Riders set out from Greenwich on World Cycle Racing Grand Tour

11 (unsupported) riders vie to be quickest round the world, but is world record achievable?

by Simon_MacMichael   February 19, 2012  

Mike Hall (picture credit Joolze Dymond)

Nine riders left Greenwich Park in South London yesterday morning to embark on the debut edition of the World Cycle Racing Grand Tour, the race originally devised as the Great Bike Ride by Vin Cox, the former world record holder for the quickest circumnavigation of the globe by bike. Whether any of the contestants in the race, who will be unsupported on the ride, will themselves get into the record books is debatable – the current Guinness World Record holder, Alan Bate, was supported for much of his record-shattering journey.

Bate, from the UK but based in Thailand, arrived back at his start point in Bangkok on 4 August 2010, his time of 106 days, 10 hours and 33 minutes shattering the new world record of 163 days, 6 hours and 58 minutes that another Briton, Vin Cox, had set just three days earlier when he finished his ride in Greenwich Park.

The new benchmark set by Bate was not ratified until last month by Guinness, which perhaps surprisingly does not distinguish between supported and unsupported rides in ratifying world records for round-the-world rides. The current criteria are that the ride must start and finish at the same location, travel in one direction, be a minimum of 18,000 miles and pass through two antipodal points on the globe.

It had been Cox himself who first devised plans to introduce a direct competitive element into round-the-world rides. However, in what appears to be far from the first case of mutiny relating to a circumnavigation of the world, the riders signed up to his Global Bicycle Race project reportedly decided to take matters into their own hands and set up the World Cycle Racing Tour, apparently due to concerns over the scale of the task he had set himself.

Besides the nine riders who set off from Greenwich yesterday, each of whom will follow different routes on their way back to the start point, three others will be departing from other start points, including one from the Isle of Man and one from New Zealand.

One of the riders taking part, Mike Hall (pictured above), whose bike has been handbuilt by Upgrade Bikes using Reynolds Thirty Two carbon rims and durable DMR disc hubs, says on his blog that he believes “that there is significant room for improvement upon 163 days and a chance of getting near Alan Bate’s new record of 106 days.

According to Trackleaders.com, which is being used by the World Cycle Racing Grand Tour to enable tracking of all participants in the race, Hall, whose backers include nutrition brand Quick Energy, is currently heading towards the River Loire somewhere between Blois and Orleans, having crossed the English Channel via the Newhaven-Dieppe ferry.

While the lure of exploring the world on two wheels transcends national boundaries – one of the more notable exponents, Alvaro Neil, nicknamed the Biciclown who for the past seven years or so has been stopping off at various points of the globe to perform, hails from Spain – hammering around it in the shortest time possible is a decidedly British phenomenon. Perhaps it’s all those Boy’s Own Paper-style stories of Victorian explorers?

Since current Guinness World Records rules were drawn up in 2003, the record has been held by Steve Strange, who set a time of 276 days and 19 hours in 2005, which stood until 2008 when it was beaten by Mark Beaumont, whose record of 194 days and 17 hours stood until it was eclipsed by Cox.

Two other Britons, James Bowthrope and London courier Julian Sayarer, completed their circumnavigations in a shorter time than Beaumont, but neither of those attempts were recognised by Guinness World Records.

18 user comments

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Good luck to them all. At least they're not doIng one of those pointless walks to
The North Pole which ends up with some poor pilot having to risk
life and limb rescuing you from a floating ice shelf. I remember a few years back
Some silly sod set off in spring against all advice and had to be rescued. When the interviewer quoted the rescue pilot's comments on the walker's stupidity the walker said 'Well he got paid enough to rescue me..' Should have left the bugger out there.

MercuryOne

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [935 posts]
19th February 2012 - 15:43

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Some will probably disagree, but i think the supported record takes the adventure out of it!

posted by Stefan [57 posts]
19th February 2012 - 21:03

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There should be separate records. Supported and unsupported.

Benjamin Hall's picture

posted by Benjamin Hall [64 posts]
20th February 2012 - 18:13

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Since I get a mention above, I feel I ought to defend myself against any misunderstandings... A small minority of the riders did not share my vision, believe I could deliver it, or understand my altruistic motives for creating what was planned to be the “Global Bicycle Race”. Mike Hall led the crazy decision to create a rival event, predicated mainly on having much lower budget tracking but using the rest of my original concept and pinching the riders. I cancelled the GBR to avoid splitting the scene, but I am pretty sore with Mike.
Most annoying in the end is that the lower budget tracking system seems about as bad as I feared it would be. I’d really like to be able to follow their race day-by-day with a yacht racing style map showing the paths and progress of the competitors and a leader board showing distance travelled. If they are going to nick my idea (if only I could escape relation to it!), I just wish they’d do a good job of it!

