Tommy Godwin (cyclist born 1912)

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For Tommy Godwin the track cyclist and Olympic medalist, see Tommy Godwin (cyclist born 1920).
Tommy Godwin
Tommy Godwin (cyclist born 1912).jpg
Personal information
Full name Thomas Edward Godwin
Born 1912
 United Kingdom
Died 1975
Team information
Current team Retired
Discipline Road - Endurance rider
Role Rider
Rider type All-rounder
Amateur team(s)
1926–1938 Potteries CC
^Birchfield CC
^Rickmansworth CC
Professional team(s)
1939–1940 Rickmansworth CC
^Raleigh-Sturmy Archer
Major wins

More than 200 Amateur and Professional
Road and Time Trial Events
World Endurance record for a single year
- 75,065 miles (120,805 km) in 1939

World Endurance record for 100,000 miles (160,000 km)
in 500 days (May 1940)
Infobox last updated on
March 16, 2012

Tommy Godwin, (1912–1975) was an English cyclist who holds the world cycling records for miles covered in a year (75,065 miles or 120,805 kilometres) and the fastest completion of 100,000 mi (160,000 km).

In 1939, Godwin entered the Golden Book of Cycling as the greatest long-distance rider in the world.[1] He rode 75,065 mi (120,805 km) in a year, averaging over 200 miles (320 km) per day.[2]

Early life[edit]

Godwin was born in 1912 in Stoke on Trent. To help support his family he worked as a delivery boy for a greengrocer (or newsagent[2]) and with the job came a heavy bike with metal basket. The basket was hacked off and the 14-year-old Godwin won his first 25-mile (40 km) time trial in 65 minutes.[1][2]

Cycling[edit]

Amateur career[edit]

After his initial time trial success he subsequently clocked inside 1 hour 2 minutes for 25 miles on four occasions, and covered 236 miles in 12 hours.[2]

In 1933 he earned the seventh award in the 'Best All-rounder Road Riding Competition, open to all amateur cyclists in the United Kingdom. His average speed was 21.255 mph.[2] His individual performances were :

  • 50 miles, 2 hours 10 mins 12 secs, (23.077 mph)
  • 100 miles, 4hrs, 40 mins, 6 secs, (21.428 mph)
  • 12 hours - 231 5/8 miles. (19.25 mph)[2]

Professional career[edit]

Godwin left his amateur status at Potteries CC to join Rickmansworth Cycling Club as a professional. After more than 200 road and time trial wins, the mileage record beckoned.[1]

World endurance records[edit]

In 1911 the weekly magazine Cycling began a competition for the greatest distance cycled in a single year. The first holder was Marcel Planes of France, with 34,666 miles (55,790 km). The record has been established nine times.[3] A tenth claim, by the English rider Ken Webb, was later disallowed.[n 1]

Year Record holder Country Distance
1911 Marcel Planes  France 34,666 miles (55,790 km)
1932 Arthur Humbles  Great Britain 36,007 miles (57,948 km)
1933 Ossie Nicholson  Australia 43,966 miles (70,756 km)
1936 Walter Greaves  Great Britain 45,383 miles (73,037 km)
1937 Bernard Bennett  England 45,801 miles (73,710 km)
1937 René Menzies  France 61,561 miles (99,073 km)
1937 Ossie Nicholson  Australia 62,657 miles (100,837 km)
1938 Billie Dovey (female)  England 29,604 miles (47,643 km)
1939 Bernard Bennett  England 65,127 miles (104,812 km)
1939 Tommy Godwin  England 75,065 miles (120,805 km)

In 1937 the Australian Ossie Nicholson had regained his record from Briton Walter Greaves by covering 62,657.6 mi (100,837.6 km). At 5am on 1 January 1939 Godwin set out to bring the record home. He wasn't alone; two other British riders started that day, Edward Swann and Bernard Bennett. Swann crashed after 939.6 mi (1,512.1 km), but Bennett fought it out with Godwin for the rest of the year. In sportsmanship their support teams, which included pace-makers, stopped at 50,000 mi (80,000 km) to let the riders complete the attempt on personal merit. Godwin was sponsored by the Raleigh Bicycle Company and Sturmey-Archer.[4]

Godwin's bike weighed more than 30 pounds (14 kg). As war came he rode through blackouts, his lights taped to a glow. Silk knickers were substituted for chamois inserts and Godwin maintained his vegetarian diet. For the first two months Godwin's mileage lagged 922 mi (1,484 km) behind Nicholson's schedule. Godwin increased his daily average beyond 200 mi (320 km) a day, and on 21 June 1939 completed 361 mi (581 km) in 18 hours, his longest ride of the record.

On 26 October 1939 Godwin rode into Trafalgar Square having completed 62,658 mi (100,838 km), gaining the record with two months to spare. He rode through the winter to complete 75,065 mi (120,805 km) in the year.

In May 1940 after 500 days' riding he secured the 100,000-mile (160,000 km) record as well. Godwin dismounted and spent weeks learning how to walk before going to war in the RAF.

Later career[edit]

Godwin returned in 1945, keen to race as an amateur. However, despite a petition by fellow cyclists, the governing bodies ruled that having ridden as a professional he was barred from amateur status. Godwin became trainer and mentor to the Stone Wheelers. Godwin died aged 63, returning from a ride to Tutbury Castle with friends.

Commemoration[edit]

Godwin is commemorated by a plaque at Fenton Manor Sports Centre in Stoke on Trent that was unveiled on March 2005 by Edie Hemmings, the culmination of a 30-year campaign by her late husband, George. [5]

The record is still open for challenge but not for entry in the Guinness Book of Records, whose editors say further attempts would be too dangerous.

Citation in the Golden Book[edit]

Godwin entered the Golden Book of Cycling on 31 December 1939. This recognised his record breaking exploits for averaging over 200 miles a day for a year.[2]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Ken Webb's claim was for 80,647 miles (129,789 km) in 1972. Webb insisted he had completed the distance but others said he hadn't and he was removed from the Guinness Book of Records.

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]