Dick Poole: The British cycling hero you’ve never heard of

Richard “Dick” William Ewart Poole made history becoming the first man to cycle from Land’s End to John o’Groats in less than 48 hours when he rode the 871 miles in June 1965.

His record of 1 day 23hr 46min 35 secs stood for 14 years until Paul Carbutt shaved a further 23 minutes off the record in 1979.

Poole averaged more than 18mph for the duration of the ride, only stopping briefly to change clothes and receive massage.

Photo: Isaac Farnworth – Poole still rides twice a week, even through the winter months.

“It was just a suggestion from one of the club mates. I’d ridden a number of 24-hour races and been reasonably successful. In terms of long distance, it’s what you might call a natural progression,” said Poole.

“It didn’t frighten me at all; it was just something that I needed to do. I wouldn’t say it was a great ambition. I’d always done long distances, just because I enjoyed it,” he added.

The route stretches across the whole of mainland Britain, from the southwest to the northeast, and takes most cyclists between 10 and 14 days.

Poole was fortunate to avoid any major issues en route, other than one small crash over a curb on an unsurfaced road in Somerset. Escaping puncture-free and unscathed but for a few scratches, the Wembley-born rider to continue his rapid progress up north.

Photo: Isaac Farnworth – Poole’s achievement gained interest from national publications

“Oddly enough, in Scotland which is always looked upon as one of the difficult sections, I was going much better than I had been on other parts of the route.

“At one stage I was 45 minutes down on the schedule, but I knew that I was still ahead of the current record, so I just kept going,” added Poole.

Now 87, he uses his experiences and knowledge of cycling to help deliver training for riders looking to achieve their track cycling safety certificate at his local velodrome in Reading.

See below for the progression of the Land’s End to John o’Groats record and a feature video about Poole.