Round the world biking? Who's the quickest?

An update on the record attempts by James Bowthorpe and Julian Emre Sayarer

by Dave Atkinson   December 15, 2009  

Julian Emre Sayarer's return to Rouen Cathedral followed by his attack on former record holder Mark Beaumont certainly put the cat among the pigeons and got people talking here on But did he get the record? Julian certainly seems to think so, but it's far from a done deal as far as we're concerned.

To make a bit more sense of the situation we've been speaking to some people in the know, and the concensus seems to be that Julian's claim of 165 days – 13 days less than it actually took him – is, well, optimistic.

We're still waiting to hear the rules from the horse's mouth but our understanding is that the time spent in transfer from one place to another – either by boat, plane, train or whatever – is deductible for the purposes of the record, which must consist of an otherwise continuous ride of at least 18,000 miles and take in two antipodal points – opposite points on the globe. The full rules in PDF format are attached at the bottom of this story. Essentially the clock is ticking at all times, except during transfer. As we understand it, the following are the facts, but we'll update them as we learn more:

1) Mark didn't deduct his transfer times from his total, because he'd broken Steve Stange's record by such a big margin. However, he was entitled to do so under the Guinness rules. Mark's got a certificate from GWR that's the latest one issued. Currently he's still the record holder.

2) James didn't deduct his times either so his time is directly comparable to Mark's and he rounded it up to 175 days (29/03/09 - 20/09/09) from 174 days 4 hours. Again, he's entitled to deduct transfer times, which are defined as any time that the bike is checked in for a transfer, and he has, so far as we understand, done so for his official world record submission.

3) Julian *has* deducted his transfers. However, there seems to be some confusion about what else he's deducted - there's a suggestion that he's also deducted rest days and mechanicals, which isn't admissable under the Guinness rules. Certainly with a total elapsed time of 178 days (10/06/2009 - 4/12/2009) and just four flights he's rounded down his time to 165 days, which seems excessive: he would have had to spend 13 days travelling. This doesn't seem likely.

4) Julian's route was much more direct in terms of transfers, with just four flights. James took about 11 flights in total, but his total elapsed time was more than three days quicker than Julian.

So who's the winner? Well, given the facts above, when Guinness adjudicate we'd expect them to find that James' time is the quicker. But time will tell and we'll keep you updated. Stay tuned!

Circumnavigation by bicycle - fastest.pdf92.94 KB

13 user comments

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James Bowthorpe ftw!

posted by Alankk [126 posts]
15th December 2009 - 14:16

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Hooray for James B! Booooo to Julian S! Do the right thing, Guinness... Big Grin Big Grin

Seriously though, I've read through that PDF and can't see any justification for JS knocking 13 days off his time. Seems pretty clear to me that he's trying to pull a fast one. Hope he can square that with his moral high ground somehow Thinking

cactuscat's picture

posted by cactuscat [305 posts]
15th December 2009 - 15:03

1 Like

Let's not forget that James is doing it to raise money for charity.

It's not just about the size of your cog.

TRs Blurb n Blog's picture

posted by TRs Blurb n Blog [270 posts]
15th December 2009 - 15:42


let's get them all on "Come Dine With Me" to slug it out properly.

posted by the-yorkshire-p... [180 posts]
15th December 2009 - 15:56

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i reckon JS is in trouble for another reason too. the rules state that "The journey should be continuous and in one direction i.e. East to West or West to East" but by jumping from shanghai to bangkok in order to miss out australia (which is hard cause it's all into a headwind), he's effectively doing the same bit twice at different latitudes. and i don't reckon that will be allowed

purplecup's picture

posted by purplecup [232 posts]
15th December 2009 - 16:09

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purplecup wrote:
i reckon JS is in trouble for another reason too. the rules state that "The journey should be continuous and in one direction i.e. East to West or West to East" but by jumping from shanghai to bangkok in order to miss out australia (which is hard cause it's all into a headwind), he's effectively doing the same bit twice at different latitudes. and i don't reckon that will be allowed

Yes, I wondered about that too. Technically I think the rule is there to stop you doubling back on yourself when you're actually on the bike. But if JS can do that transfer, what's to stop me doing a big push from London through Europe to, say, Moscow, then flying back to Paris, riding to Kiev, transferring back to Lisbon and then heading off to Turkey? I'd be riding west to east all the time, and when I got to Istanbul I could probably head for new zealand and miss out asia and australia. job's a good'n.

Also, JS is claiming that because he was ahead of schedule he arrived at some airports days before his flight was due to leave, and the clock stops then. But surely that's just bad planning? What's to stop me cycling to Bangkok and booking a flight that's a month after I arrive? that way i can sit around drinking cocktails and have a month off before i have another push.

All this conjecture assumes of course that i'm capable of riding these distances, which i'm not Big Grin

The other thing that's odd is that GWR don't seem to distinguish between unsupported and supported rides, which are very different beasts indeed.

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7744 posts]
15th December 2009 - 16:31


It would be rather amusing if Julian turns out not to be the winner, given his vitriolic attack. And what if Beaumont then deducts days as entitled? Would he then take back his record.


posted by OldRidgeback [2492 posts]
15th December 2009 - 16:37

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Hoping that justice is served regarding Mr Sayarer and the last laugh is on him Devil ! No doubt this would be met by another childish rant directed at Mark B.

posted by London Commuter [8 posts]
15th December 2009 - 17:02


Guinness are pants at setting rules. The record used to be held by Nick Sanders who did it in 79 days - that was when the rules didn't specify 26,000 miles of travelling or two antipodal points. So Nick did a lap in the northern hemisphere of about 11,000 miles. He was the recognised Guinness record holder for quite a few years. Then Guinness rewrote the rules and said his ride didn't count!

The current rules are much better, but they do allow you to wangle deductible rest days before transfers because the clock's not running between the time when you arrive at the airport/docks and the time when you check in. I checked this with Guinness when I was thinking of having a crack. So you really would be allowed to have a month drinking cocktails in Bangkok, but only in the airport bar with your bike against the wall. If you weren't allowed to do this rich people would have an advantage because they'd book daily flights for a week either side of their target date.

Julian's big mistake is his route - a large chunk of it doesn't count. It's a clear breach of rule 2, because his journey was not continuous and in one direction. He should at least have checked it with Guinness. But I suppose he's too stroppy and cocky to take advice. Its going to be a giant Fail - just another courier misfit who won't be told Smile

posted by nick h. [33 posts]
15th December 2009 - 21:29

1 Like

posted by London Commuter [8 posts]
15th December 2009 - 23:57

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941 words and 7 paragraphs later he "finally" gets to the end.

Darned if I do…

Mr Sock's picture

posted by Mr Sock [153 posts]
16th December 2009 - 0:05

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I got to the end and couldn't help thinking that rather than riding around the world, he'd be better spending a few years as a development worker in an impoverished nation. I think he'd probably learn a great deal more than he did during his trip and it might even benefit someone else. The two years I spent as a development worker taught me a lot and I became very cynical about many of the 'travellers' I met, who were going overland in trucks, motorcycling or cycling through Africa in search of experience. A lot (and perhaps most) seemed totally oblivious to the cultures they were in and the upset they'd frequently cause by ignoring local religions/customs. I think I could out-cynical our fixie riding courier.

And I'm a BMX riding vegetarian, not vegan.


posted by OldRidgeback [2492 posts]
16th December 2009 - 15:28


Oh the sweet irony! Sayarer gobs off and makes himself look daft and it turns out he's not even broken the record himself. There is justice in the world!! Big Grin

posted by dkramsay [11 posts]
30th December 2009 - 18:39