His own record for circumnavigating the globe on a bicycle is less than six months old, but Vin Cox is already encouraging others to follow in his wheeltracks, with the announcement that an 18,000 mile global bicycle race will begin in London on 18 February 2012.
The 34-year old cycled into London on 1 August 2010 after riding around the world in a mere 176 days, riding through France, North Africa, Asia, Australia, North America, Spain and France again before a final leg from Plymouth to Greenwich. Now organising the first bike race round the world, Mr Cox wants to encourage others to take on what has to be the ultimate endurance challenge in cycling.
The race, Vin Cox's brainchild, has been established to encourage people planning a circumnavigation to start in the same place at the same time, which will boost publicity and give the challenge an added competitive dimension. Participants will have the further incentive of trying to return in time for the London Olympics, which begin on 27 July 2012, and some may even try to break Mr Cox’s own record for the challenge, which stands at 163 days (taking into account time spent in transfers). Riders will be free to set their own routes, but must follow the criteria set by Guinness World Records, and will carry GPS trackers so their progress can be monitored.
Racers will be free to devise their own routes, but the rules of the Global Race say that the journey should be continuous and uni-directional, covering a minimum distance of 18,000 miles and using the same bike throughout, although thankfully replacement parts are allowed in cases of mechanical failure. Riders can choose to race either supported or unsupported.
It’s a challenge that will appeal to those with a taste for adventure, while its epic nature should mean it will also gain a lot of press attention and help participants raise money for their chosen causes; Mr Cox rode to raise money for the Geoff Thomas Foundation, established by the former England footballer to get advanced new leukemia and lymphoma treatments to patients more quickly. More details of the race can be found here, and Cox has helpfully provided racers with details of where he thinks he could have gone faster on his record-breaking ride.
Circumnavigating the globe on a bike is of course an enormously demanding challenge, and requires deep pockets as well as strong legs, but the plan for the race builds on a growing trend. What were previously considered ‘extreme’ events are increasingly becoming part of the sporting mainstream, and with the website promising to provide regular updates on conditions from the riders and update their progress, the race promises to capture the imagination of the wider public. For those willing and able, a place in history awaits as one of the first to complete the historic Global Cycling Race.