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Mark Beaumont (Endurance athlete)

In today’s episode, we have Mark Beaumont, and he certainly has a few stories to tell,  he is a British long-distance cyclist, broadcaster and author. He holds the record for cycling around the world, completing his 18,000-mile route in less than 79 days—author of 5 books including the bestseller, The man who cycled the world, amongst others. On today’s podcast, we talk about his trips around the world, the stories from his adventures and what motivates him to keep pushing the limits.

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Transcript of our Conversation

Mark Beaumont

[00:00:00] Mark Beaumont: Hello, and welcome to the modern adventurer podcast. Coming up, the police were a real pain, to be honest, they, they thought it was an after nuisance to be escorting me through the desert. You know, they just kept signaling for me to put my bike in the back of the pickup. Why would you cycle when you’re, there’s a perfectly good feel to high Lux to drive you through?

And, you know, I understand that you’re cycling through the desert and all the field guns point North and You’re then cycling through massive rescue refugee camps with a lot of insurgency and issues in the areas you’re pedaling, pass burnt-out buses and vehicles. I can imagine it looked utterly ridiculous for them to be escorting.

You know, a European cyclist on his own saying it was important to get world record. And

[00:01:00] my next guest is an endurance athlete and has some incredible stories to tell. Mark Baymont is a British long distance cyclist, broadcaster, and author. He holds a record for cycling around the world, completing his 18,000 mile journey in less than 79 days on today’s podcast. We talk about some of the extraordinary stories he’s had.

I am delighted to introduce Mark Baymont to the show. Thanks for having me pleasure. Well, I mean, it’s so great to have you on the sort of, I’ve been following your journeys pretty much since, very start of the first round, the world and subsidy. Great to have you on and sort of talk about some of these adventures that you’ve had over the years.

Probably the best place to start is at the beginning and how you sort of got into this adventurous life or right back at the start. It was. It was pretty organic because [00:02:00] I wasn’t, you know, part of a club or I wasn’t being, you know, pushed into adventure. It was just living on the farm. It was just foothills the Highlands.

My parents were running a small 60 acre organic farm. I was homeschooled. And did go to. To a normal school, if you like until I was 12. So that gave me an extraordinary amount of freedom. So every morning there was a farm to run and I was, I, you know, milking goats and horses and collecting eggs from 200 free ranch hands.

And it was just, you know, life on the farm. And that gave me, I guess, a great sense of freedom and allowed me to. Yeah, I there, and I guess take, build, build build a knowledge of myself, but also sort of wild places, which a lot of kids don’t, I realize that night living in Edinburgh and seeing what kids get to do a lot of the time in the city.

Anyway. So yeah, I was 11 when I turned right into my parents and said, can I cycle, all I [00:03:00] said was can I cycle lens and John O’Groats, but I had no idea how far that was. So mum said I might try something smaller first. So that’s where it started the cycle across Scotland as well. Good. And so what, how did your parents sort of take to an 11 year old saying, can I say cool, John, a great slander.

And was this sort of compromise coast to coast? Well, yeah, I mean I don’t think my dad took it that seriously. My mom, you know, as a good thing, she didn’t say don’t be stupid because if she crushed that acorn of an idea, then I probably wouldn’t be sitting here. Twenty-five years later talking about expeditions to 130 countries.

It was it was a daft idea. And I mean, it was inspired by reading in the local newspaper about somebody who had cycled maintained and I hadn’t really cycled off the farm before, so I had no reference point for how far thousands of miles was that it sort of sounded cool. So so going coast to coast to go to Scotland took me three [00:04:00] days.

It was like 135 miles to 45 miles a day or something. And I loved it. I didn’t just love the journey, the bike ride. I loved the planning of it, the map, setting that going door to door in my local time Blake area and doing fundraising for some local charities. And then afterwards getting to share my story and hand over charity checks and the whole process.

And actually it coincided with me going to school for the first time. And if you don’t go to school to year 12, then you got a lot of learning to do. So I find the playground, a pretty hostile environment for a good while. And I think the fact that it was already into my adventure sports just gave me a, just gave me an a, gave me an escape, but it also gave me a bit of an idea density at a time where I was just not fitting in with the whole rugby and football.

Culture. I was that sort of kid that went skiing and rode ponies and cycled my bike and went for camping trips. So whilst everyone else had a very sort of formal structure around these things, [00:05:00] they went to, you know, they went to get at sort of, they went to Scouts. I didn’t do any of those things.

I just lived in a farm and went on adventures. Good. And so, I mean, imagine sort of being homeschooled and then going in, it sort of, especially where you quite split in terms of sort of sport, I suppose. Yeah. Sort of on the playground playing football, it must’ve been quite a sort of challenge. Yeah. I, I didn’t really anything with that.

