Less than a month into his assault on the Year Record, New Zealand’s Bruce Berkeley has already hit big trouble: the Ultra-Marathon Cycling Association has decided to strike him from its record books.
Why? Well, the association says he hasn’t paid his $30 annual membership fee, nor is he using a UMCA-approved live tracking device. We’ve spoken to both sides and seen the full email chain between Bruce and UMCA records chairman Drew Clark – read on for more details…
First things first, it looks like Berkeley will continue his attempt under the auspices of Guinness World Records. He will still aim to ride 340km every day this year, and hopes to better the current record of 76,156 miles (122,561km) set by American Kurt Searvogel earlier this month.
He told BikeRadar that the past few days have been “pretty stressful”, adding that his disqualification by UMCA is a shame.
“But it takes nothing away from my attempt,” Berkeley added.
The sequence of events so far
After speaking to both sides, it appears that the sequence is as follows: in December 2015 Bruce Berkeley registered his intentions with the UMCA to attempt the Year record, and paid the $300 registration fee. However, he failed to pay the $30 annual membership fee it also requires.
Berkeley's take is that he believed it to be included in the $300 registration fee.
After beginning his record attempt on 1 January 2016 in Australia, Berkeley was notified by the UMCA that he also needed to pay the $30 annual membership fee, and that he would need to purchase and use a $200 live tracking device that all members of a publicly-accessible group can view.
Berkeley declined to buy this live tracker. “From a personal security perspective, I have a major issue with every single member of the public able to know exactly where I am (more importantly – where I am not) at any time of the day," he posted on Facebook this week.
"My living space will be compromised, and there is no ‘Privacy Zone’ setting. I have no issue in any single member of the HAMR organisation using a tracking device for me – but not the general public.”
The New Zealander went on to say that he proposed using the iPhone app ‘Find My Friends’, as he didn’t wish to spend $200 on a UMCA-approved live tracker, but that offer was declined by the UMCA. “I don’t have the money or the desire to purchase an additional device,” Berkeley added.
Bruce Berkeley's Canyon CF SLX, a "technological marvel" according to our reviewer
Defending the record
We spoke to UMCA records chairman Drew Clark, who’s held this role on a volunteer basis for many years. Asked why a Highest Annual Mileage Record (HAMR) requires a $300 registration fee, he told us that simply put, it consumes a “great deal” more of his time than any other type of attempt.
During the HAMR attempt, he must first ensure that a rider is following the rules required; second, the UMCA must defend that record against detractors; and finally, he must build an archive file as a permanent record documenting the attempt.
So there we have it, Bruce Berkeley soldiers on with his Year record attempt, without UMCA ratification but with more than 7,000km on the clock as of today (21 January). At BikeRadar we’re rooting for Bruce to continue with his attempt and break the mark of 76,156 miles set by Kurt Searvogel, and look forward to hearing more from him during this attempt.
Avoid hilly terrain
Has Searvogel already put the UMCA-approved men’s Year record out of reach? “Kurt’s strategy was very wisely chosen on two counts,” the UMCA’s Drew Clark told us. “Move around the country for favourable riding weather (Florida in winter, Wisconsin in summer, and everywhere in between), and avoid hilly terrain.”
As a postscript, the UMCA informed us that American athlete Jacquie Schlitter will mount an attempt on the women’s Year record of 29,603 miles (47,642km) in June 2016. This was set back in 1938 by Britain’s Billie Dovey, dubbed the ‘Rudge-Whitworth Keep-Fit Girl’, who managed a daily average of 81 miles (130km) despite encountering heavy snow in December 1937. They were made of stern stuff back then…