It looks like Lachlan Morton has found his next massive distance challenge, this time flying closer than ever to the impossible. But if anyone can do it, it’s probably the wily Aussie.
Morton’s team leader, Jonathan Vaughters, has revealed that the founding member of EF Education-EasyPost’s alternative program has set his sights on Mark Beaumont’s circumnavigation world record that the Scot set in 2017: 78 days, 14 hours and 40 minutes, breaking the previous record set by New Zealand’s Andrew Nicholson by a whopping 44 days.
It was Beaumont’s record-breaking second round the world after the much longer journey he completed about a decade earlier, but in 2017 he took on the challenge with a support team to maximize miles in a day. By the time he arrived in Paris, Beaumont had cycled an average of 240 miles in 16 hours a day, thus achieving a second world record for the most miles traveled in a month that he set between Paris and Perth, Australia, covering 7,031 miles (11,315 kilometers). ).
The nutritional, mechanical and logistical support available to Morton will be something of a departure from what he has become familiar with from his more independent efforts, but it is a challenge he has expressed interest in, although he acknowledges it is still in the early stages of discussion. . And it won’t be soon.
“What we wanted to do was attempt the round-the-world record [in the second half of 2023]’, Vaughters said, speaking to Cycling Weekly, ‘but the sticking point right now is Russia.
To officially complete the record, Morton will need to start and finish in the same place, then travel in a constant direction over a minimum distance of 29,000 km (18,000 miles), with the total distance intended to exceed the length of the equator. Beaumont’s record-breaking attempt started from Paris and headed east through Russia and Mongolia to Beijing, then through Australia and New Zealand, into North America on a long northerly route, then jumped across Atlantic and Portugal on the way back to Paris. .
The conflict in Russia presents a significant additional challenge, because although alternatives exist, the daily pace and distance Morton would have to travel means that more frequent changes in direction, local logistics and border controls from various countries could be a major obstacle.
“We don’t think that’s possible next year,” Vaughters said, “so we’re trying to come up with a plan B right now. What that is, we’re still not sure.”
Morton’s ‘racing schedule’ has consisted of fewer and fewer road races since 2019; this season he appeared on just five start lines, including the four-day Gran Camino where he was inspired to embark on his journey to Ukraine through teammate Mark Padun. It is unlikely that next year he will rejoin the platoon; in fact, he’s not expected to be named to the official EF Education-EasyPost UCI list for 2023, and plans to shift his attention to trying to win gravel races, taking a break from the sleep-depriving ultra events that have been become their bread and butter.
At this point, with the Russian invasion of Ukraine underway and no end in sight, at least when it comes to ensuring the safety of a cyclist, it could be a while before Morton’s circumnavigation takes place, 2024 at the earliest. But when he does, and assuming he still has the support of a world-class pro team at the time, there’s every reason to believe he can break Beaumont’s record.
Look at this space. We certainly will be.