I mean, I didn’t do well at sports at school, anything which was sort of traditional team sports was not my thing. So I think a lot of my peer group from schools, I mean, I’ve got some great lifelong friends from school, but I think there was two professional athletes from my year at school Allister Dickinson, and myself deco became prop forwards for Scotland.

And I went and cycled around the world. So deco deco was the classic, you know, alpha. Alpha male, brilliant at [00:06:00] sports. You know, it was kind of clear that he was going to, to do professionally and there was a few others, but it, but what was it going to be at a school like that? It was like rugby was sort of the sport.

So to, to be good at horse riding is just a bit weird. Whereas, you know, I was very passionate about that and very good at it. It’s probably my main sport until I was about 15. And then I lived very close to Glen. She, the ski slope. So my next door neighbor was head of ski patrol. So during winter, when we had paid her days, when she got back in the eighties I would just miss skill and go, go skiing.

And because I’d been homeschooled until the age of 12, mom had a very relaxed view on education. She was like, as long as you’re doing fine at school, you’re learning just as much. In a day, skiing is you would be in a day at school. So she, she, it wasn’t, it wasn’t an issue just to go and spend a day at the maintenance, which I often did.

Okay. So from there, I suppose, when you are sort of big on your cycling, growing [00:07:00] up, and that sort of probably led one thing into another and after school where you quickly to leave or did you go into university? Yeah. So in those. Teenage years I had done bigger and bigger expeditions by the time I was 15 I’d I’d done the end to end the, my first dives, Milo, my first solo ride, opiate supported.

And and then I did well at school and well sort of pushed, like most kids are to do the best degree that you can for your. For your grades. So I ended up going to Glasgow university and studying economics and politics. I did, you know, I did. And I’m so interested in those things, but I did have that sort of parallel path.

You know, adventure was always there, but the fact that I was quite academic meant that I was in a class of 300, you know, basically studying to be an accountant. And most of my friends are affected. So working in finance in one shape or form. So that was very [00:08:00] much. What I was pushed into, but I had a personal interest too.

I had no reference point for how you could make a career in adventure sports. But as I say, it was always there. When I left school, I went to Italy. I, the first thing I did when I left school was go to the team player in France and get my international schemes, ski instructors license. So I was already instructing nationally in the UK, but it’s a different license.

So then I went and spent time living in Italy and, and taught over there. And. I loved it. And I sort of thought, well, I could do this forever, but I also looked at those people who had that career 15, 20 years down the line. And it wasn’t quite as exciting as when you’re, when you’re that age. So I thought, well, probably not something, which in terms of family life and long-term, I want it, I want to define myself by.

So if I can keep adventure sports, I sort of a passion rather than a job, I’ll go off and get a professional qualification. So. It wasn’t until after university age 22, 23, [00:09:00] that I thought, right. Why don’t I just go on one vague expedition to end all expeditions? Not again, there was no reference point for how you could make this a job.

So it’s, it’s, it’d be a lie to reverse engineer and say, I plan to, I plan to do this. Like I just thought, what have I got to lose? This is the best time in your life to. Put all your contacts on the table and go on a big trip. And I thought if one of you got, if I wouldn’t go one big trip in me, I better make it in around the world.

You know? And I started researching what that could be and the circumvent, I was very much inspired by that, at that time, by like Ellen MacArthur, sailing around the world. And I thought, well, I’ve never raced. I’ve never been professional, but I knew I was a good bike rider and good June’s bike rider.

And I felt. Well, the circumnavigation world record will be the most coveted professional record in the book whoever’s got. That will be the Ellen MacArthur of the cycling world. And so I couldn’t believe when I [00:10:00] sort of did the research and find out that the record to get ranked planet earth on two wheels was 276 days.

And the last three people had come home within, you know, A similar time. I mean, that’s, that depends what you’re trying to do. If you’re trying to go on a slow touring route, that’s, that’s, that’s a perfect time, but it’s not quick, you know, it’s pretty slow. If you do the sums, I mean the, the daily mileage is, is, is not very competitive.

So I thought, why is this so difficult? Why is it not been done properly? So, I mean, the first time I cycled around the world, I think it was more of just spotting an opportunity. You know, I wasn’t the best bike rider in Glasgow, let alone the best bike rider in the world. So I, I sat tight with the simple idea to psych around the world.

I suddenly realized that if I did it, I could pick up a Guinness world record. I convinced the BBC to commission a film about it. And and I came back half a year later having smashed the previous [00:11:00] world record by. A couple of months coming home in 194 days. And what happened next was not something I planned, you know, I didn’t realize what happened when you’re, when you have like a, a four-part BBC one documentary series.

I went from pulling paints in a bar in Glasgow on minimum wage to, you know, being. Fought over for book deals and going on nationwide talk tours and being offered other documentary opportunities. And yeah, I mean, you can imagine, I can talk about it now. Cause it seems in history, it was 15, 17 years ago, but at the time it was just extraordinary.

