File this one under cycling for a cause.
James Bowthorpe is riding around the globe to raise money for Parkinson’s research. James is from London and is a volunteer at a Parkinson’s Disease research clinic based at King’s College London in the Institute of Psychiatry. James originally volunteered at the clinic to get experience in a medical setting for med school applications, and he was interested in Parkinson’s, as his grandfather had been afflicted by the disease. James quickly realized that the research was very important and extremely underfunded, and thus he began his quest to ride around the world. James’ circumnavigation of the globe by bicycle is being done with a sense of great urgency. Not only is he trying to break the world record for riding around the world, he is also trying to raise 1.8 million pounds for Parkinson’s Disease research, as well as raise awareness of the disease. James left London on March 29 and will soon be returning to London.
According to James:
I want to do three things: break the world record, raise a lot of money for Whats Driving Parkinsons? http://www.whatsdrivingparkinsons.net and also raise awareness of the disease and the groundbreaking work that this research charity does. Bravado in some form might come into it, but only as a by-product. Going to countries that are considered dangerous, or even scaring myself unnecessarily, are not part of the plan. Trying to cycle 120 miles a day takes up enough physical and emotional energy, without adding other stresses.
At the moment, James is cycling through Kentucky and is 14,542 miles and 149 days into his approximately 18,000 mile journey. You can follow James’ progression throughout the day at www.whereintheworldisjames.com, as his progress is updated live from his GPS tracking system. James is also currently beating the world record – previously held by Mark Beaumont – by at least two weeks. James has averaged 120 miles per day for the majority of his trip, but he has recently increased his daily mileage to 150 miles per day in order to accomplish his journey even faster, beat the world record by nearly 4 weeks, and bring even more attention to his cause.
Most importantly, James is not cycling around the world simply in order to break Beaumont’s world record, James is cycling around the world to raise awareness of a very common disease, about which very little is actually known. Breaking the world record and becoming a bit of a cycling hero are merely by-products for James.
James is also feeling a bit of the Lance Armstrong effect. The famous professional cyclist and cancer-survivor recently tweeted about James’ journey on Twitter, alerting his 1.7 million followers to James’ cause.
James recently stopped by our headquarters in Flagstaff, Arizona, for a little R and R on his journey across the world. BikeBagShop.com not only provided great panniers and bags for James’ journey but also a nice place to sleep and spend a bit of time working on his bike.
Josh was excited to be able to catch up with James and learn a bit more about him and his quest.
James rolled into town here after about a 120 mile day riding from Kingman. He pulled up to our house around 8:30 PM, looking a bit dazed and tired but at the same time was in good spirits and eager to have a look around our shop. James filled us in on all sorts of details about his ride. We were quite amused by tid-bits such as where he had eaten his worst meal (Germany somewhat surprisingly). It was interesting to hear how James had been using his Iphone to stay connected and entertained as he rode. There were quite a few interesting and bizarre incidences he had to report on, such as running into a wombat in Australia.
With James arriving, we were rushing around to try to make sure he was as comfortable as possible. I was surprised how overall relaxed he was in the middle of this major challenge. He seemed very content with everything and not really worried about the details. I began to realize that this relaxed attitude was integral to his sanity and success as he made his way on his epic voyage round-the-world. His singular goal for the last 5 months of keeping things moving forward also seemed to have put him in a very Zen-like state of mind.
After a good night’s rest, James spent the morning working on what we could be described as the ultimate bike touring computer. James has a dynamo hub on his front wheel that plugs into his communication center. James started out with an Ortlieb handlebar bag mount. He began transforming the box by replacing the bag with a set of small waterproof boxes and began adding in a variety of ports to power his Iphone, GPS tracker, camera, and video camera. The lower box is full of wiring while the upper portion houses the equipment. James took the opportunity to use our shop to work on some rewiring, rerouting and installing some switches. James seemed to really enjoy a little time off the road and in the shop.
After his half-day of rest and shop time, my girlfriend and I rode James out of town. We took our tandem to make it easier to get some good photos of James. These photos were taken of James as we headed out of town and down Route 66. At one point, we would have gotten a good angle on a photo of James with mountains in the background if he had turned around for about 100 yards. As soon as I asked, I knew from the look on his face that there was no turning around on this ride. James’ cause was ahead of him.
If you would like to donate to James’ cause, please visit the donation page. James has raised 48,244.38 towards his target of 1.8m. Remember, every little bit counts, so please take a moment to give a donation, even if it’s just a small one. You can also follow James’ journey on Twitter or look for him on Facebook.