemused, there were cameras in my face.' 

'Don't get me wrong, it was amazing, but did I expect it? It felt like I watched it rather than lived it.'

Waiting for the reality of the achievement to sink in should be expected. After all, it had been less than 20 hours since Beaumont had stepped off the bike. 

Another factor that was playing with the Scot's ability to let it all sink in was the physical pain he had just endured. 

After day 9, Beaumont was riding with a hairline fracture and a chipped tooth suffered due to a crash in Russia. Put this alongside the general pounding his body has taken over the last 79 days and you can understand why he is not jumping for joy just yet. 

'My muscles are alright and take care of themselves but its the contact points that have really taken a beating.' Beaumont said. 

'The soles of the feet, neck, hands, backside are what hurt. The feet have taken such a battering and I have pressure sores so it felt like riding on hot coals.' 

'For the second half of the ride I had to wear shoes half a size bigger.' 

Whilst the pain was bad on the bike, the drive to continue managed to spur Beaumont on. With so much on the line, including the world record and a lot of money from sponsors, the 34-year-old felt an obligation not to give up despite some hard times. 

'Many times I nearly came close to not having the motivation. The worse thing is sleep deprivation as it makes you cognitively slower.'

'It makes you feel weak and fragile and anyone can be a tough guy for one day. I had to do it for two and a half months.'

'I told myself unless I was injured I was not going to stop, the only feeling worse than going slowly was stopping. The option of not riding was off of the table right from the start.' 

This tough times went beyond the physical and mental pain that was experienced on the bike. As can be expected, sacrifices were made in order to make this challenge a reality. 

During the 79 days that Beaumont took to complete his challenge his eldest daughter turned four and his youngest daughter started to walk. Returning to his family, he says, was the thing he was most excited about. 

After having ridden 1,000 miles every four days for the previous 79 days, you can imagine the wear that this caused his bike. Three chains, a chain set, and countless tyres were amongst what needed changing throughout the journey. 

Almost a day after he had completed his challenge, the pain had really began to set in. Asking how his body felt 24 hours on, his answer was pretty clear. 

'I feel like I have had the heaviest night in the world followed by a street fight.'

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