Two women have broken the record for cycling around the world on a tandem.
Catherine Dixon and Rachael Marsden, or Cat and Raz as they like to be called, cycled more than 18,000 miles across five continents and raised almost £35,000 for Oxfam and the Motor Neurone Disease Association.
The two friends, both in their fifties, managed to cycle round the globe on Alice, their pink tandem, in 263 days, seven hours and seven minutes, beating the male world record of 281 days.
The women – who travelled between 80 and 100 miles a day through 25 countries – caught one of the last ferries from Caen in France to Portsmouth on March 17 and then cycled to Oxford to complete their record-breaking trip.
They originally planned to return a few days later, but had to make their way back early due to Europe closing its borders because of coronavirus.
Ms Dixon, 53, who is originally from Yorkshire but lives in London, told the PA news agency: “The experience was absolutely amazing. Every day was a new adventure.
“You didn’t know what you were going to see, you didn’t know who you were going to meet.
“We had some amazing experiences, and I think all the countries that we travelled through were very different, and you get to see those countries in a very different way on a bike, because you really see how people are living.”
She said the people they met on their travels were “incredibly kind and generous”, and they were often asked for up to 25 selfies a day by intrigued locals.
Ms Dixon, a former chief executive of the Law Society, said it was an interesting journey from a climate change perspective.
They cycled through the European heatwave of last summer, encountered flooding in India and South East Asia and had to change their route in Australia due to the bushfires.
Ms Marsden, 55, a consultant nurse in motor neurone disease who lives in South Hinksey outside Oxford, told PA: “I think it has to be the most extraordinary time of my life.
“I absolutely loved every second of it. Cat and I just got on so well, laughed so much and just had a brilliant time every single day. It was brilliant.”
Ms Marsden, a mother of three, added: “Because we were so happy, we’d just chat to people and they were just so lovely and excited about what we were doing and the trip. We lived in a little bubble of happiness really.”
She said they were able to complete the trip without losing a single day due to aches, pains or health issues.
And they had no support crew, so had to fix Alice the tandem by themselves.
“You forget you’re 55,” Ms Marsden said, adding: “It’s not too late to do something, and you are as old as you feel.
“If we can do it, anybody can do something like that.”
The record is subject to official verification, which will take a few weeks.