Speed with Guy Martin – AKA Two world records in a weekend

Back in August 2014, the result of six months of training, research, development, planning and a lot of laughing took place on an empty racetrack in West Sussex. I had the privilege to be involved in a world record attempt that was going to be the basis of one episode of Guy Martin’s second series of ‘Speed’ to be screened later in the year. Now that it’s actually made it to everyone’s screens I can tell everyone about it….

“Now mate. Got a job fer yer.”


“Yeh. Another one of them record attempts. On a tandem. They wanted me to do it wi some famous cyclist but I said I don’t wanna do it wi anyone but a 24 hour man so I said you were that man”

“24 hours on a tandem? Ok then, when?”

“It’s a recumbent tandem. Like cycling in widescreen matey boy says. You ‘avin it?”

“Yep, let’s have a natter in a bit. “

“Are you winning?”


“Good man. Legend. I told em you were the right man fer’t job. They’ll give you a shout and ask you to do some filming. Just be Jason Miles and you’ll be reet.”

“Keep it going Guy, I think you’re third, closing on second….”


And that’s how it started. I’d just ridden past Guy around the halfway point in the Strathpuffer 24 back in January, at that point in time someone I’d been riding bikes with and had been trading training tips with for a couple of years-and-a-bit. He went on to finish second, just a few minutes behind me. Guy Martin’s solo 24 results were steadily improving so if we were going to tackle something big, we were indeed the right men fer’t job.


photo: Channel 4 Television/ Guy Martin Speed

“The job” was an attempt on the absolute world record for the furthest distance travelled on a tandem in 24 hours. It had stood for the best part of 30 years at 503 miles so it wasn’t going to be easy.

Eventually, I received a call from Tom, a member of the production team at North One Television. We did some filming at my place of work and in the woods nearby, with me riding a bike. So far so good. It was fun.

What followed over the course of the next 5 or so months were several hugely enjoyable days working with Guy and the North One team on the programme which involved lots of “hard work” riding various recumbent bicycles, staying in posh hotels, being chauffeur-driven back to work, meeting amazing people such as Mike Burrows, Rebecca Romero, James Cracknell and the team at Portsmouth University. Sleeping in the back of Guy’s van while we hurtled down the M4 to a shoot after getting back from a bike race 5 hours earlier. Being taught how to cook rice and omelettes in Guy’s kitchen by Nigel from Team Sky. Being baked alive while thrashing ourselves on turbo trainers in an extreme environments lab at Portsmouth University. Having to tear back up the motorway from Portsmouth to catch a ferry in Birkenhead. Training for the attempt with a single-seat recumbent on a set of rollers and on a track at Preston University. Getting some sleep before the attempt in Jethro Tull’s tour bus.


Channel 4 Television/ Guy Martin Speed

Everything is filmed in a single take. Without wanting to sound corny, it honestly was “just two blokes having a bit of a laugh and being plonked into slightly-mad situations while there just so happens to be a camera in the room”.

There’s no going over things repeatedly to get things just right – genuinely what you see on the screen is the natural way things happened. None of it was forced, staged or contrived.


Channel 4 Television/ Guy Martin Speed

I hope the finished programme conveys fully the fact that for me, it’s been incredible fun. I’ve had a chance to do things I would never otherwise have done and I’ve worked with some of the most brilliant, enthusiastic and professional people I’ve ever met. I enjoyed every single moment of it. Honestly, it’s been that good.


Channel 4 Television/ Guy Martin Speed

As for the record attempt, we went to Goodwood all straight-faced and in spite of high winds, rain and cold we beat it convincingly (but then by now you probably already know that). Not only did we beat the 24 hour record but we did the 12 hour record on the way, which has apparently never been done before in any 24 hour distance record attempt. If it wasn’t for the arrival of a storm front we’d have been good for another 100 or so miles, but it would have been nowhere near as interesting.


Channel 4 Television/ Guy Martin Speed

The official record can be seen here.

You can watch the programme (which saves me the job of blogging about what happened) here

And thanks to Jim, I was able to borrow the Garmin and upload it to Strava 🙂

Finally, thanks to everyone at JMC IT for putting up with me disappearing off for days on end, to North One TV for being ace and for making it all happen, to all the experts, designers, boffins and science people who were involved in the making of the programme, to Guy Martin for being a top lad, for teaching me all about turbo charging, ignition and E85 fuel while we drove up and down the country in the Transit and for providing industrial-sized amounts of inspiration, to my long-suffering family for supporting me and putting up with me disappearing off for days on end and everyone who cheered us on at Goodwood.


photo: Channel 4 Television/ Guy Martin Speed 

World Solo 24 Hour Championship 2014

I ran out of cunning plans by the time I reached lap 6. Everything I ate made me feel more ill. Every increase in effort resulted in a bit more speed but a lot more stomach cramp. To cap it all, every lap seemed to contain at least one bike-related problem. Up to this point, I had to deal with my rear quick release failing and my wheel literally falling off on lap one (dropping me back to 50th place or something). The chain on my second bike kept coming off (which has never happened before on this bike) and I was having seatpost slippage issues. Rather than my ambition for another slick, smooth and perfectly-executed 24 hour race this was rapidly turning into a farce. While I’m acutely aware that I wasn’t the only one to be unlucky with mechanicals, my worst problems weren’t bike-related at all, the biggest worries were inside me.


On the morning of the race I felt rough. Hoped that it was just nerves and cracked on with getting the pit ready. Generally all feelings of nerves disappear once I’m on the start line and I can start having a laugh. Sure enough, I felt better on the start line but as soon we got going and the effort kicked in, so did the illness.

Eventually I’m riding laps with half a toilet roll in my back pocket and occasionally I’d have to ride off the course, find a bush and use it. Things were not supposed to be like this.


paaarp! oops. excuse me

When I was actually on the bike and having a go at ‘racing’ I spent several hours working my way back up from 50-somethigth place back to 17th, then 15th, then I rode with Rich Rothwell for a while and as a pacy pair we worked our way back into the top ten. Things started to look more optimistic and my guts had appeared to calm down after 14 or so hours of rebellion. It had left me pretty dehydrated though and the effort I’d put in to pull back 40-odd places was taking its toll. Deb, Phil and Lee were all working flat-out in the pit to keep my bikes rolling and to deal with my increasingly narrow and specific food requirements.

Up to 5th place. If the race ended now, I’d be happy with that under the circumstances. But even that wasn’t to be. An alarmingly-fresh Richard Dunnett, who I’d overtaken 13 hours ago, tore past me at the start of my final lap, riding from 7th place into 3rd and pushing me down into 6th in the process.

In my mind I was always thinking that “somewhere in the top ten” would be a good result in this race, when you look at the amount of experience and talent on the start line and it was genuinely a proud moment to stand up there among some of the greats of  UK 24 hour solo racing. But still. You know what I mean.


I was just glad I’d made it to the finish and by the time I was riding down that final descent a few hours earlier, I was already thinking about the next race. The day after, as if to prove I hadn’t been making it all up, our kids, all of our friends’ kids and Phil were all suffering from ‘Fort Billy Belly’. Sorry guys.

Thanks, as ever, to Debbie, my mum and dad, Phil and Lee for putting up with my bad smells and grumbling. Thanks to all the well-wishers and cheerers-on. Thanks to all my amazing sponsors who’ve made this year the best yet and finally thanks to Spook, Fraser, the amazing marshals and everyone involved in No Fuss Events and WEMBO for pulling together what turned out to be the toughest and most epic 24 hour solo race I’ve ever had the privilege to be a part of.