Life Cycles by Julian Sayarer
Why is it, when the Tour de France approaches, I find myself burying my nose in cycling books? Well, there’s more to it than just that. A good friend of mine in the cycling world recently handed me a pile of books he had read, and he thought I would enjoy them. I’m currently on my third, but this volume by Julian Sayarer was the first.
Sayarer, a London bike courier, is one of that growing list of aspirants, the most famous of whom was Mark Beaumont, who set off to break the world record by cycling 18,000 miles around the globe. Beaumont had raised the bar by completing it in 194 days, but with the assistance of corporate sponsorship (including the BBC). Sayarer, on the other hand, and without any sponsorship from any quarter, completed the challenge in 169 days…..and this book is his account of that experience.
The curious thing about this record (which currently stands at a staggering 91 days 18 hours, held by Mike Hall) is the vast majority of aspirants are British. Even the one year record of distance cycled is held by a British man, Tommy Godwin, who established his record of 75,065 miles back in 1939 (currently under threat by Steve Abrahams). So, what is so British about these distance records? Is endurance and the feat of conquering long term goals deeply buried in the national psyche?
In my own small way, I understand all of this. If I were to describe my own personal niche in the world of cycling, it would be in the bracket of ‘long-distance endurance’…….but not in the league of some of these super-human velo-maniacs. In the past, when I’ve completed over 200 miles in one day, I’ve had to take a few days off to recover. These guys just do it day after day.
Julian Sayarer is not your usual cycling travel writer. His attention is not monotonously riveted by the repetitive daily routines that are inevitable on these record attempts. He writes more about feelings, opinions, reactions to people and circumstances……he is uncompromisingly scathing of Beaumont’s financially supported venture. To say he is opinionated is an understatement. But it makes interesting reading…….and it alleviates the boredom he must have experienced riding day after day, for 169 days.