The Mightiest Cyclists


By Lee Dover

Strength manifests itself in a number of ways, whether it be in strongman competitions or on the road. It’s not just squats and deadlifts which impress when showcasing this trait either, as speed, strength and stamina of insane magnitude can all make us pause and take notice.

Road bikes stockist Leisure Lakes Bikes aims to demonstrate this where cycling is concerned by looking at some of the most impressive records of strength performed by some of the mightiest cyclists in the world — how close can you get to these impressive feats?

The highest altitude cycling race

The record: 4,873 metres (or 15,987 foot)

Achieved by: The Ruta Internacional de la Alpaca race in Peru.

Tips for getting close to the record yourself:

There’s not a lot you can do to organise a cycling race at a higher altitude than the Ruta Internacional de la Alpaca race, unless you’re a very dedicated race organiser! However, you can definitely be prepared to be in with a good chance of winning the race in Peru and maybe even setting a course record.

We have already mentioned how to adjust your body so that it’s ready for being in a destination at a high altitude above. But there are some more things that you can do which will help you especially when you’re getting ready to race. Fit your bike with smaller gears to make climber a lot easier, for example, and aim to drink between one to three bottles of water per hour depending on how hot it is on the day.

The greatest vertical descent made on a mountain bike in 24 hours

The record: 32,796.9 metres (or 107,601.16 foot)

Achieved by: Mark Haimes, of Australia, and Reg Mullett, of Canada, individually and concurrently on the Mount 7 Psychosis course in Golden, British Columbia, Canada.

Tips for getting close to the record yourself:

It’s best to start small here, so find a steep drop-off on a trail route that you’re familiar with to practice your technique.

Aim to have your preferred foot forward when approaching the edge of the drop-off. When it’s time to take off, lean back, gently pull up on the handlebar and bring the front wheel of your bike up. Just take note that you will be going off the edge, not up from it, so you don’t want to pull up too far and increase the risk of looping out — just give enough effort so that both of your bike’s wheels will touch back down onto the ground at the same time.

The longest distance cycled in a year

The record: 86,573.2 miles (or 139,326.34 kilometres)

Achieved by: Amanda Coker, of the USA, along a seven-mile loop of trails around Flatwoods Park in Tampa, Florida.

Tips for getting close to the record yourself:

You will be surprised how much longer you will be able to cycle if you maintain a high cadence. Aiming for at least 90rpm will allow both your aerobic and muscular systems to enjoy a bit of a break as you cycle, thus reducing how much energy you waste. Multiple Olympic gold medallist Laura Kenny (formerly Laura Trott) explains as much to The Telegraph: “If you ride in a gear that is too big, you will eventually wear yourself down because of all the effort required. And if you ride in a gear that is too small, your legs will be working too hard to keep up the cadence and you will get tired.”

Work a route to your advantage too, by picking a course that has very limited hills or climbs and is in a location that is shielded from the wind as much as possible.

The longest distance cycled with no hands

The record: 75.8 miles (or 122 kilometres)

Achieved by: V.T Vignesh Kumar, of India, by completing pre-measured laps of a flat surface set out in Tamil Nadu, India.

Tips for getting close to the record yourself:

Even if you don’t get close to the world record, just learning how to cycle for longer with no hands can offer many benefits. Scott Bugden, a coach educator for both British Cycling and the Union Cycliste International (UCI), points out to Cycling Weekly: “It helps you to develop control of your bike and increase confidence. It provides a little bit of a core workout and teaches you how to engage your core instead of slumping your weight on the handlebars.”

To master the technique of cycling with no hands, it’s important that you sit upright in the saddle and make sure you don’t ride any slower than jogging pace — cycle too slowly and you will fail to maintain either your balance or your bike’s momentum.

The highest altitude achieved when cycling

The record: 7,211 metres (or 23,658 foot)

Achieved by: Gil Bretschneider and Peer Schepanski, both from Germany, on the slopes of the Muztagata peak in China’s Xinjiang province.

Tips for getting close to the record yourself:

Preparation is highly advised if you plan to cycle at a high altitude. In the weeks before travelling to your destination, build your endurance as much as possible with a series of short cycling workouts and some longer and more intense bike rides.

