Cycling around the world on a tandem world record attempt
by William Townsend on June 28, 2019
On 29 June, TandemWoW will be setting off on an epic adventure attempting break a world record and become the fastest women to circumnavigate the globe on a tandem.
They will be riding between 80 – 100 miles per day for over 18,000 miles, crossing five continents and riding through over 20 countries. All unsupported which means that they will be carrying all our own stuff!
Read on to find out about their preparations and their plans for cycling around the world!
I'm Cat Dixon my cycling buddy is Raz Marsden together we are TandemWoW. We are attempting to become the fastest women to circumnavigate the globe on a tandem. Raz and I met a couple of years ago when we were riding from London to Paris. We started riding together and I shared my dream about cycling around the world. That turned into let's do it together - and why not on a tandem – and we may as well try to break the world record! I've given up my job to do the ride. Hopefully I'll get another job when I get back! Raz is fortunately taking a sabbatical from work. We are both leaving family and friends behind – and although we can keep in touch on social media - it will be hard not to see our friends and family for such a long time. That said, we are going on an epic adventure and really can't wait to get started.
We decided to go for it in January 2019 because I had to give notice at work and we needed time to plan and start fundraising. We are keen to do something meaningful with the ride – and we are riding for two amazing charities the Motor Neurone Disease Association and Oxfam - we will focus on their work as we ride hopefully visiting some Oxfam projects around the world and talking about the impact of motor neurone disease – as Raz is a nurse consultant specialising in motor neurone disease (MND).
The first thing we sorted kit wise was the bike – we worked with JD tandems who were fantastic helping us design the bike and kit it out. We've gone from a steel frame but with couplings which means that we can take it apart when we fly. We've got reinforced wheels with 48 spokes because we'll be carrying so much kit and going over rough terrain at times. We've been testing the bike on some long rides and the potholes in England should stand us in good stead when we’re riding across Southeast Asia!
I did the route planning – Guinness set quite a lot of rules about the route and it needed to be preapproved by them before we set off. We must ride a minimum of 18,000 miles in one direction. We can't backtrack or zigzag as you go. Finding a route which is 18,000 miles long which goes in one direction is quite hard but we went for the warm option – crossing Europe and following the Croatian coast down into Greece and across into Turkey. We decided to ride around the coast of India which is longer than taken in more northerly route. We are also keen to see a bit more of Southeast Asia but again had to plan the route carefully because it's easy to end up backtracking and losing miles – we’re therefore heading across my Myanmar (Burma) into Thailand and Malaysia to Singapore. We are also crossing the United States – because we don’t get to the US until January and it's likely to be cold we will head south following the Mexican border (following the wall!) to Miami. We'll travel up through Africa and back into Europe across Spain and France. This equates to about 18,200 miles – we built-in a bit of extra mileage for contingency. We are really excited about the route – we’re following several coastlines which should be beautiful as well as taking in some amazing countries. The contrast of all these different continents and countries should be fascinating – I'm sure we will see some expected sites but also travelling is about unpredictability and meeting new people and seeing the unexpected on route.
Overall, we will climb Everest about 18 1/2 times. Climbing will be tough as we are carrying all our own stuff and the tandem is heavy! One of the biggest challenges will eating enough and getting sufficient rest and recovery time. We'll be riding between 80 – 100 miles per day – so will burn a few calories!
Raz has had a rabies vaccination – I haven't – I am working on the basis that if dogs are going to bite they'll get the stoker (the rider at the back) first – if we do get bitten I've got 24-hour is to get to a hospital in Raz has 48 hours – this could be a bit of a challenge depending on where we are. There is a risk that we get knocked off the bike or fall off – as the pilot (the person at the front) it's likely to be my fault so if we do I apologise in advance!
We are riding regularly – for example we rode from Oxford to Hull over the weekend in the pouring rain – one day we rode 110 miles but it is difficult to train for riding 80 – 100 miles every day – I'm sure the first few weeks will be tough before our bodies start to adapt. In the last couple of weeks, we have been spending a lot of time fundraising getting visas, kit refinements, and generally planning our departure and first few days of the route. It's amazing how much time it does take as there is always something to do!
We are riding for two amazing charities.
The Motor Neurone Disease Association provide care and support to those suffering from this terrible and incurable disease and fund vital research with a view to finding a cure.
Oxfam provide amazing support in the event of an emergency and work to alleviate poverty enabling people to support themselves and their families and particularly, supporting women rights’ and giving them access to health and education.
We feel passionately about both charities and will be extremely grateful if you could help us by spreading the word about our ride. People can donate online at https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/tandemwow. We are attempting to raise £1 pound per mile! If you would like to sponsor us for a day, we will dedicate that day to a person of your choosing and we will mention the person on social media and play any music loved by them as we cycle along.
Please follow our adventure as we ride around the world – we will be regularly posting on social media - Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at TandemWoW and on our website at www.tandemwow.com You can also track us as we go around the world on https://www.followmychallenge.com/live/tandemwow/