Simon Parker is combining two ocean crossings with pedals across the US, UK and Holland.
How do you cover 15,000 miles in 133 days? If you’re Simon Parker from Oxford, you go by race yacht and road bike.
The British travel writer, 28, will shortly begin his epic journey with a lift across the Pacific on the Clipper 2015-2016 Round the World Race yacht.
And it was signing up to crew the longest leg of the 11-month, 40,000 nautical mile Clipper Race that sparked Parker’s idea for a multi-vehicle expedition.
Although he says he only started sailing six months ago, Parker will depart Qingdao, China, on 20 March, headed for Seattle, Washington.
Simon says: “Before I signed up and started my Clipper Race training, like many of my crew mates, I had never sailed before. At first the idea of sailing across the world’s biggest ocean was a daunting enough task, but as the training went on, I began to think about creating a greater challenge for myself within the Clipper Race journey, and decided to use the race route to create a test for myself within the race.”
Parker, who has by his own admission not cycled more than 1,000 miles in his entire life, will then make the 4,000-mile trek across the USA as the Clipper Race fleet continues on its way to New York.
He plans to complete 80-100 miles a day on his bike, solo, for six weeks before rejoining the Clipper Race yacht, and he expects to encounter challenges along the way.
“I will … be cycling through America encountering everything from snow to mountains and potential danger such as bears. I won’t have much kit apart from a tent and stove and I have a small budget, and am hoping people will help me along the way with accommodation, which will be an interesting social experiment in itself to explore,” he said.
Once in New York, Parker will re-join the Clipper Race team to sail across the Atlantic Ocean to Londonderry, Northern Ireland. Disembarking there, he will cycle to Holland and then sail to London in a 36 hour sprint to the Clipper Race finish line at Tower Bridge on 30 July.
Why is Parker tackling the trip? Because, as far as he knows, no one has before.
“The world is full of people who travel and compete in endurance challenges which seem to get harder and more epic all the time. I haven’t heard of this particular challenge ever being attempted before though. I want to use my experience to examine the human psyche and attempt to learn more about what drives us to constantly extend our limits, using myself as the subject.”
According to the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, it is the only event of its kind which trains amateurs like Parker to race across the world’s oceans. Forty percent of Clipper Race crew, who come from all walks of life, have never sailed before they sign up and start their extensive training.
Only 3,300 people have completed the Clipper Race over nine editions since its inception in 1995, and less people have circumnavigated the world than have climbed Mount Everest. The race was established by legendary British sailor Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to sail solo non-stop around the globe in 1968-69.
Parker adds: “It will be a real social experiment for me at sea for a month surviving in a small capsule with no privacy or luxury while crossing the world’s largest ocean and enduring some of Mother Nature’s most extreme conditions.”
Parker will fly out from the UK on March 14 to join his crew in Qingdao. He will be blogging and tweeting about the experience. On his cycling journey across the USA, Parker will be raising awareness of the Clipper Race’s Official Charity Unicef by meeting local projects.