Cyclist on course to break record for US odyssey

Euan Hunter is riding 6850 miles across the United States in his world record attempt for charity. Picture: contributed

Euan Hunter is riding 6850 miles across the United States in his world record attempt for charity. Picture: contributed

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A cyclist on a gruelling 6850-mile odyssey for charity is set to break the record for the fastest pedal-powered journey across the United States.

Euan Hunter, 22, from Hermiston is almost halfway through an epic trip that will cover all 48 states in mainland America.

If he completes his zig-zagging feat in less than 60 days he will break the world record, and is well on his way having crossed off the western half of the country as far as South Dakota in just 17 days, with 35 states to go.

In a break between stints in the saddle, Mr Hunter said: “Things are going well. Every day is an unknown, but I’m way ahead of schedule.”

Mr Hunter hopes to raise £10,000 for Mary’s Meals, a Scottish charity that provides school meals for 900,000 children across five continents.

The former Currie Community High student has already crossed the North American continent, becoming the youngest person ever to cycle coast to coast across Canada in 2009, when he was just 17.

Mr Hunter’s odyssey has so far been beset by torrential rain and tarmac roads giving way to gravel tracks at a moment’s notice, as happened in Montana.

“The route that I had chosen takes a minor road which I assumed was tarmac and the support team had driven five miles down to ensure it was OK – and it was, until ten miles in,” Mr Hunter said.

“At that stage the road turned to gravel. While mountain bikes would have been fine on it, a carbon fibre road bike doesn’t exactly ride well on that sort of terrain. I had come too far to turn back though so had to keep pushing.”

He also described the constant struggle to consume enough calories to keep his energy up while cycling almost 200 miles a day.

“Food is pivotal. It’s hard to learn what my body needs and things are changing each day.” Mr Hunter said. “It’s very hard not to give in to sugar cravings.”

With thousands of gruelling miles left, he has had a motivational boost in the shape of an e-mail sent by round-the-world cyclist Mark Beaumont.

Mr Hunter, who has just completed a masters in mechanical engineering at Edinburgh University, is being shadowed by a support team made up of friends and fellow Edinburgh graduates Duane Walker, Kenneth Errington and Iain Skinner.

Staff at Mary’s Meals have expressed their gratitude and amazement at the feat.

Daniel Adams, head of fundraising at Mary’s Meals, said: “We’ve been aware of Euan’s fundraising activities for a few years now and we’re nothing short of amazed at what he’ll put himself through to ensure that hungry children are able to eat a good meal in a place of education.

“We are incredibly grateful to Euan, not only for his fundraising, but for raising awareness of our simple school feeding idea as he crosses America.”

paris.gourtsoyannis@edinburghnews.com