On 2 September this year, if all goes to plan, Louis Margot will climb on a bike in his hometown of Morges in Switzerland and set off towards Portugal. Around a month later, in Portimão, he will swap his bike for a boat and start rowing the Atlantic Ocean.

These are just the first two stages on an epic adventure, as Margot attempts to become the fastest man to circumnavigate the world under human power. The current record of five years, 11 days, 12 hours and 22 minutes was achieved between 2007 and 2012 by Turkish adventurer Erden Eruç; Margot hopes to get around in something under three years.

Margot’s challenge, ‘Human Impulse’, is inspired not by dreams but by being driven towards the future. The record is a target, but not the only goal.

Accordingly, the challenge has three ‘values’: impulse, audacity and accomplishment. Impulse is the desire to do something, audacity daring to actually do it, and accomplishment being more about the attempt than the achievement itself.

Inspiration came during a 3000-kilometre charity bike ride to Istanbul in 2017.

“I felt so alive during this trip and I thought one day for sure I would so something bigger,” Margot says. It was important, he adds, to do a human-powered effort.

“We’re all going so fast with everything. Time slows down when you do something human powered.”

Rowing is an important part of Human Impulse. Margot was junior World Champion in the men’s coxed four in 2010 and competed at the World Rowing Under 23 Championships in 2012; later he spent a year at Cambridge University, stroking the men’s reserve boat in the 2017 Boat Races.

“It’s what shaped me. I started rowing when I was 13 and it helped build me throughout my whole life,” Margot explains.

“Rowing’s a really tough sport. It teaches you discipline but also some amazing feelings. It’s the value of working hard and getting something back,” he adds.

To make Human Impulse a reality, Margot has assembled a support team of family and friends; he is also looking for financial support to fund the essential elements of the trip, including equipment, food and insurance.

Training is progressing well. Margot has bought a boat, from Dave Bell, who in 2021 became the first person to row unsupported from the US to the UK, and is learning how to support himself through sessions on Lac Léman and an upcoming sea survival course.

“You can be the strongest, but if you don’t know how to use the boat you have no chance,” he points out.

Margot says he is looking forward most to his ocean rows – and even thinks that the rowing part of the challenge will be safer than cycling.

“On the road it’s quite dangerous in many countries whereas on the ocean if I follow the rules I should be safe. I’m just looking forward to experiencing it, looking at nature, the animals, the sunset,” he says.

“The most challenging will be the grind in the sense that’s it’s every day for a long time,” Margot acknowledges. But he adds that he is looking forward to the chance to be alone and have the time to think – a rare opportunity in normal life.

Margot credits rowing with the fact he is undertaking the challenge in the first place, concluding: “Rowing built me, it helped me become who I am and to have these values now that I can share and inspire. It’s all because I rowed. Keep rowing and keep following your impulse.”

See more at: https://humanimpulse.ch/