The world’s 'oldest, toughest' cycling record is under threat

'Cycle Doctor' Bruce Berkeley is trying to ride 121,000km in one year

How far could you ride in one year? Freelance bike mechanic Bruce Berkeley is attempting to set a new record by cycling over 121,000km – that’s 330km every day for 365 days straight, and it's the equivalent of circling the globe three times over.

Incredibly, the current world record was set by Britain’s Tommy Godwin in 1939, who rode 75,065 miles (120,805km). Many people have tried to beat Godwin’s tally, and Berkeley stands as good a chance as any – he already holds the world record for furthest distance ridden in one month (9,751km), as well as the seven-day record (2,830km). 

In case any readers out there are wondering how Godwin can cover 122,000km in a year but not best Berkeley's record of 9,751km in a month, there's a simple explanation – Godwin's achievement is not recognised by Guinness World Records.

Last year a knee injury prevented him from notching up the record for Land's End to John O'Groats and back again (2700km in five days, 21 hours), but Berkeley claims to be fighting fit for the 2016 challenge.

Related: The 121,000km man - video

Canyon ultimate cf slx –
Canyon ultimate cf slx –

Canyon's Ultimate CF SLX is "a technological marvel with a smooth personality", according to our tester

Berkeley, who has a name straight out of a Marvel comic (and even has his Cycle Doctor alter-ego), has chosen Canyon’s Ultimate CF SLX and Aeroad CF SLX bikes for his super-heroic feat. He's looking to average a speed of 29kph every moment he's in the saddle. “At 185 watts on the Aeroad and new Ultimate CF SLX I’m going 1km/h quicker than on the my old Ultimate CF SL… 1km/h over 365 days, that’s going to be the difference between breaking the record or not.”

Related: Canyon Aeroad CF SLX 9.0 SL long-term review

Canyon aeroad cf slx is
Canyon aeroad cf slx is

Canyon's Aeroad CF SLX – "awesomely fast, surprisingly comfortable and drop-dead gorgeous", says our tester 

Other sponsors Bruce is working with include Assos, Shimano, Lazer, Continental, Lake, Selle Italia, Strava, Evolution, Boyd/Noble Wheels and Garmin.

So what bike did Tommy Godwin use to set this impressive record of 76-plus years? Like Berkeley, he had two at his command: a custom-built ‘Ley TG Special’, built with Reynolds 531 steel tubing and fitted with 27in Dunlop tyres, a Brooks saddle and Sturmey Archer three-speed hub gear. After clocking up nearly 27,000km, a new sponsor stepped in – Raleigh. His new bike was a Raleigh Record Ace, fitted with a four-speed Sturmey Archer hub gear, weighing around 13-15kg. Thus equipped, he rode into the record books.

Godwin reported each day's riding to his local police station in order to get his record certified. Berkeley, meanwhile, will be sharing every move he makes on Twitter and Strava (you can follow him here, but be warned - he might make your stats look depressing). 

That's nearly 10,000km a month!:
That's nearly 10,000km a month!:
Bruce will be blogging for BikeRadar throughout his record attempt

Berkeley is going to start his attempt on what many call the ‘world’s oldest, toughest cycling record’ in Adelaide, Australia on the first day of 2016, before heading back to the UK in April to finish his record attempt, mostly in and around the South East. He will be blogging throughout his attempt on BikeRadar, so stay tuned to find out how he gets on, how his kit bears up and what drives a person to take on a challenge as brutal as this in the first place. 

Meanwhile, US ultra-endurance athlete Kurt Searvogel is already 323 days and 67,000 miles (107,826km) through his own attempt – and if all goes well hopes to finish in January 2016. And Britain's Steven Abraham is having a crack too, but his attempt suffered a significant blow when he broke his leg in a traffic accident last spring. He's now back on track and hopes to finish next year.

Jamie Beach

Deputy Editor, UK
Jamie's been addicted to bikes from the moment his stabilisers came off. Earliest cycling memory is the chipboard-ramp-on-bricks, but happiest one is bombing down a Mallorcan mountain pass that seemed it might never end. Always on the hunt for the perfect rain jacket, a keen collector of hats.
  • Discipline: Road, gravel
  • Preferred Terrain: Big mountains with long climbs, equally long and fast descents, the chance to get above the treeline.
  • Current Bikes: Genesis Croix de Fer, Kona Cindercone
  • Dream Bike: BMC TeamMachine SLR01
  • Beer of Choice: Augustiner
  • Location: Bath, Somerset, UK

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