Distance record: 372kms in one day

Australia - Posted On

August 2008, Spain, I manage to cover 182kms in a day with Geoffrey and my bike. 

This was a start of a record race with my elder brother Christophe to reach the maximum distance on a bike within a day, meaning from midnight to midnight. Some months later he sends back a quick message from France: 202kms on his racing bike with very little luggage. I took the piss on it and about a year after my first record, 2009, in the Peruvian coastal desert, I make it to 227kms. I end up quite tired and proud, thinking it will take a good time before he beats that one. Weeks later, another short and nasty message: 232kms, 5kms more than me only! I was REALLY angry, and made my mind up that when I will attempt to break this again, this will be for a good one, something he will really have hard time to beat…. This is the story of what happened next. 

It takes me five years to put myself up to it. We are now in Western Australia, long flat road, straight, with tailwind all the way, I got hundreds of kilometres free to go, no stops planned, my body is fully fit, my mind is on the superpower mode, this is the perfect time for it! I optimize everything. I decide to keep my 60kgs of bike+equipment with me as I attempt this also as a record of my cyclotravel around the world. So far I have never heard of any cyclotourists (loaded bike) having beaten 300kms in a day. Maybe will it be a world first? In any case, a very stupid idea, I tell you ☺ !

I leave at 3am to optimize my sleep. I prefer to go a bit later and to have my content of sleep than ending up too sleepy when the night will come in the evening. Wind is 20km/h tailwind, pushing me very nicely. I’m very excited and nothing can stop me now. 

On a rest area I find Kirsten, a very nice German lady backpacking on her own, whom I have met earlier on my way. She took care at that time of some food drop bags of mine. She made a warm coffee for us and it’s just beautiful! Every minute I don’t pedal, I optimize by stretching and eating at the same time. The coffee acts on me as a pure booster.

At 8am, I got to 100kms. Average speed is magnificent, 23km/h; I literally fly through the night. My body and minds are in complete harmony onto it, I sing joyfully on the desert road. My calculation give me 100kms every 6h easy at that rhythm. In theory, I can push it to 400km at 11pm. This becomes my new (and even more stupid!) goal. 

At 2pm, I pass 200kms, I’m 1h late but I could spare it. I have had already 5 breakfast/meals; each of them would have fed 2 people easy for the day. 

I have just passed Carnarvon, apparently a beautiful paradise of green oasis in that great desert, with fruit trees everywhere. Everyone stop usually in this town. But I just pass it like the wind and I see nothing. I have no time today!

On a rest area I meet a strange guy I have heard of in a previous roadhouse. His name is Mike Pauly, he’s 73yo, suffers from osteoarthritis of his knees and … walk all around Australia! His website is Ozsoulwalk.com.

Such a shame I meet him on THIS day, I can only spare 20min, an eternity in that clock race! He’s sleeping on the side of the road in a truck-parking bay, covering his face from the sun with just a blanket. He plans two years to complete the tours he begun in Perth two months ago. This is a lot of determination! And I need ths kind of inspiration today!

Mike raises fund for Arthritis research and Men’s mental health. If you feel like donating and helping Mike, please visit www.justgiving.com/Mickael-Pauly.

At 232kms, I cheer myself up, and have a quick thought for my brother: beaten down!

At 7pm, I reach 300kms. This starts to be very painfull, but I still have motivation. I had to put my second pair of cyclist short cause my butt was hurting so much to be so long on the saddle. 

I start my second night of the day, and a car stops for me. Beno, typical Aussie surfer, is inside, completely astonished by finding a guy on a bike so far away from everything. He offers me beer (no thanks!), water (no), help (no), and food (YES!). He pulls out then a hot chook from his car, one of the best moments of my life, and we share a nice roadside sandwich together! And he makes sure that I will come and stay at his place in Coral bay where he’s a kayak guide on the reef. 

Now I have to fight for every 10kms. Kirsten who I have the pleasure to see again today, insists to invite me for dinner and to give up my crazy idea: “- You have ridden enough!” she said. But it’s my freedom to ride, to be crazy, and I enjoy it fully. We’ll see each other later anyway. 

I have to fight the urge of sleeping. I decide to half sleep: one eye for the road and one eye can sleep. I change music to Rock’n’roll, Pulp Fiction introduction in the ‘repeat mode’, Techno music, favourite podcast, and punk music. But the body recall the mind about reality: “-We must sleep!”. I sometimes wake up just on time to avoid me crashing in the bush. At 360km, I say to myself: another 10kms and I stop. I swear to myself that I stop after that. This was the only way to convince my body to cover these last 10kms, by acknowledging I would sleep and stop pedalling after that. Such promise to myself made me go until that very limit of breakdown, where my body and mind could not go further. Maybe if the initial motivation was a life threat for me or another person, or a huge reward, or a big change in something, maybe could I have gone further? But with the only purpose of seeing where I could go the furthest, this was the absolute limit, with 60kgs of equipment to push on the road. Now I know my ultimate capability in such situation. 

At 370kms, I look for a place to stop, see a sign stating “24hours rest area: 2kms”, a special gift of the Universe and crash there at 10:30pm.

Total: 372.70kms in 16h22min at 22.6km/h with 60kgs of bike+equipment. Flat road, tailwind 25km/h most of the way. 3 breakfasts & 5 lunches & 3 dinners eaten. Impact: Big smile and a brother beaten down!