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Now retired but busy still living..

Tuesday 6 December 2011


Tommy Godwin
TOMMY GODWIN 1912-1975

I have just been reading about the late Tommy Godwin  1912 - 1975. 

He was born in Stoke-on-Trent, England and as a youngster in an effort to help support his family, he took a job as a delivery boy for a greengrocers and with the job came a very heavy iron delivery bike.......this was Tommy's introduction to cycling.

By all accounts Tommy used to ride this bike at breakneck speed on his delivery rounds. At the age of fourteen he hacked the basket off and used that bike to enter his first time trial and actually won the event with a time of 65 mins over 25 miles.

Some years later Tommy left his amateur status with Potteries CC and joined Rickmansworth Cycling Club as a professional.

Now, back 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 a distance of 34,666 miles (55,790kms). The record has been established nine times. 

Tommy Godwin set out at 5am on the morning of 1st January 1939 to bring the record home. The record had been previously set by Ossie Nicholson of Australia in 1937 and stood at  62,657 miles (100,837kms).

Tommy was sponsored by the Raleigh Bicycle Company and Sturmey Archer. He was riding a Raleigh Ace bike that had a four speed Sturmey Archer hub gear. The bike weighed about 30lbs.

Throughout 1939 for the most part, Tommy would get up at 3am and cover over 200 miles (320kms) a day and he could spend over 18 hours in the saddle. After the first two months his mileage lagged behind Nicholson's schedule by over 922 miles, so Tommy had to increase his daily mileage to claw back the deficit and edge ahead. 
He managed to gain the record with over two months spare and carried on. His total mileage for the year was 75,065 miles. He also continued riding right through until May 1940 when, after 500 days he also secured the 100,000 miles record as well. 

Tommy Godwin dismounted and spent weeks learning how to walk again before setting off to war with the RAF. 
He died at the age of sixty three returning from a ride with friends. 

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.

I really love distance cycling, but Tommy Godwins achievements make my annual mileage look like a ride in the park by comparison...............


limom said...

All he got was that shirt?

I swear, I dunno how you rando types do it.

TrevorW�� said...

Not much for all that effort was it..Ha Ha..
Also...not an electronic shifter in sight..!!

Mark said...

That is incredible.

Michael said...

After so many miles, the need to relearn how to walk, does not surprise me. Wow.

Steve A said...

Oh my goodness! I hope such fanaticism never overtakes me. I do hope you will regale us with further tales of UK cycling legends. Ernie Clements and Graham Aubree come to mind. Was the movie really at all accurate? And the real story on Ernie before and after Falcon?

John Romeo Alpha said...

At the 100,000 mile mark, I imagine he was making good progress at breaking in his British leather saddle.

TrevorW�� said...

It certainly is Mark....

I know what my legs have felt like after 28 days of riding....after 100,000 miles it doesn't bear thinking about.

*Steve A*
I do intend looking back at some more great cycling personalities in future posts Steve.

*John Romeo Alpha*
Yes...on that basis I have a fair few more miles to do before my two Brooks saddles are fully broken in.

Big Oak said...

That's pretty amazing. I love cycling, but I also love many other things, and people, especially my family.

But Tommy showed the world what he could do, and he did it in spectacular fashion.

We recently watched the movie about Graham Aubree - that was a remarkably well-done movie.

TrevorW�� said...

*Big Oak*
I think that you would need to be very single minded and probably quite selfish to achieve what Tommy did.

'The Flying Scotsman'was a good movie and pretty accurate by all accounts.

Six weeks off.

 The visit to see the Consultant went quite well really ...   My ' numbers' have started to creep up again so I am going to be given...