This couple cycled the world collectively on a tandem bicycle

Angelena Iglesia
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(CNN) — On December 1, Laura Massey-Pugh and Stevie Massey, each from the UK, cycled by means of a blizzard into Brandenburg Gate in Berlin roughly 180 days after setting off on a journey to grow to be the quickest cyclists to circumnavigate the world on a tandem bicycle.

The husband and spouse workforce, who started their grueling problem on June 5, touring for round 18,000 miles (28,968 kilometers) by means of 21 international locations, have been greeted by thrilled family and friends, who’d been anxiously awaiting their arrival within the quite brutal climate circumstances.

“It was darkish. It was additionally snowing. They [their friends and family] have been completely frozen, however they nonetheless bought their banners out and all the pieces,” Massey-Pugh tells CNN Journey.

“So it wasn’t fairly how we would envisioned it, the place we would arrived in a blaze of glory — it was extra of an absolute battle proper to the tip. However I feel that is simply made us much more happy with our achievements.”

Tandem bike problem

06 tandem bike around the world berlin

Laura Massey-Pugh and Stevie Massey arrive at Brandenburg Gate, Berlin on December 1 after biking world wide.

Laura Massey-Pugh

Taking up a record-breaking tandem bicycle journey wasn’t one thing the veterinary surgeon would have thought was on the playing cards for herself earlier than she met Massey at a beer pageant in 2015.

Whereas they have been each eager cyclists, Massey-Pugh says she was extra of a “day-to-day commuting bike owner,” whereas Massey was an skilled long-distance rider who’d been utilizing tandem bicycles since he was a teen.

“He regaled me together with his tales of long-distance bike rides, and using from Land’s Finish [mainland Britain’s most southwesterly point] to John O’Groats [a Scottish village located on mainland Great Britain’s northeastern tip] and again once more,” Massey-Pugh says of their first assembly.

Throughout their second or third date, Massey took her out on a two-seater bicycle, and the expertise “virtually introduced her to tears.”

“Little did she know that she would have grow to be a brilliant stoker,” he says, explaining {that a} ‘stoker’ is the one who stays on the rear of the tandem, whereas the individual on the entrance is described because the ‘captain.’

Whereas the pair, who have been married in 2018, have been on many solo bike rides collectively, they “actually clicked on the tandem,” though it took Massey-Pugh a short while to adapt to it at first.

“The precise tandem will not be that tough to get used to, significantly for those who’ve ridden bikes earlier than,” she explains.

“For those who’re within the backseat like me and also you’re used to using and steering your individual bike, I feel it may virtually be more durable to abruptly relinquish all that management and never see the place you are going.”

New document

They reached 9,000 miles (around 14,500 kilometers,) their halfway point, while in Australia in September.

They reached 9,000 miles (round 14,500 kilometers,) their midway level, whereas in Australia in September.

Laura Massey-Pugh

Again in 2020, the couple examine two ladies, Cat Dixon and Raz Marsden from the UK, who’d damaged the world document for the quickest time circumnavigating the globe on a tandem bicycle.

Though they have been extremely impressed by the achievement, Massey-Pugh says she could not assist considering “we may go sooner than that,” and determined to look into issues additional.

They shortly found that whereas there was a present document for the quickest ladies and the quickest males to finish this problem on a tandem bicycle, there was no document holder for a blended female and male workforce.

In an effort to obtain the document, they must meet a variety of necessities from Guinness World Information, together with biking for no less than 18,000 miles in the identical course, cross by means of two antipodal factors, areas on reverse sides of the planet, and begin and end on the similar level.

As soon as they’d contacted Guinness and dedicated to the duty, the couple started what became round 18 months of “laborious planning,” and coaching.

The couple, who’d ridden 1000’s of miles on a tandem collectively by the point they started their six-month journey, say that simply attending to the beginning line felt like half the battle.

Getting a tandem appropriate for a visit comparable to this proved to be one of many hardest challenges.

“It is a very area of interest factor, a tandem,” explains Massey. “So it was [a case of acquiring] components from all world wide to get precisely what we wished for the job we needed to do.

“We discovered one of the best individuals within the enterprise who knew one of the best to advise us. And it bore fruit in the long run.”

Grueling journey

The couple traveled over 18,000 miles (28,968 kilometers) and passed through 21 countries.

The couple traveled over 18,000 miles (28,968 kilometers) and handed by means of 21 international locations.

Laura Massey-Pugh

In line with the couple, their customized made tandem bicycle, which is provided with specifically engineered couplings that permit it to separate into two components in order that it may be packed into separate bike bins for airplane journeys, price someplace within the area of £8,000 (round $9,900).

After setting off from Berlin, they made their approach by means of the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey. The couple, who chronicled the journey on their journey weblog, say they cycled for a median of round 10 hours day-after-day.

“It was a full stable day from first gentle,” says Massey. “As the sunshine bought shorter, we have been going into the darkish each single day for at the very least two hours, usually.”

Whereas they’d initially deliberate to undergo Azerbaijan, they have been compelled to alter their route as a result of border restrictions in place, and flew on to India from Turkey, earlier than biking all the way down to Malaysia.

