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Round the World in 80 Days. Well, nearly
June 6, 2012 12:42 PM   Subscribe

Mike Hall, a 31 year old British man, has just cycled 18,000 miles around the world unsupported. In 91 days and 18 hours.

The previous unsupported record was 163 days, held by Vin Cox. The previous record for a supported trip was 106 days.

Hall celebrated his 31st birthday on arrival in Greenwich, London, today. He did not find the 200 miles a day the record required easy going. Apart from breaking his bike while riding in Albania, he suffered no real issues while riding through 20 countries. Hall was racing in the World Cycle Racing Grand Tour, which left London on the 18th February. The next fastest competitor is still in India.

If you're interested, his charity donation page is here. Amazingly, he hasn't actually raised that much cash.
posted by MuffinMan (62 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
...and I still can't manage to get around to a 20 mi (each way) bike commute. What a *hoss*.
posted by notsnot at 12:48 PM on June 6, 2012


Is there a route map?
posted by stbalbach at 12:51 PM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Shame he had to do it unsupported. I don't even know the guy and I would have sent him an encouraging email or two if I had realized.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 12:52 PM on June 6, 2012 [10 favorites]


He looks absolutely worked from this.
posted by josher71 at 12:53 PM on June 6, 2012


I have a great deal in common with him. For instance, we both have the same pair of Smartwool socks. I also own a bicycle.
posted by phong3d at 12:53 PM on June 6, 2012 [9 favorites]


I found a route map by going to Live Tracking, then click on "Map Layers" on the bottom right, then click on "Mike Hall".
posted by vacapinta at 12:56 PM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


we both have the same pair of Smartwool socks

I guess you're not going to ask for them back.
posted by howfar at 12:57 PM on June 6, 2012 [12 favorites]


ROUTE MAP.
posted by MuffinMan at 12:57 PM on June 6, 2012


It took Thomas Stevens from April 1884 to December 1886 to go round. On a penny farthing. Different meaning of "unsupported".
posted by Twang at 12:58 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


MuffinMan: "ROUTE MAP."

Thanks! This is what I came in here looking for
posted by rebent at 12:59 PM on June 6, 2012


Could someone elaborate on what "unsupported" means in this context? And what's the record for a similar "supported" ride?
posted by vidur at 12:59 PM on June 6, 2012


The man he replaces as the record holder, Alan Bate, received support at various points of his attempt, which makes his achievement all the more remarkable.


Support? Does that mean food, lodging, bike repairs, money etc?
Why would who was paying for that increase or decrease the achievement?
posted by 2manyusernames at 1:01 PM on June 6, 2012


Wow, he says he thinks "around the world in 80 days" is possible. On a bicycle.

This whole death thing really sucks. It would be so cool for Jules Verne to see that.
posted by Malor at 1:01 PM on June 6, 2012


Briefly, being unsupported means that you carry all of the neccesary supplies on your bike. A supported bike traveller would might have a team of people and a vehicle following him or her around, cooking meals, making arrangements etc...
posted by beau jackson at 1:01 PM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Says at the bottom of the article vidur, that the previous world record for fastest circumnavigation was 106 days supported.
posted by howfar at 1:03 PM on June 6, 2012


I found the rules, for those wondering how it all works.
posted by gubo at 1:06 PM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I should have seen the numbers in the FPP itself. Sorry, it is 6AM here in Sydney. I am still a bit groggy.
posted by vidur at 1:07 PM on June 6, 2012


I know a dedicated long-distance biker who was crossing Canada one summer. He had covered the 4700 km (3000 or so miles) from Victoria to southern Ontario in under a month. Three things came up when we met for dinner in Toronto:

1) he had called me that day from his parents' place, 70 km away, so we could arrange somewhere to meet. He came to my workplace and I wondered why he was taking so long to arrive. Of course, rather than drive or take the commuter train, he was biking in.

2) At one point he rapped on his thigh, and the thing sounded like knocking on oak.

