Some of cycling’s distance/speed records are forever out of reach, while others look attainable but keep defeating even the most determined efforts. One record that does look doable if you’re merely almost superhuman rather than an actual mutant is the record for the most distance covered in seven days, and that’s what Richmond bike mechanic Bruce Berkeley is currently taking a crack at.
Berkeley has been told by Guinness that he needs to crack the 2,800km mark to take the record (more of that in a moment) and after his first day he’s on track with 445km behind him. If he keeps that up he’ll smash it out of the park with 3,115km.
A former elite racer, Berkeley regularly manages to push out monster mileage weeks on the bike around his work as a bike mechanic. He’s built up something of a following on Strava and that’s given him the confidence to have a crack at some long-distance records. So putting work on hold for a week, the seven day distance record is the first attempt in a series of future record efforts.
He is going to have to keep up his current, tough pace to be sure of landing the record. The closest thing we can find to an official seven-day record is Pat Hawkins’ 1940 ride of 2,489.3km.
However, other riders can justly claim to have beaten that already. In breaking the record for Land’s End to John O'Groats and back in 2010, Ben Rockett rode 1,880 miles (3,025km) in 141 hours, 8 minutes.
More recently, Mike Hall covered 1,888.81 miles (3,039.7km) in the first 6 days 23 hours 46 minutes of the Trans Am Bike Race - which is still underway.
But the daddies of covering stupendous distances in just over a week are the riders of Race Across America (RAAM). This year’s winner, Christophe Strasser, covered 4,860km in 7 days 15 hours 56 minutes and while we don’t have a breakdown of his times, he must have set a seven-day record on his way to smashing the RAAM record out of the park.
Guinness sets its own rules and has historically looked askance at records that involve long periods without sleep, as is the case in RAAM, so it might not consider Strasser’s ride meets its parameters.
Bruce Berkely is being supported by Canyon Bikes, Sportful, Continental, Noble Wheels, Northwave, i-Ride, Strava and G!ro Cafe. You can follow his progress on Strava, and on Twitter using the hashtag #GOBRUCE.
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.