Across Continents

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Chasing Phileas

I’d felt a bit sorry for Mike Hall. Unfortunate timing, riding 18,000 miles around the world in a staggering 92 days, close on an average of two hundred miles per day, but, quite unavoidably, finishing at Greenwich Observatory in the middle of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Some column inches in the nationals, his record breaking feat getting a reasonable amount of recognition. Even an interview on Radio 4. But left wondering that, but for the Royal pageantry, he’d have had finishing photos across the front pages.

Most media coverage has been rightly very positive, any why not? It’s not an Olympic sport, but it is Olympic year, and he’s a Yorkshireman, and it’s a world record. Just the odd unhelpful utterance in a certain broadsheet, wrongly presuming a race across the globe to be somehow the same as travelling across continents, the bicycle simply a convenient form of transport. Entirely different disciplines, as is, say mountain biking and tandem touring.

Over the last few years the record pace has risen from a relatively sedentary sixty miles per day – think even I could manage that – to now a little shy of two hundred. Actually 195. Point seven to be precise. And mine? Probably a bit less. But what next? Chasing Phileas? Phileas Fogg that is, Jules Verne’s fictional traveller who, so the story goes, went full circle in 80 days. That’s an average of 225 each day, a tantalising thirty more than the current record. I’ve no plans…. but you can bet someone else will be sat there, over tea and toast, thinking hmmm maybe… just maybe


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