Ray Booty's 100 mile record ride

After CW found a stash of unseen photographs of time trialling great Ray Booty, Vern Pitt discovers the tale of his relationship with the 100 mile record.

Ray Booty
(Image credit: Future)

It was a “damp and dismal” November morning just outside Foxton as the best tester Britain had ever known climbed off his bike. He’d given the task his best for several hours but with the wind against him, heavy traffic and being forced to run with his bike after taking a chance in storming past a road closed sign, just outside Foxton, South Cambridgeshire, he’d had to call it quits. Ray Booty would not go to bed on that night in 1955 as the new RRA 100 mile record holder as he’d hoped. 

Ray Booty

(Image credit: Future)

We don’t know what was said but we suspect Ted Gerrard, who himself had failed in his attempt a few weeks earlier and was a member of Booty’s support crew, had some words of consolation.

That day, unseen until these photos on these pages were found (see box), would prove a turning point for Booty. He was already a hugely respected time triallist, a national champion and the Best British All Rounder in 1955, the year of these pictures. Prior to the CTT 100 mile National Championship in August 1955 the chances of anyone, but principally Booty, becoming the first man to ride 100 miles (out and back as per CTT rules) in under four hours had become a fixation of the cycling world.

Ray Booty

(Image credit: Future)

It had, as Cycling reported at the time become “public aim number one” among the nation’s time-triallist for the 100 mile distance was “the most glamorous and certainly the most exacting” of distances. He won the 100 mile title with a record time of 4:4.30. He broke the record by two minutes and one second in the process. No-one was close to him, second place floundering 15.30 down. When he came close again the following weekend with a 4.06.28 talk of a epoch setting ride rose even further.

He went onto his fateful failed one-way 100 mile attempt later that year. But the following year would prove to be something remarkable.

You can read the full article in the January 6 issue of Cycling Weekly magazine, on sale in shops and online now. You can also subscribe to Cycling Weekly and get it delivered to your door every Thursday.

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Having trained as a journalist at Cardiff University I spent eight years working as a business journalist covering everything from social care, to construction to the legal profession and riding my bike at the weekends and evenings. When a friend told me Cycling Weekly was looking for a news editor, I didn't give myself much chance of landing the role, but I did and joined the publication in 2016. Since then I've covered Tours de France, World Championships, hour records, spring classics and races in the Middle East. On top of that, since becoming features editor in 2017 I've also been lucky enough to get myself sent to ride my bike for magazine pieces in Portugal and across the UK. They've all been fun but I have an enduring passion for covering the national track championships. It might not be the most glamorous but it's got a real community feeling to it.