Around the world in 123 days: New Zealander transgresses cycling record

Andrew Nicholson, a former Olympic skater, traversed the globe two days faster than Englishman Alan Bate did in 2010

A New Zealand speed skating Olympian has cycled around the world in 123 days which if ratified will beat the current record by a full two days.

Andrew Nicholson, 45, a part-time gym instructor and primary school teacher from Dunedin, in New Zealands deep south, set off from Auckland on 12 August and took in America, Canada, Europe, India, south-east Asia and Australia on his journey of 29,179km (18,131 miles).

If confirmed by the Guinness Book of World Records he will have beaten the current holder of the title, Englishman Alan Bate, who set the current pace in 2010.

I did it on the cheap to be honest, Nicholson told the Guardian from the hospital where he is getting his elbow stitched up after slipping in the shower on his return an accident he attributed to fatigue and relief.

I stayed with other cyclists from the website warm showers, which is like couch surfers for cyclists. And my hosts cooked me meals, and put treats in my back-pack.

The route taken by Nicholson on his 123 day trip Photograph: Andrew Nicholson

Nicholson competed in three winter Olympics for speed skating in the 1990s, and says his coaching from Olympic sports psychologists was pivotal to his cycling success.

When I click into the pedals I go into total concentration and focus mode, he says.

I try not to listen to anything like iPods as I ride because it takes away from your senses and your experience of the ride.

Nicholson, who says he ate anything and everything on the trip, including days of packet chips, biscuits and Coke in tiny Indian towns says at one point he became obsessed with beating the world record, and had to take a step back and remember to enjoy the journey.

The Guinness Book of Records allows competitors to fly or use public transport over impassable natural barriers such as oceans, and also skip war-torn countries like Afghanistan for which Nicholson was very relieved.

I had to change my thinking at one point because I was getting too preoccupied with the record, and putting too much pressure on myself, he said. I came up with the plan that just to ride around the world really quickly, even if I didnt beat the record, that would still be a cool story in itself.

During the four months on the road Nicholson went through four sets of tyres, three chains and many, many isolated road hours to think.

I was alone on the bike all the time, I had no back-up or support team. When you get to places like Turkey you get a bit lonely, because culturally it is so different. But I am quite comfortable with my own time, so it wasnt a major problem.

Towards the end of Nicholsons journey, as he was riding across Australia, his body began to pack up. He was emotionally and physically exhausted and for the first time there were doubts in his mind about whether he would finish.

Lots of times I felt like giving up because towards the end it was becoming too much, he says.

But I was always in a position where I didnt have a good enough excuse to give up. Yes youre tired and yes your legs are sore but you can still get on that bike and ride.

Nicholson rode to raise awareness and funds for cancer research group CTCR Te Aho Matatu.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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