LEGENDARY LONG-distance cyclist John Arnold has died at the age of 84 following a long illness.
In his day Arnold, recognised as one of the greatest post-war cyclists, was almost as famous in his era as the likes of today’s Sir Bradley Wiggins, Sir Chris Hoy and Mark Cavendish.
Arnold, who raced over the official Saddleworth 25 mile time trial course regularly during his early years, held six competition records during his career.
These included in 1953 winning the Bidlake Memorial Prize in recognition of outstanding service to cycling after riding 457 miles on a tricycle in 24 hours.
He was also the first tricyclist to break 20mph on a long distance record when he rode Liverpool to London in a record-breaking nine hours 50 minutes.
In 1954 he broke four records in one ride with Albert Crimes, with the pair taking the 12 hour, 24 hour, Land’s End to John O’Groats and 1,000 mile record on a tandem trike.
Arnold, an amateur who worked as a joiner, did much of his training in Saddleworth and in his earlier years rode local events with members of the West Riding Cycling Club. Latterly he rode with Middleton Cycling Club.
After starting on a normal bicycle, Arnold became fascinated by the challenges of riding a racing tricycle and he broke virtually every place-to-place record that existed, by so much, that even 60 or more years later, most of them are still remain unbroken.
In order to take the 24 hour endurance record, he rode 457.33 miles, and then he took the 12 hour record to 246 miles. All this was achieved by riding his trike and beating the theoretically faster two wheeled bikes by considerable margins.
After breaking every existing record he could find, Arnold joined forces with his rival fellow tricyclist Albert Crimes, who lived in Crewe.
Equipping themselves with an extremely rare ‘Tandem Trike’ they together proceeded to break all the existing records for this type of machine as well, including for example the ‘ Liverpool to London’ record, previously set up by professional racing cyclists by 1hr 38min giving them a time of 8hrs 19min for the 200 miles and an average speed in excess of 25mph.
However the tandem trike record that made history, which still stands unbeaten after 60 years, was their epic Land’s End to John O Groats record , where they chopped an incredible 18 hours from the existing record.
On the way they broke the existing 12 hour record and then after finishing the approximately 850 miles at John O Groats, they turned around and road back along the route until their total distance travelled was 1,000 miles so that their total time also broke the existing 1,000 mile record with a time of two days, four hours and 26 minutes.