split image of Krisjanis cycling

By cycling through nine European nations in a day, Krišjānis Ratiniks from Latvia has broken the record for the most countries visited in 24 hours by bicycle.

The previous record of eight countries was jointly held by three individuals who attempted it separately over the past two years.

Krišjānis, 39, travelled a distance of 715.8 km with very few stops in order to claim the record for himself.

He began his journey near Italy’s northern border, then proceeded to cycle through Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and finally, with just four minutes to spare, he crossed the ninth border into the Netherlands.

Krišjānis in Italy at the start of his record attempt

Krišjānis has contemplated doing this challenge for many years, since back when the record was just seven countries. 

“Almost every year while I was sitting at my computer and maps, drawing routes and planning this event, others were out there riding bikes and breaking the record,” he said. “I realized that my time has come; it must be done now or never.”

Having previously competed in ultra-distance cycling events, he knew that he was capable of covering at least 650 km in 24 hours, but devising a record-breaking route proved to be a challenge.

“The eight-country record already seemed unbeatable,” Krišjānis explained. “For months I tried to find a combination of countries and distances that would work for me.”

Krisjanis taking a selfie while cycling

After making the decision to cycle from Italy to the Netherlands, Krišjānis says it was “almost impossible” to plot a course that was direct, flat, and safe, but he managed to settle on one after much careful planning.

One thing he couldn’t plan for, however, was the weather: “I was soaked already in the first minutes of the trip,” Krišjānis recalls.

“The roads were slippery and strong wind was blowing, but I had to stick to my plan.”

Krišjānis says the hardest part of the record attempt was persevering through the rain, which poured for over 10 of the 24 hours.

He completed the first half of his journey in accordance with his schedule, but he found the second half to be “much wetter, colder, and slower”.

Krisjanis cycling at night

Besides the beginning and end countries, in which he only cycled a few hundred metres, the shortest leg of Krišjānis’s trip was Austria, where he covered just 1 km before crossing the German border.

He spent slightly more time in Austria than he initially planned though, as he lost “five precious minutes” replacing a punctured tyre. Luckily, this was the only mechanical issue he encountered throughout the journey.

The longest leg of Krišjānis’s trip was Germany. He cycled over 200 km – almost a third of his entire route – before entering France.

Krišjānis arriving in the Netherlands

In the final two hours, Krišjānis covered over 60 km on mountain roads to reach the Netherlands in time.

“I realized that my chances of setting a new record were almost exhausted,” he recalls.

“Until the last kilometres, it was not clear whether I would make it.

“Energy gels, cola and willpower saved the day and I drove as fast as I could.”

This was definitely the hardest ride of my life, but I'm still proud to have combined my two biggest passions, cycling and travelling.

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