She left from Berlin, riding east. And on Thursday, she returned to Berlin, riding from the west. In between, Scottish cyclist Jenny Graham rode thousands of miles to become the fastest woman to ride around the world unsupported.
It took less than 125 days — just over one-third of a year — for Graham to complete the ride, covering some 18,000 miles on her bike. That lopped nearly three weeks off the old record of 144 days set by Paola Gianotti in 2014.
Her official time: “124 Days, 10 hours and less than 50 minutes,” according to filmmaker Mike Webster, who helped document the trip.
Graham, 38, pedaled out of Berlin in mid-June. Since then, she has endured a number of hardships, from flat tires and worn-out equipment and gear to being wary of bears in Canada. But from the wide open roads of Australia to the steep hills of New Zealand, there were also stretches of jaw-dropping scenery — some of which she documented on Instagram.
From the start, there were the friends and strangers who cheered her on. Some even hopped on their own bikes to give Graham some company on her long ride. Others helped her find food or shelter along the way.
Graham pedaled through more than a dozen countries, including a stretch through Russia and into Mongolia and China, all while carrying her own gear. When she first laid out her route, she estimated that the ride would require some 660,000 calories, as she planned to spend 16 hours on the bike to cover 180 miles a day.
On one of the last long stretches of her journey, Graham rode from Alaska to Nova Scotia, dipping down from Canada to pass through North Dakota and other U.S. states. She then boarded a plane to Portugal, where she rode from Lisbon to Berlin — a distance of nearly 3,000 km (1,864 miles).
By reaching Europe, Graham was finally on the last lap. Even fatigue, sleeping in the woods and a fall in France didn’t stop her from averaging 22 mph on the roads of Belgium as she sped toward Germany.
While she fell short of her initial goal of beating the record by 34 days, Graham’s achievement has inspired and amazed, with elite athletes and bike commuters alike praising her on social media.