Interview with a Global Racer

With the World Cycle Racing – Grand Tour (no longer affiliated with the Global Bicycle Race…more to come) just a mere two months away we had the opportunity to interview Stuart Lansdale one of the riders ambitious enough to tackle one of the longest and toughest organized races ever conceived. Stuart, an anthropology student, studying in London, about to set forth on the adventure of a lifetime will ride more than 18,000 miles as he circumnavigates the globe.

Cycle The Earth (CTE): What is your motivation for attempting the Global Bicycle Race?

Stuart Lansdale (SL): Cycling around the world has always been something I have wanted to do, reading books by Mark Beaumont and following blogs of strangers online has made me yearn for such a challenge. Also with the world the way it is at the minute and me still studying at university, it gives me the opportunity to get out there and do something I want to do and not have to worry about the economic problems too much.

CTE: What is your personal time goal for finishing the race and do you think it will be enough to secure the World Record?

SL: I am aiming to finish the trip in 140 days of cycling. I think this is an achievable target and will be working hard and riding long so that I can make this happen. This is my ideal target time. If things are going well, I will push for better, if not I will have to give myself a kick up the rear!

CTE: Will you be racing in a supported or unsupported manner?

SL: I will be unsupported, with the only exception of posting a few items ahead to pick up en route, ie. new tyres, bike bag, spares. underwear.

CTE: What type of bike will you be riding?

SL: I am riding a 2008 Dawes Horizon frame. All other parts are currently up in the air, I am still deciding on budget and what I can and cannot afford. I am a full time university student so I feel my budget is going to be the lowest of any of the riders, leaving me to enjoy some hardcore self sufficient bicycle touring!

CTE: What will you be carrying on your bike?

SL: I am going to be going with the Ortlieb front roller plus and back roller plus combination. I aim to travel quite light even though I plan to carry everything, I have quite a lot of fast and light kit from previous trips and think it will be possible! I am thinking of adding a handlebar bag to chuck some peanuts and keep a camera in, this is probably going to happen!

CTE: How many miles do you intend to average on a daily basis?

SL: I plan to go for 130 miles a day average. This is going to be tough going but I don’t think it is an impossible feat by any means. Winds shall be kind to me!

CTE: I see that you have a route plan posted on your website. Is this your final route and was there any strategy in selecting this route?

SL: At this moment in time (17th Dec) the route is still pending. I am still in the process of researching visas and the like and am pretty sure I can make this route final however I cannot confirm this just yet. The strategy in selecting my route is not to be the fastest route possible but to be something fun and culturally diverse and see a lot of countries people don’t visit much. I am looking forward to Kazakhstan and China incredibly as I shall be in both countries for some time and seeing the changing culture will be magnificent at bicycle speed. Another reason for my route was to cut down on airfare, cycling nonstop from Europe to Singapore is a long way and means I can put limited funds elsewhere. I have a total of four flights and this keeps transit hours down.

CTE: What do you anticipate as being the hardest part of your route?

SL: I have chosen to go over the rockies in Colorado, this excites me and also scares me a little when looking at the elevation chart of it. The downhill looks pretty awesome though! I think Russia/China/Kazakhstan will also all be hard in their own ways as these are all new countries to me.

CTE: What types of accommodations are you planning on using?

SL: I plan on staying in my castle the majority of nights until I get to somewhere where I can sleep for under £5. I simply do not have the budget to stay in hotels very much and the whole point of a self supported trip in my own opinion is to try and keep self supported. My castle is a hooped bivvy bag, big enough for me and not alot else! Sacrificing space for weight!

CTE: What are your biggest fears about the upcoming race?

SL: Firstly, would have to be not making it to the start line, this may seem odd as it is now a mere 2 months to the start but the amount of time and effort that has gone into this by me and all the other riders has been quite draining. I have also told too many people now I don’t think I could look many people in the eye if I didn’t follow this through which is why I continue to work hard to make this happen! Failure is not an option. Second fear would have to be visa issues, some people have said that the hardest part is getting to the start line. I am fortunate to live in London at the minute so I can trawl around embassies next month and hopefully get everything I need. This is going to be tough and it is a staggering thought that bureaucracy could shatter my dreams.

