In May 2019, I will be attempting to break the Guinness World Record for the fastest crossing of Europe, south to north, by bicycle. I will be doing this in order to raise money for African Parks, a conservation NGO dedicated to protecting some of Africa’s most-at-threat ecosystems.
UPDATE: I’ve already broken one world record. Read more here.
Distance: ~6,400 kilometres or ~4,000 miles
Start point: Tarifa, Spain
Finish point: Nordkapp, Norway
Number of countries: ~11
Current record: 21 days 14 hours 23 minutes, set by the late Lee Fancourt in July 2015
Daily distance required to beat the record: ~300 kilometres or ~185 miles
Important rule: I cannot use ferries, which means the route has to go through Russia
Not just about the record
This is a two-part challenge. Not only do I want to break the world record, but I want to raise £5 for African Parks for every mile I cycle. With the route around 4,000 miles long, this means I am attempting to raise £20,000 in donations. This is a phenomenally large amount and I need your help to get there. Please click the donate button and help me reach this goal.
Who are African Parks?
African Parks is a non-profit conservation organisation that takes on the complete responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of national parks in partnership with governments and local communities. With the largest counter-poaching force and the most amount of area under protection for any one NGO in Africa, African Parks manages 15 national parks and protected areas in nine countries covering 10.5 million hectares in Benin, Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda and Zambia. For more information visit www.africanparks.org, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook
Why have you chosen African Parks?
I’m lucky enough to work for Steppes Travel, where I get to see both ecosystems in peril and fantastic conservation success stories. I’ve had the pleasure of working closely with African Parks and seeing first-hand the areas that they are protecting, some of which have been pulled back from the brink. As with many NGOs, the passion and dedication of the people who work for them are inspiring, but there are three main reasons why I want to support African Parks:
- Ambition. In choosing to try and conserve protected areas in countries that are unstable and wartorn, African Parks show remarkable ambition. This willingness to take on a challenge is something I can relate to.
- Longevity. Too few organisations are in it for the long run. With management mandates of up to 50 years, African Parks are committed to seeing things through. Again, I can appreciate this commitment to enduring.
- Holism. Viewing a protected area holistically, inclusive of communities, is a recipe for success. And this is the approach African Parks take to conservation. Endangered species will not survive if they are always in conflict with the humans around them.
To learn more about African Parks’ work, check out my blog on my time in Nkhotakota Reserve in Malawi or to read about why the parks are worth saving, read my magazine article on Liwonde National Park, also in Malawi.
Thanks to my sponsors for their support.
FAQ+ Why are you doing this?
That is a very good question. I’m not quite sure, to be honest. I guess I’ve always been curious to see how far I can push my body with cycling. To do that, it is simplest to set yourself a challenge.
+ What inspired you to support African Parks?
Largely my experience in Malawi, visiting three parks run by them. Having cycled through one of these, Nkhotakota, previously, I was in the privileged position of being able really appreciate how much progress they had made.
+ Have you done anything like this before?
No. I’ve cycled across a few continents, but never against the clock.
+ Are you professional or amateur?
Definitely amateur. I have a full-time job, so will have to fit my training around this.
+ What time are you aiming for?
If I beat the record by a second, I’ll be happy. Lee Fancourt, the current holder, was – by all accounts – an absolute cycling machine, so it’s a tough record to break.
+ Are you sure you can do this?
If everything goes to plan, yes. However, it will only take an injury, terrible weather or mechanical issues to derail everything. Luck will play a huge part.
+ Will you be riding with a support team?
No. Although Guiness World Records, does not differentiate between supported and unsupported cycling records (frustratingly), I will be riding unsupported, so will be carrying all my kit. This is a personal and financial choice.