He may have turned 40 this year, but record-breaking cyclist Mark Beaumont shows no signs of slowly down.
In fact, as the title of his speaking tour – Faster – suggests, he’s improving with age.
The ultra-endurance athlete, filmmaker and author’s adventures have taken him to 100 countries and around the world twice.
The second circumnavigation in 2017 was in 78 days, 14 hours and 40 minutes – still a record – and came 10 years after his first.
Improving as an athlete
Having now reached an age milestone, he is still pushing boundaries and inspiring others.
“This tour is called Faster as since I did the circumnavigation for the second time in 2017, so the last five to six years, I could easily have got slower.
“But I’ve taken on different challenges each year and, working with my coach and performance team, I continue to improve as an athlete.
“Now, there’s clearly a limit. I won’t be faster at 50. But faster at 40, I’m really proud of and interested as a student of the sport to continue to learn and improve.”
His performance metrics are better now than they were when he was 35.
“That fascinates me. I love each year training in different ways and taking on challenges that improve what I do as a bike rider.
“Will I continue to smash records? I’m not sure. My passion is two-fold – the athleticism of riding a bike and the film making and storytelling.
“That range from nine to 90-year-olds, and not just speaking to keen cyclists, is something I keep front of my mind.”
“For me it’s about taking on interesting projects and hopefully telling inspiring stories.
“The future will be that balance, a mix of athletic challenges and documentary projects.”
When will the tour visit Inverness?
He calls it a “straightforward night of adventure”. The audience will hear stories from his 20-year career in the saddle.
There will be tales from his record-breaking cycle around the North Coast 500 tourist route last year.
Mark completed the 516-mile circular route in 28 hours 35 minutes. That’s 30 minutes faster than the previous record, and seven years after he set the best time.
He spent just 16 minutes off the bike during the record attempt. He describes the whole thing as one of the hardest attempts of his career.
“It was absolutely brutal”, he said. “28 hours of head-down racing and unrelentingly hilly.
“It was stunning, and I loved the challenge, but I can’t compare it to anywhere else with regard to the unrelenting terrain and the intensity.
“I knew on paper it was possible, but I also knew I would have to go deeper than I’d gone before to break the record.”
The talk tour, which started on February 1, will also cover other recent projects in the North.
These include a 500-mile cycle around Scotland’s Adventure Coast with fellow round-the-world cyclists Jenny Graham and Markus Stitz last year as part of the Explore Your Boundaries series.
Beaumont talk tour not just for hard-core cyclists
He also completed a 300km gravel adventure in the Cairngorms in 2019.
In 2016 he cycled the length of the Western Isles in 24 hours to mark the launch of the Hebridean Way Cycling Route.
“I’m thrilled to get back in front of live audiences after three and a half years.
“It’s a few years since I spoke at Eden Court, it’s got an amazing atmosphere.
“What I’m always surprised about, is how broad the audience is for the show, it’s not just hard-core cyclists.
“People bring their kids along and there are the classic theatre-going audience who aren’t mad keen cyclist or adventurers but enjoy the wanderlust and storytelling.”
Cycling enjoyed a massive boom during the pandemic, but the cost of living crisis has put a spoke in the wheels.
Mark says: “You had people stuck at home wanting to get out and keep active when health and wellbeing was clearly front of mind over the last few years.
“People couldn’t travel to far-flung resorts so they were maybe buying a new bike instead.
“There is now a cost of living crisis and people are being careful about buying fancy new bikes.
“Does that affect people’s enthusiasm to get out and get active?
“I’ve not seen any slowdown in terms of interest for the sorts of things I do. There has definitely been renewed interest over the last 3-4 years.
“But the cycling trade at large is going through quite a tough year because everyone is being a bit careful.”
Mark’s adventures inspire others
Some of those who have taken up cycling have been inspired by Mark’s adventures and talks.
“The best bit of feedback I get, and it’s happening every night on tour, is people saying ‘I read your book, or saw your film, I followed your journeys and it’s given me that confidence to take on something I wanted to do.’
“It’s wonderful. As an athlete you need to be quite selfish at some level to train hard to take on these big projects.
“But, through broadcasts and events, you get that feedback that it’s in some way helped people take on their own ambitions and get out there to see the world. It’s a very positive thing.”
Recently Mark has also become a partner in the investment firm Eos Advisory which supports innovation in science, engineering and technology.
“People know me from riding a bike or running an investment firm. Not many have put the two together.
“But at the moment I spend half my life in lycra and half in a suit.”
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