On Monday, Lee Williams became the first driver in nearly 70 years to break the Pembroke-London road record, setting a provisional record of 10 hours, 17 minutes and 43 seconds. On the 240-mile course, road record legend Ken Joy’s 1953 time was narrowly ahead by 4:17.
Williams (North Hampshire RC) wasn’t the only record-breaking rider of the day – Born to Bike CC’s Kate Bradley started trying to break the women’s record earlier in the day. She completed the attempt in 13 hours and 25 minutes, ultimately missing the set standard of 12 hours and 30 minutes.
As they approached Gloucester, both drivers had to deal with unexpected and unexpected diversions, with roadworks making it tough uphill and tougher downhill.
“I didn’t plan on doing this, but it turned out fine,” added Williams, who has a 56-tooth sprocket in the front and 28 in the rear.
Williams is originally from Llanelli, Wales, and opted for the Pembroke-London attempt in part because it fits perfectly with where he’s from and where he now lives. He built most of the groundwork for the record-breaking ride on the 45-minute Hampshire commute, with some advice from current men’s Land’s End to John o’ Groats record holder Michael Broadwith. “He gave me a lot of advice and helped me get things right,” Williams said.
One of Broadway’s top pieces of advice, Williams said, is not to be afraid to wait if a planned try date doesn’t look good in terms of weather. “I may not have fully embraced him,” said Williams, laughing, as he described how the tailwind of the big day predicted a few days earlier had turned into a crosswind.
At 11 p.m., Williams ended his ride quietly at the Marble Arch finish, with only those in his support vehicle clapping — his sister and mum, and Road Records Association (RRA) assistant Ralph S. Dartswell and the timekeeper.
“I went home, took a shower, jumped into bed, and four hours later I was up for work!” he said.
Unsurprisingly, in that case, he took the car.
Williams said he would love to set another record next year, but he hasn’t decided where exactly. Follow this space.