Robbie rang me today and suggested I look at GuinessWorldRecords.com so I did! And there it was, Guinness World Record’s confirmation that they had accepted our application and made my ride last year the Official Guinness World record for the Oldest Person to Cycle from Land’s End to John o’Groats!
All the effort and work on producing the website, planning the many details, testing the GoPro, gathering the extensive witnessing requirements of GWR, keeping a log, writing a blog, taking videos and still photos, ensuring the Garmin had recorded, taking a Strava record as backup, oh, and yes, not forgetting, riding from LE to JoG, has achieved the objective. To say I am pleased and smug is a big understatement.
It has been a nail-biting time since we sent all the data to GWR in October, 2018. If you have followed the Blog in detail, you will know that there were several people on the same quest just before I set off. You can imagine the heart-searching I had, trying to decide what to do. Luckily, I had so much support, moral and material, from my family, that the final decision was obvious – carry on, gather all the information required and go ahead with the application to GWR for their decision. Only GWR can decide to whom to award their Record.
All the publicity in the Cycling Press for Donald Wells, an 87-year-old, who completed LEJoG on his 18-year-old Brompton, entirely alone and unsupported over his five-week journey, made me think the application would not be successful. However, Donald is now in the position I was in two years ago; having completed the ride without realising the extent of the GWR requirements. Not being aware of the data required before setting off means it doesn’t get collected at the time and it is very difficult and sometimes impossible to gather the info required retrospectively.
So how does one think about the difference between a successful application to GWR, knowing there are others who have broken your record but not been credited by GWR? My attitude to all this was neatly put by Mark Beaumont, in the book on his amazing 78 days Round the World ride. On the way round the World, Mark achieved the Guinness World Record for the most miles cycled in a month. As he said, he knows there are people who have ridden further than him in a month but he has “set the public bench mark”, I think was the phrase. Here is The Bench Mark to be met and passed. For me, this is the inestimable value of Guinness World Records. Without being a “duly constituted” body like the Union of Cyclists International (UCI), the Olympic Committee and many other official bodies, they have become the recognised authority for holding an enormous number of World Bench Marks, for anyone to have a go at. The service they render for stimulating many, many people to have a go at something can’t be under-estimated. I am reasonably certain now that there must be lots of 80+++-year-olds, maybe 90+, who have cycled anonymously from LE to JoG and are quietly and modestly just satisfied with that.
In conclusion, I want to say that the whole experience has been wonderful. Being joined on eight of the stages by two friends and four members of family was very special. The companionship and encouragement throughout the ride by my fellow riders on the tour gave me a lift. Being contacted by New Swannington Primary School and receiving those gorgeous letters was an unexpected bonus. The other end-thought is that, no matter who takes on this challenge, everyone does it in their own way. Thank you to Guinness World Records for putting up the challenge. Good luck to the next challenger to knock me off my perch!