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Alice Lethbridge rode 285.65 miles earlier this month to beat one of cycling's longest-standing records...

Beryl Burton's women's 12-hour time trial record, which when it was set in 1967 was the furthest distance ridden at such an event by any cyclist, male or female, has been beaten after half a century. 

Alice Lethbridge of the Drag2Zero team rode 285.65 miles at the Eastern Counties Cycling Association 12-hour Championship on Sunday 13 August.

That was a little over 8 miles more than the 277.25 miles that Burton, whom many consider to be the UK's greatest ever cyclist, rode in 1967 - a distance that wouldn't be beaten by a male cyclist for more than two years.

 Burton, from Morley near leads, won 122 national titles during her career, as well as seven world titles.

She was appointed MBE in 1964 and OBE four years later, and died ib 1996 at the age of 58.

Only nine men bettered Lethbridge's distance over the E2/12h course the Sunday before last, with the furthest set by Richard Bideau of Pendle Forest CC, who rode 312 miles in the 12 hours.

Official results have not yet been posted with the final distances achieved by some riders yet to be ratified by the ECCA, but Lethbridge, a schoolteacher by profession, told road.cc that her distance had been confirmed by the association's secretary.

It was the first time she had attempted a 12-hour time trial, and in this blog post for road.cc, she talks us through the day she broke one of cycling's longest-standing and most iconic records.

 

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

32 comments

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Fanie Fiets [2 posts] 5 months ago
4 likes

Leeds not leads...

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mike the bike [995 posts] 5 months ago
2 likes

 

It had to happen and I wish Alice all success but Beryl will forever be the best.

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ChrisB200SX [593 posts] 5 months ago
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I'm slightly skeptical that Beryl rode 23mph for 12 hours... in 1967, without an aerobike or a skinsuit, or modern training methods and such. I think I should do some research on this to satisfy my curiosity.

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Helmut D. Bate [86 posts] 5 months ago
2 likes
ChrisB200SX wrote:

I'm slightly skeptical that Beryl rode 23mph for 12 hours... in 1967, without an aerobike or a skinsuit, or modern training methods and such. I think I should do some research on this to satisfy my curiosity.

Makes for a fascinating read. She was quite a lady: you won't be disappointed.

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BehindTheBikesheds [1145 posts] 5 months ago
5 likes
ChrisB200SX wrote:

I'm slightly skeptical that Beryl rode 23mph for 12 hours... in 1967, without an aerobike or a skinsuit, or modern training methods and such. I think I should do some research on this to satisfy my curiosity.

So you're accusing the timekeepers/officials of recording a false distance, basically calling them cheats and liars?

What about all the other records she held, you know from 10 miles to 12 hours, are you calling those dubious too? What about her world championship medals (7 golds and numerous podiums), you calling those out too? Her 25 years continuous BBAR titles, they are all dubious too not to mention the numerous British and European titles.

Burton was a once in a lifetime freak of nature add in a massive dose of Yorkshire grit and determination able to push where others would fold you have a superlative athlete that none have matched, only technology has bested her.

Any yet you come out with crap as you have.

People like you make me puke.

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hawkinspeter [1210 posts] 5 months ago
3 likes
ChrisB200SX wrote:

I'm slightly skeptical that Beryl rode 23mph for 12 hours... in 1967, without an aerobike or a skinsuit, or modern training methods and such. I think I should do some research on this to satisfy my curiosity.

She was a true legend and a simply amazing cyclist. Just imagine how good she would be with the modern advantages or was she so good because she didn't worry about the minutae?

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ridein [175 posts] 5 months ago
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Is Alice using a hydration pack positioned on her front torso? From the pictures shown it almost appears she is smuggling a 2-liter bottle under her skinsuit.  Maybe it was just for cooling or temporary, but that can't be a legitimate modification for competition? Chapeau for a new record using modern aero equipment, which makes Beryl's 50 year old record that much more impressive.  

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Butty [226 posts] 5 months ago
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ChrisB200SX wrote:

I'm slightly skeptical that Beryl rode 23mph for 12 hours... in 1967, without an aerobike or a skinsuit, or modern training methods and such. I think I should do some research on this to satisfy my curiosity.

 

Sounds like you've been duped by the modern marketing skills of the cycling industry.

Believe in the power of the jelly baby.

