Some say that when it comes to traveling the journey is more important than the destination; and the story of Carlos Santamaría Covarrubias from San Luis Potosí, Mexico - who recently broke the record for the Fastest cycle journey of the Pan-American Highway - might just prove that saying to be true.
On his record-breaking journey, cycling the entire Pan American highway, Carlos braved snowy mountains, desert heat, wild animals and plenty of border crossing bureaucracy. In the end, Carlos made the 14-country journey in only 117 days and 5 hours.
The Pan American highway is a road that extends more than 25,000 kilometres from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to Ushuaia, Argentina in Patagonia.
Carlos was accompanied by his family in a support vehicle for the first part of his journey until he reached Panama City. From there, in accordance with the Guinness World Records guidelines, he took a plane to Cartagena, Colombia flying over the Darien Gap, where there is a break in the highway. He continued on the South America part of his trip unaccompanied, staying in hotels along the way.
Carlos rode a Felt V85 bicycle and had to change the chain 7 times throughout the journey.
During his trip, Carlos ate typical food from the varied regions he travelled through. “In Central America they mostly eat rice, beans and fried plantains, so it was easy to eat local foods. For the South America part of my journey, I loved drinking agua de panela in Colombia, eating seafood in Peru and lots of salami in Argentina!”
In addition to seeing bison and even a bear on the way, the journey also marked the first time Carlos had seen snow in his life. “I was excited at first,” said Carlos, “But I soon realized I didn’t have the right clothes for the weather so I had to improvise with what I had.”
An unexpected challenge of his journey was withdrawing local currency for all 14 countries he passed though. In some countries, Carlos had to try many cash machines before finding an ATM that would accept his card.
Prior to Carlos’s journey, this record was held by the British cyclist Scott Napier who completed the trip in 125 days in 2009.
Guinness World Records monitors many other records for cycling journeys. Mark Beaumont (UK), who has the record for the Fastest bicycle journey Cairo to Cape, covered the distance in 41 days, 10 hours and 22 minutes in 2015. In 1999 Phil and Louise Shambrook made the Longest tandem bicycle journey, travelling 38,143 kilometres in almost 3 years.