Matlock penny farthing cyclist smashes LEJOG world record for charity

Matlock teaching assistant Richard Thoday has smashed a 133-year-old world record after riding from Land's End to John O'Groats on a penny farthing.
Matlock teaching assistant Richard Thoday has smashed a 133-year-old world record after riding from Land's End to John O'Groats on a penny farthing.

A Matlock teaching assistant has smashed the 133-year-old world record for riding the length of Britain on a penny farthing, raising thousands of pounds for Children in Need.

Richard Thoday, who works at Highfields School, completed the 874-mile journey in four days and 12 hours, taking a staggering 13 hours and 53 minutes off the record set by Victorian cyclist GP Mills.

The 55-year-old set off from Land’s End at 6am on Saturday, July 20, and arrived in John O’Groats at 5.52pm on Wednesday, July 24. He is now awaiting official confirmation of the record from Guinness.

He said: “I wasn’t entirely convinced myself that it was possible, but everyone else believed in me so I want to say a massive thank you.

“It’s been an extremely hard thing to do - not just for me, but for the crew following as well, their support along with the public has made this journey unforgettable.”

While Richard had the benefit of modern bicycle technology—and a bike he designed himself—he did not have the advantage of performance-enhancing substances which were common among cyclists of the 19th century.

That he managed it in the week of a heatwave is all the more impressive.

The penny farthing is a more intensive physical test than normal bikes, due to the rider’s position and increased exposure to air movement.

Richard worked for several months with a sports psychologist to prepare for the mental aspects of the challenge.

Richard has raised nearly £8,000 for Children in Need so far. To donate to his fundraising total, go to https://bit.ly/2LnzHUM.

He said: “I wanted to help bring a smile to faces of children who are having a hard time and need a helping hand.”

To follow the full story of his journey, see facebook.com/pennyfarthingendtoend.

Later this year Darley Dale’s 4SeasonCollective will be releasing a documentary on the record-breaking journey, sponsored by Bakewell aggregates firm Long Rake Spar.

A company spokesman said: “Enormous congratulations to Richard. It’s an amazing achievement.”