Cycling records

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This is a list of certified and recognized cycling records as recognised by the Union Cycliste Internationale, International Human Powered Vehicle Association and World Human Powered Vehicle Association, Guinness World Records, International Olympic Committee, the UK Road Records Association or other accepted authorities.

Speed record on a bicycle[edit]

The table below shows the records people have attained while riding two-wheeled bicycles.

Name Year Speed Type of record
Fred Rompelberg 1995 268 km/h (167 mph) Flat surface, motor-paced[1]
Bruce Bursford 1996 334.6 km/h (207.9 mph) Pedaling on a bicycle treadmill (rollers) after being "towed" to 100 mph, on a custom made £1,000,000 bicycle[2]
Eric Barone 2000 222 km/h (138 mph) Downhill on snow, on a prototype bicycle[3]
Eric Barone 2002 172 km/h (107 mph) Downhill on a volcano, on a prototype bicycle[4]
Markus Stöckl 2007 210.4 km/h (130.7 mph) Downhill on snow, on a serial production bicycle[5]
Barbara Buatois 2010 121.81 km/h (75.69 mph) Faired Recumbent, Flat surface, unpaced[6]
Markus Stöckl 2011 164.95 km/h (102.50 mph) Downhill on a volcano, on a serial production bicycle.[7]
Todd Reichert 2015 139.45 km/h (86.65 mph) Faired Recumbent,Flat surface, unpaced[8]

History of unpaced records[edit]

The International Human Powered Vehicle Association (IHPVA) acts as the sanctioning body for new records in human-powered land, water, and air vehicles. It registers non-motor-paced records (also called unpaced), which means that the bicycle directly faces the wind without any motor-pacing vehicle in front.

On land, the speed record registered by a rider on a 200 meter flying start speed trial was 133.28 km/h (82.82 mph) by the Canadian Sam Whittingham riding the Varna Tempest, a streamliner recumbent bicycle in 2009[6] at Battle Mountain, Nevada. His record has been surpassed by 0.5 km/h by Sebastiaan Bowier of the Netherlands in 2013 setting the new record of 133.78 km/h (83.13 mph). The record was again surpassed on September 19, 2015 by Todd Reichert by riding the ETA, a streamlined recumbent bicycle at 86.65 mph or 139.45kph from the team behind the AeroVelo Atlas human-powered helicopter.[9][10]

The female record holder for this same category was Lisa Vetterlein, who reached 107.16 km/h (66.59 mph) in 2005. This record was beaten by Barbara Buatois of France, when she reached 121.44 km/h (75.46 mph) at Battle Mountain in 2009. She subsequently achieved 121.81 km/h (75.69 mph) at the 2010 running of the Battle Mountain event.

History of motor-paced records[edit]

Main article: Motor-paced racing

Motor pacing is a type of human-powered record where a pace vehicle is modified by adding a tail fairing to keep the wind off the cyclist who is riding behind it. This type of record was invented by Charles "Mile-a-Minute Murphy" who drafted a train to set a 96 km/h (60 mph) record at end of the 19th century. A mile of plywood sheets was attached to the railroad ties, so Charles would have a smooth surface riding behind the train.[11][12]

In 1928, Leon Vanderstuyft from Belgium reached 122 km/h riding behind a motorbike at a velodrome.[12] Alexis Blanc-Garin from France set the record to 128.20 km/h in October 1933 riding behind a motorbike.[13] Albert Marquet, from France, reached 139.90 km/h riding behind a car in 1937.[14] On 22 October 1938, Alfred Letourneur reached 147 km/h at a velodrome in Montlhéry, France, riding behind a motorbike.[15] On 17 May 1941 Letourneur broke the record again, reaching 175 km/h (108.92 mph) on a Schwinn bicycle riding behind a specially equipped midget racer, on a Los Angeles freeway near Bakersfield, California.[16]

The first to surpass 200 km/h was the Frenchman Jose Meiffret in 1962, when he reached 204 km/h (127 mph) behind a Mercedes-Benz 300SL car on a German motorway.[17]

Allan Abbott, a cycling enthusiast and motorcycle racer, elevated the motor-paced bicycle speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats, reaching 223 km/h (139 mph) in 1973. John Howard, Olympic cyclist and Ironman triathlon winner, reset the record to 244 km/h (152 mph), also at the Bonneville Salt Flats, on July 20, 1985.