There was no way I was going to do. I thought I was going to do and get graduate placements, you know, with, with the bigger Kansas city farm, I was gonna ride this rollercoaster. I was going to go and more adventurous. Wow. And so this sort of root game around that, because I know I was sort of there around the sort of [00:12:00] stuns about three years ago.

You can, you can either take the route up towards China, Tajikistan into Shing Jang. Or you can take it down into sort of Pakistan, Afghanistan through Iran, which route did you sort of take? Yeah, and I would say there’s three possible routes through, through Asia. You’ve described tooth in the Southern tier and the middle one, and then you could go North and head through Russia, Mongolia China, but.

The rules of the circumnavigation. You got to go more than 18,000 miles. You’ve got to pass through two anti-political points, two points in the opposite side of the planet and never go back and yourself and the not going back into yourself, it’s more difficult than you might think. So, for example, somebody tried to break the record before me cycled all the way to the East coast of China carried on across Australia, New Zealand.

Go home, you know, picture in the paper, broken a world record only to be told by Guinness world record that [00:13:00] the East coast of China is further East than the West coast of Australia, which is ridiculous. I mean, can you imagine how upsetting to pet around the entire planet and then realize that you’ve messed up in the planning stage, but if you end up on that Northern tier.

It’s quite hard to not go too far East. Now, one of the rules to myself, which is not a Guinness world record Ru is I believe you should try and cross continents as close as you can in their entirety. So people in the past have sort of stopped in the middle. They’ve got to wherever they think is difficult or convenient, and then they flown to somewhere else and you end up with this sort of.

Mismatch route, which is 18 days and miles is going in the same direction, but it doesn’t look on a primary school map of a wall. It doesn’t look like a second navigation. So that’s a bit of a rule to myself, which I, which I try and hold up. So that Northern tier and the middle tier is difficult. And the middle one that you described, which is across the Caspian’s and through the stands is very hilly.

I mean, it’s [00:14:00] beautiful, but it’s not fast. So the first time I went around the world, I went to safe. I went through Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, and India. I couldn’t have cycled through Afghanistan at the time because it was a very heated period of the war. And it was even difficult the way I would, the way I went, which was safety through Iran and then going through Baluchistan so that skirting the Helmand province.

And that’s a real, no mines line. I mean, that’s really, I was under armed security for a bite. 500 miles through the desert with the levy, the Pakistani transport police. And that was. I’m not sure I’d do that now. I realize that was quite, quite young and quite ballsy to, to head through there. Yeah, I think sort of when I sort of looked at the sort of routes that you took, because it’s a really interesting route, the self, as you say, going through, and it’s [00:15:00] quite, there are quite dangerous parts to it.

Did you have any sort of hairy moments along the way? I was aware that I was being closely protected. I actually only found real friendship from the people I was sometimes left with. I mean, there was a few points in the desert. The police were a real pain, to be honest, they, they thought it was an after and useless to be escorting me through the desert, you know, they just kept signaling for me to put my bike in the back of the pickup.

Why would you cycle when you visit perfectly good peel to highlights to drive you through? And, you know, I understand that you’re cycling through the desert and all the field guns point North, and you’re then cycling through massive rescue refugee camps with a lot of insurgency and issues in the areas you’re peddling, pass, burn, take buses and vehicles.

I can imagine it looked utterly ridiculous for them to be escorting, you know, a European cyclist on his own saying it was important to get world record. [00:16:00] There’s no way to communicate that. Anyway, there’s no language in common to explain why you’ve arranged this, this police escort. And I, I was left questioning the purpose and the priority when you’re faced with such such sort of, well, even when I go past quitter, which is the first big city in Pakistan and then drop down to the Indus Valley and it, you know, so for the first time in my life, absolute poverty, you know, just seeing people with.

The most incredibly upsetting like in terms of how they had to live on the road side and just the desperation and thinking, well, there’s this crazy mission of mine to psych around the world for what a world record. I mean, it just seemed, so it just seemed so silly. It just seemed so worthless and ridiculous in the face of people who had no choice.

To do anything, let alone get on their [00:17:00] bike and peddle around the planet. So did I face danger? It was a few hearing moments, but I think what I really baffled with was just you seeing the world in that way. You’re so intimate on the bicycle. You see the world like a slideshow, you see things really up close, you smell things, you hear things.

And just being on a journey growing up, you know, I was, I was young, I was 22, 23 years old and I was just trying to was the first time I traveled, I excited of Europe and North America. And there I was sleeping in ditches under the road and police stations and in the most ridiculous places. And then, you know, I experienced all that.

