Barclay smiling and station

You’ve probably played Monopoly, the hyper-famous board game where players battle each other to buy and trade properties, but have you ever visited the locations in real life? 

In the warm London summer 2023, Economist podcast producer Barclay Bram (UK) set an ambitious goal for himself: he was going to break a record.  

More specifically, he was going to complete the fastest time to visit every location on the London Monopoly board by bicycle. 

The US version of the Monopoly board

A journalist, podcaster and award-winning essayist, Barclay prepared a thorough plan, hopped on his bike and embraced the challenge, with the London edition of the Monopoly board serving as a map for his one-of-a-kind urban itinerary. 

The goal? To visit all 26 historical spots on the board, including the train stations, in the quickest time possible.   

Determined to succeed, the 33-year-old podcaster completed it in a whopping 1 hour 12 minutes and 43 seconds – setting a brand-new record.  

London Monopoly board

Barclay documented his adventure in a piece for the Economist, in which he explored the world of record breaking.  

"I was writing a piece on how Guinness World Records – once the most sold copyrighted book in the world – had survived in the digital age," he explains. 

One of the pieces on the board, The Strand, is where the office of the Economist is located, and Whitechapel Road, another piece, is on my cycle home every day so I thought I'd go for it. - Barclay Bram

Formerly a chef and now boasting a successful career in journalism, cycling through London wasn’t exactly Barclay’s first call. 

“If I couldn’t find a record directly related to my career, maybe there would be one I could tie into my passions,” Barclay writes in the Economist about the thought process that landed him, eventually, on his London-focused adventure. 

The view of Leicester Square

After some research, he focused on record titles linked to his two major hobbies: yoga and cycling. 

"I've been cycling ever since I was a teenager in London," he explains. 

Since I entered the work place I've always cycled to and from work, both as an environmental decision and also because in my old job I'd end work too late to take the tube home (I worked as a chef before I became a journalist) - Barclay

Barclay at the beginning of his record attempt

Once the title was decided, it was time to pick a vehicle. 

The choice ended up being simple. Barclay opted for the same old bike he uses to pedal to work, a reliable choice that perfectly matched the requests of the guidelines: non-electric and commercially available. 

On that same bike, Barclay cycled through the itinerary several times as he worked out the best route to complete all the stops in the shortest time possible. 

His secret? "A lot of training runs and time spent memorizing the route!" he says.

Barclay taking a selfie at Bank

Tailed by his two witnesses (dressed as the Monopoly Man and armed with stopwatches) Bram set off from Old Kent Road, the first street on the board. 

He then made his way through Leicester Square in the early hours of the day – after that, he went on pedalling through iconic landmarks such as Pall Mall and King's Cross.  

He ended his journey at Angel Islington. 

Although he could visit the locations in any order he wanted, he had to document every single one of them with a selfie.  

“People gave me odd looks,” he said.   

King's Cross station

Planning for the record was no easy feat, either. 

“I realized that the record was less about cycling and more about logistics,” Barclay writes about his preparation for the record. 

Honing his cycling skills and working on a tight schedule meant he didn’t have much free time left for his other hobbies and social life.  

While respecting the guidelines, all timings needed to be carefully planned out to avoid tourists and traffic jams - and cycling in London comes with its own risks. 

Barclay cycling through Great Marlborough Street

Some of the challenges saw him avoiding almost-clashes with vans, as well as navigating the busy London streets.

"I have no sense of direction!" he admitted. 

"So I had to get a taxi driver to advise me on the route and it took me a long time to memorize it."

Although he thankfully avoided any accidents, Barclay had to deal with the city’s unforgiving traffic. 

The best part was discovering new parts of the city I had never seen before, like Man in Moon Passage which leads to Vine Street (a square on the board). - Barclay

Monopoly board

Although Barclay was the first person to break the individual record, the team record for the fastest time to visit every location on the London Monopoly board by bicycle was broken in 2021. 

That title is held by Edd Stone, Phil Sturgeon, Steve Kerry, and Ben Smith.  

The English cyclists completed the challenge in an incredible 2 hours 42 minutes and 47 seconds. 

For Barclay, the journey ended with a certificate in his hands and a burst of unexpected pride about his achievement – no matter how niche or random it seemed to him at the beginning. 

“I felt childlike and giddy, amazed that this certificate actually meant something to me,” the now-record holder concluded in his article, as he received his certificate in the presence of Editor-in-Chief Craig Glenday. 

The most amazing thing was the seriousness with which Guinness World Records takes the oddness of mankind; it's beautiful in its own way. - Barclay

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