"Thank goodness I had taken the plunge and exposed myself this way despite all the fear I had felt at the thought of such a huge undertaking. Imagine having missed this experience because I hadn’t dared try."
I spent my entire life believing I had no ability or interest in sport. Then, in my forties, I won a 4300-kilometre bicycle race before going on to break the Guinness World Record for the fastest bicycle crossing of Europe.
This journey - made entirely alone and without any support crew - went from the northernmost point in the Arctic down to the very southernmost point in Spain. Averaging 377 kilometres each day and with up to 18 hours in the saddle at a time, the total distance of 6367 km was covered in well under 17 days, knocking more than two days off the previous record. It was a journey of ultimate self-reliance.
Endless Perfect Circles is the story of how all this happened, and what I learned along the way. It is not just a tale of sleep deprivation and eating terrible food in supermarket car parks, it is also a celebration of how tough sporting challenges offer ordinary people a path to self-improvement. Weaving my experiences together with psychological insights, I demonstrate the rewards we can all find from setting ourselves difficult personal goals and working out how we will rise to meet these.
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"I rolled up to the border station, leaned my bike against a wall and walked inside. I handed my passport to a guard, who licked his thumb and began slowly to leaf through the pages. Flrrp. Flrrrrp. Eventually he reached the page with my Russian visa and glanced up at me.
‘Saint Petersburg?’ he asked.
‘Da,’ I nodded, exhausting literally half my Russian vocabulary. The other half was ‘nyet’ ‒ ‘no’.
The guard handed my passport back and waved me into the country. It was that easy to get into Russia.
I sent Louise a text message as I rolled around the loops of road behind the border station. ‘I’m in!’ I typed while pedalling. ‘That was EASY.’
The road rounded a long curve and then, up ahead, I spotted another border post. This one was flying the Russian flag. I glanced back at the building I had just left and noticed, for the first time, that it was flying the Finnish flag.
‘I might have spoken too soon,’ I typed as I rolled through no-mans-land."
In the meantime, if you're waiting until the book is out, you can scroll down this page to find a whole section of the book provided for free. This section describes my first big bicycle race: the 2015 Transcontinental Cycle Race. This 4000-km ride across Europe grabbed my mind and compelled me to take part. I quit running overnight and bought a bike just to experience it. What unfolded is quite a tale...
"I almost rode onto a motorway by mistake. The day felt like one setback after another and I started to feel out of control. I felt I was waiting for something to go wrong from which I could not recover."
Here is my description of riding the 2017 Transcontinental Cycle Race, yours for free as a PDF. I'm giving this away, so please take it in the spirit in which it is given: read it, share it with friends, but don't reprint it or try to make any money off it. You know the score.