Ever since the Jules Verne classic novel Around the World in 80 Days and subsequent film celebrated the achievement of circling the globe, the idea has appealed to people trying to recreate a similar challenge in different forms. Mark Beaumont is planning to cycle around the globe in 80 days, which would be 43 days less than the current record. This requires him to cycle 240 miles a day, which he plans to do in four four-hour shifts per day.
The world tour route starts from Paris goes through Europe, Russia and Mongolia to Beijing in China.
It goes across Australia, up New Zealand, across North America from Anchorage and then the final “sprint finish” is Lisbon, through Madrid and back to Paris.
I was curious about the route, being initially puzzled as to why Australia and New Zealand were on the itinerary, which involves crossing additional seas, instead of sticking to the Asian continental mainland and heading straight for the Bering Strait to get to Alaska. But there are rules that state that in order to qualify for the record “a rider has to go more than 18,000 miles and has to go through two points on the opposite side of the planet”, which means that he has to go to the southern hemisphere at some point. These restrictions make sense since otherwise someone could go to the south pole and take a quick lap around the pole and claim that they have gone ‘around the world’ in a couple of minutes. Ideally, the rules should require people to stick closely to a great circle but that may be too difficult. The circumference of the Earth is about 25,000 miles.
I became curious about opposite points on the globe and came across this fascinating antipodes map that enables you to find what point on the globe is opposite to any point you select. It turns out that the opposite of any point in Australia lies in the Atlantic Ocean and pretty much all of Africa south of the equator has opposite points that are in the Pacific Ocean. In fact, the map page tells me that the majority of land locations do not have land-based antipodes, which severely curtails the possible cycling routes. That leaves only South America (whose opposite points lie in China and Mongolia) and New Zealand (which has opposite points in Spain), as viable options and that explains the route.
The article does not say anything about how the cyclist can cross the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and how the time taken to do that is folded into the total time.