Vin Cox

posted by Vin Cox [44 posts]
20th February 2012 - 22:21

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Is anyone know the route these commited silly buggers are taking. Will they be passing through Timaru in New Zealands South Island, it is likely they will as Timaru is on the primary linking State Highway,. Least I can do is catch up with them and offer a cup of tea or a bed for the night.

posted by chromo1990 [43 posts]
21st February 2012 - 0:36

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chromo1990 wrote:
Is anyone know the route these commited silly buggers are taking. Will they be passing through Timaru in New Zealands South Island, it is likely they will as Timaru is on the primary linking State Highway,. Least I can do is catch up with them and offer a cup of tea or a bed for the night.

They're all taking different routes - but one guy who didn't start from London will actually be starting from South Island itself in the coming days, not sure when I'm afraid. Here's a link to his entry on the website:

http://worldcycleracing.com/category/riders/independent-riders/niel-cove...

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posted by Simon_MacMichael [7517 posts]
21st February 2012 - 1:04

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These brave attempts are not really just about who is fastest over the vast distance: it's also about the choice of route (some are faster than others), how much support they have, how lucky they are with all kinds of issues - health, crossings being on time, weather, mechanical breakdowns and all kinds of other stuff. The 'record' time will not have all that much meaning until it's more like an actual race, i.e. all the riders covering the same route, preferably at the same time, with the same amount of support and tracked by the same tracking system.

Not that the time matters all that much to me - I am just full of admiration for all of them even for making the attempt. What an amazing feat to make it all that way in any time under a year, really takes guts and astonishing stamina both mental and physical. Anyone who does it deserves huge respect whether they're the 'fastest' or not.

posted by bikeylikey [155 posts]
21st February 2012 - 9:22

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Vin Cox wrote:
Since I get a mention above, I feel I ought to defend myself against any misunderstandings... A small minority of the riders did not share my vision, believe I could deliver it, or understand my altruistic motives for creating what was planned to be the “Global Bicycle Race”. Mike Hall led the crazy decision to create a rival event, predicated mainly on having much lower budget tracking but using the rest of my original concept and pinching the riders. I cancelled the GBR to avoid splitting the scene, but I am pretty sore with Mike.
Most annoying in the end is that the lower budget tracking system seems about as bad as I feared it would be. I’d really like to be able to follow their race day-by-day with a yacht racing style map showing the paths and progress of the competitors and a leader board showing distance travelled. If they are going to nick my idea (if only I could escape relation to it!), I just wish they’d do a good job of it!

i agree vin there will always someone trying to hijack an idea then make a hash of it!!! Angry

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posted by andrew miners [46 posts]
21st February 2012 - 14:43

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Never mind Vin, sh*t happens, it's not your problem any more. You will always be able to look back and be proud that you did what you did, and no-one can take that away.

Funny to think there is a group people pedalling away as I type. I attended your talk in Shrewsbury and loved the fact that a pretty much standard bicycle took you all the way around the world on an extraordinary adventure. It said to me that all sorts of things are possible if we really want to do them.

Cool

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [1790 posts]
21st February 2012 - 16:07

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Just to set the record straight the decision was fairly unanimous, it wasn't led by me and it was only done as a last resort. After the second time you quit, in response to valid criticisms, we still tried to work with you but after getting the run around for 3 weeks enough was enough. I find such a personal attack on my character whilst I'm out on the road getting job done quite cowardly and take accusation of any form of IP theft very seriously so please either substantiate your claims or retract them.

posted by Mike_Hall [11 posts]
27th February 2012 - 13:41

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Mike_Hall wrote:
Just to set the record straight the decision was fairly unanimous, it wasn't led by me and it was only done as a last resort. After the second time you quit, in response to valid criticisms, we still tried to work with you but after getting the run around for 3 weeks enough was enough. I find such a personal attack on my character whilst I'm out on the road getting job done quite cowardly and take accusation of any form of IP theft very seriously so please either substantiate your claims or retract them.

Yeah, you’ve nicked the idea and pinched the riders; and I don’t like it. Big deal though pal! - You’ve got a race (which you’re also in and winning!), and those things are not legally IP, so you’re completely in the clear and a winner all around.
Just ride your bike (fast as ever – can’t fault you on that skill) and be happy you’re winning the race and you’ve licked me. Do it gracefully from here on pal. Peace.

