riding to the top
Ther was no debate who should receive our Outstanding Achievement award so inspirational was Michael Broadwith’s record-breaking ride
The fact Michael Broadwith is only the third man to set a new men’s bicycle mark for Land’s End to John o’ Groats in 35 years tells you most of what you need to know about how difficult it is to do. Then factor in that Broadwith, a maths teacher from Hertfordshire, is an amateur rider. With no multi-million pound team set-up to absorb the financial stresses and deal with the logistics, it was all down to Broadwith and his support team of family, friends, and friends of friends.
So challenging and onerous is the planning stage, not to mention the tense wait for a weather window, that actually starting the ride at Land’s End comes as a blessed relief. And yet to break that record, every rider knows that they will endure dark nights of the soul along the way.
In Broadwith’s case, it was more a dark night of Shermer’s neck — the affliction he suffered during the latter stages which saw him ride much of the final
200 miles with his head propped up on his hand. And this was after suffering hours of torrential rain and cold that, with the neck problem, laid his morale so low his wife had to talk him back on to the bike after he stopped. Throughout his cycling career, Broadwith has shown himself to be an incredibly versatile rider — a man who simply loves to ride his bike, as well as enjoying a successful career and being a dedicated family guy.
Following moderate success in his early twenties when he was sixth in the National 10 and on the Bbar-winning Arctic-shorter Rochford team in 2006, he took a break from serious cycling to go travelling and to have a family. It wasn’t until 2013 that he began what he calls his “second career”, which has seen him concentrate on fewer events with family in mind.
But what his racing calendar lacks in quantity it more than makes up for in terms of hardship endured and miles ridden. He has made the National 24-hour his own, having won it three times since 2015 and still taking bronze this year, only a month after rolling wide-eyed into John o’ Groats at four in the morning with a time of 43:25.13, having taken more than 30 minutes off the record.
He calls LEJOG the “jewel in the crown”, and anyone who rides, or is interested in longdistance time trials would surely agree. That jewel now belongs to Broadwith — an outstanding achievement indeed.