Got to Lahore. Got met by a BBC camera man checked into a five-star hotel and suddenly I was in another world and it was just, it was very hard to sort of join it all up. Make sense of it. The most cathartic thing I did when I came back was write about it because I was still trying to figure out, [00:18:00] you know, the motivation to break this record alongside witnessing and experiencing humanity in such an amazing way, which you can really do on a bicycle or, or by foot.

Yeah, I agree. I think with a bike and we’ve sort of talked at length on this podcast about it. We’ve had, you know, Jody Stewart who also did a cycle around the world and we spoke about, you know, by having a bike or by going off foot, you’re very immersed within. The area, whereas in a car, you know, you pass it by in the blink of an eye, you don’t get the smell.

You don’t get the feel of what that area is actually like. And on a bike you’re very vulnerable in that sense, whether you’re going through a very dodgy area, you are very vulnerable. And most of the time, you know, people are so good to you because of that. Did you. [00:19:00] On your sort of trip. I mean, you went through Australia and New Zealand as well on that first time, was that the sort of generosity and hospitality there, which you could actually sort of step off the bike for a moment or a day?

Yeah, it’s bizarre when you spent, I mean, you’ve clearly done this as well. When you spend a lot of time traveling through a part of the world where you don’t speak the language and you’re, you’re your entire purpose is to find a safe place to sleep you know, clean water and your next meal. You then get back to a more familiar bark.

The world. I’ll always remember touching down in Thailand. And the strange thing about Thailand, when you get off the beaten track, it’s very few people speak English who complete compare that, say Malaysia, just down the road where everyone speaks English. So I guess my point is I flew from Calcutta into Thailand.

And suddenly everything looked very familiar. You know, there were seven 11 on every corner and, you know, petrol station. So I could walk into [00:20:00] buy anything I wanted and brands I would, I would know as after Pakistan in India, which was just so foreign in every way. But I still and communicate with people.

And then I got to Malaysia and suddenly it was just. Everyone talks about how exotic these countries are. And they’re sort of that sort of place, the old gap, your bike backpackers go to for this other worldly experience. Whereas actually they felt brilliantly familiar after the likes of, you know, Southern Iran.

And then I got to Australia and even though I’d never been to Australia before, I felt like I’d arrived home. Like, you know, okay. I was in the Australia, I looked back and it couldn’t be any more different to. To to, to Scotland, but, but actually it was just, it was just ridiculous. I was like, this isn’t even an adventure and I enjoyed it.

But after the claustrophobia of India, I love India, but it’s one of these places that’s amazing to go to. And it’s amazing to leave because you need, you [00:21:00] know, when you’re used to space your own space, personal space, India is one of those countries that. You know, whether you’re on the road cycling or stopped and in a cafe you’re not given any space.

And it’s wonderful for that, but it’s intense. It’s so intense. So I got to Australia craving a bit of sort of a timeline, and I got plenty of that because I was straight into the Australian night, back in a thousand miles trying to sort of water ration to the next. Rotax so yeah, it was a world of extremes.

And I suppose when you’re going the first time round, you’re wild camping. And so you’re always looking for, you know, your next place to sleep, your next place to drink and in the Outback, I mean, it’s completely sparse. So do you, had you already planned the sort of route, not the route, but like moments where you could stop and get water beforehand, route ways.

There is only one [00:22:00] road. Supply points. The road houses were, were pretty obvious in between the route houses, th th th there’s these big these big war tanks, which I sort of counted on and thought these fake supply points were going to be the dock to dock that I needed. And actually I realized within my first couple of days later that most of them have run dry.

So based sort of strategy to quite simply. Make my way between these, these big rays of wires in the middle of the egg bag, wasn’t wasn’t reliable. So give me bigger gaps and the issue there was, I planned most of my, I planned my route West to East because I thought most of the continents we’d have a prevailing westerly, and I would I’d have a tailwind.

It didn’t do what it was meant to across Australia. And I had about 3000 miles of headwind. It was a three and a half days a mile crossing. So yeah. It was okay. First thing every morning, but [00:23:00] by 10, 11 o’clock the wind was up and it was just ferocious. I mean, the hardest conditions I’ve ever faced as a cyclist are in Australia and Patagonia.

So it was the Southern hemisphere in terms of, you know, these winds that roar around the planet with such, you know, such few barriers, you know, without, without, without the mountain ranges and the, and the land mass we’ve got in the Northern hemisphere. So just these ferocious. Constant wins, not like gusts and storms like we experienced in the Northern hemisphere.

So, so the ag back ends up a real battle, a really lonely place. Me just trying to get through. And a couple of times, you know, getting stuck shore to where I thought I would get to. And, you know, I’d say running out of running out of supplies along the way. So it was, it was harder than I thought. And I found, I found a strangely, a bit of a psychological battle, you know, after.

