Around the world bicycle race begins in London

Nine endurance bicyclists rolled out of London on Saturday for the first-ever around-the-world bicycle race.

Just two days after leaving, the cyclists on the World Cycle Racing Grand Tour already are spread across western Europe; one is in Morocco. A 10th cyclist departed from the Isle of Man.

They’re seeking to complete their globe-girdling rides by the July 27 start of the Olympics Games in London. Perhaps they’ll set a Guinness World Record along the way.

Name change

Originally, the race was conceived by Vin Cox, a British cyclist who himself held a Guinness World Record of 163 days set on Aug. 1, 2010.

Called the Global Bicycle Race, Cox dropped the event earlier this year for unknown reasons and the racers themselves backed the venture under the new name, World Cycle Racing Grand Tour.

The website for the event features live satellite tracking of the cyclists’ positions with average speed, distance covered and time in motion.

Around the world cyclists

The nine who departed from London are:
Jason Woodhouse – Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England (Feb. 23; returned to London due to bike problems)
Kyle Hewitt – Scotland (Feb. 23; dropped out due to family issues)
Martin Walker – London
Mike Hall – Harrogate, England
Richard Dunnett – Suffolk, England
Simon Hutchinson – Bailieborough, Ireland
Stephen Phillips – Norfolk, England
Stuart Lansdale – London
Sean Conway – South Africa

Departed from Island of Man:

Paul Ashley-Unett – Isle of Man

World bicycle record

Although Cox’s record was recognized as the time to beat for a while, the Guinness World Record went to Alan Bate earlier this year. He also completed his global bicycle ride of 106 days in August 2010, but Guinness took a while to approve it because Bate had a support team during part of his trip. reports that even though Bate holds the record, the cyclists are aiming to beat Cox’s time in an unsupported global ride. Some are traveling with full equipment, while others are traveling ultralight.

Bike ride rules

Unlike many races, the cyclists are free to choose their own course, that’s why it’s difficult to tell who is ahead merely by checking the Live Tracker.

Some of the rules:
Start and finish must be same location;
Cyclist must travel in one direction (any backtracking doesn’t count);
Must travel a minimum 18,000 miles by bicycle, and more than 24,900 miles total;
Riding time starts when a cyclist gets his bike through Customs and pauses when it enters Customs for shipping;
Cyclist must pass through two antipodal points (on direct opposite sides of the globe).

The cyclists come from all walks of life. One is a policeman, another is an anthropology student. Many are using the race as a way to raise money or awareness for their favorite causes.

We wish them all the best on this adventure.

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