An Australian cyclist has just broken the world record for the furthest distance traveled on a bike in the space of one week. Jack Thompson cycled a staggering 4,505 km over the course of seven days in Spain this month, officially the most kilometers ridden in one week on a UCI-legal road bike.
Speaking to VeloNews, Thompson explained that the idea for the record-breaking attempt came out of a desire for a new challenge, after the Tour de France was canceled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. He ultimately decided that trying to set a new record for the furthest weeklong bike ride was a good test of his skills. “I said to myself, ‘I think that’s beatable,'” he said.
Thompson originally planned out a route of 125 km in the south of Spain, reasoning that if he rode that twice each day, he would be able to stay on target. However, it soon proved unsuitable, as it included a busy stretch of road and was impractically far from his basecamp. He ended up mapping out an alternative loop around his house.
“The problem with that was that it had a lot more climbing,” he said, explaining that he had originally wanted to keep his elevation to around 1,000 meters per day, like the person world record holder. “But, it meant I’d stop in at the house for lunch, two of the days I had a quick shower. It also provided a little more interest — I could almost build a pattern in my mind of what was coming next. It becomes a little more familiar and I could relax a little more and I found that was quite helpful.”
Even more hurdles came in the form of extreme weather conditions on Day 5 of the challenge. “It was fucking miserable,” said Thompson. “I remember I was really annoyed I didn’t get the 500km that day. I remember coming around the house for the final time, and the guys said ‘I think you need to stop now otherwise it won’t be good for tomorrow.’ I was so agitated, but it was a blessing in disguise.”
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While Thompson is in the habit of embracing physical challenges for their own sake, he also credits cycling with being a huge part of his addiction recovery, and he hopes that his achievements can provide a positive message to others who are struggling with addiction or mental health issues.
“As cyclists, we celebrate fact that we can suffer on a bike,” he said. “What’s the hardest, who can suffer the longest. Why can’t we associate that same pride with ‘I actually suffer in my life and I’m not weak about it?'”
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