3) Because he was going west to east the whole time, he was about three shades darker on his right side than his left.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:07 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mike Hall, a 31 year old British man, has just cycled 18,000 miles around the world unsupported.

I'd have worn a jock strap or at least some spandex. OH SHIT ZING!!!!!!!!!!
posted by nathancaswell at 1:11 PM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ok.. the circumference of the world is about 24,000 miles. Wouldn't a "round the world" trip need to meet that number? Otherwise you can just fly over land, like he did when he flew from Turkey to India, or skipping most of SE Asia and South America entirely.
posted by stbalbach at 1:11 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


yeah, stbalbach asks my question - why the flight from india to turkey ?
posted by k5.user at 1:13 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't want to be that guy, but judging from the route map he skipped the entirety of Asia through convenient flights.
posted by whyareyouatriangle at 1:14 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


er, that guy.
posted by whyareyouatriangle at 1:14 PM on June 6, 2012


I see the rules say:
"4. The minimum distance travelled should be 18,000 miles (28,970 km) and the total distance travelled by the participant should exceed an equator’s length, i.e. more than 24,900 miles (40,075 km).
So the 24,900 is included with air miles.
posted by stbalbach at 1:15 PM on June 6, 2012


Awesome. Adventure of a lifetime! On of those 'best thing you'd never do again' challenges. Well done.
posted by nickrussell at 1:17 PM on June 6, 2012


yeah, stbalbach asks my question - why the flight from india to turkey ?

hmm yes let us cycle through the safe and friendly nations of pakistan, afghanistan, iraq, etc.
posted by entropicamericana at 1:18 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not to mention Himalaya, Kush, no roads.
posted by rtha at 1:18 PM on June 6, 2012


Ok, the race isn't really really really "around the world", but you can't really bike around the world, because you can't bike on water. "The Rules" linked to above by gubo is a helpful document. All these cyclists play by the same rules so in any case it's a legit race.

And what a fuckin race it is! I am in awe of this guy.
posted by beau jackson at 1:19 PM on June 6, 2012


Not to mention Himalaya, Kush, no roads.

He could've strapped the bike to a yak, come on.
posted by elizardbits at 1:23 PM on June 6, 2012


I'm just going to assume that he crossed bodies of water by riding his bike along the ocean floor while wearing an old timey dive suit. Please, nobody ruin this idea with facts.
posted by brundlefly at 1:24 PM on June 6, 2012 [11 favorites]


There are roads, though, save for a stretch of Siberia— as seen in Ewan McGregor's Long Way Round. While it Hall's trip surely is impressive, it seems as though a true circumnavigation necessitates crossing Russia, and not taking several thousand km flights where one would be otherwise available to cross by land. Yes, obviously one must fly over water.
posted by whyareyouatriangle at 1:24 PM on June 6, 2012


This last Saturday I rode about 80 miles, which is about the farthest I've been able to ride in single day since starting a family ~6 years ago. I was feeling rather herculean. Until now.
posted by dgran at 1:24 PM on June 6, 2012


This guy tried to ride around the world in 80 days, "eau claire" so to speak. At the time he kept a blog on lemonde.fr while he was doing it, so naturally all accounts are en Français, and I think it's paywalled now to boot. He was sponsored and supported, though, and I don't think he finished in under 80 days - I think he got quite sick at one point, which frankly is to be expected riding at a miles/day rate solidly above the Grand Tour level for 3 straight months. He did finish, though.

I don't think this can be stressed enough - this is a world-class athlete-level accomplishment.
posted by the painkiller at 1:25 PM on June 6, 2012


I wonder what the record is for the most miles cycled in this race (or does everyone just do the minimum 18K to win time-wise). Neat post -- hadn't heard of this race before!
posted by bluefly at 1:27 PM on June 6, 2012


On a more human scale, I suppose, a friend of mine just finished cycling from Alaska to the southern tip of South America. Just had drinks with him last week, oddly enough.

