This is the Edinburgh man who cycled the length of Britain aged 15 and has ridden round the world – twice. I’ve written about some of his recent feats, such as retaking the North Coast 500 record and winning a 1,200-mile Land’s End to John O’Groats race, as well as past milestones like the 2017 round-Britain warm-up for his second pan-global challenge.
However, The Complete Guide to Cycling Psychology also details an array of amazing and inspiring further endeavours, such as his decision, aged ten, to cycle 18 miles to school near Pitlochry on his own over a “hilly moorland” route which he’d only travelled before in a car. But it’s not just riding bicycles to extremes that Beaumont seems to revel in, and he appears to be up for anything to get beyond his comfort zone and test his limits.
These have included being challenged by STV for its 2013 Children’s Appeal to run and swim – neither of which he reckoned he was any good at – 230 miles between Arran and Aberdeen. It involved an eight-mile dip between Arran and Bute, during which he said he vomited and time seemed to stand still, before he emerged from the water unable to speak because his lips were numb.
However, as Beaumont refers to several times in the book, co-written with performance coach Dr Jim Taylor and published by GCN, the Global Cycling Network, it was the relentless “hard miles” of training over many months which got him through that and other epic ventures. He vividly describes one of these routines in preparation for his second round-the-world cycle, in which he repeatedly dragged himself out of bed at 5am to get on his training bike in a freezing cold garage, barely awake.
Hours later, his wife and children would appear at the door in their dressing gowns, by which time he had gone from oversized fleece hoodie to keep warm to being stripped to the waist, “a pool of sweat gathering round the bike on the concrete floor”, which created a permanent watermark.
Such preparation has led Beaumont to boldness in setting targets. Before that second round-the-world ride, he raised eyebrows by announcing he was going to do it in 80 days, like Jules Verne’s Phileas Fogg, despite the record being 123 days – a 40 per cent reduction unprecedented in endurance cycling.
But he said it was to galvanise both himself and his support team: “You are very unlikely to do better than what you set out to do.” Endorsing this, Taylor described it as an “audacious and calculated risk”. And Beaumont smashed it, crossing the finish line in just 79 days.
Beaumont is at one extreme of the cycling spectrum. I’m near the other, doing little more than a six-mile commute to work. But the more I read of his exploits and motivational wisdom, the more I’m encouraged to plan my own mini-adventure – and I can’t be alone.