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Cairo to Cape Town in 50 days – Mark Beaumont attempts to secure another long distance cycling world record

Lions and kidnapping don’t bother him – he’s far more worried about being hit by a car

Mark Beaumont, who has previously cycled the length of the Americas and once held the world record for circumnavigating the globe by bike, will next month attempt to break his latest world record. The 31-year-old Scot will attempt to cycle the 6,500 miles from Egypt to South Africa in just 50 days.

Mark has trained for months with the Scottish cycling squad at Glasgow’s Velodrome as well as on the roads around his home in Perthshire. His journey will begin on April 9th and he told Scotland Now how attempting such feats was a hard habit to kick.

“The kid inside me loves the idea of breaking the world record. And there’s nothing else I’ve done in life where I find that absolute flow. Cycling is what I’ve done since I was a kid and I have an emotional attachment. When I’m riding hard there’s a flow, an enjoyment and simplicity I don’t get from anything else in life.”

Mark will be riding a carbon disc-equipped Koga with some special modifications on which he will aim to do 150 miles a day. That’s a lot on normal roads, but as he points out, there’s a good reason why the current record is 59 days. “North Kenya is the bit most people doing this miss out. There are dirt roads rather than ribbons of tar.

There are also higher security risks in the area.

“In some places in Africa, the risk is petty crime. But if things go wrong in places like Kenya, it can be more serious. There’s a lot of tribal conflict and there have been issues with Islamic extremism, certainly enough to be a concern.

“Cyclists have been through without escorts or security but I’m not prepared to take that risk. So for those 400 miles, I’ll have two fully armed escort support vehicles. Some folk might say I’m being a big jessie but I don’t care. It’s too great a risk.”

But even so, those aren’t his greatest concerns. “People talk of being eaten by lions or kidnapped. But the reality is my biggest concerns are malaria and being hit by a car.” He points out that animals tend to avoid humans, “but I’ve heard the elephants in Botswana can be tricky.”

Having landed the Guinness world record for circumnavigating the globe by bike in 2008, he followed that up by cycling 13,000 miles between Alaska and South America, pausing only to scale the highest peaks in North and South America, Mount McKinley and Aconcagua.

The round-the-world trip took 194 days and 17 hours, while the Americas journey took 268 days, so this new challenge might seem mercifully brief. However, Mark had previously sworn off doing this sort of thing altogether after he and his team of rowers had needed rescuing when their boat capsized during a crossing from Morocco to Barbados.

“The accident happened in 2012 and I very nearly died out there. After that I got married and had a daughter and my priorities changed. My knee-jerk reaction was, ‘no more’. I was going to retire as an athlete and concentrate on broadcasting work – but those emotions mellow.”

After following the Queen’s Baton, the wooden symbol that unites the Commonwealth, on its 190,000km journey around the world ahead of the Commonwealth Games, he had a change of heart.

“I was in the worst shape of my life, not training full-time for the first time since my early 20s, so I had to have a difficult conversation with my family. I sat down with them and said I wasn’t ready to give up yet. But they wanted me to.

“My daughter is 18 months and for my wife and mum it would be easier if I did other work. But as an athlete, I still have that fire in my belly to find out how much more I’m capable of. Now my promise to myself and to them is not to take on any half-year expeditions and to negate risk.”

So just the 50 days then. “I’ve planned to get to Cape Town for half-term so my family can come out for the end.”

You will be able to follow Mark’s progress on his website.

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

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donny | 9 years ago

Mark was contracted last year to lead a charity cycle event from Russia to John O' Groats. Sadly the event had to be pushed back due to the route being near the Russia/Ukraine conflict.

This impacted sponsors and funding. Eventually his agents (and I need to be very careful here due to the threat of being sued for defamation.) are now suing a charity event organiser for £60,000 of lost earnings.

How do I know this? How accurate is this statement? Very accurate as I am the one being sued.

a_to_the_j | 9 years ago

he's far more likely to be hit by a car at home, cycling in Scotland!

bobbinogs | 9 years ago

Mark Beaumont's first book was quite a good read but the second one was clearly just about a bloke in search of something to do having ridden around the World and struggling for a good idea to follow it. I got bored of it all before the end of the third chapter. This latest venture looks tough but, as above, some other current exploits just capture the imagination more.

pullmyfinger | 9 years ago

130 miles a day for 50 days. Quite impressive and something I could never do, but let's be honest: Mike Hall is probably reading this article and chuckling at the record.

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