I say "human scale" because he's basically an office worker who took a year off to do this. It actually took him about 14 months to do it. Unsupported. I think its about 10,000 miles. Here's his blog (in Portuguese) and a Google Translated link.
posted by vacapinta at 1:33 PM on June 6, 2012


Yes, obviously one must fly over water.

Nonsense. He should have ridden his bike onto a ship, then pedaled on a trainer across the oceans (bonus points for generating some onboard electricity along the way), and then ridden his bike off at the other side. You'd better peddle fast though or find a slow ship if you want to cover the same distance on the trainer that the ship covers on the ocean.
posted by zachlipton at 1:34 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


On a more human scale, I suppose, a friend of mine just finished cycling from Alaska to the southern tip of South America. Just had drinks with him last week, oddly enough.

Well that's pretty darn impressive too. How did he handle the Darien Gap, which is a bit of a hurdle along the way? I couldn't find anything on his Google Translated blog.
posted by zachlipton at 1:37 PM on June 6, 2012


I don't see a legend for the Route Map. What are the red and purple lines?
posted by mkb at 1:38 PM on June 6, 2012


He didn't go to South America. That's the easier way of handling the Darien Gap, though some people hire a sailboat. Instead he flew from Australia to Vancouver and proceeded south through California.
posted by workerant at 1:40 PM on June 6, 2012


Well that's pretty darn impressive too. How did he handle the Darien Gap, which is a bit of a hurdle along the way?

Heh, thats the first question I had and I guess one he gets pretty often. Thats the only part he "cheated" on. He took a ferry from Panama to Colombia.
posted by vacapinta at 1:41 PM on June 6, 2012


Taking a ferry from Panama to Colombia shouldn't be considered "cheating." It should be considered "having a healthy sense of self-preservation." It's not the Kobayashi Maru or anything.
posted by ambrosia at 1:46 PM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Amazing.

I find it interesting that on this map page [click on map layers] each bicyclist went their own route. Why if you are in a race would you choose to go a longer route than everyone else?

I notice two went to South America. Most went through part of India and avoided Pakistan and Iran [for obvious reasons] by flying back to the UK. However, one chose to go to China and bike all the way through however another went into Kazakhstan and followed the same route to the UK.

Some went through Northern Australia while others went Southern. One guy skipped India all together and flew from Australia to Turkey. Mike Hill was the only one to hop up to Iceland.

Zoom into the map and look at the route each chose to go across the United States. Some zigged a bit rather than go as straight as possible. So many questions....
posted by Rashomon at 1:58 PM on June 6, 2012


I'm just going to assume that he crossed bodies of water by riding his bike along the ocean floor while wearing an old timey dive suit. Please, nobody ruin this idea with facts.

and

He should have ridden his bike onto a ship, then pedaled on a trainer across the oceans (bonus points for generating some onboard electricity along the way), and then ridden his bike off at the other side.

Or just ride one of these....
posted by resurrexit at 2:01 PM on June 6, 2012


Why if you are in a race would you choose to go a longer route than everyone else?
Terrain and wind can be more important considerations than distance when cycling.
posted by JeffL at 2:20 PM on June 6, 2012


Terrain and wind can be more important

True. But too as I look at the routes it seems some may just want to see sites they could not normally see. One guy chose to take a side trip by the Grand Canyon. Another went from Florida to Illinois and back down to Louisiana before heading to California then he shot north all the way to Alaska.
posted by Rashomon at 2:27 PM on June 6, 2012


Crap. I'm planning to cross the USA on a bike this summer/autumn, and I'm taking 4 months just to do that.

Having cycled 140 miles in one day, I can emphatically say that this is an almost superhuman effort in that it was sustained for so long.

My hat is off to this man.