Fred Rompelberg from Maastricht, Netherlands is the current holder of the motor-paced speed world record cycling with 268.831 km/h (166.9 mph) since 1995.[1] He used a special bicycle behind a dragster of the Strasburg Drag Racing Team at the Bonneville Salt Flats.

History of downhill records[edit]

During the last decade of the 20th century, two Frenchmen, Eric Barone and Christian Taillefer, set the speed record descending on snow several times. On the 21st of April 2000, Eric Barone reached 222 km/h (138 mph) at Les Arcs ski resort, France, still a world record today, using a specially designed prototype bicycle.

If we analyze records using a serial production bicycle, as opposed to prototype bicycles, the record holder is Markus Stöckl from Austria. He set a world speed record in 1999 on snow, descending at 187 km/h (116 mph) at Les Arcs. On 14 September 2007, Stöckl rode an Intense M6 mountainbike down the ski slope of La Parva, Chile, reaching the current record of 210 km/h (130 mph).

The top descending speeds have always been obtained on snow. Apart from that, the ashes of a volcano have been the other surface used. In November 2001, Eric Barone descended on the Cerro Negro volcano in Nicaragua at 130 km/h (81 mph), beating his previous record achieved in Hawaii in 1999. Barone believed he could do more, and returned to the same location on the 12th of May 2002 when he reached 163 km/h (101 mph) on a serial production bicycle and 172 km/h (107 mph), on a prototype bicycle, a world record.[12] Markus Stöckl did beat the serial production bicycle record in 2011, when he reached 164.95 km/h (102.50 mph) on a volcano in Nicaragua.[7] The prototype bicycle record, on a volcano, still belongs to Barone.

Hour records[edit]

Main article: Hour record

The hour record for bicycles is the record for the longest distance cycled in one hour on a bicycle. The most famous type of record is for upright bicycles meeting the requirements of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) for old or modern bicycles. The old "UCI hour record" restricts competitors to use similar equipment as was used by Eddy Merckx in 1972, disallowing time trial helmets, disc or tri-spoke wheels, aerodynamic bars and monocoque frames. The new "Best Human Effort", also called "UCI Absolute Record" allows such equipment. Hour-record attempts are made in a velodrome, frequently at high elevation for the aerodynamic benefit of thinner air.

Another type of record registered by the International Human Powered Vehicle Association (IHPVA) is for fully faired human-powered machines, typically streamlined recumbent bicycles. These feature a lower frontal area than a UCI bicycle due to their recumbent seating design of the rider. They enclose the rider and machine in aerodynamic shapes made of carbon fiber, Kevlar, or Fiberglass to reduce air resistance.

The current hour records are:

