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Celebrating the 75th anniversary of an unbreakable record

Riding over 200 miles in one day is a substantial challenge even for a fit club or sportive rider. In 1939 Tommy Godwin rode an average of 205 miles every day for an entire year, through all weathers and unstopped even by the onset of a world war. To commemorate the 75th anniversary of that ride, Raleigh is challenging everyone to equal Godwin's average for just one day.

Godwin’s total for the year was a staggering 75,065 miles, a mark that has never been beaten or even approached. It seems unlikely it will ever be surpassed. Modern equipment might make it slightly easier, but the sheer grit needed to keep going day after day truly seems belongs to a bygone age.

Even when he’d smashed the previous record, Bernard Bennett’s 65,127-mile mark, Godwin kept going and eventually reached 100,000 miles after 500 days.

Godwin rode a Raleigh Record Ace for most of his ride, switching after sponsor Ley Cycles became unable to carry on supporting him.

On November 22 2013, Raleigh employees Ben Hillsdon, John Pilgrim and Patrick Cutmore set out to ride from London to York to replicate the distance of just one average day of Godwin’s 1939.

Seventy-five years after Godwin’s ride, Raleigh is challenging everyone to have a crack at equalling Godwin’s average daily distance just once in the Tommy Godwin 205 Mile Challenge. There are £205-worth of prizes on offer for someone who completes the distance, but let’s face it you tackle a ride this long for the sense of achievement and bragging rights, and not for a couple hundred quid in swag.

So far just 40 riders have made the grade, so anyone else who makes the distance will be in some pretty select company.

You can see how Hillsdon, Pilgrim and Cutmore got on in this video, and submit your own entry in the Challenge at Raleigh’s Tommy Godwin Challenge page.

Want to know more about Tommy Godwin? Take a look at the official Tommy Godwin website.

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

5 comments

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themartincox [488 posts] 1 year ago
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It's a grand idea, and a great days riding!

I was lucky enough to win the prize in feb, the article doesn't mention that you need to upload your ride data as proof - so make sure you take your gps with you!

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balmybaldwin [148 posts] 1 year ago
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Great stuff. Planning a london to paris non stop later in the year which will count  1

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paulomac85 [5 posts] 1 year ago
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When's the deadline for entries? Can't seem to find it on the site

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Paul J [865 posts] 1 year ago
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So what are the rules on this exactly? The competition site is a bit vague on this. How many £205 prizes are there? How often / at what rate are they doled out?

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simon123 [4 posts] 1 year ago
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I did a 250mile in 24hrs Manchester to London charity bike ride last year, so doing 205miles every day for over a year in 1939 is mind boggling. It's a shame this comp wasn't going last year.