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The Inspiration to Set a New World Long Distance E-Bike Record

The Inspiration to Set a New World Long Distance E-Bike Record
One day you are happily going along in one direction and suddenly thanks to a moment of inspiration, you find that your priorities, goals and aspirations - everything - has changed.

In very basic terms that is the story behind the decision by Gary and Rachel Corbett – The Cycle Tourists – to have a crack at bettering the electric bike world long distance record.

But it is one thing to wake up one day and decide you are going to set out on a 16,000km-plus journey to break a world record, but it is a vastly different thing to put that plan into action.

The current unofficial world record stands at 16,047km set by German adventurer Maximilian Semsch, 29, when he circumnavigated Australia in 2012. The official Guinness World Record of 6721 km (4,176.23 miles) is held by Canadian Danny Halmo. At the end of 2014 American Tomas Cortijo completed a journey of 9200km in the USA in an attempt to better the mark, with his effort still pending Guinness confirmation.
Meanwhile other long distance record attempts have been made, however no documented proof of distances covered were ever kept, or at least made public.

In other words we have to better the 16,047km mark set by Semsch, and provide concrete evidence of the kilometres cycled, to lay claim to having completed the longest ever e-bike journey.

Basically the decision to throw caution to the wind and to go ahead with the record attempt was the easy bit. Planning the logistics of the ride and then actually setting out to complete about 11 months of cycling is, to say the least, the really interesting bit.

So what is the plan? While we are Australians, there was never any thought about setting the record in Australia. In reality there was really only ever one destination that got the juices flowing - the UK and Europe – a cycling/holiday destination we have visited individually and together on many occasions over the years.

With the UK, Europe - and Scandinavia thrown in for good measure - as the overall destination for the record attempt, now where will we actually cycle? With Gary having cycled solo across Europe in 2010, often on the EuroVelo cycle network, that was another easy decision – wherever possible the record attempt would make use of EuroVelo cycle tracks.

In total the EuroVelo cycle network goes through 43 countries in Europe and Scandinavia and beyond – including Russia - and many, many cities, towns and villages along the way. In its entirety it stretches from Norway in the north, Russia in the east, Portugal in the west and Malta in the south.

When fully completed in 2020 it is envisaged the network will boast 70,000-plus km of purpose-built tracks that are fully signposted – more than adequate for a measly 16,000-plus km record attempt!
With the overall destination and a basic understanding of the route to be followed taken care of, next came sourcing suitable electric bikes, cycle trailers and, hopefully, a company capable of supplying a solar charging system for our e-bikes’ batteries.

On an extremely positive note enthusiastically agreed to come onboard as the sponsor/supplier of two top-of-the-range 2015 model Haibike xDuro Trekking RX electric bikes and Tout Terrain was equally enthusiastic about sponsoring two Tout Terrain Mule Cycle Trailers.

But finding a supplier /sponsor of a solar charging system is another story. Clearly we need to be freed from the necessity to plug into mains electricity every day – after all who knows if electricity will be available in many places we will find ourselves. So why not rig up a solar charging system? But trying to find a company that can supply a solar system to charge our Haibikes’ Bosch batteries is more difficult than finding hen’s teeth.

The bottom line is that a solution to our solar charging problem is still a long way from being found. Anyone with a solution will become an immediate honorary family member!!

Another issue (which will be the subject of another blog) is the restrictive Schengen Visa requirements for non-EU citizens, by all accounts a near impossible hurdle to jump for anyone not from the UK, Europe or Scandinavia wanting to stay in that part of the world for more than 90 days at a time.

Three months out from starting the record attempt in London we are doing everything possible to make sure our fitness is up to scratch for such a big physical challenge (don’t be fooled for one moment into thinking that just because we are riding e-bikes that there isn’t a LOT of tough cycling ahead of us), plus we are trying to organise the other 1001 other things that need doing.

 But it is all coming together and come late April/early May we will be off and riding starting from the premises in Farnham in Surrey.

Gary Corbett is an award-winning Australian journalist who has written for a wide range of newspapers, periodicals and travel magazines for the past 30-plus years.

After years of writing about other people’s travel adventures, in the mid-2000s he  booked a personal holiday with a difference – a one week guided cycling tour in the Loire Valley in France – and was instantly hooked on those “how good is this” moments that only cycle touring can provide.

In ensuing years he has gone on to cycle well in excess of 30,000 kilometres completing guided, self-guided, bike and barge and solo long distance tours in Europe, Australia, Asia and South America.

Gary now writes exclusively about cycle touring and travelling in general and as such the attempt to set a new electric bike world long distance record along with his wife, Rachel, is his latest “fact finding” cycling adventure – however this time it will be on an e-bike.

His future goal is to see more of the world from the seat of his trusty Trek 520 touring bicycle, and now that he has discovered the world of e-biking, his new Haibike xDuro Trekking RX e-bike. There is, after all, always another country to be explored, new cultures to be experienced and more cycle tours to be completed.

Before this epic journey Gary (a.k.a. The Cycle Tourist) contributed many excellent cycle touring articles to the Cycle Tours Global blog - you can read them at

To find out even more about the expedition please visit

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By: Gary Corbett
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