For someone who spent nearly six months eating petrol station fare and lost one-fifth of his body weight from severe "Delhi belly", James Bowthorpe – the fastest man to pedal around the globe – was unsurprisingly excited about the prospect of home cooking.
The 31-year-old cabinet- maker from Balham, south London, was mobbed by supporters in Hyde Park on Saturday when he returned sporting a shaggy beard after completing his gruelling 18,000-mile bike ride across 20 countries in just 175 days. The challenge, sponsored by The Independent, meant that Bowthorpe cycled for up to 14 hours a day, beating the record set by Mark Beaumont by 19 days. "I spent last night with my family and my girlfriend's family and had a home-cooked meal, three curries, and bread cooked by my dad," said a bleary-eyed Bowthorpe yesterday. "I have spent the past five-and-a-half months eating whatever I can find, so often food from a petrol station or from the side of the road so it was really great." He also enjoyed a "sneaky beer". He said: "It was a Spitfire. I almost fell over."
Bowthorpe tried not to think about home comforts too much on the trip, during which he carted 90lb of clothes, gadgets and camping gear across some of the world's toughest roads, be-cause, "dreaming of something five months away might just have scuppered the trip".
Yesterday, those memories were left on the dusty roads. He enjoyed a 12-hour sleep and a Sunday lie-in. "Being asleep more than five hours is quite a treat," he said. "I'm not really an early riser and you also have to wind down for a while after cycling, which meant that I've not been sleeping more than five hours in the past five and a half months," he said.
Bowthorpe began his epic adventure in March with the aim of raising £1.8m – roughly £100 for every mile – for research into Parkinson's disease. He faced an attempted kidnapping in Iran, a wombat attack in Australia and "some idiots" throwing a kebab at him through a car window in Western Australia. The endurance cyclist also encountered some kind turns, including free clothes and bike maintainance along the way.
Despite covering 100 miles a day, on average, Bowthorpe cannot hang up his cycling shorts just yet. "I'm starting to seize up a bit so I've got to do a bit of cycling today," he said with a groan. "It was something I was warned about.
"I've been cycling 14 hours a day for the past five-and-a-half-months so I will have to do a little bit this afternoon, maybe 10 miles."Reuse content