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Arts / Pedal over to Mareel for breathtaking adventures in the saddle

Beaumont carrying his bike across the desert.

RECORD breaking long distance cyclist Mark Beaumont is giving a multi-media presentation on his cycling career and its attendant adventures at Mareel on Friday.

According to Perthshire raised Beaumont, it will be an informal event with audience members welcome to ask questions and give of their own ambitions and aspirations after the presentation.

Thirty seven year old Beaumont said that with his own athletic career drawing to a close, he is keen to enthuse a whole new generation of youngsters with the joys and benefits of being active: “It’s not just about the athletic endeavour”, said the 240 mile a day man.

Beaumont said that he had been delighted with the warm welcome already extended to him by Shetlanders who had been bombarding him with emails and invites to take part in many activities during his first visit to the isles.

He said: “I have spoken the length and breadth of the UK before but never been in Shetland – I’m looking forward to the visit. So many islanders have been in touch and extending a warm welcome.”

In his Around the World in 80 Days tour, he will be illustrating his adventures with short films and photos as well as speaking of his last 15 “roller coaster” years in the saddle.

Mark Beaumont.

The show is aimed at “families, elderly people and anyone with an interest in travel and adventure,” said Beaumont, who is especially keen to see people bring their children to instil that sense of adventure and ambition.

Though he enjoyed an active childhood on a small farm at the Bridge of Cally, counting horse riding, skiing and cycling all as his boyhood activities, Beaumont was bound for a sedentary career in accountancy before taking a sharp detour into long-distance cycling.

“It was a great training ground, a great place to grow up,” he said of his Perthshire farm.

At the age of 12 he cycled across Scotland, from Dundee, where he had moved to with the family, to Oban, so perhaps his course was already set. After graduating as an accountant, he decided instead to cycle around the world, “dodging a bullet” in the process.

In his second global circumnavigation on two wheels, Beaumont set a new world record of cycling the 18,000 miles in 78 days and 14 hours, averaging 240 miles per day. This knocked an astonishing 55 days (40 per cent) off the previous record. The sheer scale of this record is what makes him most proud.

The female record is held by another Scot, Jenny Graham, only the third woman to take on the challenge. “Hopefully that incentivises the next generation to set the next record.”

According to Beaumont, such an endeavour requires the mental and physical toughness to crank out 16 hours of cycling every day with only five hours of sleep in between shifts. In his case, he could also count on a “strong enough” team around him.

Over the past decade, his documentaries have taken viewers to over 100 countries, into the Arctic, the high mountains and around the Commonwealth, also surviving capsize in the mid-Atlantic.

“I’ve had some great successes and some smashing failures,” he said.

His latest adventure has involved lugging his bike to the top of the world’s highest volcano, the 22,615ft Ochos del Salado on the Chile/Argentina border, before cycling back down.

Accompanied by a crew of 44, it was a challenge even to find enough food and clean water in the Atacama desert. The resulting documentary will be shown on Discovery Channel in a few months time.

In his long haul races Beaumont burns through 10,000 calories in a day – three or four times the typical amount for a healthy person.

While Beaumont started purely as a cyclist, he now takes as much pleasure from the story telling aspect of having his adventures covered by major TV channels, which often focus on the lives of people he encounters in what, to us, appears remote or exotic settings.

“I have worked with amazing broadcasters and have learned a lot about story telling over the years. The biggest part for me now is film making,” he said.

The record breaking cyclist has visited all terrains.

In June he will be taking part in the Race Across America (RAM), for the first time, cycling from California to the east coast of the United States. The following year he will be hoping to claim the title of “the fastest ever” to take part in one of the world’s biggest cycling races.

He is also scoping out adventures in Lebanon and Nepal.

These will all be overshadowed by the Cycling World Championships to be held in Glasgow in 2023.

This will play a huge part in the “national conversation” within Scotland about sport, fitness and wellbeing.

With two young daughters to bring up, Beaumont is keen that a culture of healthy and active living continues to be promoted.

Beaumont admits that training and recovering from his epic exertions gets tougher with age. As he gradually hangs up his cycling shoes his role as an exemplar and prophet for fitness and adventure will be undiminished.

Tickets are still available for Friday’s Around the World in 80 Days: An Evening With Mark Beaumont event which is on at Mareel at 7.30pm.

https://tickets.shetlandarts.org/sales/categories/eventsworkshops/around-the-world-in-80-days-an