 

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antonio [1168 posts] 5 months ago
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ChrisB200SX wrote:

I'm slightly skeptical that Beryl rode 23mph for 12 hours... in 1967, without an aerobike or a skinsuit, or modern training methods and such. I think I should do some research on this to satisfy my curiosity.

 Methinks there's a bit of the devil in the comment!

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jollygoodvelo [1685 posts] 5 months ago
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First of all congratulations to Alice Lethbridge on an outstanding ride.  

The fact that no-one has beaten Beryl Burton's record for so long validates what an amazing performance it was, never mind modern technology and so on: if it was all about the technology someone else would have done it in the last ten years, though clearly the technology does help to an extent.

Out of interest does anyone know what route was used for Burton's record?  I can only find that it was an Otley CC event.  Would be interesting to ride it one day.

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50kcommute [95 posts] 5 months ago
3 likes

Having known Alice for about 10 years I can say the grit and determination she's shown to get to this level is insane .... Well deserved!!

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hawkinspeter [1210 posts] 5 months ago
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@ChrisB200SX - have a read of http://www.cyclingweekly.com/news/latest-news/beryl-burton-british-legend-62824 for some insight into Beryl and then maybe you can apologise to BehindTheBikeSheds.

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madcarew [478 posts] 5 months ago
3 likes
hawkinspeter wrote:

@ChrisB200SX - have a read of http://www.cyclingweekly.com/news/latest-news/beryl-burton-british-legend-62824 for some insight into Beryl and then maybe you can apologise to BehindTheBikeSheds.

No need to apologise to BehindTheBikeSheds. He was just looking for a reason to be outraged. Chris B's comment skepticism is pretty fair for someone unfamiliar with Beryl, and at least he's said he'll do some research to get up to speed on the topic. I heard of Beryl when I was racing in the UK in the early '90's. She was truly extraordinary. I also find it difficult to believe that she could average 38 kph for 12 hours on the equipment they had then. I'm not sayin it's not true (I also find the concept of dark matter diffillut to accept, but work with it as a given anyway), but just difficult to believe. 

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Spiiiinn [9 posts] 5 months ago
1 like
jollygoodvelo wrote:

First of all congratulations to Alice Lethbridge on an outstanding ride.  

The fact that no-one has beaten Beryl Burton's record for so long validates what an amazing performance it was, never mind modern technology and so on: if it was all about the technology someone else would have done it in the last ten years, though clearly the technology does help to an extent.

Out of interest does anyone know what route was used for Burton's record?  I can only find that it was an Otley CC event.  Would be interesting to ride it one day.

This page from Cycling suggests it was on a course somewhere around roads between Tadcaster and Northallerton.  I think probably a defunct course now, as a lot use those roads, but I can see no 12 hour courses listed there on the CTT site.

http://www.timetriallingforum.co.uk/index.php?/topic/32314-beryl-burtons...

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ChrisB200SX [593 posts] 5 months ago
6 likes
BehindTheBikesheds wrote:
ChrisB200SX wrote:

I'm slightly skeptical that Beryl rode 23mph for 12 hours... in 1967, without an aerobike or a skinsuit, or modern training methods and such. I think I should do some research on this to satisfy my curiosity.

So you're accusing the timekeepers/officials of recording a false distance, basically calling them cheats and liars?

I totally didn't say that, nor did I imply it.

BehindTheBikesheds wrote:

What about all the other records she held, you know from 10 miles to 12 hours, are you calling those dubious too? What about her world championship medals (7 golds and numerous podiums), you calling those out too?

I quite clearly did not say anything about them.

BehindTheBikesheds wrote:

Her 25 years continuous BBAR titles, they are all dubious too not to mention the numerous British and European titles.

Seriously, what's your problem?

BehindTheBikesheds wrote:

Burton was a once in a lifetime freak of nature add in a massive dose of Yorkshire grit and determination able to push where others would fold you have a superlative athlete that none have matched, only technology has bested her.

Any yet you come out with crap as you have.

Saying I'm skeptical about a record that I did not witness and no woman has been able to beat for 50 years, despite all the advances in science in that time, means I have come out with crap?

I'm skeptical about most things until I can see they have been proven. The more an achievement stands out, the more likely I am to be skeptical about it, seems natural to me?

