Monday, 27 September 2021

Henley man sets new world cycling record

A SOLICITOR from Henley set a world record for cycling the furthest distance in an hour on a

A SOLICITOR from Henley set a world record for cycling the furthest distance in an hour on a vintage child’s bicycle.

Matt Richardson completed just over 69 laps of the Palmer Park stadium in Reading on an original Mark I Raleigh Chopper from 1969. His total distance was 31.87km or 19.8 miles.

Mr Richardson, 49, of Deanfield Avenue, raised more than £4,000 for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research, which he was supporting as his father David died of cancer in 1999.

About 200 friends, relatives and supporters were at the stadium to cheer him on.

Mr Richardson said: “People were trying to say hello and talk to me but I was so preoccupied that I wasn’t particularly sociable.

“My mind was telling me I was really tired so I had to keep telling myself it was an illusion and I could do it.”

A former rower and triathlete, he set out to complete each lap within 60 seconds but ended up averaging just over 51 seconds.

Mr Richardson said: “I went so fast that I was ahead of schedule by the end of the second lap.

“I knew I could settle into a steadier pace but felt I could keep going at that speed so I decided not to ease off.

“I think the bike was working at its absolute limit. It was creaking the whole time and the pedals kept banging into the kickstand, which was very annoying.

“It got really hard around the 30-minute mark. My arms and shoulders were burning and my hands were numb, apart from my little fingers.

“I kept moving my hands along the bars to keep the sensation in them so my racing line was pretty wobbly.

“By the second half everything had become a blur. I couldn’t see or hear anything apart from a gurgling sound in my head. At the very end people were banging the hoardings to encourage me and I thought it was my bike packing up.

“In my head I was telling it, ‘right, if you break on me now I’m going to pick you up and drag you to the finishing line’.”

Mr Richardson was timed by Ricky Pankhurst, who owns Pankhurst Cycles, his sponsor, while former competitive cyclists Andy Pitt and Dick Poole acted as marshals. His friend Victoria Morgan, who lives in Henley, provided commentary. After finishing, he feared he would black out.

He said: “Ricky came over to me with a glass of water and I was just shouting, ‘How far? How far?’ I couldn’t believe it when he told me.”

Mr Richardson completed a lap of honour with his friend Bill Pollard, of Ancastle Green, Henley, who was dressed as Seventies cycling champion Eddy Merckx. He was then greeted by his children Felix, seven, and Didi, five.

He received emails of congratulation from Olympic gold medallists James Cracknell and Sir Matthew Pinsent, whom he rowed against at the 2002 Henley Royal Regatta in an Upper Thames Rowing Club pair.

He said: “The next few days were terrible for my muscles — I’d smashed my target but I definitely paid for it. For the first 24 hours I felt a real buzz because I had succeeded and got it out of the way after a month of worrying.

“I was elated but physically exhausted. My legs and back were in a terrible state and I kept falling over because I was so weak.” It was the second challenge Mr Richardson had undertaken on the Chopper after tackling Mont Ventoux, one of the Tour de France’s hardest climbs, in two hours and 10 minutes last year.

He said: “That was meant to be a one-off but afterwards I had lots of questions about what I was going to do next. I’m turning 50 next year so I might aim for some kind of distance challenge.”

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