Inform us about your first journey.
I used to be house schooled on a farm within the foothills of the Scottish Highlands. I used to be outdoors on a regular basis however had my first correct journey once I was 12 — I made a decision to cycle throughout Scotland, coast to coast, which is about 125 miles. Whenever you’re a 12-year-old little one, that’s fairly a good distance and I beloved it. It wasn’t simply the journey of using throughout my nation, it was going door to door, elevating funds for native charities and getting my story within the paper. I’d by no means actually been off the farm earlier than; my closest mates had been my sisters. I had such a small world. To go on an journey like that was so liberating.
The place did your curiosity in biking come from at such a younger age?
Horse using and snowboarding had been my first loves. The bike for me wasn’t actually about competitors or racing, it was about freedom: I couldn’t journey my horse or ski throughout Scotland, however the bike gave me the chance to go on a journey. Though I’d been on cycle journeys throughout Europe, Scandinavia and the size of the UK, biking wasn’t my important factor till I graduated from college and determined I’d cycle all over the world. However once more, it was fairly sensible, it wasn’t as a result of it was my favorite sport. I simply thought, nicely, if I’m going to go all over the world, it’s going to be on a motorbike.
What evokes you to maintain pushing your self to interrupt information on endurance journeys?
It’s simply the child inside me. I nonetheless like the concept of doing one thing that’s not been finished earlier than, determining what my private greatest is. I’ve by no means been aggressive in a standard sense. I’ve all the time finished main expeditions as a result of I like that interplay between the physicality and psychology, but in addition between you and the cultures, the locations, the individuals. You want the friendship of strangers to determine methods to get by; the extra you push your self, the extra you’re susceptible. Individuals typically ask me, don’t you assume you’re lacking the purpose of those journeys by going so quick? However I believe it creates this lovely dynamic between the athlete and the cultures.
What are a few of your greatest reminiscences out of your journeys?
Throughout my Cairo to Cape City biking world file, there was a second going via northern Botswana the place I had a giraffe cantering alongside me, going precisely the identical pace as me. I additionally keep in mind being about 500 miles north of the Arctic Circle, making an attempt to take a small rowing boat additional north than anybody had ever gone earlier than, and encountering a pod of round 25 beluga whales. It was a kind of lovely moments the place you’re in full wilderness, lots of of miles from the closest city, however you’ve got wildlife proper there: these pearly white creatures had been developing and cresting round us.
What about essentially the most memorable encounters?
I keep in mind being in the course of Sudan, not understanding the place I’d discover a place to remain within the Sahara Desert, and coming throughout a small truck cease along side the street. I used to be a bit scared and went in understanding I would want to sleep there and discover water if I used to be to hold on. And not using a phrase in widespread, the individuals there gave me an unbelievable welcome. I used to be taken in, my water bottle was stuffed, I ate stew and left the following morning at dawn after sleeping with them on the sand.
These are great moments the place individuals convey me into their world. I all the time benefit from the interactions you’ve got while you meet individuals within the wilderness. There are just a few locations on the earth the place there are enormous ribbons of tarmac going throughout huge expanses, just like the Atacama Desert in northern Chile or the Alcan Freeway going from Alaska all the way down to British Columbia. If you happen to meet anybody on the market, you’re each on an journey.
In 2017, you cycled 18,000 miles all over the world in 78 days. What was it like behind the scenes?
Each different race over the previous 15 years has been unsupported, whereas with the round-the-world file the workforce round me — together with logistics and efficiency help, and the media — had been extraordinary. In whole, 40 individuals labored on that venture, and I usually had six to eight individuals on the street at anybody time. It was two-and-a-half years within the planning, and we took the file from 123 days all the way down to 78. I believe the simplicity of seeing an individual on the bicycle belies the complexity of what that truly was. Lots of people assume it’s about how match or decided I’m, however they don’t realise the size of that ambition. That was my Everest; I wished one alternative in my life to place all my playing cards on the desk, do away with all of the unknowns. It was purely about how briskly you’ll be able to go round planet Earth.
Of all of your achievements, which one are you most happy with?
As an athlete, the around the world in 80 days file. It’s the toughest factor I’ve ever finished, and there was an enormous quantity of struggling.
However I additionally made a movie in regards to the first Tour de France, which came about again in 1903. I just like the historical past of sport. We took 120-year-old bicycles and recreated the primary levels — initiatives like that I’m tremendous happy with. It was nice enjoyable.
I additionally broke the British file for the longest distance cycled in a single hour on a penny farthing [the first high-wheeled bicycle], which was a file that no one had damaged for 127 years. For me, they don’t should be conventional cycle-around-the-world information — I fairly like issues which might be a bit quirkier.