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Around The World In Not Quite 80 Days, Cyclist Smashes Record

Mark Beaumont poses with his Guinness World Records in Paris Monday after cycling for 79 days around the world.
Aurelien Meunier
Getty Images
Mark Beaumont poses with his Guinness World Records in Paris Monday after cycling for 79 days around the world.

Seventy-eight days, 14 hours and 40 minutes of pure pedaling around the globe gave Mark Beaumont a new world record Monday, besting the former record of 123 days.

"This has been, without doubt, the most punishing challenge I have ever put my body and mind through," Beaumont said upon completing the journey in Paris, reports the BBC. "The experience has been incredible, and I'm excited to share this journey for years to come."

He also won a second Guinness title for the most ground covered in a month on a bike, from Paris to Perth at 7,031 miles, says the BBC.

The 34-year-old Scotsman began in Paris on July 2, cycling over 18,000 miles of diverse terrain, across Europe to Mongolia, over China, traversing Australia, across North America and back through Western Europe (hopping flights over the ocean portions, of course). See the map of his route here.

Sometimes the conditions and the climate were punishing. Beaumont breathed in smoke from North American forest fires and powered through freezing temperatures in the Southern Hemisphere, ice forming on his jacket.

He covered 240 miles a day in about 16 hours.

Beaumont burned 9,000 calories each day of the trek. Hetold VisitScotland.com that gels and sports bars wouldn't cut it and he tried to refuel with around 40 grams of protein per meal, along with sufficient carbohydrates and fat. Moroccan lamb, spaghetti bolognese and smoothies were all on the menu.

Still, Beaumont's body was feeling the burn from all that exercise. "As you can imagine the legs and backside and neck and all the bits which have been abused were grumbling," Beaumont told British newspaper The Daily Telegraph toward the end of the journey.

But Beaumont was lucky to have evaded major injury. "To pull off something like this requires a huge amount of suffering and hurting but I am not injured and that is the important part," he told the Telegraph.

That is not to say Beaumont completed the challenge unscathed. While in Russia, a pothole sent him flying, resulting in a broken tooth and a fractured elbow.

"It was a pretty awful moment and it is one of the only times during my ride when I thought: is this it? Is this over?" Beaumont told the newspaper.

Luckily his performance manager, Laura Penhaul, was able to do some "DIY dentistry," Beaumont said, and he pedaled on.

In addition to Penhaul, Beaumont's support crew included a navigator, a bike mechanic, and his mother, Una Beaumont, who would take care of the details at base camp. A camera team also stuck with him, filming the journey for online review as well as a documentary.

Smashing records on his bicycle is well-worn ground for Beaumont. He had already set a world record of 194 days for pedaling around the planet in 2008.

This time, Beaumont was inspired by Jules Verne's classic 19th century novel Around The World In 80 Days and had made it his own mission to circumnavigate the globe in 80 days, putting his Monday arrival in Paris one day ahead of schedule.

Now that he can finally put his feet up, Beaumont told the Telegraph he is looking forward to simple pleasures. "I don't want anything big or grand," he said. "So I look forward to walking the dog and sleeping in a normal bed and eating a nice meal without getting pummeled with a massage at the same time."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Amy Held is an editor on the newscast unit. She regularly reports breaking news on air and online.