In 2010, Leigh Timmis left the UK to cycle around the world. It took him 7 years to travel across 51 countries, covering a total of 44,000 miles. Now he’s back in the UK and eager to once again push the boundaries of human endurance with a new challenge – the Guinness World Record for the Fastest Cycle Across Europe.
Established in 2014 by the Guinness World Records, the Fastest Cycle Across Europe begins from the west coast of Portugal in Cabo da Roca and finishes in the Russian city of Ufa. Traversing across 7 countries, the Pyrenees, the foothills of the Alps and the Russian Steppe, Leigh must cycle 4,000 miles in less than 29 days and 18 hours to break the record. Although, he is aiming to break the 20 day barrier!
The official Guinness guidelines state that “Although this record is awarded for the fastest time between two points, it is up to the participant to choose the most suitable or shortest route between these two points.”
Mount Cook Adventure Centre, a Derbyshire-based not-for-profit dedicated to providing access to the outdoors for all, will be sponsoring Leigh in his attempt to break the Guinness World Record.
Mount Cook’s joint founder and director, Colin Adams, said: “Here at Mount Cook, we share Leigh’s passion and dedication to push the boundaries of human achievement. That is why we have decided to sponsor him in his attempt to break this ultra-endurance cycling record. We hope that Leigh’s record attempt will inspire and excite the young people who visit Mount Cook, and will prove that with enough determination and motivation, anything is possible.”
In partnership with the University of Derby Human Performance Unit and informed by research in human performance by academics and sports scientists, Leigh will be put through an intense training regime in preparation for the World Record. This preparation includes physical training, as well as the development of psychological performance and well-being.
Dr Philip Clarke, Performance Psychologist for the Fastest Cycle Across Europe team, explains the science being training an athlete’s mind in anticipation for a multi-day endurance event:
“Performance profiling helps athletes identify the most important personal qualities necessary to achieve success in a particular event. This also helps recognise personal strengths and weaknesses. Such profiling not only develops self-awareness but is crucial in allowing the team to monitor changes in psychological qualities over a prolonged period. Quantifying these changes provides evidence of progress and can be used to motivate the athlete toward achieving their target.”
Nutritional control is another fundamental part of maximising Leigh’s athletic performance in preparation for The Fastest Cycle Across Europe record. Alex Neilan, the team’s Sport Dietian, has put Leigh on a controlled diet to ensure that he has the ‘energy to perform at the required intensity’. The meal plan focuses largely on maximising carbohydrate intake, whilst reducing body fat.
Alex explains: “A controlled diet aids faster recovery, facilitating more frequent training. Furthermore, diet is intrinsically liked to reducing injury. Carbohydrate and protein timings based around training and sleep patterns will utilise glycogen repletion and protein synthesis post exercise and maximise recovery during an intense training schedule. Leigh’s weight will be examined weekly, to monitor changes and to modify the prescribed diet.”
Attempting this world record will also present Leigh with the opportunity to raise awareness of mental health issues and raise funds for mental health charity, MQ.
Leigh said: "I'm delighted to be partnering with Mount Cook and I look forward to a strong record attempt with their support. Mount Cook's aim of providing opportunities to outdoor activities for young people is inspirational and I hope that this World Record will encourage more young people to challenge themselves and to lead physically and mentally healthier lives."