Julian Sayarer grew up riding a bicycle. Working as a bike courier in London he was a cycling purist that loved his job and loved his bike.
When in 2008 he heard about the existence of ‘a bloody round the world cycling record!’ And when he heard about Mark Beaumont’s highly publicised and commercialized record cycling trip in 2007/08 he was disgusted. That was not what cycling was supposed to be. Bicycle touring into the sunset had been bought by banks and big business (Beaumont’s sponsors) and that was wrong. The bike and the open road reduced to a corporate marketing strategy…that disgusted Sayarer. He was very angry and very determined 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.
Life Cycles the book
Life Cycles is Sayarer’s story of that record attempt cycling around the world. Solo, without big corporate sponsors and on a budget of only £8.84 a day. Sayarer rode 110 miles every 24 hours for 6 months through 20 different countries. He found himself stranded without money in the deserts of Kazakhstan, held up by insurrections in northwest China, and sleeping under motorway bridges in America’s Deep South. Taken by life on the road and a spirit of adventure, he loved every minute of it. And that was the point.
Cycling 18,050 miles in 169 days
Sayarer’s journey began in June 2009 at Rouen Cathedral and after a 18,050-mile journey finished at the same spot in December of that same year.
Setting a new world best time of 169 days compared to Beaumont’s benchmark of 196 days, and even faster then the 176 days that James Bowthorpe (a new record breaker when Sayarer was still on the road) took.
There was a huge battle, rivalry and controversy between Beaumont and Sayarer as the latter, when he just got back from his record ride posted a blog entry despising everything Beaumont and his corporate sellout style of adventure. The two would never get on good terms…
RTW world record cycling route
His route took him through Europe to the Ukraine and Russia. Then onwards to Kazakhstan and China where he flew from Shanghai to Bangkok. The 23-year-old then pedalled to Singapore, where he took another flight to New Zealand, riding the length of the country from north to south then jetting across the Pacific to Vancouver in Canada. From there, he cycled across the United States and flew to Lisbon, Portugal, before riding up through the Iberian Peninsula and into France to return to his departure point.
When he arrived back home he wrote on his blog
I don’t really know what to talk about, what to say… It was amazing, it was beautiful, it was a joy. For the final month I must have been averaging close to 150 miles a day, it wasn’t as leisurely as I would have liked it to have been, it still wasn’t going to ‘hell and back’, as one guy said Mark Beaumont had done… If Mark Beaumont did go to hell and back, then he was doing it all wrong.
Sayarer undertook his trip on a Tout Terrain frame equipped with a Rohlhoff hub supplied by Bikefix of London’s Lamb’s Conduit Street
Not breaking the world record
By sheer deduction of the fact that Sayarer had cycled around the world covering 18,050 kilometers in 169 days he had broken the world record that, at that time, was standing at 175 days by James Bowthorphe. Bowthorpe even congratulated his successor on Twitter saying: “Great ride Julian! – rest up and see you for that cup of tea soon…”
However Sayarer’s record never got acknowledged by the Guinness book of records. The reason lay in the complicated definition used as to what a circumnavigation of the world is by that record recording organisation.
The rules state “the journey should be continuous and in one direction (East to West or West to East), that the minimum distance ridden should be 18,000 miles (29,000 km), and that the total distance travelled by the bicycle and rider should exceed an Equator’s length, i.e. 24,900 miles (40,100 km).” They also state that: “Any considerable distance travelled opposite to the direction of the attempt must be discounted from any calculations of the overall distance travelled,” and that the route “must be ridden through two approximate antipodal points.”
And according to these rules Sayarer had not enough miles as he had cycled Eastwards but flown Westwards from Shanghai to Bangkok without making up for those kilometers.
Instead of taking eternal world breaking record Sayarer took up his job of bicycle couriering again and treasured all that great memories of his low-key kickass trip. That was all he wanted to do anyway.