You may remember our earlier post about James Bowthorpe of Globe Cycle, who, at the time, was cycling around the world to raise money and awareness for Parkinson’s Disease research. We were fortunate to have James stop by our headquarters in Flagstaff, AZ. James has since completed his journey, and he has done so in record-breaking fashion, no less.
James returned home to London on Saturday, September 19, 2009 a mere 176 days after he left London on March 29, 2009. James broke the world record for circumnavigating the globe by bicycle, which was previously held by Mark Beaumont, by more than three weeks! Most importantly, it should be remembered that James’ intention was not merely to break the world record, his main goal was to raise awareness and money for Parkinson’s Disease research.
James is an honorary research fellow with the charity organization What’s Driving Parkinson’s. James hoped to raise 1.8m for the organization, and he has currently raised 75,512, which is about 4% of his goal. James’ goal of 1.8m equates to 100 for each mile he pedaled, which was approximately 18,062 miles, with an average of 103 miles per day. The speed of James’ ride reflects the urgency of the need to find out what causes Parkinson’s Disease, as the causes are generally not well understood. To make a donation to What’s Driving Parkinson’s, please visit Just Giving. Despite the lofty goal, James is quick to acknowledge that every little bit helps!
As is not uncommon with these sorts of records, James’ incredible record may soon be broken as well. Following closely in James’ pedal strokes is Julian Sayerer, whose non-commercial, non-sponsored ride and website – This Is Not For Charity – may seem like a slap in the face to James’ mission. Quite the contrary, as an article by Bike Radar points out, James recognizes that he cannot beat future records and is glad to provide a bit of fuel for Julian’s fire. As for Julian, his ride is not without goal, and as his manifesto suggests, his goals for the ride are similarly lofty – to prove that society is quite ill and to rescue the bicycle from it’s downfall.
James, on the other hand, is not finished. In fact, he has only yet begun, and he has another record-breaking feat in the works. This time, he has plans for a UK-based challenge, which he suggests could be even more challenging and daunting than cycling around the world. Nonetheless, James’ plans to continue his fundraising efforts for Parkinson’s Disease research until his goal has been met. In the meantime, James has continued to pedal his bicycle around town, but he is giving his tired legs a rest.
With regard to utility cycling, James certainly exemplifies one of the main categories of utility cycling which we originally defined – community building. James’ journey is not just in support of charity or a record breaking ride, it also has the valuable utility of building community both online and in person. Be it Lance Armstrong – the ultimate fundraising cyclist – or James Bowthorpe, using the bicycle as a tool for social change can have profound effects. This once again drives home the point that the bicycle can be many things at once: it can be a tool (a vacuum cleaner of sorts); it can be a piece of sport equipment; it can be a vehicle for social change or political protest; it can be fun; and it can simply be. What is it to you?