After what had been such an exciting adventure going through Paris to [00:24:00] Calcutta, I was then sort of left with my own thoughts for, you know, the next the next big stint. So to get to New Zealand after that was well, is there really is like Scotland on the other side of the world. That was just, it was just so busy.

It was so quaint. The roads were so small. You know, Even in the middle of nowhere, you’d find little farm shops with great foods. And I just find New Zealand. So, so simple compared to getting across Australia, you know, so welcoming. But but it was it was December. So, you know, it was bizarre. It was again, a way on the other side of the world, spending Christmas day cycling in the rain up to Auckland, which was Which was again, you know, very much a coming of age experience.

It was like, here I am, this is what I wanted to be doing. I’m 10,000 miles into this adventure and a long way from home. [00:25:00] Yeah. Yeah. And I suppose finishing that, that’s when it all sort of kicked off for you, as you said, you know, with book deals and BBC, because originally I think I, I heard the, you know, it was only meant to be a sort of.

One episode on BBC Scotland or something, and suddenly it was made into this big document. Six part documentary. Yeah. It grew arms and legs. So the BC Scotland commissioned it as a heart fire dog. So if you imagine spending half a year out there for, I mean, I would get into some days and spent half an hour chatting to my camera.

So I certainly wasn’t shooting it for a half hour doc, but yeah. This camera arms like became my only body on the road. It became my constant companion. It was it was a way to share the story. And I was interested before I left. And then in the first few days I had a cameraman with me for the first few days and they shot so much.

They just filmed in filmed and filmed and felt. And yeah, I did [00:26:00] say to David the cameraman at the time, I said, why, if this is a half hour documentary, are we filming quite so much? And he laughed and he said, well, Mark. If you get to the German border and quit, we still need to make a half hour documentary.

So we have to, we have to have a contingency. And I was like, Oh, right. So it’s not that you think there’s a bigger story in this. You’re, you’re protecting yourself for the dying side. I just don’t do it. And the whole story becomes about the dream that didn’t happen as a tracing dog. So so when I finished by that point, the camera man joined me Four locations.

So at the start is that bill for a day or two Pakistan. Didn’t have something that I want in Australia. And then I joined me in Texas for a few days. So it was mainly self shot with a few days of sort of objective filming or getting me in the landscape and whatnot. And when [00:27:00] I came back, they, they very quickly made it into a four part series and Echo air don’t BBC Scotland got a fantastic response and then got picked up by network and shown on, on, on BBC one.

And it was very interesting. The response, I mean, this is, I say a good, a good way to go. My record was very quickly broken and a number of people over the sort of 10, 50 years afterwards broke my record. And I spoke to a number of them, you know, I always got in touch and congratulated and, you know, I knew who these people were.

And I know a few more sad that the there ran the world efforts and breaking the record going faster. Didn’t give them the same opportunities. It didn’t give them the same career had given me clearly. And that’s not pretend that it’s always been a plain ceiling. I’ve made a lot mistakes and there’s been [00:28:00] some good years and bad years, but I did, I did have this broadcasting career from day one.

It was always part of it. And I think some of the, some of the writers were always surprised that by, by doing what they set out to do and breaking the record, it didn’t in and off itself, give them that opportunity. But I think the reality is the filmmaking is the sharing of that story. Was there from day one.

It wasn’t. I think when I finished the round, the world cycle, I would have got like everyone else two or three days coverage in the papers at most. And then it would be a forgotten story to create that legacy and to create further opportunities, to get, to write a book and, you know, to use it as a, as a launchpad for other things.

The S the, the sharing of that story and the capturing of it is as important as the sport. And I think quite a lot bike riders in adventures. Don’t, don’t realize maybe they do now with social media, but they didn’t [00:29:00] realize that that’s actually a completely different skill set than breaking the records.

Breaking a record will give you, you know, a day in the papers and then you’re, you know, tomorrow’s chip paper, whereas to give real legacy and opportunities to do other stuff, you got to, you got to plan that stuff from the start. And I had no idea when I said to that first time around. Really what I was doing.

I didn’t know that it was going to open more doors, but I knew I couldn’t afford the trip. So I knew in a very sort of economist mindset that I needed to somehow give return on investment to my sponsors. So I spent half a year telling that would be sponsors, that I was going to make telly. And I spent the same time trying to talk to BBC and saying, well, the whole thing’s paid for.

We just need to, you know, you just need to give me the cameras. So there was no contract with the BBC. They didn’t pay me a penny. I just gave it to them in the hope that I would get some coverage for my sponsors quit. And you know, for half a year, I was trying not to tell any fibs, but I was trying to give everyone the confidence that this what was happening.

And you know, the reality is I didn’t have a [00:30:00] documentary yet, and I certainly didn’t have the money, but you’ve gotta, you gotta, you know, you gotta, you gotta paint the picture. You gotta, you gotta share the dream. You’ve got to tell people that this is happening. And it’s amazing how that works.

