132-year-old record for riding Land’s End to John o’Groats on a penny farthing smashed

Richard Thoday completes 874-mile ride on penny farthing in 4 days and 12 hours

Richard Thoday beats penny farthing Lands End John o'Groats record

Riding from Land’s End to John o’ Groats is a rite of passage for many cyclists — a bucket list challenge from one end of the country to another. It’s also a route that attracts all manner of record attempts — and Richard Thoday of Matlock, Derbyshire, has this week smashed the record for riding the 874-mile route… on a penny farthing.

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The 55-year-old rode the length on the United Kingdom in just four days and 12 hours, knocking a huge 13 hours and 52 minutes off of a record which had stood for 132 years. 

Thoday set off from Cornwall at 6:00am on Saturday July 20th and finished the ride in Scotland at 5:52pm on Wednesday July 24th. 

Richard Thodey beats penny farthing Land's End John o'Groats record
Save for a handful of modern conveniences, Richard’s bike is much like the one Mill’s would have ridden
4Season Collective

Thoday — a secondary school teacher by day — is said to be a highly accomplished long-distance cyclist, having ridden many 24-hour road events in the past. He averaged around 200 miles a day during the ride aboard his penny farthing.  

Speaking about the ride, Thoday “wasn’t entirely convinced it was possible” but says the support of his team and public got him through the unforgettable adventure. 

The previous record was set by George Pilkington Mills — a formidable English cyclist who was well known for his long-distance cycling exploits — in 1886. Save for the modern conveniences of aero extensions, SPD pedals and a rear brake, Thoday’s bike is much like the one Mills would have ridden. 

Thoday completed the ride in support of Children in Need and has raised over £8,000 for the charity so far. A documentary about the record is due to be released later this year. 

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While we’re sure that seeing the country from an elevated perspective was a novel experience, BikeRadar staff who have attempted the ride have personally opted for the luxury of gears, freewheels and… well, they didn’t do it on a penny farthing. Chapeau, Richard!