Mike Hall (left) and Richard Dunnett cross paths in New Zealand (Quick Energy)
Just over over two months on from their departure in Greenwich, London, the contenders of the World Cycle Racing Grand Tour bidding to become the new round-the-world record holder looks to have been whittled down to one.
Great Britain’s Mike Hall, who is riding for Quick Energy, has just passed the half way mark in the 18,000 mile odyssey, having clocked up a staggering 9,440 miles in just 58 days. He’s way ahead of the remaining 11 riders (the closest is Martin Walker on 7,101 miles) and on track to eclipse Alan Bate’s record of 106 days.
He’s currently on the north island of New Zealand having already ridden across the Europe, Turkey, India, Australia and NZ’s south island, and will soon begin a mammoth trek across North America. In a bizarre coincidence, he ended up crossing paths with fellow competitor Richard Dunnett (3rd place, 6,644 miles), who had been travelling in the opposite direction.
As you can tell from this YouTube video he posted in Australia, the unrelenting nature of the challenge – 160 miles per day – is beginning to wreak havoc on Hall’s physical and mental state.
BikeRadar spoke to many of the riders prior to their departure on 18 February and it’s fair to say they’ve all had their fair share of troubles, none more so than Sean Conway.
The South African’s progress was halted after he was hit by a truck in Arkansas, US, which left him nursing a compression fracture in his spine, two torn leg muscles, concussion and a knackered bike. You’d think his ride was over, but you’d be wrong. He appealed on Twitter to help him find a bike sponsor so he could get back on the road as soon as his injuries allowed.
South African Sean Conway sporting a neck brace after his accident in Arkansas, USA
Guinness World Records agreed to stop the clock while he tended to his injuries, so he can at least console himself with the fact he hasn’t lost much time. Incredibly, he’s now back on the road and only two weeks behind schedule.
“Not sure I am physically up to it yet but I am determined
to carry on cycling around the world weather it takes me 2 months
or 2 years. I will do it!” he said on his website.
Policeman Stephen Phillips (8th, 2,258 miles) was forced to quit in mid-March after an accident in the US left him with a damaged Achilles tendon. He flew home to his family but has since returned to California and is back on the bike settling “unfinished business”.
Jason Woodhouse (9th, 2,121 miles) was forced to return to England just two weeks in to regroup and has had some serious mileage to make up to keep apace of his rivals.
Having endured two crashes, a broken bike and several bouts of food poisoning, 21-year-old student Stuart Lansdale (10th, 1,584 miles) – the race’s youngest rider – is in Bangkok awaiting the arrival of donated bike parts.
You can find updates from all the riders on the race’s official website, World Cycle Racing Grand Tour.