Thomas Stevens left his home in San Francisco in 1884 on his bicycle. Some three years later, in 1887, he returned, and in doing so became the first person to cycle round the world. Nobody attempted the feat again until 1975, when a young English man nearly managed it, he only had to ride the last 40 miles from his airport to home when disaster struck; his bike was crushed on the baggage conveyor belt and the record was lost.
The feat has now been regulated by the Guinness World of Records, and requires that the participant must cycle at least 18,000 miles for the record to be official.
The first person to hold this official record was Steve Strange, who completed the journey in 2005, it took him 276 days. Since then, over 20 people have completed the challenge.
In 2008, the Brit became the fastest to complete the distance, some three months quicker than Steve Strange’s record. He finished his journey at the Arc de Triomphe in 195 days and six hours. Beaumont had to overcome numerous obstacles to break the record; water poisoning in Iran, food poisoning in Pakistan and being knocked off his bike three times – including once by a donkey. He raised a total of over £15,000 for charity in achieving his dream.
Although unable to break the record, Bowthorpe actually raised an astonishing £58,000 for What’s Driving Parkinsons; the charity’s mission is to find a cure for Parkinsons Disease.
In 2012, Guinness amended the rules to include total time of trip, so transitions over water via plane or boat are now considered part of the record. This meant that Alan Bate, who completed his attempt in 2010 with the use of a support team, became the first man to hold the updated record.
The World Cycle Racing Grand Tour began in London in 2012. 11 riders took part and the ambitious target was to ride around the world in accordance with the Guinness rules. Mike Hall was the winner of the widely publicised race, and in securing victory he also broke the Guinness World Record with a time of 107 days.