The record for riding Land’s End to John O’Groats by tandem is one of cycling’s most enduring. On May 3 2014, Dominic Irvine and Glenn Longland will set out to crack the mark of 50 hours 14 minutes and 25 seconds set in 1966 by Pete Swinden and John Withers.
A typical End-to-End touring ride takes about ten days, though riders doing it for fun usually take a longer route than the 840-mile track Irvine and Longland will use.
The solo men’s record is just over 40 hours (40:04:20, set in 2001 by Gethin Butler) so on paper the tandem record looks vulnerable, tandems usually being faster than solo bikes.
In practice, it’s not so easy. Olympic rower-turned-endurance cyclist James Cracknell has tried to break both the men’s record (with Jerone Walters) and the mixed record (with Rebecca Romero) and failed both times.
In 2012, Irvine and Ian Rodd rode the full distance, but missed the record by more than eight hours after Irvine became ill early in the ride. They are thought to be the only team to have ridden the distance non-stop since Swinden and Withers.
After that attempt, Irvine described the record as “unfinished business” and now he’s back with one of the legends of British time trialling, Glenn Longland.
Longland was the first rider to average more then 25mph in a 12-hour time trial when he set a record of 300.8 miles in 1991 on the way to winning the British Best All-Rounder time trial title for the second time.
As well as an endurance cyclist, Dominic is a motivational speaker and facilitator and is all about ‘Maverick Thinking’ - examining how ordinary people can do extraordinary things.
After his 2012 attempt on the record, he said: “It’s really great, isn’t it, as an ordinary person, not a superstar, not an Olympian, to take on an extraordinary challenge, and just see if you can do it.”
Irvine and Longland hooked up after Ian Todd decided another crack at the record was not for him, and Irvine put the word out that he needed a partner.
On his blog, Irvine wrote: “Glenn’s a legend, and living proof that age is just a number. At 57 years of age his prowess on a bike is simply phenomenal. We had our first century ride together a few weekends ago. If you were riding a sportive in and around Pewsey and Upavon, my apologies, you weren't slow, it’s just we were in the groove and flying. It bodes well, really well for the next attempt.”
Talking about his latest attempt on the Land’s End to John O’Groats tandem record, Irvine said: “I like to practice what I preach and I am a prime example of someone ordinary accomplishing something extraordinary. With dedication and training, myself and Glenn have a real shot at breaking this record and we’re very excited for things to get going.”
Irvine and Longland will be using the attempt to raise money for Heart Research UK’s ‘Helping Little Hearts’ campaign.
Irvine said: “Having spent a number of years helping young people make the most of their potential through sport, and with several members of my own family benefitting from the improvements in heart surgery, supporting 'helping little hearts' as part of HRUK seems a particularly appropriate focus.”
Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.