Human powered Round The World (RTW) trips have always fascinated people throughout history with people trying to set or break the record running, skateboarding or dancing badly around the world!
One of the most eminent and strived for RTW records of recent times has been the The Guinness World Record for fastest circumnavigation of the globe by bicycle. Read on to find out about the great rivalries and adventures that were undertaken by the increasingly many people who went cycling around the world!

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Nick Sanders the first RTW cycling record holder

Nick Sanders – that crazy adventurer that would end up traveling a dozen times around the world – set the original “Cycling around the World” record in 1984, riding over 13,000 miles (20,900 km) around the Northern hemisphere in 78 days. In 2003, Guinness changed the rules to stating that: the minimum distance ridden should be 18,000 miles (28,970 km), and that the total distance travelled (riding + transit) by the bicycle and rider should exceed an Equator’s length, i.e. 24,900 miles / 40,075 km.

This change of rules meant Nick Sanders lost his world record. He would later claim the record for fastest circumnavigation of the earth by motorbike in 19 days making him “the fastest man around the world

On 13 February 2005, Steve Strange completed the first record attempt under the new Guinness rules, achieving a world record of 276 days and 19 hours.

Then on 14 February 2008, came Scottish native Mark Beaumont who completed a circumnavigation of the globe by bicycle in 194 days and 17 hours. His RTW cycling  record attempt was accompanied by huge, mainly British, media coverage and he became a ‘celebrity’ cycling blogger turning his book ‘The Man Who Cylced the World’ into a massive bestseller. He had big corporate sponsorship which led some to believe he “had sold out his soul to commerce” and that his trip had lost any sense of the enjoyment and sense of freedom that bicycle touring should be about.

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Beaumont’s video diaries of the journey formed the basis of a BAFTA nominated documentary – also named ‘The Man who Cycled the World – which was broadcast by the BBC.

All this publicity made him the world’s most well known RTW cyclist, and put upcoming record attempts on the front pages of British mainstream media.

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Julian Sayarer’s retaliation record attempt

Julian Sayarer, a bike courier from London, had hated everything from Mark Beaumont’s record breaking ride. He was of the belief that Beaumont had reduced bicycle touring and the open road to a corporate marketing strategy with all his big sponsors. And that disgusted him. So in an act of ‘retaliation against this corporate sponsorship record’ Sayarer to do things differently and he set out to take back the record for the people, on a tiny budget and with a focus on fun travel.
He came back 169 days later breaking Beaumont’s record by several weeks. His record would however never get recognized as he had – according to the complicated Guinness record book rules – not made enough mileage to qualify for a “full circumnavigation of the world”.

Find Sayarer’s trip account and full story here.   

Other RTW cycling record breakers

Subsequently, in a relatively short time period, several successful attempts were made to break Mark’s RTW cycling record: 

  • August 2010 – Vin Cox became the new record holder in 163 days 6 hours 58 minutes.

  • January 2012 – Alan Bate completed the circumnavigation in 106 days, 10hrs and 33mins

  • June 2012 –  Mike Hall completed the circumnavigation in 91 days 18 hours. His unsupported ride was part of the newly organised World Cycling Race – Grand Tour in which 11 riders set off from Greenwich on February 18 to race with the hope of breaking the record.

Shortly after the completion of Mike’s ride Guinness World Records changed the rules again, this time to include (non-biking e.g. plane, boat,…) transit time into the record time. Under the new rules Mike recorded a time of 107 days 2 hours 30 minutes.

Then in December 2012 – German Thomas Großerichter completed the journey in 105 days, 1hr and 44mins finally putting the record in the hands of a non-Brit!

Women cycling around the world

Logically there is also a RTW cycling record for women.
On 22 December 2012, Juliana Buhring, from the United Kingdom (though born in Greece), completed the circumnavigation in 152 days 1 hour including total travel time, becoming the first woman to attempt and to complete a circumnavigation of the world by bicycle using a route that complies with the new requirements of Guinness World Records.

Buhring on the road

Buhring on the road

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Then in 2014 an unemployed woman from Italy, Paola Gianotti, attempted to break Buhring’s record.
Due to the financial crisis she had to close her shop in the Italian city of Ivrea. As she had nothing else to do she decided to take on a challenge and attempt to cycle around the world. She called her mission Keep Brave in which she wanted to promote the benefit of sports on the well-being of humanity.

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On the 30th of November she re-entered Ivrea having cycled 29,430km through 22 countries in 144 days, breaking Buhring’s record by 8 days.
The trip had cost Gianotti 20,000 euro (mainly spend on the support campervan she had with her at all times) but at the same time she raised 45,000 euro sponsorship money for charity. 

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Paola Gianotti route map1

For all you cyclists out there: The Challenge is On!!!


Sources: Round the world cycling record, Mark Beaumont website, Amazon, Cycle Earth