It’s less than ten weeks since James Bowthorpe pedalled into Hyde Park to smash the round-the-world cycling record, but a 23-year-old former bike courier from London is looking to beat his 175-day mark for the fastest circumnavigation of the globe by bike. But it could be close.
Julian Emre Sayarer, who was born in London and grew up in Leicestershire, is 158 days into his journey and averaging 107 miles a day against James Bowthorpe’s 103.
And having arrived back in Europe earlier this week, he is now riding through the Iberian peninsula as he heads to Rouen in France where his journey started on 10 June, and is on target to beat the record by more than a week.
Julian’s route has taken him across Europe to Ukraine and Russia, then Kazakhstan and China, where he took a flight from Shanghai to Bangkok. He then rode down to Singapore before flying to New Zealand, riding from the top to bottom of the country’s North and South Islands.
Crucially, that included visiting Wellington, one of two antipodal points that need to be passed through to satisfy Guinness World Record rules. The other is Madrid in Spain, which Julian should reach in the coming days. After New Zealand, Julian headed to Vancouver, Canada, heading down into the United States before catching a plane for Lisbon.
While this may be Julian’s most ambitious ride to date, it’s certainly not his first long-distance effort. Past endeavours have included riding from London to Lisbon in 2005, and to Istanbul – his father is from Turkey – the following year. Since then, he has also ridden from Athens to Milan, and from the Ukrainian city of Odessa to Krakow in Poland.
The title of Julian’s website - www.thisisnotforcharity.com - makes clear that his trip is not a fundraising exercise. Rather, the politics graduate from the University of Sussex University is seeking to raise awareness of what he sees as some of the issues that should be of greatest concern to people in Britain and beyond today, which he outlines in his Manifesto, also on his website.
Since arriving in Lisbon, Julian, who is riding a Tout Terrain bike with Rohlhoff hub supplied by London’s Bikefix, has received a setback through having to spend eight hours fixing his brakes, according to his Twitter feed.
In his latest post on the social networking website, Julian says: “ Feel I need to fall in love with the challenge facing me in order to win out. Right now I think she's cruel, obstinate and unreasonable. Rain.”
Hopefully we’ll find Julian in better spirits when we speak to him – and as soon as we do, we’ll bring you his own thoughts on the highs and lows of his journey, and what it is that has kept him going.
In the meantime, representatives from Bikefix are looking to be in Rouen next Friday 4 December to help celebrate Julian’s arrival there, and if all goes according to plan, they’ll be helping him celebrate a new world record.
Bikefix is also planning a welcome home party for him in its shop in London’s Lambs Conduit Street, with food, drink and – hopefully – music on offer. Mike Burrows, designer of the famous Lotus bike ridden to World and Olympic success by Chris Boardman, will also be there to talk about his latest projects.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.