Sean Conway will attempt to cycle more than 18,000 miles in 162 days and set a new world record for the fastest ride around the world.
Sean, 30, is bidding to break the existing record for an unsupported circumnavigation of the globe while raising money for the Forward Foundation, the charitable arm of the Forward Internet Group, which operates the uSwitch.com website.
The photographer, who once climbed Mount Kilimanjaro dressed as a penguin, and is bidding to raise £100,000 for children leading tough lives in London and some of the world’s poorest countries, will set off from London on Saturday February 18.
“It’s like going to the moon. You think, ‘other people do that’. I’d just turned 30, I was sat in the bath and thought, ‘This is completely do-able.’
“I’ll be 31 when I come back and have nothing, but the question was, would I regret not giving it a go, and the answer would be yes,” he told RoadCyclingUK.
Sean has ridden for up to 17 hours-a-day in a training schedule begun last June which now sees him as many as 40 hours-a-week. Training routes take him from London to Kings Lynn and back, and from London to Brighton before returning to the capital via Portsmouth. Days on the bike can start with a 4am alarm call and a 1,000 calorie breakfast. He will have to consume his own body weight in food and drink every two weeks to fuel some seven million pedal revolutions with each leg.
“It’s tough to eat as much as you need to. You’re burning up to 10,000 calories a day, which is the equivalent of 67 Mars bars, or a 3kg bag of pasta, which says ‘for 33 servings’ on the label,” he said.
He credits a childhood growing up on the banks of the Zambezi River as the principal factor in developing his adventurous spirit.
“I’ve always tried to push myself physically and mentally. Whatever I do has to have a physical aspect. Take Kilimanjaro: for me, it wasn’t hard enough.
I thought, if I go up dressed a penguin, that will be enough for me. I would hate to be one of the 25,000 who go up normally. On the back of that, I really wanted to do something big for charity. Thank-you to uSwitch for believing in me,” he said.
Sean will make his record attempt as a competitor in the first ever bike race around the world.
“The goal is 200 miles a day; ideally, 225 miles a day. The cycling is possible. The mileage is not the problem. It’s the things that could go wrong – bridge crossings, things like that. Tommy Godwin managed to cycle 75,000 miles a year in 1939 when bikes were awful,” he said.
Sean’s chosen route will take him through each continent, except Antarctica. Setting off from Greenwich, he will cycle to Portsmouth for a ferry to France before cycling through Morocco, Peru, and across the USA where he will catch a plane for New Zealand, get back on the bike, then take a second flight to Australia to ride along the east coat.
His two-wheeled odyssey will continue through Singapore and Bangkok before a flight to India allows him to get back on the bike in Calcutta on a route to Mumbai. A flight to Istanbul will set up the final leg of his journey across continental Europe and back to Greenwich for July 27, hours before the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics.
Sean will sleep rough most nights. His few nights in hotel accommodation have been planned for logistical and security reasons. Shunning a tent to keep weight to a minimum, he will sleep “under bridges” in a small bivouac. “If you ride until 10pm, you’ll go to sleep wherever you find a place,” he said. The importance of weight saving means he will not even carry spare clothes, and has instead posted garments to supporters in different countries along his route.