Jenny Graham just rode around the world on her bike – and she did it in less than 125 days. That’s about 20 days faster than the last women’s world record.
Ms. Graham left from Berlin on June 16, heading east. She biked through 15 different countries on four continents. Last Thursday, October 18, she returned to Berlin, finishing the entire trip in 124 days, 10 hours, and 50 minutes.
There are several rules for round-the-world biking trip records. The person must travel in one direction and start and end in the same place. They must travel the distance around the world – 24,900 miles (40,072 kilometers). They are allowed to fly and take boats, but at least 18,000 miles (28,968 kilometers) of the trip must be completed on a bike.
Ms. Graham biked a total of 18,413 miles (29,633 kilometers). Many record-setting cyclists have a support car traveling with them, carrying clothes and supplies. Ms. Graham did not. She was “self-supported”, meaning she carried everything that she needed for the trip. Ms. Graham’s bike was loaded down with things like food, clothes, a sleeping bag, and a waterproof sack for sleeping.
Ms. Graham’s trip took her through Germany, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, Mongolia, China, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, US, Portugal, Spain, France and Holland.
Ms. Graham worked very hard. She planned to ride 16 hours and cover about 180 miles every day. But it didn’t always work out that way. Sometimes she rode over 20 hours in a day. At times she was so tired that she fell asleep in unusual places.
Ms. Graham had to change her plans depending on conditions. In Russia, for example, the roads had too much traffic during the day, so she started biking at night, when there were fewer cars and trucks.
She was pulled over by the Russian police – but they just wanted to offer her a cup of hot tea. In Australia she had to avoid kangaroos. In Canada, it was the bears that had her worried. She saw one cub, but she kept going.
Along the way she had flat tires, broken bike parts, and crashes, but she kept going.
Ms. Graham also found friendly, helpful people as she traveled. People offered her places to stay. In Mongolia, she said that people drove past her offering her cookies out of their car windows.
Ms. Graham, 38, started biking just 14 years ago. She began biking seriously in 2015, as her son got older and didn’t need her so much. Ms. Graham, who is from Scotland, worked with her local bike club to raise money, and took six months off from her job to make the trip.
Many people followed her trip on a web site that tracked her as she rode. Fans around the world have congratulated her, impressed with her strength and spirit. Ms. Graham seems a little surprised herself. “You do everything in your power to make sure you are ready, but you’ve no idea what your body can do until you have to do it,” she says.
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