Olympic individual pursuit champion Rebecca Romero and double gold winning rower James Cracknell are to make an attempt on the Land's End to John O'Groats mixed tandem record on Monday, August 3, 2009 and you can follow their progress on Cycling Plus's Twitter page.
Romero and Cracknell's support team will be 'tweeting' regular updates during the attempt which marks the launch of the first ever Deloitte Ride Across Britain, a mass participation event that aims to raise £1 million for the ParalympicsGB charity.
Romero and Cracknell hope that beating the current End-to-End record of two days, three hours, 19 minutes and 23 seconds – set by Andy Wilkinson and Lynne Taylor in 2000 – will encourage teams and solo riders to sign up to ride over 900 miles in nine days next June.
"When I started planning the Ride Across Britain I also looked at all of the End-to-End records," Cracknell told Bikeradar. "I was interested in the solo record [Gethin Butler's 1 day, 20 hours, 4 minutes and 19 seconds set in 2001] until I realised that I could probably only ride that fast for about 20 minutes! I also thought it would be much more fun to do this with someone else." Writing in the Daily Telegraph Cracknell says that he had a shortlist of three possible partners – Tour de France fourth place finisher Bradley Wiggins, Ironman World champion Chrissie Wellington and Romero. Wiggins was busy with his Tour duties and Wellington preparing the defence of her title in October. Luckily Romero accepted the challenge.
"I should learn to not to answer phone calls from James," says Romero of her recruitment to the attempt. "My initial response was no as going without a night's sleep is one of the worst things you can put me through and riding for more than five hours is probably the second worst. My problem, though, is that I can never say no and I don’t like saying that I can’t do something."
Romero says that she "had a go" on a tandem in her teens while Cracknell admits that until just over a month ago he'd never ridden one: "Rebecca and I had a trial ride on a quiet country lane. I'm glad we did it with no one watching." The pair will be using two custom built Dolan tandems for the attempt – one for Romero to stoke (pedal at the back) and one on which Cracknell can take care of stoking duties. "Normally you simply put the more powerful person on the back," says Cracknell, "But because we're riding for two days, with no sleep, and the person on the front is going to have to concentrate hard, it makes a lot of sense to be able to swap around."
Romero says that Cracknell caught her at the right time when he asked her to join him. She'd taken a break from training and racing after her Olympic triumph and admits that for a while she was considering whether to continue her competitive career. "My biggest decision [after the Olympics in Beijing] was whether I wanted to be an athlete any more," she says. Romero took time out that with the full support of British Cycling and when Cracknell offered her the chance to take on the record she was ready to get back on a bike.
"It's perfect as I'm looking to build up an endurance base," she explains. "I was never able to do that when I got into cycling because it was such a fast track process [Romero won a silver medal as rower at the 2004 Athens Olympics] . This will help me experience training in a different way as I'm perhaps looking at becoming good enough to compete in other disciplines." As well as defending her individual pursuit title in London in 2012, Romero says that the time trial could be an option.
Of the record Cracknell says his biggest worry is staying comfortable during two whole days in the saddle, while for Romero lack of sleep is the biggest concern. "I’m imagining myself feeling as bad I possibly can and then hopefully it won’t that bad and I’ll be pleasantly surprised" she says. "I'm sure it's going to be an amazing couple of days for both of us," adds Cracknell.
Follow Rebecca and James's progress at twitter.com/cyclingplus from Monday August 3. (Weather permitting.)
To find out more about the Deloitte Ride Across Britain event visit www.rideacrossbritain.com.