£100-a-mile fundraiser aims to beat round-the-world record

Carpenter aims to sand 47 days off world record to raise £1.8million for Parkinson's research

by Rebecca McIlhone   March 6, 2009  

Kharu towards Chang La (Pic: Tom Bowthorpe)

Carpenter James Bowthorpe has two ambitious aims – to beat the round-the-world cycling record and become a doctor.

The first of these challenges will begin on March 29 when the 31-year-old will saddle up and set off on an epic 18,000 mile journey aiming to beat the recently set world record of 197 days by around three weeks. The second challenge may take a little longer.

For the past two years James has been a volunteer with the “What’s Driving Parkinson’s?” research team at King’s College, London, and his challenge is aimed at raising £1.8 million to put towards the £5 million cost of the next stage of the team's work.

Cycling an average of 120 miles a day, James aims to complete the task in around 164 days (150 cycling days plus rest days) beating the 194-day record recently set by Mark Beaumont. His bike will be a Santos Travelmaster, a luxury tourer from the Netherlands, which has a belt drive and will save him from having to change the cogs or the chain.

James will set off from his home in London and traverse Europe, passing into Asia at Istanbul, crossing Iran, Pakistan and India, where conditions for cycling get a lot harder.

He will pedal through Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore before heading on to Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA, cycling from Vancouver to New York before the final straight from Portugal to London.

The ride will be unassisted, but James will have his brother Tom handling logistics from the UK, his girlfriend Nadja handling the media side of things and plenty of contacts along the way to provide him with food, tyres and other equipment.

He says: “I’m a carpenter. I make furniture and I’ve been doing that in London for six years now, but medicine’s been in the back of my mind for a long time.

“I started doing voluntary work two years ago and came out of that experience wanting to raise quite a lot of money for the work they’re doing for Parkinson’s research.

“I got quite frustrated it wasn’t properly funded and about ten months ago I thought, what can I do to help? I was thinking of doing a coastal walk or something like that, then I got to thinking, I’ve always wanted to do a really long cycle ride and I knew the record had recently been broken so I thought, being quite foolish, I could probably do that a bit quicker.”

James has cycled long distances before, his first trip taking him to the far north of Canada when he was 18. He has since crossed the Indian Himalayas and biked from Alaska to LA solo, but the challenge at hand will be several times further and more intense than anything he has done before.

James is training in and around London, where he lives, and working on the complicated logistics and technology involved.

To chart his progress, James will be taking a GPS tagging camera which will take photos to be uploaded to a dedicated website and he will also be sending Twitter and blog updates on a regular basis to create a live link to his journey.

When he gets back his next challenge will be to get himself onto a medicine course as a mature student.

There are over 120,000 people with Parkinson’s Disease in the UK, with 10,000 being diagnosed every year.

To find out more about this and the challenge in general, visit the website: www.globecycle.org

Picture: James and Tom Bowthorpe during their cycling trip to the Indian Himalaya, courtesy of Tom Bowthorpe.