Right. But I didn’t see it till, till afterwards. Yeah, you can always you can’t connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them when you look back and by you being able to tell the story throughout your time, because it’s one thing just to turn up. Break the record and be like, duh done. But we’ve you, you had the camera, you told the story of your journey and that’s probably far more interesting and inspiring to others and to the BBC.

I mean, it looks pretty old fashioned. Now you can go on YouTube and watch the man that cycled the world. But I loved it, you know, I’d say it was it was before social media. Facebook had been invented, but it really wasn’t a thing. Twitter, when I went on [00:31:00] my next expedition, then the length of the Americas, which was a nine month trip.

A few years later, I was asked by the BBC to take this new thing called Twitter though. I’ve never heard of him. And and this was so, I mean the first documentary I shot, I’m not that old, I’m 38, but the first documentary I show, I filmed on many days that’s cassette. That was real, real cassette. So we’re, we’re talking about that sort of.

At the end of analog start digital before social media. So to, to live a journey, not because I’m trying to be an Instagram influencer, but because I’m just going on a journey with a camera arms was had a great simplicity about it. I suppose with your trip around the world, as you said, people started breaking it and you know, the time was getting cut shorter and shorter and shorter from 194 days to, I think 127.

By the time you decided to go again. [00:32:00] Yeah. And I suppose then the motivation was again to try and break the record. But I suppose with this people, you went with panniers heavy load self-sufficient and then the next time you’re like, right. If we proper lightweight bike support team, you could probably get this down.

Yeah. I mean, I was a very different athlete by that point. I’d watch with Owen, with interest as the record had been broken many times over the years, and once it got down into the one twenties. I mean, if you’d asked me when I finished first time, right. I would have sworn that I’m never going to psych around the world again, why would I do the same thing twice?

And also when I first I could run in the world, I felt like I’d left all live there. You know, that point in my career, that was the hardest thing I’d ever done. I had gone as fast as I could. And so, you know, job done. So I then went and did lots and lots of other expeditions, not just cycling, but. [00:33:00] I built an interest in the performance side, as well as the adventure.

So it was no longer that sort of wild man, just out there, you know, where’s my next meal, where am I going to sleep tonight? The performance side really mattered and there was such an evolution in that decade away from tracking to bike packing and you know, the ultra light. So, you know, in 2015, when I smashed the Africa world record the Kairos Cape tag, I took that record from.

59 days died 41 and I was riding by 160 miles a day. And that’s a 10,000 kilometer race. And you know, Africa is still my favorite continent for, for, for an expedition like that. That’s really what gave me the idea I thought, right. I’ve really pushed it here. I, I really have taken us to the next level, but.

It’s still as much about what happens off the bike as on the bike. So why I really wanted, by [00:34:00] that point, I was mid thirties. I thought I really want one chance in my life to put all my cards on the table and go, what is my ultimate? You know, it’s no longer by I quick click and I find my next meal or where am I going to pitch my tape?

It is purely about how fast can I go? And so that’s why I came full circle back to the world. I thought, well, I’ve only got one chance to figure out that sort of expression of as an athlete. What’s, what’s my Everest, what is my Everest? Right. So it’s gotta be, it’s gotta be the world. And I started putting the team together on that 18,000 mile race.

And we got them to at 90 days in terms of the planning, like what, what should be possible. And then I put it back to my team as more, as a hypothesis than anything else. I said, well, If 90 days is possible, could you do 80? You know, I mean, breaking the record is one thing, but 80 days is such a one-time price.

And that’s where we got fixated on that idea. And to my [00:35:00] knowledge, there’s only one other person who had ever speculated that you could cycle around the planet and less than 80 days. And that was the great late my call, who sadly passed away just before I set out around the world in 2017. And amazing adventure cyclists.

So I, whilst I have cycled around the world twice and it’s exactly the same record in terms of the, the rules. It be any more different in terms of the experience. You know, second time Ryan was, was purely about performance. It wasn’t about the people that I did not meet. Yeah, I, it was just very interesting to see the dynamics between the two in terms of, you know, the 80 days to the 997 one was a real adventure and the other one was pure physical endurance, pushing yourself every day.

Probably what getting [00:36:00] up at silly o’clock in the morning till 12 o’clock at night. Yeah. I was riding for 16 hours a day, no sleeping for five hours a night. So it was up a half, three on the bike and for, you know, writing by 16 hours. So it was averaging 240 miles a day. So if you compare it to the first time, Ryan, first time around, I rode a hundred miles a day and I would ride for roughly eight hours a day.

Second time around. I would write for 16 hours a day. So twice the time on the bike and every one of those hours, I was riding significantly faster. So you know, performance wise, first time Ryan was a much better adventure, but, but the second time Ryan makes the first look like kindergarten. I mean, lots of people who drive a hundred miles a day.

