Round-the-world cyclist celebrates
A cyclist has triple cause for celebration after he won a round-the-world bike race on his birthday, breaking the world record in the process.
Mike Hall, 31, became the fastest person to circumnavigate the globe by bicycle, cycling around the world in just 92 days and beating the previous record holder by nearly two weeks.
The engineer, who averaged around 200 miles a day, also beat the nine other competitors in the race by several days as he crossed the finish line at Greenwich Royal Observatory in south-east London, more than three months after starting from there.
His 24,900 mile journey has seen him ride 18,000 miles through around 20 countries and four continents to raise money for charity Newborn Vietnam.
About 50 well-wishers gathered to cheer him on as he crossed the finish line just before 1pm. Mr Hall, from Harrogate, North Yorkshire, said he felt "stunned" as his friends and family popped champagne corks and sang a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday to him.
He said: "I think I had a lot of the emotions in the last few weeks on the roads. It was quite difficult and I think it builds up - the stress. So I kind of released all that in the last few days. Now I just feel pretty calm actually."
Mr Hall said the worst thing to happen to him during the race was when he rode into a big hole in Albania: "I broke my bike but managed to fix it with some parts I had, then had to ride through the night to get to Greece. There were a few close calls with traffic, but I just tried to keep safe, keep vigilant."
Mr Hall began the Quick Energy World Cycle Racing Grand Tour on February 18 and has so far raised around £1,000 for the charity, which provides healthcare and medical equipment for newborn babies in Vietnam.
The route taken by each person in the race was down to the individual, but they had to cycle a minimum of 18,000 miles in the same direction with their GPS tracked the whole time. Mr Hall said he planned his journey meticulously so as to have to ride the least distance possible.
But he said that he believed it would be possible to complete the challenge in less than 80 days, without including the time it takes to fly between continents.