(CNN) — On December 1, Laura Massey-Pugh and Stevie Massey, both from the particular UK, cycled through a blizzard into Brandenburg Gate within Berlin approximately 180 days after setting off on a journey to become the fastest cyclists in order to circumnavigate the entire world on the tandem bike.
The husband and wife team, that began their grueling challenge on June 5, traveling for around 18, 000 miles (28, 968 kilometers) through 21 countries, were greeted by thrilled friends and family, who’d been anxiously awaiting their own arrival in the rather brutal weather conditions.
“It was dark. It was also snowing. They [their friends and family] were absolutely frozen, but they still got their banners out and everything, ” Massey-Pugh tells CNN Travel.
“So it wasn’t quite how we’d envisioned it, where we would arrived inside a blaze of glory — this was more of an absolute battle right to the end. But I think that’s just made us even more proud of our achievements. inch
Tandem bike problem
Laura Massey-Pugh plus Stevie Massey arrive at Brandenburg Gate, Berlin on December 1 after cycling around the world.
Taking on a record-breaking tandem bicycle journey wasn’t something the veterinary surgeon would have thought was on the cards with regard to herself before she met Massey at a beer festival in 2015.
While they were both keen cyclists, Massey-Pugh says she was a lot more of the “day-to-day commuting cyclist, inches while Massey was an experienced long-distance rider who’d been using tandem bicycles since he was a youngster.
“He regaled me with his stories of long-distance bike rides, and riding from Land’s End [mainland Britain’s most southwesterly point] to John O’Groats [a Scottish village located on mainland Great Britain’s northeastern tip] and back again, ” Massey-Pugh says of their particular first meeting.
During their second or third date, Massey took her out on the two-seater bicycle, and the experience “almost brought her to tears. inch
“Little did she know that she would have become a super stoker, ” he says, explaining that a ‘stoker’ is the person who stays at the rear of the conjunction, while the person at the front is described as the particular ‘captain. ‘
While the pair, who were married in 2018, have been on many solo bike rides together, they “really clicked on the tandem, ” although it took Massey-Pugh a little while in order to adapt to it in first.
“The actual tandem is not that hard to get used to, particularly if you’ve ridden bikes prior to, ” she explains.
“If you’re in the particular backseat like me and you’re used to riding plus steering your own bike, I believe it can almost be harder in order to suddenly relinquish all that control and not see where if you’re going. inches
They reached 9, 000 miles (around 14, 500 kilometers, ) their halfway point, while in Australia in September.
Back in 2020, the couple read about two women, Cat Dixon and Raz Marsden from the particular UK, who would broken the world report for the particular fastest time circumnavigating the globe on the tandem bike.
Although they were incredibly impressed by the particular achievement, Massey-Pugh says the girl couldn’t help thinking “we could go faster than that, ” and decided to look into things further.
They quickly discovered that while there was a current record for the fastest women and the quickest men to complete this challenge on the tandem bicycle, there was no record holder for a mixed male plus female team.
In order to achieve the record, they would have to meet a number of requirements from Guinness World Records, including cycling for a minimum of 18, 500 miles in the same direction, pass through two antipodal points, locations on opposite sides of the planet, and start and finish at the same point.
Once they’d contacted Guinness and committed to the task, the couple began what turned into around eighteen months associated with “hard planning, ” and training.
The particular couple, who’d ridden thousands of miles on a tandem with each other by the particular time these people began their six-month trip, say that will just getting to the start line felt like half the battle.
Getting a tandem suitable for a trip such as this proved to become one of the toughest challenges.
“It’s a very niche thing, a tandem, inch explains Massey. “So it was [a case of acquiring] parts through all close to the globe to get exactly what we wanted regarding the job we had to do.
“We found the particular best people in the business who else knew the best to advise us. And it bore fruit in the particular end. inches
The couple traveled over 18, 000 kilometers (28, 968 kilometers) plus passed via 21 nations.
According to the few, their custom made conjunction bicycle, which is equipped with specially engineered couplings that allow it to split into 2 parts so that it can be packed in to separate bicycle boxes intended for airplane journeys, cost somewhere in the region of £8, 000 (around $9, 900).
“It was a full solid day through first light, ” states Massey. “As the light got shorter, we were going into the particular dark every single day for at least two hours, normally. ”
While that they had initially planned to proceed through Azerbaijan, they had been forced to change their route due to the border restrictions within place, plus flew directly to India from Turkey, just before cycling down to Malaysia.
They tried to minimize plane journeys, taking a total of six, as much as possible, as the process of boxing up the bikes, along with the particular duration associated with the flights, cut into their cycling period massively.