Not many people could drive 240 miles a day back to back to back for two and a half months. [00:37:00] Yeah, no, it’s, it’s an extraordinary sort of achievement and just phenomenal. And I praise God. I mean, it’s just an amazing story. Really. Oh of just physical endurance and just pushing yourself. We, we sort of speak, I think it was Jamie Ramsey on episode five was talking about the idea of this balloon, where you sort of blow this balloon in terms of pushing yourself and you blow it a little more and then you think, wow, that was as fast I could go.

And then it. Just grows and grows and grows to the point where you’re pushing yourself, way beyond what you ever thought. You could push yourself five years before and you just keep sort of pushing yourself further and further. Yeah, for sure. And that’s, you know, it goes back to the point you made a few minutes ago, you can only see these things looking back.

There’s no way as a [00:38:00] graduate, I could look forwards and imagine that. Not just that there would be the opportunities to do these things, but I’d have the physical ability or psychological logistical, you name it all the rest of it. You know, you can only see the next horizon once you’ve made it to the first and, and, and onwards and onwards.

And I think it’s a great analogy and anything engineering, you just ride through it in front of you. You’ve got no idea how long that road is or where it’s going to take you. And if you were to think about the entire scale of what you’re trying to do, whether it’s a physical journey in front of you or life full stop, you know, you just wouldn’t get out of bed because it’s, it’s hard, you know, it’s, you’ve got to suffer well, and there’s going to be lots of knocks, but you can normally ride the road in front of you.

And, you know, the, the, the learning from that. And, and the interesting thing about endurance is so little of it is just the physical realm. I mean, I’m six foot, three and 90 kilos, so I’m clearly not the [00:39:00] world’s best bike rider. And yet the confidence and the learning over the years and the teams I worked with to, to build this the opportunities to take on some of the world’s most iconic endurance.

Records and we’ve never picked a record. You know, we’ve never broken anyone else’s record. We’ve always created these leaps in performance because we’ve had that, that ability to learn from what people have done before, you know, really respect the history of that and this such an amazing supportive network of adventures, eight layer who are willing to, to share information and ideas.

But then not make the same mistake that so many people make, which is just base your targets. And while the people who’ve done, you know, I’ve never taken somebodies record and said, right. Let’s beat that. I’ve always gone. Okay. How have you done that? You know, really broken apart and understood and learnt it and then said, right, what should be possible?

How do you take that learning and bottom up approach? I little, [00:40:00] can I sleep? How far can I go, what inputs do I need for the ride? What are the geeky details? Most people get lost just in the sport of it. So they train hard and they think it’s about a physical task. I get absolutely lost in, you know, all the, all the things which you should know and mitigate.

Everyone worries cycling around the world about getting stopped by Russian police or tricky border crossings, but, you know, I’ll hire. The honorary consult Mongolia on my team. I’ll get it signed off at the, you know, the, the, the head of Russian police or I’ll get Menzies aviation, the ground handlers at the airport onto my team.

You know, I’ll, I’ll, I’ll go, I’ll go to every length to make sure that my job on the bike is not. Is not undermined by something that we should have thought about then. So I think that’s, if there’s an X factor, it’s that level of detail that we go to, to know everything that we should know and not just thinking itself about your physical fitness.

[00:41:00] It’s just cutting, cutting the time, just by seconds here and there that make up such a huge difference. It’s like when people go on expeditions and then they cut the sort of string of a zip, because that’s two grams or something, and then they cut it around, you know, the packaging. Tags because that’s two grams there and two grams here and then it all adds up in terms of weight was the biggest thing.

The biggest thing for me is time, but it’s similar to what you’re talking about, but what I stress to my team on the, on the Rand, the world in 80 days was if we, if we fast for five minutes, every time I got off the bike, that would add a deep, the world record. So rather than talking about, you know, aerodynamics or like, All the things that people get lost on, which are important.

Just make sure I’m on the bike at four and not five bucks for, you know, just control the things you can control. And that time management and discipline, you know, not worrying about how far you went every day, just doing the time 16 [00:42:00] hours a day, you know, that’s, that’s, that’s a discipline, which stops you.

It was funny. I banned my team from asking me how I felt because. When you’re under a lot of pressure, there’s an obvious question for people to ask when they don’t know what to say, how are you feeling? How are you a is a hard one to answer when you feel like crap. But secondly, it doesn’t matter how I feel.

Cause I could feel on top of the world or I could feel completely unmotivated. It doesn’t affect what we are doing today. And so that, unless it’s about safety and that’s a conversation from my performance team, unless it’s about, is it safe to carry on or not the, Hey, do you feel brings in an unwelcome unnecessary aspect to today’s performance?

