Jenny Graham has broken the women’s around the world cycling record, crossing the globe self-supported in just 124 days. The 37-year-old from the Scottish Highlands departed from Berlin on 16th June 2018. Fifteen countries across four continents later she rode back to where she started after 18,413 miles on the road.
Having started cycling just 14 years ago, before she set off Graham explained her motivation to Cyclist.
It’s curiosity as to what I can do with my mind and body,’ she said ahead of the record attempt. ‘Over the last five years, I’ve been building up miles. I just started doing a little bit more and a little bit more.
‘After my first back-to-back hundred mile days, I thought how far can I go?’
It turns out the answer is the whole way around the world and in record-breaking time.
Graham had hoped to complete the ride in 110 days but found herself running behind schedule early on in her attempt as she crossed Russia.
Still, her effort was enough to make her the fastest woman in both supported and unsupported categories, beating the existing record by a considerable distance.
Held by Italian Paola Gianotti in 144 days, this previous record was both supported and, controversially, included a four-month hiatus following a road traffic accident.
To claim the record Graham had to adhere to the Guinness world record rules which stipulate: ‘The journey should be continuous and of a minimum distance of 18,000 miles between two approximate antipodal points.
‘The total distance including flights should also exceed the equator’s length of 24,900 miles. The total time will include all transfers.’
Crossing Germany, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, Mongolia, China, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, USA, Portugal, Spain, France, and the Netherlands, Graham followed the route established by fellow Scot, Mark Beaumont.
The holder of the absolute record, Beaumont took 78 days to complete his fully-supported ride. However, taking responsibility for her own maintenance and nutrition, finding her own often less that luxurious sleeping spots, and doing all her own navigation, Graham’s challenge was very different in nature.
On the way she found herself pulled over by police and offered a cup of tea in Russia, having to avoid bears in the Yukon, and dodging kangaroos in the Outback.
Checking in with BBC radio every few days, her reports proved unbelievably chipper for someone who had been on their bike an average of 15 hours each day and mostly sleeping in laybys.