If everything goes to plan, Bruce Berkeley will soon hold the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance ever ridden in a month. He already holds the record for the most kilometres cycled in a week — 2,825km which he managed in the UK last year — and in the past three weeks, Berkeley has clocked up 6,615.3km (as of January 22, 2015).
So why exactly is Berkeley putting himself through the challenge of riding more than 300km a day? He simply wants to get the record.
“There’s not an official month record right now. When I applied for the record they [the Guinness Book of World Records] said to me I have to do at least 5,000km,” Berkeley said. “But if you look on Strava there are lots of people who have done that in a single month.”
“So I took it in my head that 10,000 would be a good figure. People don’t do 10,000km and you don’t see that come up on Strava. The most I’ve ever seen is seven [thousand kilometres] so I thought around about 10,000km was good.”
“That’ll be a big push in the last week.”
To really get a sense of why he’s doing this, you need to know Berkeley’s backstory.
Originally from New Zealand but having lived in the UK for 21 years, Berkeley once raced at a high level with Sigma-Sport, a UK Continental team. After his racing career he opened up a bike shop with two business partners whom he didn’t know as well as he thought.
“My two business partners got arrested for a case that was worth £350 million (AUD$655 million) if you can believe it”, Berkeley told CyclingTips. “It sounds like a story you’d hear in a movie. It wasn’t to do with the bike shop, it had to do with previous business dealings.”
And that’s when Berkeley’s life went into a downward spiral.
“I lost everything. My relationship, my business … then I began hitting the bottle and drinking far too much. It went on for a couple years and thought ‘I’m not going to live much longer like this’ so I just woke up one day and decided to change things and I was brought back to cycling.”
Disinterested in competitive racing, Berkeley looked to other challenges to motivate his riding. He began ticking off Strava challenges which gave him an outlet to keep his competitive side satisfied.
“I’m a bit too old now to think about racing now and have already raced at a decent level, so for me I know I’m not going to be good at that side of cycling at my age. This is something I enjoy and I can do on my own time…as much as you can enjoy 315km a day!”
And he has been enjoying it. The combination of Sportful knicks and a Selle Italia SLR saddle on a Canyon Ultimate CF SLX has been keeping him going.
“I’m feeling good now. You have good and bad days. Up until now I’ve been chasing the miles a bit and today I had a really nice ride and didn’t think about the miles and went on some good roads even though it might be a bit slower.”
“It lets you enjoy it more. With the Tour Down Under starting it sure has given me some energy.”
Berkeley spends an average of 11 hours a day on the bike but even then, he says, the pace he must maintain is much higher than most people would imagine.
“I’ve been averaging 18mph a day so far (29km/h). If I get a bit tired I have a stop, toss in some food and then get back going agin. I’m not keeping track of the calories I’m burning every day. I’m just eating every time I’m hungry.”
“With this type of slow burn stuff I’m doing it’s better just to stop and eat properly rather than use all them nutrition products. I always have some stuff in my back pocket so that if I’m hungry I can just snack away in-between.”
So what’s the next challenge for Berkeley? He says he’d like to tick off an “Everesting” in Chang Mai in a few weeks while on his way back to England. Then he’ll return home to continue working on his small business called Cycle Doctor; a mobile repair centre which focuses on high-end bikes.
“It allows me the freedom to ride my bike and have the lifestyle I want and I’m not chasing the dollars”