- Catherine Dixon, Rachael Marsden
- 263:8:7 day(s):hour(s):minute(s)
- United Kingdom (Oxford)
The fastest circumnavigation by tandem bicycle (female) is 263 days 8 hours 7 minutes and was achieved by Rachael Marsden and Catherine Dixon (both UK), from 29 June 2019 to 18 March 2020.
The pair are keen amateur cyclists and met on a charity cycle ride. Catherine had always wanted to cycle around the world and the two eventually settled upon the idea of doing so on a tandem and trying to break a record in the process!
In order to get the time to attempt the record, Catherine (Cat) handed in her notice; while Rachel (Raz) arranged to have a career break.
Neither had ever undertaken such a long journey. While they were both physically fit going into the attempt, both agree they became fitter throughout the journey. They completed the entire journey unsupported.
The pair met amazing and incredibly supporting people throughout the journey. Upon completion of the journey they credit the kindness of strangers all over the world for helping their efforts, including a friendly woman who helped them to find a place to sleep one night in rural Thailand.
The greatest challenge they faced was the weather and environmental conditions. They crossed Europe during a heatwave, with temperatures in France and Italy reaching 40+°C. In India, Myanmar, Thailand and Malaysia they were met with Monsoons; while in Australia they had to navigate the terrible bush fires and were forced to change route to go in-land rather than follow the coast. Finally, upon returning back to Europe to complete the circumnavigation they faced a race to reach home before the Coronavirus outbreak began affecting national borders. They ended up on the second to last passenger ferry on the day of the travel ban in France!
Despite all of this, the pair never thought of giving up. The attempt was organised to raise funds for the Motor Neurone Disease Association and Oxfam. If people sponsored them between £80-100 (a pound per mile for the day) they would dedicate the day to them in celebration or memory and play their music. They also listened to lots of Audio books- including every Harry Potter! Overall £31,400 (£37,265 with Gift Aid) was raised, far surpassing their original target of £18,000.
They ate whatever they could throughout the journey. Fresh fruit and vegetables proved to be particularly difficult to find in places.
Of all the countries they cycled through, Myanmar, Morocco and New Zealand stood out for their natural beauty. They also highlight India, where every time they stopped they would be surrounded by people taking photos and asking for selfies.
They have now made plans to challenge the record for ‘Fastest journey from Land's End to John-O'-Groats by tandem bicycle (female)’ and have already submitted a record application!
Both Cat and Raz loved watching Guinness World Records television shows as children and would get the GWR book for Christmas every year. Raz still buys it every year for her son who is now 24. They have said they feel “so privileged and lucky to be a record breaker and acknowledged by Guinness World Records.”