  • Streamlined recumbent bicycle (bicycle and rider enclosed in an aerodynamic shell): Francesco Russo of Switzerland set a new World Record by covering 91.556 km (56.89 miles) in one hour at the DEKRA test track in Germany on 2 August 2011 [18] This record is approved by the WHPVA. On 19 July 2009 Sam Whittingham at the Ford Motor Company's 5-mile oval test track in Romeo, Michigan achieved 90.598 km, This record was approved by the IHPVA and WHPVA committees) In 2008, Damjan Zabovnik, achieved 87.123 km [19]
  • Non-streamlined Recumbent Bicycle (no shell, only disk wheels, and rider sitting on top frame). The best mark was achieved by Aurelien Bonneteau, a French rider at the Bordeaux velodrome. He rode a bicycle with a nearly horizontal seat to allow his back to lay flat, two standard sized wheels, an elliptical chainring, and with shortened pedal arms to reduce the air volume swept out by his legs. His distance was 56.696 km (35.229 miles) on Wednesday July 16, 2014 [20][21]
  • UCI "Best human effort": Chris Boardman United Kingdom, 1996, 56.375  km (35.03 miles) [22]
  • UCI hour record: Ondřej Sosenka Czech Republic, 2005, 49.700  km (30.882 miles) [23]
  • UCI unified mens record: Bradley Wiggins United Kingdom, 2015, 54.526 kilometres (33.881 mi) [24]
  • UCI unified womens record: Bridie O'Donnell Australia, 2016, 46.882 kilometres (29.131 mi) [25]

24 Hours record[edit]

Men's Road record[edit]

Women's Road record[edit]

  • Edith Atkins set the women's road record at 422 miles (679 km) on 12 July 1953.
  • Sandy Earl set a new road record at 442.46 miles (712.07 km) on August 14, 2011.[33]
  • Maria Parker set a new road record at 469.198 miles (755.101 km) on October 13, 2012.[34]

Men's track record[edit]

Women's track record[edit]

Long-distance records[edit]

Land's End to John O'Groats[edit]

Land's End to John O'Groats is the traversal of the whole length of the island of Great Britain between two extremities; in the southwest and northeast. The distance by road using the traditional route is 874 miles (1,407 km) and some of its current records are:

  • Upright bicycle: Gethin Butler, 2001, 44h 4m 20s [36]
  • Faired recumbent bicycle: Andy Wilkinson, 1996, 41h 4m 22s[37]
  • Women's record: Lynne Taylor, 2001, 52h 45m [36]
  • Women's tricycle record: Jane Moore, 2014, 88h 45m 21s [36]
  • Tandem Record:D Irvine & C Mitchell, 2015, 45h 11m 0s.[36]

Land's End to John O'Groats to Land's End[edit]

Ben Rocket claims to have set a record of 141h 8m 0s [38][39] for an upright bicycle from Land's End to John O'Groats to Land's End, being the return journey of Land's End to John O'Groats. The distance by road using the traditional route is 1,748 miles (2,813 km). The precise route he took is not clear as his website says the distance ridden was 1,880 miles (3,030 km).[38] It's status as a record however is dubious as the Road Record Association does not maintain a record for the return trip [36] and no other authority has recognised or certified the record.

One Thousand miles[edit]

On 13 March 1940 Pat Hawkins set the 'World 1,000 mile record' in Perth, having ridden the 1,000 miles (1,600 km) distance in 4 days, 8 hours and 7 minutes, cutting 9 hours 53 minutes off Vera Unthank's record.[40]

  • Men's record: Gethin Butler, 2001. After setting the Lands End to John O'Groats record in 2001 Gethin Butler continued to ride, completing 1000 miles in 55 hours 59 minutes 0 seconds.[41]
  • Women's record: Lynne Taylor, 2001. After setting the women's Lands End to John O'Groats record, Lynne Taylor continued to ride, completing 1000 miles in 64 hours and 40 minutes.[41]

Ultra Marathon[edit]

Race Across America, an ultra marathon bicycle race across the United States that started in 1982. The fastest average speed records are:

  • Solo man: Christoph Strasser, 2014, who averaged 16.42 mph (26.425 km/h) riding 3,020 miles (4,860 km) in 7 days, 15 hours, and 56 minutes.[42]
  • Solo woman: Seana Hogan, 1995, who averaged 13.23 mph (21.3 km/h) riding 2,912 miles (4,686 km) in 9 days, 4 hours, 2 minutes.[42]

Seven days[edit]

