Ditchling cyclist’s world record for 37 day Europe trek

James Bowtell
James Bowtell

One cyclist from Ditchling covering 6,226km, across seven countries, in just 37 days equals one world record.

James Bowtell shattered Guinness World Record’s 45 day target as Velo7’s ‘Race across Europe by bike’ ended at 8.15pm on September 1 at Cabo Da Roca in Portugal.

Setting out from Ufa, Russia, on July 27, James cycled between what are commonly regarded the most easterly and westerly points of Europe - a staggering 3,914 miles.

The Guinness World Record - ‘Race Across Europe by Bike’ - had never been attempted before due to the logistical complexity of the challenge and the extensive mileage involved.

Before setting outdeparting from the UK, James was told by a representative of the Russian Cycle Touring Club the event would not be possible.

The route also crossed Belarus, Poland, Germany, France and Spain.

James, 23, of East End Lane, was the only cyclist with a strong support team of fellow Loughborough University undergraduates and graduates calling themselves Velo7.

James said: ‘It’s been exhilarating, exhausting yet one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

“I can safely say it was worth the severe fatigue, my knee injuries and the hellish conditions to cross the finish line with my team, in the knowledge that we have set a world record and raised funds (£16,000) for our chosen charity Cyclists Fighting Cancer.”

The team had to overcome some testing obstacles to finish within the record time.

In Russia, James developed patella tendinitis in his right knee, aggravated by the appalling condition of some of the roads.

“The roads in Russia were terrible, not only because of the condition of the surface but also because of the danger,” he said.

“I cycled past over 50 gravestones on the roadside each day! So sad.”

As a result of the accumulative mileage and the inclines of The Pyrenees, James then suffered ligament damage, an injury that could have brought the race to a halt and limited his ability to pedal with his left leg.

The team secured significant corporate support, particularly from main sponsors Halfords, Peugeot and Unilever.

Halfords provided the Boardman Pro Carbon SLR, winner of Cycling Plus’s Bike of the Year ‘Best Value Award 2014’.

Peugeot donated the use of a new Boxer Van and Unilever offered financial support.