‘I couldn’t walk afterwards’ - Cyclist smashes 24-hour city bike record

Will Bright rode over 212 miles in a day last month. Here's how he found it

Image of man on a Santander bike with a Strava file embedded on the photo
(Image credit: Will Bright / Strava)

A London cyclist has broken an unofficial record for the distance travelled by Santander bike, commonly known as a Boris bike, in 24 hours. 

Thirty-seven-year-old Will Bright covered 212.47 miles (341.93 kilometres) around the capital city last month, starting at 8am and riding through the night. 

Speaking to Cycling Weekly, he described the experience as “absolutely brutal”. 

“The Boris bike is notoriously heavy and the gears are awful,” he said, "and then cycling around London, you’ve got hills and traffic lights and all that. It was just incredibly tough, and also hard mentally.” 

No stranger to cycling challenges, Bright, who works in advertising, had just returned from a 4,500-mile ride from Kazakhstan to his home in South West London. Why did he then decide to take on the Boris bike record? Well, because he had good legs. 

“I got back and thought, ‘Let’s just have one shot at trying to do this',” he said. “I had the initial idea maybe a couple of years ago and I started training for it. It was so hard to be pedalling for such a long distance and a long amount of time. I only got to 85 miles, and I was just destroyed by it.” 

As the record is not officially recognised by Guinness, Bright scoured the internet for the distance to beat. The benchmark, he discovered, stood at a colossal 193 miles, and on a sunny day in August, he set out to beat it. He strapped a handlebar bag and a cycling computer to a Boris bike, and began turning the cranks. 

“When I had done 100 miles, I had been going for 10 hours or something, and realised I had to do that whole thing again,” he said. 

Instead of plotting a route, the 37-year-old explained, “I just went where I fancied". He stopped regularly at his home for food and toilet breaks and, at points, resorted to simple circuits to help hike up the mileage. 

“God knows how many loops I did of Battersea Park. Maybe somewhere between 40 or 50 loops," he laughed. 

Boris bike records

A number of boris bikes in docking stations

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Initially, Bright was drawn to the idea of a Boris bike Hour Record, but when he saw the distance benchmark, he decided it was "unbeatable". 

The record was set in 2015 by 48-year-old Rob Holden, who managed 31.285km inside Herne Hill Velodrome. 

Holden, interestingly, was also part of a trio of friends who had previously hired Boris bikes, driven to France and scaled Mont Ventoux in a 24-hour period, narrowly missing out on the £150 late return fine. 

The record for the furthest distance travelled on a Santander bicycle is 1,144km, held by corporate lawyer Prasan Modasia, who took one across Poland in 2015. 

Day then turned to dusk and night fell like a blanket over the city. As he rode on, Bright enjoyed seeing the changing scenery of London, the crossover of drunk people staggering home, and delivery drivers going about their morning route. 

How did he feel the next day? “Not good,” he said. “I couldn’t walk. 200 miles on any bike is a serious distance. I’ve only done that a couple of times on a normal bike." 

The challenge ended up costing Bright £77 in hire fares, charged for each 30-minute interval that passed. “I did talk to Santander about getting a bike [for free],” he said. “But they weren’t interested. Unsurprisingly, they get a lot of requests for bikes for charity and fundraising, so they didn’t want to. But that’s fine.” 

Between his Kazakhstan ride and Boris bike record, Bright has raised £3,348 for Cancer Research, the Wales Air Ambulance, and the Army Benevolent Fund.

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Tom Davidson
News and Features Writer

Tom joined Cycling Weekly as a news and features writer in the summer of 2022, having previously contributed as a freelancer. He is the host of The TT Podcast, which covers both the men's and women's pelotons and has featured a number of prominent British riders. 

An enthusiastic cyclist himself, Tom likes it most when the road goes uphill and actively seeks out double-figure gradients on his rides. 

He's also fluent in French and Spanish and holds a master's degree in International Journalism.