CORONAVIRUS could scupper a world-record attempt by a York woman to cycle around the world on a tandem.

Cat Dixon, 53, from York, is just four days away from crossing the finishing line back in the UK after a marathon cycle across the globe – but is currently in France, which is operating a partial lockdown that has included disruption of ferry crossings.

Cat, who has covered more than 18,000 miles across five continents with her friend Raz Marsden on their tandem, said: "We were supposed to cross at Le Havre, but that is closed, so we are now booked on a ferry from Caen on Thursday morning."

She said they were hoping the crossing would still go ahead and they would be able to reach their final destination – Oxford – on Friday or Saturday.

The duo have faced new challenges in recent days as France has closed cafes and restaurants in an attempt to slow down the spread of the virus.

Cat said: "It's a bit tricky to find food. We have managed to find a supermarket that is open. It is a big challenge."

Raz said they were particularly missing their cups of coffee, adding: "We are a little bit addicted to coffee!"

This upset is just one of the many challenges the pair have faced since they set off nine months ago with the aim of breaking the world record, held by two men, and raising at least £18,000 for good causes.

York Press:

Cycling through Australia on their tandem

The biggest obstacle they encountered to date were the bushfires in Australia.

Raz said: "We had to change our route to avoid the fires, and if we had arrived in Australia any later, we would have been stopped because the fires were so prolific."

The pair are at least two weeks ahead of the current world record, so have some time in hand if they are delayed in France.

Cat said: "We would hate to blow it. All we can do is keep on cycling."

And they understand that if they make it back to UK this week, there may not be large crowds out to greet them.

Raz said: "We won't be disappointed if people are concerned about coming out. We understand. We are just thinking about crossing the line. If we have just two people there who can stop the clock as we cross the line, that will be fine."

Cat added: "Hopefully, we just have three or four days riding left. It will be great to see family and friends – and not riding every day!

The story so far…

The women, who set off from Oxford in June, are due to cross the finishing line this weekend – completing their mission of setting a new world record in circumnavigating the globe on a tandem.

The route has taken them across 25 countries, five continents, and knocked up 18,000 miles – with Cat and Raz burning up to 4,000 calories daily. They are travelling without a support team – carrying all they need with them.

Originally, they wanted to beat the women’s record of 320 days – but they are on target to smash the men’s record which is 283 days.

The goal of their fundraising venture, called TandemWow, is to attract one pound per mile and collect at least £18,000 for good causes.

Cat, 53, who gave up her job as CEO of Askham Bryan College in York to fulfil her dream of cycling around the world, said: “We are on track and due back in Oxford on March 21. If we make it back before April 3 we will be the fastest ever around the world on a tandem – faster than the current men’s record.”

And Cat revealed how they had also broken their fundraising target. “We are raising money for Motor Neurone Disease – the MND Association – and Oxfam. We have exceeded our target, raising more than £23,500 to date.”

York Press:

Raz, left, and Cat in New Zealand

During the challenge, the pair aimed to cover 100 miles per day and had to combat a variety of challenges from Australian bushfires, swarms of flies and saddle sores to all types of weather. Cycling across the US, they saw the Wall being built along the border with Mexico and took the temperature of local views amid the current Presidential election campaign.

Overall, their route took them through France and into Italy, Slovenia and Croatia, then Turkey and into Georgia, where they caught a flight to India. From there, they pedalled on to Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore and then boarded a plane to Australia.

As New Year dawned, they crossed New Zealand and flew to the United States, pedalling from coast to coast, before returning to Europe via Morocco. In the final leg, the plan is to cross Spain and France, with a final push up to Oxford, where Raz lives.

Cat has kept a daily blog throughout the journey, detailing the many ups and downs of the adventure – but says most of her memories are good ones.

She said: “There are so many good bits to the trip. Each country had its highlights – not much downside apart from managing the fatigue and saddle sores!”

She added: “I would love to do other trips – maybe not quite at this pace. It restores your faith in people who have helped us and supported us – that’s been amazing.”

Highlights from Cat’s blog

America: San Francisco, January 2020

“We started our journey in early January in San Francisco. We headed south east and reached the Mexican border near El Centro. We decided to cross the border, seeing the Wall being built to separate the USA from Mexico.

“We crossed over the border into Texas. As we were following the border we could see the Wall, it is huge – between 30 to 50 feet high and over 1,000 miles long. We witnessed the polarised politics which are evident in the USA (and we are seeing increasingly across the world). In the rural and often poorer communities, the Wall is on the whole welcomed. We saw support for President Trump in the form of flags, banners, and generally from the locals.

“The support for the current President appears not as strong in the wealthier urban areas.

“We headed south to Miami passing huge mansions with manicured lawns before reaching the outskirts of Miami.”

Africa: Casablanca, Morocco, February 24

“We arrived in Morocco at midday. I was feeling jet lagged after very little sleep on the flight (having watched several films and listened to a few hours of Harry Potter on audio book, which generally puts me to sleep, but didn’t this time - Raz slept happily most of the flight).

“We were heading for the coast. Morocco is such a contrast to the USA - people were out and about - walking places (there are very few sidewalks/ pavements in the USA and people don’t seem to walk anywhere).

“We passed schools with children cheering us on and lots of sheep (which didn’t).”

Europe: La Linea, Spain, February 28

“We finally made our way to the ferry leaving Africa and the amazing Morocco. We had a fabulous breakfast – Spanish style – and set off on a big climb day across the Sierra Nevada mountains to the beautiful city of Ronda.

“We passed loads of storks – all building their nests and displaying by tapping their beaks together to make a sound a bit like the old football rattle. It was steep but the scenery was fantastic – views across the mountains as we climbed higher and higher. We saw condors flying overhead – it was magical.”

France, March 14-15

“Just heard that France is going into lockdown - cafes, restaurants and shops (except food shops) will be shut for midnight . We’ll just keep heading north.

“Given the news that all cafes and restaurants in France would be closed, we headed to a supermarket and bakery to stock up on food for the day.

“There doesn’t seem to be the panic buying in France.”

Follow Cat and Raz via their blog ( and donate through