James Cracknell and his Hot Chillee team mates: Steve Golla, Phil Sykes, and Jerone Walters have set a new End to End relay record for the 842 miles from Land's End to John O'Groats, an amazing 34:54:04. Before they set out the team had said their were aiming to cover the distance in a sub 40 hour time and they comfortably beat that target by over five hours, however afterwards they revealed that their actual target was 35 hours.
“The target was sub-35 hours but the weather forecast seemed to be against us at the start. Then we realised it was possible and we absolutely buried ourselves to make it. It was a great challenge," Steve Golla explained afterwards.
Whether by arrangement or chance Cracknell was the man who rode in to John O'Groats to set the record. However there is no doubt that this was a team effort with some very strong rides from his team mates, Jerone Walters and Phil Sykes rode the long climb of Shap Fell late last night barely dropping their average speed at all, and earlier in the ride Steve Golla put in a phenomenal 9 miles in 15 minutes stint to make up time around Exeter.
Afterwards Cracknell said: “It was an honour to be part of this fantastic team. This wasn’t a plod up the country. They were taking me along at 25 mph at times. It was an amazing experience to ride up the entire length of the country. Everyone was pushing themselves so hard and at times it was extremely tough. It was an incredible experience.”
The average speed for the whole ride was 24.08 mph and they finished with a higher average speed than they rode the first part of the course out of the South West. Cracknell made it in to John O'Groats just before 4pm this afternoon.
The quarteet kept up a pace that seemed to have them either on or ahead of schedule for most of the route – although according to Tweets from Hot Chillee boss, Svein Thiele they were actually slightly down on their schedule as they passed Bristol. However, they made up the time as yesterday afternoon and evening the team passed Wolverhampton, Stoke and Preston (where the support team were treated to a fish supper, although they couldn't stop.
On through the night, Jerone Walters and Phil Sykes did the long climb of Shap Fell in Cumbria dropping only 0.02 off their average speed. The riders crossed the border in to Scotland at Gretna early on Sunday morning. Up until then the weather had been kind to them but Scotland brought rain, mist and some early morning sunshine, and then some rain and finally sun.
Starting in the dark at 5am. on Saturday morning Cracknell, Steve Golla, Phil Sykes, and Jerone Walters roared out of the West Country at an average speed of 24mph, riding through Bristol just after 1pm, by 2pm they had ridden over 200 miles and although their average speed had dipped very slightly to 23mph they were still on for an estimated record time of 36:36:31 as it turned out their pace actually quickened and they knocked over an hour and a half off those early estimates.
Praising their support crew Phil Sykes said: “I’m absolutely whacked. It was an awesome experience and great fun. The support crew made it so much easier for us and I don’t think we’d have posted a sub-35 hour time without the logistical back up.”
"It was really tough but we pushed each other when the 35 hour mark was in our sights. We just got faster and faster over the last couple of hours. This was a great end to the season for me,” added his team mate, Jerone Walters.
The ride was relayed live via GPS to the Map My Tracks website which gave real time telemetry on the ride with distance, time elapsed, record schedule and the estimated time of arrival to points all along the route. To see pictures from the ride check out the Hot Chillee Flickr photostream.
With a tough benchmark record now set Hot Chille will give other riders the chance to better it during next year's HotChillee E2E Relay Challenge. While given the success of their ride this weekend and the slick organisation behind it, it will be interesting to see if this has whetted the appetites of the riders and their support staff to take on any other endurance team cycling events or records… there's one in America that British teams have done rather well at in the past.
Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.