Monday, March 30th, 2009

Yesterday was the day James Bowthorpe embarked on his ambitious mission to set a new round-the-world cycling record.

The 31-year-old furniture maker from London sets off today on an epic 18,000 mile journey cycling an average of 120 miles a day, on his Santos Travelmaster equipped with a Rohloff Speedhub and belt drive, drive train – the bike is aluminium-framed too, so James has consigned pretty much all the received wisdom on ultra-distance riding to the bin. He wants to complete the task in around 164 days (150 cycling days plus rest days) and beat the 194-day record set by Mark Beaumont.

James’ adventure, sponsored by The Independent, is also designed to raise £1.8 million for research into Parkinson’s Disease. James has spent the past two years volunteering with the “What’s Driving Parkinson’s?” research team at King’s College, London, and one day hopes to become a doctor.

After setting off from home in London James will traverse Europe, passing into Asia at Istanbul, crossing Iran, Pakistan and India, where conditions for cycling get a lot harder.

He will pedal through Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore before heading on to Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA, cycling from Vancouver to New York before the final straight from Portugal to London.

The ride will be unassisted, but James will have his brother Tom handling logistics from the UK, his girlfriend Nadja handling the media side of things and plenty of contacts along the way to provide him with food, tyres and other equipment.

We were pretty inspired to get behind James, so when he asked for an Etobicoke to keep gear light and his body warm from those chilly nights, we jumped on board - without hesitation.

We’ll keep you all posted via the post, give’em hell James.