Bid to break record that has stood for nearly half a century to raise funds for Hampshire Hospitals' Magic Wand Appeal...

Two cyclists from Hampshire will later this month set out to attempt to beat a record that has stood for nearly 50 years for the fastest men’s tandem ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats. As well as beating that record, set in 1966, Dominic Irvine and Ian Rodd aim to raise at least £50,000 for Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s ‘The Magic Wand Appeal.’

The current record verified by the Road Records Association has stood for nearly half a century and was set in 1966 by Pete Swindon and John Withers, who completed the ride in 2 days, 2 hours, 14 minutes and 25 seconds.

Last October, former Olympic rowing champion James Cracknell, accompanied by time trial specialist Jerone Walters, were forced to abandon their attempt on the record due to safety concerns with less than 70 miles to go to John O’Groats.

Irvine, who besides being an endurance cyclist is a motivational speaker, says: This is very much a team effort, which includes a whole raft of individuals such as drivers, a coach, mechanical support, medical support and route-planners. 

“If we break the record, it will be because we, as a team, broke the record. We have chosen to do this challenge as a demonstration of the extraordinary things ordinary people can achieve when you put your mind to it and we will also be raising funds for The Magic Wand Appeal.”

Rodd, his partner on the bike, is a consultant paediatrician at Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and Irvine added: “The extraordinary service provided by the children’s unit at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital needs an extraordinary effort to help raise these funds.”

The pair’s preparations for the challenge which begins on June 30 have included pre-riding the 842-mile route on the prototype tandem supplied for the ride by Yorkshire-based JD Tandems, which also enabled them to assess their kit, nutrition and communications ahead of the record attempt itself.

Updates during the ride will be made via Twitter and on a dedicated Facebook page, and donations can be made via the website Just Giving.

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.