CTE: How much will the race cost?

SL: This is a difficult question, I do not really know I hope I have done my calculations correctly but think I am going to have a good amount of funds for me. I do not want to spend much on the road but to throw a figure out of the air for all equipment and flights and costs of getting it ready I will estimate that my bid will probably be in the region of £8,000. Previous bids have spent upwards of £20,000 to put my tight budget into perspective. Lets hope I can show you don’t have to be rich to do these things. I have just been working my butt off in a shop fitting around university to save for this trip.

CTE: How do you prepare for a race of this magnitude?

SL: It is very difficult is the honest answer, I have been trying to build up all round core strength and increasing stamina, I don’t think countless hours on the bicycle will do much good. I am making sure I get out each day but think realistically I can aim to be as fit as I can at the start line but the body will readjust to the regime after a week or so making it difficult. Mentally and organizational I think my skills have come on leaps and bounds, the effort that goes into contacting companies for sponsorship and getting word out about the trip is exhausting but great for learning new skills.

CTE: How many calories per day do you plan on consuming?

SL: I will consume what is available to me, I plan to cook quite a lot so will be carrying a large supply of whatever I can get my hands on. I think this will help keep costs down and also mean I know where my food has been prepared to avoid food related illnesses. Previous attempts have talked about trying to consume up to 10,000 calories a day. I guess that is the figure to aim for, I don’t plan to get too scientific about it. I like to look at nutrional label on products so feel I have a good calorie guess calculator in my head and will take it from there.

CTE: How many hours per day do you intend to be on the bike?

SL: I intend to ride for around 10 hours. I like to rise early so this will probably be a routine. Ride for 2 hours before breakfast is sure to get my appetite going.

CTE: Will you be wearing a heart rate monitor to pace yourself?

SL: This is something I am also looking into, cannot say I am too keen in looking at the science of everything I would rather just get up and go and trust my own judgement on these things however could be persuaded.

CTE: How will you be updating us of your progress?

SL: I will be carrying a GPS tracker which will show my progress, through this device I will also be able to update my facebook and twitter accounts and I will try and keep a blog running also, this will probably be through preparing pieces on the road and getting them sent via email to someone in England who can post it on my blog.

CTE: Will you be monitoring the progress of the other racers?

SL: I shall be keeping track of people. I think it would be wonderful to bump into someone on the road as some people are heading East and some are heading West. I also think it will add to the fun to have twitter conversations whilst in the middle of nowhere asking how people are and share a few jokes.

CTE: Do you know any of the other racers? And, if so, any plans on riding together?

SL: The riders are quite a close knit group, we have all been in contact and have a platform where we all bounce ideas off each other and talk about progress of our own prospective bids. I think we are all running this attempt as own personal challenges and the joint website and fact we are all leaving at the same time has meant we have had a nice opportunity to share excitement and concerns with each other. As far as I am aware we shall be riding out of London together, I am happy to ride with whoever to the port of Dover and think this will be a nice start to the ride.

CTE: Are you racing for any charities?

SL: I am racing for a charity called the Dorset Expeditionary Society, they are local to where I grew up and enabled me to go on my first ever expedition and gave me the bug to travel. They are an excellent charity which enable youths to go on expeditions to further themselves and learn skills about leadership and confidence to help later in life, they also offer the chance for young people to go on courses and lead their own expeditions. I will be splitting any money I am able to raise 50/50 with the Okhle Village Trust also, this is an organisation set up to help improve the infrastructure of a collection of villages in rural Nepal. I spent three months living in one of the villages last year and was incredibly touched by the kindness and generosity of the local people. I would like to raise any money at all to help with the ongoing water projects. I know the money is used incredibly effectively.

CTE: If someone were to want to send a donation to support yourself or your charities how would one do so?

SL: Stay tuned I will be setting up a! Thank you to my sponsors and all the people who have believed in me so far, thank you to SmartWool for the excellent clothing, Dorset Cereals for the nutrition to help the training and Primus* for helping to make me a gourmet chef!

CTE: Good luck Stuart. I look forward to reading your race updates. Should you maintain your route through Colorado you might see me.

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