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Scot completes his nine-month cycle from Alaska to Argentina

After nine months of blizzards and forest fires, close encounters with wild bears and gruelling mountain passes, record-breaking Scottish cyclist Mark Beaumont yesterday crossed the ­finishing line of his latest epic journey from Alaska to Argentina.

Beaumont, 27, began his journey in Anchorage, Alaska, in May last year and, after cycling an average of 75 miles a day and crossing 12 countries, he arrived in Argentina at 12.30pm local time yesterday. The trip is one of the longest unbroken land ­journeys on earth.

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As well as struggling to find enough food to keep going, Beaumont -- who became the fastest cyclist to circumnavigate the globe in 2008 -- had to struggle through extreme weather and cross the planet’s longest mountain range.

The Herald spoke to him just a few minutes after he crossed the finishing line in Ushuaia in southern Argentina and he said it felt phenomenal to have completed his mission.

“I feel like I have had a lifetime of experiences in nine months but it is a long time to be on your own, focused on one mission,” he said. “For nine months I’ve been pushing it and I can feel that. There is a sense of relief to be finished though. I was crossing some pretty tough terrain, through deserts and across mountains.”

Beaumont said he had been unable to relax throughout the trip. “I don’t get to switch on and switch off; everything has been focused on the project since May last year.

“Now I have reached the finishing point, I am sure I will fall to bits for a couple of days.

“It is a long time to have been physically pushing it, but the logistics have been hard too -- riding the miles, finding somewhere safe to sleep, finding food -- and I’m also out here on my own. The daily challenge goes from the moment you wake until the moment you sleep.”

Beaumont -- who has been recording his experiences for a BBC series, The Man Who Cycled The Americas, which starts on March 23 -- carried 40kg of kit with him at all times, which contained rations, but he was also reliant on the world he passed through for food.

One of the toughest stretches was through Patagonia where he went hundreds of miles without seeing another human being. “There were huge gaps between services there,” he said. “There was 1000 miles of road, no turn-offs, no nothing, so you have to be pretty self-sufficient.”

During the toughest stretches, Beaumont developed a way of coping that involved not thinking of how many miles he still had to go. “You absolutely live in the moment. If at any point you think about how far you still have to go, it’s just too scary.”

The cycling was tough enough, but Beaumont also had to get off his bike twice on the journey to climb two mountains that stood in his way, including Mount McKinley, the highest peak in North America.

At the summit he was caught in a blizzard, which he said was one of the scariest moments of his life. “I’d not even climbed Ben Nevis before. It was a very scary place to be.”

There were many other predicaments including bears, particularly in British Columbia. “I saw one grizzly far too close for comfort. There was a forest fire in Canada too.

“More recently, there were unbelievable winds in Peru. The toughest moment though was in Ecuador, up in the Andes. There were really bad roads, just dirt tracks, and the bike was breaking because of the conditions; then I got food poisoning.

“I never have the mentality that I am going to give up, but there were a couple of days when I looked ahead and thought the task was impossible. Those were pretty dark times.”

There were some pleasant times as well, he said, including a trip down river on a tractor tube and a dip in hot springs. Another highlight was the cycle through the beautiful Alpine pass in California’s White Mountains.

Now all that’s just a memory. He said yesterday that he had only one thing on his mind: a decent meal.

  The trip in numbers

13,000 The total number of miles Mark Beaumont has cycled since leaving Alaska last May

 

75 The average number of miles Mark cycled each day

 

6,000 The calories he needed to eat every day to keep going

 

250,000 The calories he has burned on the trip

 

40 The weight in kilogrammes of Mark’s kit that he carried with him the whole way. It contained everything he needed to survive.

 

20,320 The height in feet of Mount McKinley, the highest peak in North America, which Mark had to cross on foot.

 

 

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