As you are probably aware from my blog posts I am stuck in Bangkok awaiting a new frame so am just in a state of limbo. I thought I would write a brief overview of the race so far, as I have had contact with some of the riders I will be able to give a bit of an ‘insider’ view I hope which people may find of interest.
As the day 55, leader board has become available, what a 55 days it has been. I am sure we are a long way from saving the planet but the eleven names on the leader board are all sharing the same ambition and living the dream of cycling around the world. When those who set off from London met the day before we went, it was clear that some people were racing all the way and wanted to do it as quick as possible whereas there were a few of us who were more in for the wilderness experience and the experiences along the way. I think this is reflected quite fairly in the leader board and you can see the two groups quite clearly.
The distances covered have been phenomenal though. Lets first talk about the race leader Mike Hall. He is now halfway around the world on a bicycle in 55 days, including his transit times. Just think of that in these terms. He has cycled from London through Europe, across India and across Australia on a bicycle in 55 days… mental! I am sure that would be difficult even in a car to muster.
A follower of the race said to me the other day, ‘Stuart you are the only person left who is on the Eurasia continent, do I feel lonely?’ I didn’t realise that this was the case but now I am aware I certainly do. Accidents seem to of played quite a part in trying to slow people down in the event. I have had two crashes but think people have heard enough about them so I won’t go on! Simon Hutchinson had dehydration in India which slowed him down for a few days followed by a crash into a stationary truck in Perth wrecking his front forks and some of his kit. However Simon is back on the road and still in 4th place. This is a tremendous achievement and looks to be going strong and waving the flag for the Irish.
Sean Conway, the only man who has a route to take him over all five continents was riding happily along a road at the start of a day minding his own business when a truck came from behind and turned him over quite literally. The bicycle was not a pretty sight nor was the injuries suffered but Sean claims the helmet he was wearing helped to minimise damage. Always wear a helmet kids! I always do! Guinness agreed to stop the clock whilst Sean sorted things out and with a neck brace on decided to restart his cycling and has hit some pretty remarkable distances since being back on the road doing 670 km in two days riding and writing on twitter that there is ‘no more pissing around’ with the hashtag #digdeep. Best of luck with the rest of your effort Sean. I am sure now he is on his own schedule and different timing to the rest of the riders it may have put a bit of pressure off of him as the leaderboard is irrelevant as he doesn’t have to count the days he was getting himself sorted.
Good news to see Stephen Phillips riding again. After having problems with his achilles and throwing the towel in, he has decided to give it another go after talking with his physio. I spoke with Stephen on my brief stopover in London and told him my plans for the rest of the trip and that I was still going to be part of the World Cycle Racing – Grand Tour event even though I didn’t really have a chance of winning anymore. I also urged him to reconsider his position and I am glad that he is riding again. As one of the race supporters has said the more the merrier!
Martin Walker has been going strong and I have only spoken to him once since him being on the road, this was when he was making use of a McDonald’s facilities and said that he hadn’t started to up the pace yet. I understand that Martin has faced some quite strong winds for a prolonged time and has recently been suffering from a bad stomach! Martin is nonetheless in 2nd place and is looking very strong on the bicycle! I would not write this guy off yet. There is still the opportunity to catch Mike Hall and still half a race to go so things are still exciting at this point.
Richard Dunnet has finished his crossing of the US and is now in New Zealand, he is the third placed rider and seems to of had very little problems thus far, or he is just not reporting them. Whilst Mike and Martin are riding with very minimalist set ups, Richard is using rear panniers so think his speed is a great achievement. He looks very strong and again with the unpredictably of road cycling it is all to play for and I think Richard could have a chance of coming up trumps!
Paul Ashley-Unett set off from the Isle of Man and has completed nearly 5,000 miles, a great achievement, currently making his way across the States, he seems to be riding quite strong and generally quite comfortably (bit of guessing here, don’t shoot me if I am wrong!). I am looking forward to following Paul when he gets back onto the Eurasia continent. I believe he has an interesting route planned through China and Kazakhstan. I think it will be interesting to follow this although it is still a long way from home!
Lets not forget Jason Woodhouse, who had issues with his bicycle from the off, this meant that he was slower to get going than the others but has crossed Europe and made it to the US. I like to follow Jason’s updates, seems he meets someone interesting almost every day. from people running across America to having dinner with minor reality tv stars. Certainly living the high life!
Niel, the last person to set off has been battling his way through South America, he has witnessed extreme winds, snow and altitude so lots of fun things, however explains his pet hates to include cars honking at him and people whistling and staring at him. He seems quite comfortable and is enjoying the adventure as much as anything.
One thing is for sure, everyone is determined to get round. Crashes and injury cannot stop the riders and the pedals keep turning. I am awaiting the first crossing of riders expectantly. I always thought since the concept of this race first came about that two riders crossing each other on the road would be an amazing and surreal experience especially since the last time they saw each other they were pedalling in opposite directions and x amount of days later they still are!
I am sure we are in for a lot more twists and turns! Lets hope the second half of things provides a safer race and people stop having so many problems. I cannot wait to get back on the saddle myself. I am actually missing it very much and have looked up gyms in Bangkok.. if only stationary miles counted!
Keep those pedals turning guys and keep safe! To keep following go the race website here!