Adventure Syndicate cyclist Jenny aims for around the world record
Inverness-based cyclist Jenny Graham, who is part of the Adventure Syndicate and a member of Cycling UK, sets off this month with the aim of breaking the record for a female cycling around the world.
The current record of 144 days set in 2014 is held by Italian cyclist Paola Gianotti and Jenny, 38, hopes to cut 34 days from the journey to finish in just 110 days.
She will start the endurance ride in Berlin on June 16, during the last day of Bike Week.
Her plan is to ride for around 15 hours and average 180 miles each day to complete a route of 18,000 miles. It will take her across four continents and through 15 countries, including Germany, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, Mongolia, China, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, US, Portugal, Spain, France and Holland. She will take four flights and a boat.
Mark said: “I wish Jenny tailwinds and a healthy dose of grit to get around in World Record time. Her story has already inspired many, so keep up the great work Jenny.”
Jenny’s self-supported world record bid
Unlike Mark’s recent word record breaker, Jenny will be carry all her own kit. She said: “I just love being self-supported. I feel I am much more in tune with my body and surroundings on the road when I am alone.
“I will have to manage all the tricky situations along the way and I think that will feel like a fuller experience for me.”
The Guinness Book of Records rules state that cyclists can’t draft another rider to make it easier. Jenny also added a few rules of her own, including carrying all her own gear and not arranging support vehicles to meet her.
Jenny feels that the time is right for her to have her biggest adventure. Her son is now 19 and she’s feels she is fit enough both physically and mentally to take on a record.
She said: “I’m a girl who wasn’t sporty or great at PE at school. When my son went to primary school, I was looking for something else in my life, so I took an introduction to outdoor pursuits course and that started me on a journey to explore more.”
Then 14 years ago, she started mountain biking and after a cycling holiday in Romania, she was hooked.
She said: “I fell in love with travelling through the mountains and those two weeks changed everything. My friend Cathy and I had no itinerary and I just went exploring on our bikes. It was an incredible time.”
Jenny’s guts and determination
In took two attempts for Jenny to finish the Highland Trail 550. In 2015, she had to pull out after being beaten by tough weather, deep rivers and exhaustion.
Yet she met so many encouraging people that she vowed to get stronger – and the next year completed it.
In 2017, she was given an Adventure Syndicate (a Cycling UK affiliated group) training bursary place and met cycling coach John Hampshire, who saw her potential and offered to help her for a year for free.
Jenny said: “It was like winning the golden ticket. He believed in me and I knew I needed help to see what I could be capable of, but I didn’t have the money to pay a coach.”
Jenny had the confidence to go out of her comfort zone and cycled 750 miles alone in The Arizona Trail Race, even though she’s petrified of snakes. She came sixth.
She wanted another challenge and the thought of going around the world kept coming back. She said: “I knew I wanted to do something solo to test my physical and mental ability. I am the fittest I have ever been, so I feel like I can do this.”
Jenny’s bike was custom-built for her and donated by Scottish bike manufacturer Shand Cycles in Livingston, West Lothian. Founder and general manager Steven Shand believes Jenny can smash the current world record, on her specially-built Stooshie. He said: “Comfort is critical for long distance endurance tests and Jenny is convinced the bike we’ve built for her is perfect for the challenge ahead. The secret is in the frame and in getting it just right for the individual.”