Vin Cox

posted by Vin Cox [44 posts]
27th February 2012 - 19:12

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Mike_Hall wrote:
Just to set the record straight the decision was fairly unanimous, it wasn't led by me and it was only done as a last resort. After the second time you quit, in response to valid criticisms, we still tried to work with you but after getting the run around for 3 weeks enough was enough. I find such a personal attack on my character whilst I'm out on the road getting job done quite cowardly and take accusation of any form of IP theft very seriously so please either substantiate your claims or retract them.

so Vin was running a global bike race with a bunch of riders, and now you're running a slightly different global bike race with the same riders? interested to know how think that's *not* nicking his idea Big Grin

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posted by cactuscat [299 posts]
27th February 2012 - 20:17

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In short vin was supposedly organising the race but was criticised as communication was poor and progress wasn't being made. In response to this Vin quit as organiser and said do it yourself so it's not a case of anyone nicking any ideas and more a case of being dropped in it big time. The Global Bicycle Race was a complete fiasco and funnily enough no-one fancied giving a man who changes his mind every 5 minutes about what he did and didnt say £1800 for the pleasure of something they can do themselves. Almost all the riders signed an open letter to Vin before any speak of a new name saying they were not going to enter. Vin, like all the other feedback and concerns, did not take it seriously.

posted by Mike_Hall [11 posts]
1st March 2012 - 2:52

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And this race doesnt 'belong' to anyone, certainly not me. We just want to race our bikes not own anything. Wasn't even my suggestion as it happens. I had decided to go it alone.

posted by Mike_Hall [11 posts]
1st March 2012 - 6:13

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Mike_Hall wrote:
In short vin was supposedly organising the race but was criticised as communication was poor and progress wasn't being made. In response to this Vin quit as organiser and said do it yourself so it's not a case of anyone nicking any ideas and more a case of being dropped in it big time. The Global Bicycle Race was a complete fiasco and funnily enough no-one fancied giving a man who changes his mind every 5 minutes about what he did and didnt say £1800 for the pleasure of something they can do themselves. Almost all the riders signed an open letter to Vin before any speak of a new name saying they were not going to enter. Vin, like all the other feedback and concerns, did not take it seriously.

Not true at all (even on objective things such as costs and sequence of events). But let's leave it, ride bikes, and keep out of each others way Mike? I've lost enough time and money disagreeing with you (and I bet you're sick of me). Leave me out of your press releases, and please avoid me on your (no doubt successful) return.

Vin Cox

posted by Vin Cox [44 posts]
1st March 2012 - 18:57

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Happy to, if you could take responsibilty for your own actions once in a while that would be handy. I'm not the first you've pointed the finger at. I don't think anyone else needs it though.

posted by Mike_Hall [11 posts]
2nd March 2012 - 8:29

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Vin Cox wrote:
Mike_Hall wrote:
In short vin was supposedly organising the race but was criticised as communication was poor and progress wasn't being made. In response to this Vin quit as organiser and said do it yourself so it's not a case of anyone nicking any ideas and more a case of being dropped in it big time. The Global Bicycle Race was a complete fiasco and funnily enough no-one fancied giving a man who changes his mind every 5 minutes about what he did and didnt say £1800 for the pleasure of something they can do themselves. Almost all the riders signed an open letter to Vin before any speak of a new name saying they were not going to enter. Vin, like all the other feedback and concerns, did not take it seriously.

Not true at all (even on objective things such as costs and sequence of events). But let's leave it, ride bikes, and keep out of each others way Mike? I've lost enough time and money disagreeing with you (and I bet you're sick of me). Leave me out of your press releases, and please avoid me on your (no doubt successful) return.

That's a bit boring. I think you should both sort it out the old-fashioned way and have a good scrap Wink

posted by terrahawk [6 posts]
2nd March 2012 - 13:16

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terrahawk wrote:
Vin Cox wrote:
Mike_Hall wrote:
In short vin was supposedly organising the race but was criticised as communication was poor and progress wasn't being made. In response to this Vin quit as organiser and said do it yourself so it's not a case of anyone nicking any ideas and more a case of being dropped in it big time. The Global Bicycle Race was a complete fiasco and funnily enough no-one fancied giving a man who changes his mind every 5 minutes about what he did and didnt say £1800 for the pleasure of something they can do themselves. Almost all the riders signed an open letter to Vin before any speak of a new name saying they were not going to enter. Vin, like all the other feedback and concerns, did not take it seriously.

Not true at all (even on objective things such as costs and sequence of events). But let's leave it, ride bikes, and keep out of each others way Mike? I've lost enough time and money disagreeing with you (and I bet you're sick of me). Leave me out of your press releases, and please avoid me on your (no doubt successful) return.

That's a bit boring. I think you should both sort it out the old-fashioned way and have a good scrap Wink

How about a race on boris bikes to settle it. London to Brighton? Big Grin

posted by step-hent [639 posts]
2nd March 2012 - 15:01

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