Youngest Person to Bike Around the World

Heather McElhatton

Part of A Beautiful World

Tom Davies (Pronounced Davis) is 19 years old and lives in London. He finished high school last summer and wanted to do something "different" for his gap year, which is a British expression for the year many high school students take off before starting college. So, being an enthusiastic cyclist… he decided to bicycle around the world.

"I'm often asked how and when I came up with the idea, and I have to say I'm not really sure. It wasn't a sudden eureka moment, it happened over a while, and it was more the conclusion of a thought process whilst thinking up a way to combine cycling and travelling. Eventually coming up with this slightly 'unconventional' plan."

Epic Journey

So in January of this year (2015) Davies set out on his epic journey. Not only is he attempting to become the youngest person to cycle around the world, he's also raising money and awareness for three separate charities: Prostate Cancer UK, The Sohana Research Fund and Carney's Community.

So far, he's managed to raise approximately $80 K, which is impressive considering he's a bit shy, soft spoken and not big on self-promotion - not to mention the fact he hasn't gotten much press. So why is he driven to accomplish such a feat? What inside him has compelled him to push his mind, body, spirit, soul and safety to such extreme limits?

"Quite frankly I am yet to think of an answer to that question. But simply put: with a love of cycling and wanting to see the world, it seemed the obvious adventure. I also wanted to give myself a proper challenge, to see what I was capable of."

Breaking Records

While Davies is not absolutely sure if he'll be the youngest person to cycle around the world, he thinks he probably is."There are no official records of anyone younger who has done it. I'm aware that people younger than me have started on cycle trips around the world, but if all goes to plan, I'll finish it at a younger age. I'm planning on taking around 200 days to complete the ride. The current record for fastest circumnavigation stands at 125 days, held by Briton Alan Bate."

Even without being sure that he'll capture the coveted title of"youngest person to cycle around the world,"he still wants to try. The Guinness Book of World Records stopped giving"youngest person"awards due to safety concerns, but Davies is still using their criteria for his journey. Here's some of the Guinness World Record Rules that he's intent on following:

  • 1 The same bike (frame) must be used throughout trip unless it's damaged beyond repair.
  • 2 No drafting. (Using the air currents from another cyclist in front of you.)
  • 3 Start and finish points must be the same.
  • 4 The journey should be continual and in one direction.
  • 5 The total distance traveled must exceed the length of the equator - 24,900 miles
  • 6 Use of private or chartered transport (including taxis) is not permitted.
  • 7 You must pass through two approximate antipodal points (opposite points on the Earth, For instance Wellington (NZ) and just north of Madrid (Spain).

So, what do you pack on a bicycle that's going around the world? As little as you can. Here's Davies complete kit list:

  • Passport, credit cards & visas
  • Laptop & power cords
  • Cell phone and solar charger
  • GPS
  • Raincoat
  • Two pairs cycling shorts
  • Two Cycling Jerseys
  • Two pairs of boxers
  • 2 pairs cycling socks
  • Two T-shirts
  • Two pairs gym shorts
  • One person tent
  • Sleeping bag and mat
  • Headlamp
  • Aspirin
  • Sunblock
  • Disposable Razor
  • Toothbrush & toothpaste
  • Massage roller for tight legs
  • Duct Tape
  • Bicycle repair kit
  • Swiss Army Knife
  • Allen Wrench
  • Spare Spokes
  • Spare Bicycle Tire

The Route

Davies hopes to complete his trip in 200 days and is planning on cycling about a hundred miles a day, with the odd day off for a bit of R&R. On his journey he's keeping a detailed blog with interactive maps and photographs of the scenes and souls he meets along his route, which sounds as exotic as it does exhausting.

He started in London and biked to Istanbul, peddling through the vineyards of France, dealing with a nasty bout of stomach flu in Italy, and battling icy mist in Albania before arriving in Greece. ("Too many onions in their salads.") He then flew with his bike across the Middle East, landing in Mumbai, where he biked the entire southern coast of India. He peddled through the hot humid air and chaotic streets, past fragrant spice markets, alongside elephants, following very poorly kept and meandering coastal roads. He maneuvered through crowds of curious schoolchildren, dealt with broken spokes and bent wheels, not to mention another bout of food poisoning.

The next leg of the trip took him from Mandalay to Ho Chi Minh and then from Bangkok to Singapore. His father joined him for the Australian portion of the trip, from Perth to Auckland. ("The worst thing about Australia is men wearing Ugg boots.") Then he flew solo to San Francisco, where he began his two-wheeled odyssey across the width of the United States, through California, Oregon, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, then up into Canada ("Where I could finally have a beer,") over the great lakes and back down through Niagara Falls, which will ultimately lead him to Boston, to start his final leg home.

From Boston he'll fly to Spain, where he'll begin pedaling north, joining up with several cycling friends along the way, who'll escort him into London. His estimated day of arrival back in London is August 9th, when he will have traveled eighteen thousand miles by bike, all around the world and he says his biggest lesson "is that people everywhere, all around the world are kind. They'll go so far out of their way to help you, it's incredible."

You can follow the journey on his website (below). As for future plans, Davies is still forming ideas."I'm heading off to university after this bike ride and I have absolutely no clue what I want to do when I properly grow up."

We can't wait to see.

Tom Davies Webpage:

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