Gloucester cyclist Lee Fancourt, who is on a quest to break as many Guinness World Records related to cycling as he can will on Monday set off on what he believes may be the toughest of the lot – riding from Land’s End to John O’Groats and back again in the shortest possible time.
In the past six weeks, the 38-year-old has broken five records, starting with the fastest crossing of Europe by bike from north to south. Since then, he has broken three more for the longest distances covered off-road on a mountain bike over 12, 24 and 48 hours.
His latest was set on Monday when he rode through seven European countries – the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia – in just 24 hours. The ride took in the most countries visited by someone on a bike within that time, and saw Fancourt cover 323 miles.
Last year, Fancourt was disqualified from the World Cycle Race after failing to resume his ride at the point in India where he broke it to take a taxi to ensure his support team had food and water.
He completed the circumnavigation in 104 days, well inside Alan Bate’s record of 125 days, but as well as being disqualified from the race was also ineligible for the Guinness World Record.
He plans to attempt that again, and is also waiting for Guinness World Records to approve three other efforts – but it is the ride the length of Great Britain and back, nicknamed LEJOGLE, that he believes may be the hardest.
The current record of 5 days 21 hours 8 minutes was set by Ben Rockett in August 2010.
In April 2013, Chris ‘Hoppo’ Hopkinson, the first Briton to officially complete the Race Across America solo, set off to try and break the record.
However, having battled a headwind on his way up towards John O’Groats, he gave up his attempt 80 miles short of the Scottish town as it became apparent that with the wind swinging around 180 degrees, he’d be battling it on the way back to Cornwall too.
The most recent attempt came just this week, when Bruce Berkeley had to pull out due to a knee injury after completing the first half of the ride on schedule to break the record.
The London-based New Zealander had already set one Guinness World Record this year, heading to Australia in January to rack up 9,750 kilometres of riding in a month.
Fancourt says that Berkeley’s abandonment underlines just how hard a record the LEJOGLE is to beat, and instead of his usual Specialized S-Works, he will be riding a one-off time trial machine from Identiti Bikes, equipped with Shimano Di2.
He told road.cc: "I am attempting 15 world records before the end of summer 2016. I had a MTB accident last year and broke my back.
"It was whilst I was recovering, I decided that I was going to do some remarkable with my life and break some world records in endurance cycling.
"I applied to Guinness initially for 10 records then decided that I wanted to aim for 15. I have already completed 5 and I am now attempting LEJOGLE on Monday 17th August 2014. I have a full support team. This will be my 6th world record attempt this year.
"LEJOGLE is without doubt the record I want the most out of all 15 records. Breaking this record will be a dream come true.
"I have already cycled LEJOGLE in 2013 with no training and it took me 18 days!
"This time I am aiming to do it in around 5 days, although I dont care if I end up beating the current record by just 5 minutes as I will not be drafting or having help from other cyclists like the current holder of the record did."
Here are the details of the five records Fancourt has so far broken this year:
Fastest to cycle Trans Europe, North to South. 4,200 miles, Unsupported through 12 countries in 21 days, 14 hours and 29 minutes.
Farthest distance travelled off road on a MTB in 12hrs (174 miles) , 24 hrs (313 miles) 48 hrs (504 miles).
Most countries visited in 24 hours by bicycle (7 countries; Czech Rep, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia & Bosnia). I completed this last week by cycling 323 miles unsupported.
Besides Identiti bikes, his sponsors for the LEJOGLE attempt includ Slam69, Halo wheels, Uvex, Gloworm lights and Follow my challenge.
He can be followed by tracker through his website at www.leefancourt.com which also has links to his social media pages.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.