Dave Byrnes' Adventures

Round Oz Bike Record Attempt - 2009

Overview     Planning     Schedule     Map     Diary     Pictures     Messages     Conclusion

The Record

All of my research about the record was done via the internet.  As far as I can ascertain, there is no "official" record or route for riding round Australia solo and unsupported.  However, there appears to have been supported races around Australia in 1999 and 2000 where the Canadian endurance cyclist, Perry Stone, set a record of 41.02 days for a 14,200km circuit.

Perry returned to set a record of 57.4 days for a solo unsupported 14,321km ride around Australia in January 2003, an average of 249.5km per day (see www.spokepost.com/news/?articleID=99&catViewAll=10 ).

In September 2004, Eugen Schilter improved on Perry’s record by completing his 14,430km circumnavigation in 55.7 days an average of 259.1km per day (see www.aa56.org/Default.aspx?tabid=26 ).

Eugen later offered a prize of A$15,000 to anyone who could break his record.  I made an attempt in 2007, but abandoned it shortly before reaching half-way when I tore a quadriceps muscle badly enough that I could only ride with one leg.

Against my better judgment, I decided to make another attempt on the record in May 2008.  However, in the meantime, Erik Straarup, a Dane, announced he was also going to make an attempt on Eugen's record and set out in March 2008 from Perth.  Erik had failed in an attempt on the then record in 2002 when he withdrew after 6,700km.

Shortly after I set out in May 2008, Erik successfully completed his record attempt, finishing his circumnavigation in 51 days and 47 minutes (51.03 days), and covered 14.611 km, an average of 286.3km per day.  In addition to passing through the key points specified by Eugen as a requirement for claiming the prize, Erik added distance by following the coastline around the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia and following the South Gippsland Highway in Victoria.  Erik claimed the prize which, I believe, was donated to the Red Cross in Denmark and Australia.  Erik has since set up a website to document record attempts and modified Eugen's rules for a claim on the record to take account of the longer course he rode.  Erik's rules for a successful record attempt can be found here.

In my 2008 attempt, I planned to follow Erik's longer route as well as adding some additional distance by following Highway 1 north through Cairns in Queensland and travelling via Cape Crawford in the Northern Territory.  Unfortunately, my quest came to an end when I was hit by a van while riding at night just north of Perth, Western Australia, after completing 8,880km in 31 days.

I vowed after the 2008 attempt that I would not try again, but it sits like "unfinished business" in my mind and I decided to make another attempt, which will definitely be my last, in 2009.  This time I will follow the same route as intended last time with a small extension up to Mossman, north of Cairns.  The philosophy for the route is to follow the bitumen (sealed) road as close to the coast as possible without making silly detours or travelling out-and-back.  Using Google Maps, I calculate the distance to be 14,955km and I will set out with the intention of completing the ride in 50 days, and average of 299.1km per day.  You can see the intended route here.  Essentially, I will adhere to the requirements specified by Eugen for a successful record attempt, but travel a longer route.

I'm not at all confident that I will be successful in setting a new record.  In fact I rate my chances as being about 1 in 5.  I already have a chronic right knee problem which may limit my cycling capacity and, at age 58, my powers of physical recovery are not what they once were.  Success will depend on remaining healthy, avoiding injury, having no serious mechanical issues, encountering reasonable weather, avoiding accidents, and being fortunate enough to have loved ones remain healthy at home.

I have resolved to complete the circumnavigation this time, even if I fall well behind record schedule, unless I encounter a real show-stopper.

Although the theory is to ride 300km per day, the location of, and distance between, settlements means that there will be significant variation in the daily distances travelled.  From previous experience, I know that such schedules are only a guide and didn’t intend to stick to the schedule religiously.  Although I will carry a bivvy sack, my preference is to reach somewhere each night where I can get a room, have a shower, and buy food for the next day.



Round Ireland

Hume & Hovell Walking Track

Via Alpina

Australian Alps Walking Track

Land's End to John O'Groats

Round Oz Bike Record Attempt

Round Oz Bike Record Attempt

Round Oz Bike Record Attempt

Australia Tip to Top MTB

Adelaide to Darwin MTB

Sydney to Melbourne MTB

Three Peaks Race

Appalachian Trail

Alpine Track

You can email Dave directly at dave@davebyrnes.com.au or subscribe to his Adventure Blogs here.

You can see Dave's Running Blog here.