Simon Hutchinson, one of the riders

As I write this, late afternoon on 20th February, six of the ten participants in the World Cycle Racing Grand Tour are in France. One passed fairly close to here earlier today but I had no idea the race was going on until five minutes ago. It would have been nice to have cheered him on! (Of the remaining four riders, one is in the UK, one is in Spain and two are in Belgium.) These crazy/dedicated indivdiuals are taking on a race that is five times longer than the Tour de France, as if that wasn’t long enough! They will be aiming to cover at least 190 miles a day. Actually, I think we need to know the names of these courageous souls: Jason Woodhouse, Kyle Hewitt, Martin Walker, Mike Hall, Richard Dunnett, Simon Hutchinson, Stephen Phillips, Stuart Lansdale and Sean Conway. Not only are they pushing themselves to their physical limits, but they’re raising money for thirteen different deserving charities.

These guys are aiming to beat Alan Bate’s global circumnavigation bike record of 18,310.47 miles (29,467.91 km) covered in 96 days, 10 hours and 33 minutes in 2010. Isn’t that fast enough? They’re being tracked by satellite and the data are updated every ten minutes. Log on here to see where they all are at any time.

In France their main challenge will be to cycle past boulangeries without being tempted to stop and indulge in viennoiseries by that almost irresistible smell of fresh croissants and baguettes that wafts out, and to avoid Francois Hollande and his begging tin.

Sean Conway

Further along the route it’ll be a tiny bit tougher with the Rocky Mountains, the Australian outback and the Gobi desert to contend with.

It’s too late to join in this attempt, which will bring the riders home just before the Olympic games, but should you be tempted for the future, and I’m thinking Gerry Patterson here, the guy who cycles up mountains for fun, then here are the rules.

Should you happen across a particularly weary looking cyclist that isn’t me out for a short spin, then it might well be one of these ten athletes. Give them a cheer and a surreptitious push!