Expat to break Guiness cycling record in China

Updated: 2014-06-24 07:27

By Matt Hodges (China Daily)

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Expat to break Guiness cycling record in China
'Kingdom of Bicycles' rises again
Expat to break Guiness cycling record in China
A bike for Beijing
Meat is a luxury in Simoes' line of work, which most of the time involves being broke, homeless and hauling heavy luggage around trails and roads for 80-100 km a day. His record is 135 km, in the flat-as-a-pancake Netherlands.

Another luxury is disposable income, unless he manages to find sponsors. Petrobras Singapore gave him $3,000 after he visited the Brazilian embassy on the island state then went door knocking to get in touch with local Brazilian companies.

Most of the time, Simoes survives on a Spartan diet of vitamins, fruit, orange juice, bread and milk. "But not too much milk these days," he says, rubbing his stomach and grimacing.

His battle against time, poverty, elements of nature and bandits–from Mexico to Shenzhen–has taken its toll on him. Digestive issues apart, he has been robbed repeatedly. But a powerful internal drive has kept him going.

His Panasonic camera and Samsung smartphone were robbed at a train station in southern China last year, but he was reluctant to mention this because China is famed for its hospitality.

He was also robbed of his belongings and two front teeth in Mexico by a group of thugs who hit him in the face with a brick on a highway one night. He doesn't remember the date though.

He also struggled to spell the name of his bike, despite it being printed on the frame, and getting him to retrace his route was difficult at times. But then, 14 years is a long time, and his globe-trotting has been anything but linear: Simoes skipped North America due to visa issues but pinballed back and forth across Europe using Switzerland as a base camp.

He is now on his third trip to China. After Shanghai, his next stop will be Fuzhou in Fujian province–if his visa doesn't run out first.

Although it is unclear when he decided to try and beat Stucke's record, Simoes' journey has already gained him a modicum of fame.

"I think I can finish in 30 days, if I ride consistently," he says. "But it always depends on money."

How will be celebrate once it's over? "Maybe with a glass of wine. But definitely no cigarettes."

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