In 2016 Helen Langridge and her then-boyfriend (now husband), spent 15 months cycling 29, 800 km through 30 countries. Just a year prior she had been battling with major mental health issues, unable to even motivate herself to even get out of bed.
After a month of struggling with depression and anxiety, a friend helped her find the determination to seek help. With a new outlook and the company of her new boyfriend, she set off on her first world cycle. Cycling has helped Langridge with her depression and anxiety and she now has the drive to push herself even farther than she ever has, as she attempts to break the world record for fastest woman to cycle around the world.
“I’ve always wanted to take steps to do better than what I’ve done before,” says Langridge. “It’s just part of my nature to keep improving or keep pushing myself to do more – so it’s a natural progression for me to now go for the record.”
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Jenny Graham currently holds the world record for fastest woman to circumnavigate the globe by bike, having ridden 29,000 kilometres in 124 days. In May 2020, eight years after Buhring set her record, Langridge will leave Brussels, attempting to ride 29,000 kilometres in 110 days. With 15-16 hours a day on the bike, 5 hours sleeping and just a few hours to eat and take breaks, she won’t have much time to stop and take in the scenery.
“This is purely about performance,” she says, “whereas all my previous adventures have been about spending time in places and meeting people.”
Training for the record
For the past year Langridge has been working with Dr. Lesley Ingram, from Edinburgh Napier University, who also coached Mark Beaumont’s world record breaking 78 days world tour.
She had reduced the amount she was biking after her first trip in 2018, so initial training involved just increasing training load. Now Langridge is in, what she calls, full training mode.
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Her current training plan is diverse, “I mix the days up between weight sessions, targeted turbo sessions, a bit of running to keep my bones healthy, longer rides on the weekend and I try and fit yoga in as much as possible,” says Langridge. “As I work full time I’ve got to make every single workout count without adding in junk miles which aren’t productive. I have a training ride in a few weeks to test all my kit and my game plan which I’m really looking forward to.”
A major part of suffering through a grueling 110 days on the bike is mental. Langridge is also working with a sports psychologist to make sure she’s mentally prepared. “I know I can be susceptible to mental health issues,” says Langridge, “But the bike is when I’m at my best, so while there will naturally be ups and downs, I’m certainly going to be prepared and strong in the mind and body.”
Langridge will be riding about 5650 km in Canada during her trip. She previously rode through the country during her first world cycle, and is excited to return to Canadian roads. “The thing I love most about Canada is the people (and the poutine),” she says. “We never had to worry about where to stay or approaching people because we knew we’d be welcomed with open arms.”
Her last time in Canada, Langridge and her husband met a family outside a supermarket in Eganville, On. “They invited us to stay with them, which we did, and we have stayed in touch ever since,” she says. “I just felt very safe in Canada; it’s like being given a big warm hug.”