Be patient when you first arrive at a destination that is situated at a high altitude, as your body will be subjected to the acclimatisation process. This is where your body will look to adapt to the thinner air — which will be evident when you begin breathing more quickly and deeply, and your heart starts to beat faster in order to deliver more oxygen to your muscles. Internally, your body will also be making more of the hormone EPO when at high altitude, which regulates the production of red blood cells which increase the absorption of oxygen. Both your heart rate and breathing will normalise as your body adjusts, but it’s best not to go out on intense bike rides from the first day of arriving at your desired location.

The fastest time to cycle 10,000km

The record: 22 days, 15 hours, 34 minutes and 9 seconds

Achieved by: Guus Moonen, of the Netherlands, around three different circuits around the village of Oisterwijk, in the Netherlands.

Tips for getting close to the record yourself:

There are so many ways to become faster when cycling. Review your positioning on the saddle to begin with, as either sitting too far forward or leaning further forward than necessary will both result in poor energy transfer from your body to your bike. On the topic of your body, reduce how much energy you lose when cycling by keeping your upper body as still as you can get it — the majority of your energy should be put into your pedal strokes.

The setup of your bike can also help make you faster. This is because tyres which are inflated correctly will roll faster and those which haven’t get the right tyre pressure are chance to go soft. You can find the recommended pressure of your bike’s tyres on their sidewalls, while having a mini track pump to hand is sure to prove a huge helping hand if you encounter problems on the road.

The longest marathon static cycling

The record: 268 hours, 32 minutes and 44 seconds

Achieved by: Jamie McDonald, of the UK, in Gloucester, Gloucestershire, UK.

Tips for getting close to the record yourself:

Comfort will be key if you’re aiming to endure close to 269 hours of static cycling in one sitting. Ensure the exercise bike’s seat is adjusted to the height of your hips and that your knees are slighted bent to between five and ten degrees once you’re sitting on the saddle and the pedal is as close to the floor as possible.

Make sure your muscles are ready for an intense workout too by warming them up adequately too — you don’t want your world record attempt to be squandered due to an injury that could have been avoided if you’d prepared your body properly. For the warm-up, begin by spending at least five minutes stretching your abductor muscles, calf muscles, hamstrings and quadriceps. Then use another five minutes to cycle at a moderate pace of between 70 and 80 rounds per minute.

The longest distance cycled backwards

The record: 209.77 miles (or 337.60 kilometres)

Achieved by: Andrew Hellinga, of Australia, at the Holden Performance Driving Centre in Norwell, Queensland, Australia.

Tips for getting close to the record yourself:

Cycling backwards is something that you should probably leave to doing on a recumbent exercise bikes, though research commissioned by the American Council On Exercise and carried out by a research team at the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse has highlighted the benefits of the technique. The study found that those who pedalled backwards on a Cascade CMXRT bike had increased heart-rate and energy-cost values than those who pedalled forwards but with all other workloads kept the same.

Dr John P. Porcari, who led the study, commented: “The concept of specificity tells us that pedalling forward should still make up the vast majority of a cyclist’s training, but the subtle differences in muscle activation seen when pedalling backward can be very beneficial.”

The longest distance covered when cycling underwater

The record: 6,708 metres (or 22,007.83 foot)

Achieved by: Jens Stotzner, of Germany, by completing 78 laps of a course marked out at the bottom of a swimming pool in Bibert Bad Zirndorf, Zirndorf, Germany.

Tips for getting close to the record yourself:

Underwater cycling — which you may come across as being titled aqua cycling or hydrospinning — has become increasingly popular across Europe, as well as in American cities like New York and Los Angeles. So, a great way to improve your technique is to sign up to a class near you.

There are so many benefits to aqua cycling even if you don’t break the world record mentioned above. The support and the pressure of the water means that you can burn up to 800kcal every hour that you cycle in the water, for instance. Water’s hydrostatic pressure when paired up with the movement of cycling also means that you can increase both your blood flow and circulation substantially — elements which energise your muscles.

For a list of sources, follow this link.

Categories: Adventure, Cycling

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