In the arcane language of British cycling, and possibly amongst normal Brits as well, a trip and more particularly a record attempt from Land's End to John O'Groats, which aren't quite the furthest north and south you can get on the British mainland (that would be the Lizard to Dunnet Head) but are sort of traditional starting and finishing points, anyway. Record attempts almost universally run south to north to take advantage of the prevailing winds.
The shortest (840 mile) cycling route taken by record breakers and other masochists who like riding on dull main roads (current version - new roads and bridges have changed it considerably since the first records were set) is broadly as follows:
- A30 from Land's End to Exeter
- A38 from Exeter via Bristol, Gloucester, Tewkesbury to Worcester
- A449 to Wolverhampton and Stafford
- A34 to Newcastle-under-Lyme
- A50 via Knutsford, Warrington and Wigan and then the A49 to join the A6 just south of Preston
- A6 via Lancaster, Kendal, Shap summit to Carlisle
- A74 and old A74 (B 7076) to Gretna Green and Lockerbie
- A701 to Moffat and over the Devil's Beef Tubs, then via Tweedsmuir, Blyth Bridge and Penicuik to the outskirts of Edinburgh
- Across the Forth Road Bridge
- Via Cowdenbeath, Glenfarg, Dunblane to Perth
- A9 via Aviemore, Slochd summit, Inverness, Tain, Helmsdale, Berriedale (the last two tough climbs) and Latheron
- A99 to Wick and Reiss
- A836 to John O'Groats
The even more masochistically inclined occasionally then add on another 160 miles of riding in and around Caithness in order to attempt the 1000 mile record.
These records for conventional cycles (i.e. no recumbents, no fairings) have been controlled and ratified by the Road Records Association since the late 19th century; early attempts were paced by teams of riders, but since the era of the safety bicycle they have been run alone and unpaced. The first record was set by G.P. Mills in 1886 on a High Ordinary, who completed the then 900 mile route in five days, one hour and 45 minutes.
- Bicycle, Women: Lynne Taylor (1-3 October 2002) 2 days, 4:45:11
- Bicycle, Men: Gethin Butler (27-29 September 2001) 1 day, 20:04:19
- Tricycle, Men: Ralph Dadswell (1992) 2 days, 5:29:00
- Tandem bicycle, men: P.M. Swinden & W.J. Withers (1966) 2 days 2:14:25
- Tandem bicycle, mixed: Andy Wilkinson & Lynne Taylor (2000) 2 days, 3:19:23
- Tandem tricycle, men: Albert Crimes & John Arnold (1954) 2 days 4:26
The 1954 tandem trike record was a hell of a good ride - at the time the fastest on any form of machine and, although it is admittedly not likely to attract many takers, has withstood several more recent attempts. Standard times have been set for the women's tandem records, but nobody has ever attempted them. Since the last successful attempt, Taylor's ride in 2002, unsuccessful attempts have been made on the men's tandem trike record (Dadswell and Dave Johnson in 2007) and the mixed tandem (Olympic medallists James Cracknell and Rebecca Romero in 2009).
Andy Wilkinson has also set a record on a recumbent trike of 1 day, 17:04:22 under otherwise similar conditions to those applied by the RRA.