Now, what bike did he use?
posted by flippant at 2:30 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Hall aimed to travel as light as possible, with his bike and kit weighing just 16kg. Hall rode a Planet-X/On-One frameset with a compact Shimano Ultegra drivetrain, cable operated disc brakes, USE ‘bars and seatpost, and two CatEye computers. Reynold’s provided custom built wheels using Reynolds Thirty Two rims, specially drilled to 32 holes and laced onto DMR MTB hubs." Link
posted by MuffinMan at 2:41 PM on June 6, 2012


that's staggering. not to be gross about it, but how is it possible to sit on a bicycle seat for 8+ hours a day for 3 months?
posted by facetious at 3:02 PM on June 6, 2012


From a bit of googling it appears that to cycle 200 miles a day requires about 8,000 calories. Or one Quadruple Bypass Burger.
posted by rongorongo at 3:14 PM on June 6, 2012


Has anyone interviewed his balls; how do they feel about this callous abuse?
posted by dgaicun at 3:22 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


This last Saturday I rode about 80 miles, which is about the farthest I've been able to ride in single day since starting a family ~6 years ago. I was feeling rather herculean. Until now.

I did 30 miles of commute yesterday and just about passed out in a Safeway aisle. From where I'm at, 200 a day for three months is completely batshit insane.
posted by brennen at 3:32 PM on June 6, 2012


Has anyone interviewed his balls; how do they feel about this callous abuse?

If the callouses on his balls have been abused, they should be given the right to speak for themselves.
posted by howfar at 3:35 PM on June 6, 2012


Many Westerners drive from South East Asia to the UK without missing huge parts of it out like this guy... okay it's going to be harder by bike but it still seems to me like 'cheating' a little.
posted by BobsterLobster at 3:52 PM on June 6, 2012


40km/h average speed? Carrying all his gear?
posted by Chuckles at 6:19 PM on June 6, 2012


40km/h turns out to be 200miles in 8 hours, so maybe that isn't the actual speed.. Any comments on how long he spent in the saddle every day?
posted by Chuckles at 6:28 PM on June 6, 2012


One of the bits I said (in the comments on the rules I think?) said it was on the order of 15 hours a day.
posted by markr at 10:32 PM on June 6, 2012


Blah. One of the bits I *read*.
posted by markr at 10:33 PM on June 6, 2012


said it was on the order of 15 hours a day.

That sounds more reasonable (if 15 hours a day of cycling for 90 days in a row can be called reasonable).
posted by Chuckles at 10:43 PM on June 6, 2012


I know a dedicated long-distance biker who was crossing Canada one summer. He had covered the 4700 km (3000 or so miles) from Victoria to southern Ontario in under a month. Three things came up when we met for dinner in Toronto

I had a friend who did this and by the time he made London, Ontario he had polka dot patterned tans on his hands because he wore mesh backed gloves all the way. That equaled a summer of funny looks from strangers.
posted by srboisvert at 12:46 AM on June 7, 2012


what I want to know is where these guys find places to sleep on these epic journeys? do they just sleep under a bush with their bike chained up against a tree in more populated areas?
posted by whorl at 2:45 AM on June 7, 2012


He discusses his sleeping arrangements in some detail in this video in the FPP. In short: hotels/inns where possible, but he talks at the 11 min mark about sleeping in a tin shack toilet in the outback and also about his tent.
posted by MuffinMan at 7:41 AM on June 7, 2012


So the ideal route would be smoothly metaled highway that followed a straight line - each day - from wherever you landed to wherever you had to depart. But there would be only the occasional other vehicle passing to help out in an emergency. There would be a constant strong wind behind you and interesting stuff to see round every bend. There would be no borders to cross with officious people to hassle you about papers while the clock was running. Friendly bike stores would be en-route at least once a day and each night - at exactly the right moment - a family hotel or well appointed camp-site would come into view. Next door there would be an inexpensive restaurant where they served enormous portions. And a pharmacy that sold stimulants, analgesics and large jars of soothing cream. The temperature would always be about 20 degrees. Mysteriously it would never rain during the day time. Neither dogs nor mosquitoes would try to bite you. Conveniently your arrival point would be on top of a mountain range - and the route would be a gentle down-hill all the way.
posted by rongorongo at 11:51 AM on June 7, 2012


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