Tuesday 23 January 2018

Race no longer seems half a world away

Pedal the Planet

Cycle Race
Cycle Race

Breifne Earley

It's back to basics now after the short rest over the festive period and the gym sessions over the last few weeks have shaken off any cobwebs which might have developed.

It wasn't all turkey and mince pies though, I managed to get a few spins in at home in Leitrim and even joined some of the good folk of Lough Key Triathlon Club.

Now that the new year has been ushered in, the world cycle race is becoming more real.

There are just over six weeks to the start, with an email from the race organisers highlighting the plans for the launch of the race from Marble Arch, passing famous landmarks across London, before reaching the official start line in Greenwich.

The actual route of the race is up to each of the dozen or so riders, within certain rules. Each rider will be tracked by GPS and we must each travel a total distance greater than the equator (24,900 miles), with 18,000 miles on the bike, and pass through two cities which are antipodes to each other using only the bike and publically accessible transport.

My route will see me take a northerly route through France, Belgium, the Netherlands and across Germany before rounding the Alps in Austria. I will then pass through Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia and Bulgaria and then on to Istanbul, Turkey.

I'll get my first break on the transfer to Mumbai on the west coast of India, where I'll be setting my sat nav towards Calcutta. Then, another jump to Thailand, before making my way down the west coast of Malaysia, finishing up in Singapore.

Next up will be a single-country spin on the largest island on the planet, Australia, before moving on to New Zealand.

After flying across the Pacific, I'll get back on two wheels in Vancouver, Canada, before travelling down the western seaboard of the US, through Los Angeles and San Francisco, before crossing the Rockies into New Mexico.

Then, on my route along the east coast of the US, Dallas, Memphis, Washington, Philadelphia, New York and Boston will all feature .

South America gets some attention starting in Buenos Aires, Argentina, through Uruguay and then on to Rio de Janeiro. I'll probably be the only football fan flying out of Brazil a fortnight before the World Cup gets underway.

Africa makes an appearance in the final leg, beginning in Casablanca, Morocco, and heading north towards the straits of Gibraltar.

I'll then get a ferry across to mainland Europe, traversing Spain before crossing the Pyrenees and hugging the west coast of France all the way to Cherbourg. Then a ferry to Southampton and it's a sprint back to London.

On a personal level, it's vitally important for me to offer thanks to every single person who has been in touch to offer support both financial and otherwise. This entire endeavour would not be possible without each and every one of you.

Breifne will take part in the World Cycle Race next March, in which he hopes to break the current record for cycling around the planet

Irish Independent

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