They tried to attenuate airplane journeys, taking a complete of six, as a lot as potential, as the method of boxing up the bikes, together with the length of the flights, lower into their biking time massively.

Massey-Pugh took on duties comparable to understanding their route and “checking out the meals” with a purpose to take away a few of the stress from her husband.

“Holding the entrance of the bike itself, and steering was extra mentally tiring,” she explains. “So I attempted to type of plug the gaps as anything to make the trip go smoother.”

Resulting from their vital distinction in top and construct, swapping positions on the tandem bicycle was not an choice.

The duo have been beset with challenges all through the journey, and needed to utterly put aside any ideas of taking time to get pleasure from a few of the locations they have been using by means of.

Fixed setbacks

The pair, seen in Thailand, suffered numerous setbacks and constantly doubted themselves.

The pair, seen in Thailand, suffered quite a few setbacks and always doubted themselves.

Laura Massey-Pugh

“The journey of a lifetime half went out the window on day one,” admits Massey, citing “damage, accident, illness, delays, and visa points” amongst their many setbacks. “It grew to become solely in regards to the problem.”

In Malaysia, they have been knocked off the tandem by a “motorcycle going too quick,” which caused “just a few scrapes and scratches and a few fairly badly bruised ribs.”

“It got here so near ending the complete journey,” says Massey-Pugh. “We have been very fortunate, we had a smooth touchdown. However it may have been so much worse.”

Not solely did the accident trigger appreciable harm to their pannier baggage, which had to get replaced, the expertise made them severely query whether or not it might be protected to proceed on.

“As soon as the bike was largely okay, it was truly having the nerve to return into the bike visitors for the following 4 days,” admits Massey. “In order that was unhealthy. Very unhealthy.”

Nevertheless, they in the end determined to persevere, making it throughout to Singapore in August.

Regardless of the quite a few hitches alongside the way in which, they acquired loads of “assist and help” from others all through a lot of the journey, and have been extremely touched by the lengths individuals went to assist them.

“As soon as all people came upon what we’re doing, individuals have been so form,” says Massey-Pugh. “They fed us, they watered us and helped us get our garments clear. That generosity was one thing I will always remember.”

From Singapore, they flew to Perth, Australia, and cycled the size of the nation to Brisbane, earlier than flying to Dunedin, New Zealand.

“It was a bit bittersweet, as a result of we type of flew by means of New Zealand in eight and a half days. So we had no time to cease wherever,” provides Massey-Pugh.

Subsequent, they took a airplane trip to Vancouver, Canada, and made their approach throughout the nation to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Driving by means of the lengthy excessive passes of the Rocky Mountains was one of many standout moments of the journey for Massey.

“We might prevented hilly routes the place potential [before,]” he says. “However ranging from Vancouver, we virtually actually could not keep away from going over the Rockies. And the climate was good there.

“We bought the again finish of summer season and type of autumn. however it was nonetheless heat. That was fairly particular.”

As soon as they’d coated Canada, they flew again to Europe, arriving in Lisbon, Portugal in November, earlier than biking by means of Spain, France, Belgium and Holland and again into Germany, the place they reached Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate simply in time to make “that magical quantity 180.”

Driving excessive

Laura and Stevie say they cycled for an average of 10 hours a day.

Laura and Stevie say they cycled for a median of 10 hours a day.

Laura Massey-Pugh

“It was only a large sense of reduction,” says Massey-Pugh. “To lastly be capable of cease using and to see sure family and friends family members that we have not seen for six months was completely immense.”

Except for reaching their goal, additionally they managed to lift £10,000 ($12,379) for 3 totally different charities, psychological well being charity Thoughts, unbiased charity Vet Life, which offers emotional, monetary and psychological well being assist to the veterinary group and Sustrans, a UK charity that helps sustainable transport.

The couple have been thrilled by the assist they’ve acquired since arriving again within the UK earlier this month, and are at the moment having fun with some downtime and “having different individuals to talk to.”

“We most likely spent extra time in six months, actually collectively, than most individuals do of their whole relationships,” says Massey, who left his job as a mechanical engineer earlier than the problem.

They’re at the moment ready for Guinness World Information to confirm their new document for quickest circumnavigation by tandem bicycle with a blended workforce, however word that their time was significantly sooner than each the present information for a male workforce — 281 days — and a feminine workforce — 263 days.

“I feel the largest factor was working as a workforce and being caught along with your husband for six months on the identical bike,” says Massey-Pugh, admitting that they’d usually virtually run out of issues to speak about throughout their time on the street.

“You need to be targeted in your objective, and you have to actually look out after one another. That is completely essential to your success.

“You may’t have a barney midway spherical trip off on separate bikes. You are caught collectively by the body [of the bike].”

Now that their ft are firmly again on the bottom, they are saying that they will preserve using the tandem bicycle collectively, however have completely no plans to tackle any main biking challenges sooner or later.

“It was such a large funding, bodily, mentally and financially, with the expense and the time without work work,” says Massey-Pugh. “So I feel that is our Everest. What extra are you able to do than cycle world wide?

“We will certainly preserve using the bike and we’d do some shorter challenges sooner or later, as soon as we have recovered, however we’ll by no means do something like this once more.”

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