Mark Beaumont is in Europe on the final leg of his Artemis World Cycle challenge and is due to arrive in Paris on Monday to beat his target of circumnavigating the world by bike in 80 days.
The 34-year-old Scot is a day ahead of schedule, having averaged 240 miles a day since he set off from the French capital on 2 July.
He arrived in Lisbon, Portugal, on Wednesday on a flight from Halifax, Nova Scotia, and is currently in central Spain having skirted the capital, Madrid this morning.
His efforts are taking a physical toll, however, with Beaumont suffering from saddle sores and also being sick earlier today, according to a post from him on Facebook.
Other problems he has encountered during his two and a half month journey include a crash when he hit a pothole near Moscow that left him with a broken tooth and injured elbow, and his support vehicle being written off when a driver hit the back of it near Melbourne.
“I’ve been to some very low places and it’s reduced me to tears on four occasions, which has never happened on any of my other expeditions,” he told the Guardian after his arrival in Lisbon this week.
“It’s taken me to some strange places mentally. I didn’t want to have any excuses to fail, that’s why I made the rule that I would ride four blocks of four hours every day without any breaks during them. It makes life a lot simpler when you don’t have any exit doors like that.”
Assuming he makes it to Paris and his ride is ratified, Beaumont will reclaim the Guinness World Record that he set in 2008 when he circled the globe unsupported in 194 days and 17 hours.
The current record-holder is the New Zealander Andrew Nicholson, who in 2015 completed his circiumnavigation in 123 days.
Nicholson also rode unsupported, whereas this time Beaumont has a full support crew.
“When I originally cycled around the world unsupported 10 years ago, I described myself as an adventurer,” he said.
“These days I’m an athlete. It’s all about the performance, it’s about making a livelihood from what I do and being able to support my family, just like Chris Froome makes his living from cycling. Yet he couldn’t do what I’m doing, and I couldn’t do what he does.”
Beaumont acknowledged that once the new record is set, others will want to have a crack at it.
He said: “I sincerely wish them well. There’s no reason it couldn’t be broken. After all, I’m hardly your typical cyclist – I’m 6’3” and 90 kilos. Someone who is 75 kilos and a ‘proper’ cyclist might do it faster. We shall see.”
Referring to that 80-days-or-less target, he added: “But I’ll always be the first who did it. No-one remembers who was second up Everest.”
You can follow Beaumont’s progress through a live tracker on the Artemis World Cycle website.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.