BehindTheBikesheds wrote:

People like you make me puke.

Um, yeah, OK.

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Keith57 [6 posts] 5 months ago
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Great to break the record, Beryl would be pleased I think.

A bit shocked she used all those gells. Possibly she needs to research being fat adapted and a lot leaner? Most competitive endurance athletes (events over 2 hours) are LCHF these days, super power for longer, etc. Not so good for sprinting, etc.

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maj7667@gmail.com [5 posts] 5 months ago
2 likes

@ChrisB200SX makes quite a reasonable point @BehindtheBikesheds, whether he's right or wrong. Either way, your responses are strangely aggressive - play nicely!

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BehindTheBikesheds [1145 posts] 5 months ago
4 likes
maj7667 [at] gmail.com wrote:

@ChrisB200SX makes quite a reasonable point @BehindtheBikesheds, whether he's right or wrong. Either way, your responses are strangely aggressive - play nicely!

Someone suggests this singular persons record isn't straight on the back of ZERO evidence at all.

I asked the question of them if they are suggesting all of her records and titles are dubious seeing as they don't give any credence to the 12 hour record she held that's mentioned here.

Given the same scrutineer's and officials also measured the men at the same time (as it was an open event) and would likely be doing many other events then this person is clearly calling into question the officials and their ability to measure/time and/or that Burton was actually capable of such without the aid of modern tech.

Otherwise why even bring it up with zero evidence but post comments showing incredulity to the feat/record?

I rebuffed vigorously as the posters comment deserved that and more quite frankly!

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Nick T [1101 posts] 5 months ago
1 like
ChrisB200SX wrote:

I'm slightly skeptical that Beryl rode 23mph for 12 hours... in 1967, without an aerobike or a skinsuit, or modern training methods and such. I think I should do some research on this to satisfy my curiosity.

 

A bloke beat her record in 1969 without an aerobike or skinsuit, so it's not exactly outside the realms of possibility. The fact it took 50 years for a woman to beat it probably says more about how undersubscribed women's road cycling has been since then, and how few women have actually attempted to better the achievement 

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230548 [54 posts] 5 months ago
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I notice there seems to be a fin sticking out of the headtube of alices bike doesnt that contravene the rules reguarding windbreaking devices asthere doesnt seem to be any other reason for it

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dottigirl [811 posts] 5 months ago
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230548 wrote:

I notice there seems to be a fin sticking out of the headtube of alices bike doesnt that contravene the rules reguarding windbreaking devices asthere doesnt seem to be any other reason for it

It's a straw for her drinking thingummy.

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ChrisB200SX [593 posts] 5 months ago
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BehindTheBikesheds wrote:
maj7667 [at] gmail.com wrote:

@ChrisB200SX makes quite a reasonable point @BehindtheBikesheds, whether he's right or wrong. Either way, your responses are strangely aggressive - play nicely!

Someone suggests this singular persons record isn't straight on the back of ZERO evidence at all.

No, I only said I was skeptical, do you understand the difference?

BehindTheBikesheds wrote:

I asked the question of them if they are suggesting all of her records and titles are dubious seeing as they don't give any credence to the 12 hour record she held that's mentioned here.

Given the same scrutineer's and officials also measured the men at the same time (as it was an open event) and would likely be doing many other events then this person is clearly calling into question the officials and their ability to measure/time and/or that Burton was actually capable of such without the aid of modern tech.

I've witnessed timekeepers record an athlete's winning 400m time as 54.7, I was there and I clocked it around 57.4. My timekeeping is fairly accurate, but more to the point, he was my athlete and I specialise in 400m... And I trained with the athletes I coached, I wasn't capable of 55 at the time and this athlete was entirely slower than me.

People make mistakes. If you think the (probably) doddery old farts that do officiating don't make mistakes then you are näive.

BehindTheBikesheds wrote:

Otherwise why even bring it up with zero evidence but post comments showing incredulity to the feat/record?

I rebuffed vigorously as the posters comment deserved that and more quite frankly!

I'm allowed to be cynical when I've got zero evidence.

Credit to Alice, she has beaten the previous record by a notable margin.

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ChrisB200SX [593 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes
Nick T wrote:
ChrisB200SX wrote:

I'm slightly skeptical that Beryl rode 23mph for 12 hours... in 1967, without an aerobike or a skinsuit, or modern training methods and such. I think I should do some research on this to satisfy my curiosity.