And I said to them very clearly, you know, you’re not allowed to ask that question cause it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t influence our behavior. Yeah, that’s really interesting. [00:43:00] One just five minutes adds to an entire day over the course. Well, Mark, thank you so much. There’s a part of the show where we ask the same five questions to each guest each week with the first being on your trips and expeditions.

What’s the one gadget that you always bring with you. I it’s not massively exciting. It’d be it’d be a GPS tracker. You know, I think people, whether they’re going on local micro adventures or global adventures, just people knowing where you are and being able to pool the pain and call it may day when things go wrong, people always assume that will be okay with your mobile phones, but a proper GPS tracker, a personal locator.

So that I know wherever I am that I can keep in touch with my loved ones. So pretty boring, but something that people don’t think enough about it when they go on trips. And I don’t mean cycling around the world. I mean, even if I had to enter the pentlands, I’ve got to travel. [00:44:00] Oh, very nice. What about your favorite adventure or travel book?

Cranky. Well, let me, let me give a plug for Rob Pope’s new book. Who’s the Mr. Forrest Gump, the guy that rat that lived the true Forrest Gump and the book’s called becoming forest. And I’ve been in a very small way, helping him get this, get this out there. And it’s going to be published in the summer or early often, but Rob, Pope’s an absolute legend.

These He’s a vet by trade. And he hosts a podcast for red bull when adventure stuff, but yeah, I’m so delighted. He’s he’s finally got a story at a Berkey, such a he’s a Liverpudlian and he’s got a brilliant sense of humor. So when you can becoming forest, I’ll be there real paper. Okay. Why are adventures important to [00:45:00] you?

Why adventure adventures important for me, adventurous for me, by creating memories there, by getting out there, doing difficult things, and I’m building a building a better sense of self. And now that I’ve got kids, I’ve got two daughters. It’s about showing them, you know, giving them a connection to the world, getting out there and doing difficult things, creating memories, and you build a better sense of self.

Through through the journeys you call people, places, landscapes. So, yeah. Very nice. What about your favorite quote though or motivational quote? It’s not really a motivational quote. My, my mum was in a cloud. So half of my family is Maclean’s and their [00:46:00] clan motto for the McClain’s it’s hold fast. And I’ve always used that in difficult situations.

Just having part of your family’s motto is hold fast. It’s quite useful when the shit’s hitting the fan. Yeah, that is a good one. People listening are always keen to travel and go on these sort of grand adventures. What’s the one thing you would recommend for people wanting to get started? What was the classic doorstep mile?

Isn’t it? The doorstep model that sort of Scandinavia Scandinavian phrase, which is just meaning the hardest part is committing to the journey. Now, whether that’s going out on a trading ride cause it’s dark or it’s raining outside or, or saying I’ve lied to your partner or friends that you’re going to do something.

It’s the, it’s the concept of turning an idea into reality. So I meet people all the time and I’m sure you do who have grand ideas. We all have dreams, but make it being somebody who’s in a habit of turning dreams into [00:47:00] reality is, is just committing to the doorstep mile saying I lied, being brave changing.

Yeah. From something you’d like to do something you are doing. And that shift of mindset is a habit. We all get comfortable. So yeah, the, the, the, the committing to the, the committing to the journey. Saying I live. So you build some accountability around it is is, is, is always the key after that.

There’s lots of challenges, but they’re very practical. Get it sorted challenges. Whereas what stops people going on a journey he says is the void that exists between dreaming and doing. If they intend to tell people until it’s like official and then I tell them, and then it’s like, there’s no going back anyway from there.

Yeah. Yeah. Well, we all work in different ways. Yeah, I’m fine. What are you doing now? And how can people follow you in the future? I mean, keeping up pretty straight forwards. I’m not the most prolific social media user, but yeah, my ma Mark, we went online and all my [00:48:00] social channels are, are, are pretty pretty, pretty good at sharing the story.

I’ve got five books, lots of documentaries online, quite all. My films are on global cycling network these days. So GCN the stuff on the YouTube channel and And the big docs are on the subscription platform, which is GCM plus this year because the big expeditions they are slightly curtailed by me smashing my hand last month.

So just at 21 stitches taken out of my finger. But yeah, we should be back in action in June for some films, which will hopefully be worth following over the summer. And it’ll. I’ll share more with them when I can. Well, Mark, it’s been an absolute pleasure hearing your stories and thank you so much for coming on.

Absolutely fascinating. The sort of, as I say, cycling around the world, the sort of stories from that and the sort of mindset you sort of had to go through, keep up, [00:49:00] keep up the great work with the, with podcasts have enjoyed it. Well, thank you so much. Well, that is it for today. Thank you so much for watching and I hope you got something out of it.

If you did hit that like button and subscribe, if you haven’t already, and I will see you in the next video.

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