Massey-Pugh took on tasks such as working out their particular route and “sorting out the food” in order to remove some of the pressure from the girl husband.
“Holding the front of the bike itself, and steering was more mentally tiring, ” the lady explains. “So I tried to kind of plug the particular gaps as anything else in order to make the ride move smoother. inch
Due to their significant difference in height and build, swapping positions on the particular tandem bicycle was not an option.
The duo were beset along with challenges throughout the journey, and had to completely set aside any thoughts associated with taking time to enjoy some of the locations they had been riding by means of.
The pair, seen in Thailand, suffered numerous setbacks plus constantly doubted themselves.
“The trip associated with a lifetime part went out the window on day one, ” admits Massey, citing “injury, accident, sickness, delays, and visa issues” among their numerous setbacks. “It became solely about the challenge. inches
In Malaysia, they were knocked off the tandem by a “motorbike going too fast, ” which brought about “a few scrapes and scratches and some quite badly bruised ribs. ”
“It came so close to ending the particular entire journey, ” says Massey-Pugh. “We were very lucky, we had a soft landing. But it could have been a lot worse. inch
Not only do the incident cause considerable damage to their pannier bags, which experienced to end up being replaced, the experience made them seriously question whether it might be safe to continue on.
“Once the bike was largely okay, this was actually having the particular nerve in order to go back again into the motorcycle traffic to get the next four times, ” confesses Massey. “So that has been bad. Very bad. inches
However, they ultimately decided to persevere, making it across to Singapore in August.
Despite the several hitches together the way, they received plenty of “help and assistance” from others throughout a lot of the journey, and were extremely touched by the lengths people went to support them.
“Once everybody found out exactly what we’re doing, people were therefore kind, ” says Massey-Pugh. “They fed us, these people watered us and helped us obtain our clothes clean. That generosity had been something I’ll never forget. inch
From Singapore, they flew to Perth, Australia, plus cycled the particular length of the country in order to Brisbane, before flying to Dunedin, New Zealand.
“It was a bit bittersweet, because we kind of travelled through Brand new Zealand in eight and a half days. So we had no time to stop anywhere, inches adds Massey-Pugh.
Next, they will took the plane ride to Vancouver, Canada, and made their own way throughout the country to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Riding through the long high passes of the Rocky Mountains was one of the particular standout moments from the vacation for Massey.
“We’d avoided hilly routes where possible [before,]” he says. “But starting from Vancouver, we almost literally couldn’t avoid going over the Rockies. And the weather was good there.
“We got the back end associated with summer plus sort of autumn. but it was still warm. That has been pretty special. ”
Once they’d covered Canada, they flew back to Europe, arriving inside Lisbon, Portugal in November, before cycling through Spain, France, Belgium and Holland and back into Germany, exactly where they arrived at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate simply in period to make “that magical number 180. inch
Laura and Stevie say these people cycled pertaining to an average of ten hours a day.
“It has been just a massive sense of relief, ” states Massey-Pugh. “To finally be able in order to stop driving and to see certain friends and family loved ones that will we’ve not really seen meant for six months was completely immense. inches
Aside through reaching their particular target, they will also managed to raise £10, 000 ($12, 379) for three different charities, mental health charity Mind, independent charity Vet Life, which provides emotional, financial and mental health support to the vet community and Sustrans, a good UK charitable organisation that supports sustainable transport.
The particular couple have been thrilled by the particular support they’ve received since arriving back again in the UK earlier this month, and are currently enjoying some downtime plus “having other people to chat in order to. ”
“We probably spent more time in six months, literally together, compared to most people do in their entire relationships, ” claims Massey, who also left his job as a mechanical engineer before the particular challenge.
“I think the biggest thing was working as a team and being stuck with your husband just for six months on the same bike, ” says Massey-Pugh, admitting that they’d often nearly run out associated with things to talk about during their time on the road.
“You have to be focused about your goal, and you’ve got to really look out right after each some other. That’s totally crucial to your own success.
“You can’t have a barney halfway round ride off on separate bikes. You’re stuck collectively from the frame [of the bike]. ”
Now that their own feet are firmly back on the ground, they say that they’ll keep riding the tandem bicycle jointly, but have absolutely no plans to take on any kind of major biking challenges within the future.
“It was such a massive investment, physically, mentally plus financially, with the expense as well as the time away work, ” says Massey-Pugh. “So I think this will be our Everest. What more may you do than cycle around the particular world?
“We will definitely keep driving the bicycle and we might do some smaller challenges in the long term, once we’ve recovered, yet we’ll never do anything like this again. ”