 

A bloke beat her record in 1969 without an aerobike or skinsuit, so it's not exactly outside the realms of possibility. The fact it took 50 years for a woman to beat it probably says more about how undersubscribed women's road cycling has been since then, and how few women have actually attempted to better the achievement 

I find that quite easy to believe, it's not just cycling, women participating in competitive sport had been on the decline for decades. We still know a lot of women don't really bother with exercise compared to men. With the looming obesity crisis, we really need to turn that around and get people more active.

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dottigirl [811 posts] 5 months ago
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I firmly believe the record can be bettered - it even sounds like Alice thinks she can improve it herself. With a flatter course and better road surface, who knows?

participant at same TT as Alice wrote:

And to be clear: it was not a fast day - bakingly hot, tough rolling course (over 2k of climbing which does not sound like much, but I assure you every hillock feels like the Alpe d'Huez after the hours on a TT bike), much of which was on poor rutted roads.

In fact, forget about all the improvements in cycling technology (and not taking anything away from BB's achievement and what an incredible athlete she was), could it be that the course BB's record was set on was very fast, with a good surface and excellent conditions?

Total sidenote: in my lifetime, I can't honestly say any roads from my youth are better or faster this century. Back in the 60s, my mother used to drive from Aberystwyth to Cardiff in under two hours in her MG Midget. A similar journey nowadays would take two and a half to three hours. Yes, there's traffic, traffic lights, calming, speed limits, etc. But roads carried less cargo (HGVs) and were likely to be in better condition.

Just watch some of this:

https://youtu.be/kC2FEraR8m4

Not the best quality film, but that definitely doesn't look 'poor' or 'rutted', does it?

 

(Bloody hell, look at her position though. Superb. I saw the full documentary last year and it's fascinating viewing.)

 

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Helmut D. Bate [86 posts] 5 months ago
1 like
ChrisB200SX wrote:

I'm allowed to be cynical when I've got zero evidence.

Yeah but that's a bit lazy.

More 'research', less 'yeh rite'. Maybe return with your findings, hmmmm?

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drosco [428 posts] 5 months ago
1 like

It's an achievement, but with an aerobike and kit, it's not the same achievement. It's a bit pointless comparing these things.

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hoski [95 posts] 5 months ago
1 like
drosco wrote:

It's an achievement, but with an aerobike and kit, it's not the same achievement. It's a bit pointless comparing these things.

 

You know what? You're right. Come to think, what's the point in anything? Please excuse me while I bang my head against this brick wall.

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bikeylikey [230 posts] 5 months ago
1 like
drosco wrote:

It's an achievement, but with an aerobike and kit, it's not the same achievement. It's a bit pointless comparing these things.

Exactly. You'd be getting closer to beating Beryl Burton's acheivment if you did it on a steel Raleigh with no skin suit or tri bars or anything made after 1967. Same with nutrition, no gels etc. etc. In this sense Beryl Burton's record still stands.

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Billy1mate [31 posts] 5 months ago
1 like

Whoops, someone got out of the wrong side of their bed.

No one is suggesting Beryl Burton's records are not valid but I am intrigued (probably like others) as to why her record has stood for 50 years when one considers all of the advances in cycling technology etc.

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daccordimark [60 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes
ChrisB200SX wrote:

I'm slightly skeptical that Beryl rode 23mph for 12 hours... in 1967, without an aerobike or a skinsuit, or modern training methods and such. I think I should do some research on this to satisfy my curiosity.

A good place to start your research if you haven't already looked it up is here: https://www.cyclingtimetrials.org.uk/articles/view/130

This shows that it can sometimes take a long time for records to fall although the 12 hour is pretty out there in that respect. I'm not sure why you're skeptical about Burton's achievement when it's pretty obvious she was an exceptional cyclist. The long-standing nature of her record is surely more a reflection of the women's time trial scene rather than an indication that something was iffy about her ride.

The women's section of this list makes for interesting reading too:

http://www.timetriallingforum.co.uk/index.php?/topic/37181-12-hours-2802...

What would be interesting is to look at the times for 50 and 100 miles and see what the fastest women at those distances have done in the 12hr but it's your research not mine.

Mark.

 

 

 

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