A British cyclist who broke the round-the-world cycling record by more than a fortnight yesterday crossed the finish line in Greenwich and told his supporters, "Sorry I'm late."
Mike Hall, who was also celebrating his 31st birthday, had just managed to circumnavigate the globe in 91 days and 18 hours, cycling a total of 18,000 miles at an average of 200 miles a day.
He was one of nine competitors to take part in the World Cycle Racing event, which began on 18 February, and had finished several thousand miles ahead of his closest rivals.
Mr Hall, from Harrogate, North Yorkshire, was met by family and friends carrying cups of tea and home-made cakes singing "Happy Birthday". Sporting a scruffy beard, long, curly hair and a deep tan, he looked exhausted but happy.
"I think I had a lot of the emotions in the last few weeks on the roads," he said. "It was quite difficult and I think it builds up – the stress.
"So I kind of released all that in the last few days. Now I just feel pretty calm, actually. There's been some moments, some kind of breakdowns, but I keep the breakdowns on the bike, I don't stop for those."
The route taken by each person in the race was down to the individual, but they had to cycle a minimum of 18,000 miles in the same direction with their GPS tracked the whole time.
Mr Hall had originally been aiming to complete the challenge in 90 days and early yesterday had planned to arrive in Greenwich before his 12.30pm arrival time. However, he was still able to beat the previous world record of 106 days – by more than two weeks.
He said: "I had some sickness in Australia, which was hard work. Then in Albania I rode my bike into a big hole and broke it. There were a few close calls with traffic, too.
"You know where all the fastest routes are after you've done it once. You could get the time right down. Certainly less than 80 [days]."
"I probably wouldn't do it ever again, though," he added.
Embracing him shortly after he crossed the finish line, his mother, Pat Hall, 58, was glad to have her son back.
"It's amazing, I was shaking on his way in, I'm so proud," she said.
Mr Hall has so far raised £1,190 for his charity, Newborns Vietnam, which works to bring down neonatal mortality across South-east Asia. His fundraising will continue until May 2013, when he will take part in a sponsored cycle across Vietnam.