The man who cycled the world by Mark Beaumont

Mark Beaumont came to prominence when he set off to break the world record at circumnavigating the world on a bicycle, covering a minimum of 18,000 miles, going in one direction and cycling in both hemispheres (terms and conditions of the Guinness book of records). But it wasn’t just his record attempt that brought him to our attention. He planned the whole venture to be a mainly self-recorded journey, using all the portable modern technology available to him at the time, so that it could be converted into a documentary series for television.

In other words, he had the wisdom and foresight not only to go for the world record (which, in fact, he only held onto for a matter of weeks), but at the same time to almost virtually pioneer a method of self-recording the attempt, to a level of quality that would attract the attention of  the BBC, and thus launch his career as an adventurer, documentary-maker7a6b8-286beaumont and author.

I am always very tentative when I pick up books that are first accounts of such ventures. Many are poorly written, offer a journal-like description of the journey (eg. we did this, then we did that…..) and frequently give the reader far too much detail of the mile-by-mile experience, bicycle specifications, kit lists, food eaten etc…….. These details may be important to the author, but the general reader quickly tires of the predictable formulaic style of writing.

Beaumont’s book, however, doesn’t fall into that trap. He tells us a lot about the “touchy-feely” aspects of the journey (the saddle sores, the knee problems, the headwinds…..but also many of the joys) but, more importantly, he relishes sharing the details of the people he met along the way, the cultural and linguistic challenges he encountered, the potential threats to his life both from people and the insect world (eg. tarantulas in Australia)…..and much more. His narrative could make much more of some of the tense moments of his journey, but he neatly avoids the danger of over-egging his experiences, where the reader may begin to suspect unnecessary embellishment for effect.

This is a very worthy travel volume from an adventure traveller who pushed himself to extraordinary limits to achieve his goal…..that of cycling around the world unsupported, in the hope of breaking the world record.

About Frank Burns

My journeys around the world are less about riding a bicycle, and more about what happens when I get off the bicycle. Click on the Personal Link below to visit my webpages.

Posted on August 24, 2014, in Book reviews and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Is Mr. Beaumont British by chance? Maybe there’s a home field bias, but I did not like his book. I read it before our trip and was quite disappointed. Does American Netflix reach the UK? If so, try out the documentary Riding The Divide. It’s a mountain bike ‘race’ from Canada to Mexico along the spine of the Rocky Mountains. It portrays the joys and agonies of self-supported cycle travel quite accurately.

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  2. British?….well, Scottish actually….which after the referendum next month may be distinctly non-British!
    Interesting his account didn’t catch your attention…..but then all such accounts are written for commercial benefits, and it can be evident as a thin veneer affecting its impact.
    I haven’t read Riding the Divide, but something similar by Jill Homer, of her 2009 attempt. Review here:https://frankburns.wordpress.com/2012/08/08/be-brave-be-strong-by-jill-homer/

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  3. On my showing list … Ta

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