An intrepid cyclist from Matlock has had it confirmed that he broke a record lasting 133 years when he rode the length of Britain on a penny farthing bike this summer.
Richard Thoday completed the 874-mile challenge from Land’s End in Cornwall to John O’Groats in Scotland in just four days and 12 hours, raising £10,000 for Children In Need.
The time was faster by 13 hours and 53 minutes than the holder of the previous record, celebrated Victorian cyclist GP Mills, back in 1886.
Now, the new milestone has been verified by Guinness World Records, leaving the 55-year-old teaching assistant feeling “very relieved”.
Richard, who works at Highfields School, said: “It has been a nervewracking wait. But I gave Guinness World Records all the evidence I could provide, so if they said no, there was nothing else I could do.
“It was the toughest thing I have ever done in my life, and definitely a one-off.
“I certainly won’t be doing it again because it was just so hard.
“Planning the journey was a full-time job, on top of my full-time job. It took ten months out of my life, and lots of support from my wife.”
Richard has been riding penny farthings for ten years, and designed the one he rode on his record-breaking journey himself.
He set off from Land’s End at 6 am on Saturday, July 20 and arrived in John O’Groats at 5.52 pm the following Wednesday.
On returning home, he said: “I wasn’t entirely convinced that it was possible, but everyone else believed im me, so I want to say a massive thankyou.
“It was not only hard for me, but also for my back-up crew. Their support, along with that of the public on the route, made the journey unforgettable.”
Adding merit to Richard’s achievement is that he did it at the height of a summer heatwave. Riding a penny farthing is a more intensive physical test than riding an orthodox bike because of the rider’s unusual posture and increased exposure to air movement.
He also had to prepare mentally for the challenge, and worked for several months beforehand with a sports psychologist.