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Peter Gostelow

Adventure cycling

Beaumont back on his bike

Apparently Mark Beaumont was on BBC breakfast this morning to talk about his latest cycling adventure. Mark will cycle through the Americas with a BBC crew not far behind. I’m slightly envious of all the attention he’ll get. I hope he allows himself a more relaxing schedule than on his Round the World record breaking ride. Getting on a bicycle again for another challenge was far from his thoughts when he finished this.

Cycling across countries and continents doesn’t of course have to be such hard work. When I tell people I’m going to cycle through Africa I’m often asked how much training I need to do in preparation. The answer is none. The ability to ride X amount of miles or climb X amount of metres in altitude is 90% mental. The determination is in your mind. If you’re unfit it will simply take you longer and will be harder to begin with. My friend Tim Brewer is a case in point. He set out on his bicycle from England weighing something like 120kg. When I met him in India he was still overweight, but several months of cycling in the mountains of Pakistan and Tibet soon got him in shape. When he arrived in Australia almost 2 years after starting he weighed less than 80kg.

All touring cyclists ride at a different pace. Some see the adventure of riding across a landmass more in terms of a physical challenge, which it is if you ride for 10-12 hours a day and try to cover as many miles as possible. I rather suspect Mark Beaumont will embark with this mindset – it’s what the viewers will be expecting after the last BBC documentary.

I am of course making excuses for myself. For me the joy of riding a bicycle through a foreign country derives much more from the cultural experiences that ensue and the people one gets to meet. It’s one of the main reasons I decided to get on a bicycle to see the World.

Mark Beaumont


  1. This is interesting. I’ve been struggling mentally with the balance recently. I was trying to ride across Yemen as fast as possible because I knew my girlfriend was waiting on the far side of the Arabian peninsular. Consequently I had a crap time of it. The novelty of riding 150km/day across empty desert wore off after Sudan. I was honestly completely bored with pounding tarmac, saying no to invitations and not taking any side roads. (Partly it was because the police forced me into this, but mostly it was my own doing.)

    Now I’m in Oman and I’ve realised I’ve got at least a month ’til my Iranian visa will be ready. So I forced myself to slow up, get off the beaten track, take any interesting opportunities, and things have become way more interesting. Today I helped clean a fishing boat, had fresh tuna and rice for lunch in someone’s home, and found a perfect beach to sleep on.

    But sometimes it’s really difficult to pace yourself when you’re alone with no-one to bounce ideas off. I’m sure you know the feeling.

    • Yes, familiar feeling – I declined so many invitations because I just wanted to get on with the cycling, but then I stopped to ask myself why I was cycling through these countries if i wasn’t going to immerse myself more. I went through phases and it depended on the country I was in. Striking the right balance is difficult. Being alone and staying with strangers who you can only partially communicate with is tough and draining – another reason I declined offers at the roadside.

      I’m glad I had time on my side – many tourers don’t. I remember being in Iran in October and thinking I was going to get across the country in less than a month and then race across Turkey and Europe to be home for Christmas. Someone invited me to their house set within a fields of grapes – a picnic was prepared, i tried opium for the first time and decided several hours later that i wouldn’t rush through Iran any more. I ended up staying 2 months and avoided the European winter by detouring south through the ME and North Africa.

      It is easy to rush, but I wasn’t returning to a g/f of course. I always tried to take minor roads, and will do the same when possible in Africa.

      Enjoy the leisurely pace in Oman. I assume you have a place to stay in Dubai? If not i can give you the name of a good friend. Take care

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