Since first revealing this idea to travel around the world using only human power, I’ve become familiar with ‘are you mad’ entering conversation as frequently as ‘good morning’ or ‘how are you?’
In this instance one person’s idea of a unique challenge is everybody else’s idea of something crazy and it seems that variations of ‘you’re mad’ are affectionate and not a genuine debate about my faculties.
It’s difficult to pinpoint an exact moment when the idea (or ‘madness’) was hatched, but it was a short time after arriving home in Birmingham following a 3,000 mile cycle across Australia in 2008. A personal debate of ‘what’s next?’ and an enjoyment of Mark Beaumont’s ‘The man who cycled the world’ each nudged me in the direction of a journey around the world.
Six degrees of Wikipedia separation from details about Mark’s record breaking cycle brought me to a page that listed only one man, Jason Lewis as having completed a human powered circumnavigation (a journey around the world by only human power).
The idea of the circumnavigation of an entire planet was fantastic and enthusiasm only increased when Jason’s journey was listed as having taken 13 years, 2 months and 25 days to complete. It seemed like an attainable record.
Far from taking a leisurely approach or getting tremendously lost, Jason had both legs broken when hit by a car while rollerblading across the U.S.A. but he, like myself, was no superhuman athlete, just a man of average fitness who was able to dedicate a substantial amount of his life to a challenge.
(Jason’s since become a great help with my own planning, but slightly worryingly, he forecast his journey would take 2 years to complete. I’ve forecast 18 months and hopefully it won’t be a similar underestimation by 10 years).
From that single webpage grew this ambition which has prevailed. In the time since first happening upon the record, Erden Eruc (like Jason, a brilliant help with planning) completed the circumnavigation in 5 years and 11 days.
I will be joined by a team of 7 rowers to cross the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and so I reluctantly phrase my circumnavigation attempt as breaking either Jason’s record (he was only joined by one other person to use a pedal boat to cross the oceans) or Erden (who completed the entire route completely on his own). Only that I hope to set a new fastest time for the journey.
So it’s far from mad, there’s two people who have done it!