On Sunday 17 March 1940 Pat Hawkins, an 18-year-old female from Western Australia, set the 'World Seven Days record' in Perth, having ridden 1,546.8 miles (2,489.3 km) to surpass the previous best (1,438.4 miles (2,314.9 km)) set by Mrs Valda [or Ada Vera] Unthank of Hastings, Victoria. Hawkins also broke the West Australian records for one, two, three, four, five, six and seven days, plus surpassing the Australian professional men's record of Ossie Nicholson.[40] No authority appears to maintain this record, however notable distances ridden in seven days include:

  • Tommy Godwin rode 2,084 miles (3,354 km) between 16 and 22 July 1939.[43]
  • Bruce Berkeley rode 2,825 kilometres (1,755 mi) between 23 and 29 June 2014.[44][n 1]
  • Richard Nutt rode 2,830 kilometres (1,760 mi) between 1 and 7 June 2015.[45]

One month[edit]

There have been numerous claims about the most distance ridden in one month. The only authority currently recognising this record appears to be Guinness World Records where the record is held by Janet Davison (UK) who rode 6,455 kilometres (4,011 mi) between 24 July and 22 August 2015.[46] Notable distances ridden in one month include:

  • Tommy Godwin rode 8,583 miles (13,813 km) in July 1939.[43]
  • Bruce Berkeley rode 6,060 miles (9,750 km) in January 2015.[44][n 1]
  • Steve Abraham rode 6,469 miles (10,411 km) in October 2015.[48]
  • Kurt Searvogel rode 6,828 miles (10,989 km) in December 2015.[48]

World Endurance record for distance in a calendar year[edit]

Men's record[edit]

In 1911 the weekly magazine Cycling began a competition for the highest number of 100 mile rides or "centuries" in a single year.[49] The winner was Marcel Planes with 332 centuries in which he covered 34,366 miles (55,307 km).[49] The inspiration for the competition was said to be the efforts of Harry Long, a commercial traveller who rode a bicycle on his rounds covering every part of England and Scotland and who covered 25,376 miles (40,839 km) in 1910.[49] The world record for distance cycled in a year began in an era when bicycle companies competed to show their machines were the most reliable. The record has been officially established nine times.[50] A tenth claim, by the English rider Ken Webb in 1972, was disallowed.[n 2] Apart from the 1911 competition organised by Cycling, there were no authority that set rules for record attempts nor certified the mileage ridden by the rider.[51] In 1937 the League of Victorian Wheelmen declined a request by Ossie Nicholson for patronage for his attempt on the record and Nicholson's response was to appoint a committee to supervise his attempt.[52] The mileage was traditionally verified by way of a sealed milometer and cards signed by upstanding members of society such as police officers or postmasters.[53]

In November 2014 the UltraMarathon Cycling Association announced that it would recognise a new record category for the highest annual mileage in a year,[54] and set rules for the record.[51] All of the previous record holders from Marcel Planes to Tommy Godwin rode a double-triangle diamond frame bicycle and their ride commenced on 1 January. The UltraMarathon Cycling Association decided however to permit any bike type except for faired recumbents and that an attempt may start on any day of the year and would run for 365 consecutive days. Odometers and cards were replaced by GPS recording and live tracking devices such as the SPOT Satellite Messenger.[51]

In 2015, three cyclists commenced an attempt than the record set by Tommy Godwin. Briton Steve Abraham.[55] started his attempt on 1 January 2015, American Kurt Searvogel,[56] nicknamed Tarzan, started 10 January 2015 and Australian Miles Smith started on 18 June 2015.[57] Abraham was hit by a moped rider on 29 March 2015, breaking his leg above the ankle.[58] After two weeks' recovery, Abraham resumed cycling gradually, using just one leg to pedal a recumbent trike.[59] Abraham rode 63,568 miles (102,303 km) in his calendar year attempt.[48] Having lost so much distance, Abraham launched a concurrent attempt on the record starting on 8 August 2015.[57] however announced on 22 January 2016 that he had ended his concurrent attempt.[60] Smith ceased his attempt on 13 November 2015.[48] Searvogel managed to overcome weather, injury and also married his one-woman support crew Alicia Searvogel to break Godwin's mark with five days to spare.[57][47][61][62] Kurt planned his attempt to hit his final mileage of 76,076 miles exactly. Kurt writes: "The number is significant in that it took 76 years and 76,076 miles to take the record from the British – The spirit of 76 lives on". This UMCA record is also recognized as a Guinness World Record.[63]

