“In 2018, Jenny Graham pedaled 18,000 miles across four continents, through all weather conditions imaginable, unsupported, carrying her gear and independently managing daily logistics, completing this world record-breaking ride in just 124 days! In Coffee First, Then the World, Graham details her ultra endurance cycling trip around the world, sharing her experiences, insights, persistence, and boundless good cheer. Along the way, she made friends, explored cultures, and she still beat the record by an amazing three weeks. Now she tells the story of this inspiring solo lap around the globe.”
When Jenny Graham’s publicist sent me the above media alert and asked if I’d like to review the book, I said, “Heck yes.” She was kind enough to send me two copies ― one for me and another as a prize to the winner of my women’s cycling group’s bike scavenger hunt.
As you can imagine, an epic adventure like this challenges a person physically and mentally. Graham started in Berlin, Germany, the first of 16 countries she’d ride through on her way to beat the previous world record of 144 days. I had the chance to ask Graham a few questions, and when she refers to “Little Pig,” that’s her golden mustard steel frame Stand Stooshie bike.
Sheri: I was surprised you wrote about self-doubt even up to the night before the start of your journey. After accomplishing a world record, do you have a new perspective that you can achieve anything?
Jenny: I think self doubt / nerves is just part of the game. When you’re taking on something so big for the first time particularly. I think the world project has given me a great insight into the process of getting a huge project off the ground and if you have faith in the process then that gives you confidence.
Sheri: I thought hiding different currencies in the aero bar tubes was ingenious in case of emergency. Were there any other unique life hacks you can share?
Jenny: Made sure me and Little Pig separately held money, passport/visa copies and a bankcard each in case either of us were robbed.
Lots of maintenance hacks – like sardine oil to replace chain oil – that way, you get some free lunch too!
Sheri: In the book, you run down the list of equipment. What was the one guilty pleasure you brought with you? And what item would you wish you left behind?
Jenny: Absolutely. Every item on that list was tried and tested. I narrowed it down to the absolute bare minimum, so I don’t think I had any actual guilty pleasures, but If I were to take anything else, it would have been a more robust roll mat!
Sheri: What is the number one skill you feel was needed to make this adventure successful?
Jenny: I think resilience to deal with the unknown was helpful!
Sheri: What was your nutrition and hydration routine on the bike…besides coffee?
Jenny: Lots and often! You can’t be too fussy on a trip like that.
Sheri: What was the longest leg of the journey where you rode non-stop?
Jenny: Every airport build up was big long miles. I think the longest was the final night, and that was just under 500km!
Sheri: Long days in the saddle can lead to sleep deprivation and hallucinations. What was the craziest hallucination?
Jenny: I needed to be careful of that as although I was pushing hard, I needed to look after myself enough to keep myself safe and get up and go again the next day (and the one after that) so I didn’t have any hallucinations (not like on shorter trips), but sometimes I’d record a video at the end of the night, and those were funny moments where I’d be falling asleep but still trying to chat to the camera.
Sheri: What were the trip’s low and high points?
Jenny: The highs were often in the sky. Riding with the moon and stars each night brought me so much joy.
The lows were the relentlessness of the winter days, where I’d be inside my gortex hood for ¾ days at a time.
Sheri: What’s next for you?
Jenny: I’m promoting the book across the UK all summer, running in the Alps and doing lots of outdoor swimming!
Sheri Rosenbaum regularly contributes articles and reviews products for RBR. She’s an avid recreational roadie who lives in the Chicago area and a major advocate for women’s cycling, serving on the board of directors and volunteering with the Dare2tri Paratriathlon Club. Click to read Sheri’s full bio or visit her web site sunflowersandpedals.com.