World Endurance record for a single year
Year Record holder Country Distance Ref
1911 Marcel Planes  France 34,366 miles (55,307 km) [64]
1932 Arthur Humbles  Great Britain 36,007 miles (57,948 km) [64]
1933 Ossie Nicholson  Australia 43,966 miles (70,756 km) [65]
1936 Walter Greaves  Great Britain 45,383 miles (73,037 km) [66]
1937 Bernard Bennett  Great Britain 45,801 miles (73,710 km) [53]
1937 René Menzies  France 61,561 miles (99,073 km) [67]
1937 Ossie Nicholson  Australia 62,657 miles (100,837 km) [68]
1939 Bernard Bennett  Great Britain 65,127 miles (104,812 km)
1939 Tommy Godwin  Great Britain 75,065 miles (120,805 km) [69]
2015 Kurt Searvogel  United States 76,076 miles (122,432. km) [57][62]

Women's record[edit]

During 1938 Mrs Billie Dovey, the English 'keep fit girl' of the 1930s, achieved a record 29,899.4 miles (48,118.4 km). Contemporary advertising shows that she rode a Rudge-Whitworth bicycle and relied on Cadbury milk chocolate for energy. Mrs Dovey combined the attempt with a lecture tour, often finishing her ride and then giving a fitness lecture in the evening.[70][71]

In February 1942 Pat Hawkins, the holder of the 'World Seven Days record', claimed to have ridden 45,402.8 miles (73,068.7 km) in Perth, West Australia, despite having missed seven weeks riding. A few days later the claim was withdrawn due to discrepancies in her logs. The press had reported her campaign in relation to Billie Dovey's record, to wit, after ten weeks she had recorded 7,302.8 miles (11,752.7 km) compared to Mrs Dovey's 5,238 miles (8,430 km). She took Dovey's record after 36 weeks, three days, one hour and 20 minutes. The endeavour was sponsored by Bruce Small Pty Ltd.[71][72][73][74]

Road bicycle racing records[edit]

The following is a list of Road bicycle racing achievements and records:

Track cycling records[edit]

Wheelie records[edit]

Kurt Osburn (nicknamed Wheelie King) from California, United States is the Guinness World Record holder for Longest Bicycle Wheelie, riding on the back weel of a bicycle.[75]

On August 8, 1998, he rode a wheelie for a record 11 hours at the Anaheim Convention Center, California. In June 2012 David "Pixie" Robilliard failed to break the record.[76]

From 13 April to 25 June 1999 he rode 2,839.6 miles from Hollywood to the Guinness World Records Experience in Orlando on one wheel also for a Guinness World Record, becoming the first person in history to ride a bicycle wheelie coast to coast. During his attempt he rode 50 miles on average per day with winds in excess of 40 miles per hour. Other facts: He cycled on the 110 Highway, had 4 flat tires (on the rear tire of course), over 1.8 million pedal revolutions from start to finish and was almost daily chased by dogs.[77]


  1. ^ a b has subsequently said they were incorrect and Berkeley does not hold Guinness World Records for the greatest distances cycled in a week and in a month.[47]
  2. ^ 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.


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  75. ^ [1]
  76. ^ Guernsey postman fails in world wheelie record attempt
  77. ^ Kurt Osburn Wheelie King - 2,839.6 miles


External links[edit]

  1. ^ Cite error: The named reference was invoked but never defined (see the help page).