I'll Gethin in the saddle for record

Gethin Butler has warned young cyclists sizing up his record for racing from Land's End to John O'Groats to forget it.

Three years ago Butler set a record of one day, 20 hours, four minutes and 19 seconds for peddling between Britain's extremes, an achievement which still stands today.

And the 36-year-old has vowed to go even faster and defend his title, should his record be

beaten.

The marathon is the crowning glory of a career which has seen Butler shatter several records on his way to becoming one of the biggest names in long-distance cycling.

Butler said: "I think it is the biggest thing I have done in

cycling, it certainly took the most planning because I was gearing up for that one for months.

"I would not mind giving it

another go and I think if someone broke the record in the next couple of years I would consider it – though it would probably be the last thing I ever did."

The fact the record has stood since he set off from Cornwall in 2001 is testament to Butler's stamina which is further underlined by the fact he set a new record for covering 509.3 miles in 24 hours and shaved three hours off the 1,000-mile record, setting a new time of two days, seven hours, 53 minutes and seven seconds, all beginning on the same rainy

September day.

He said: "I think as far as long-distance racing goes the End-to-End and the 1000 miles are the blue riband events and they are things I can say I have done that very few other people have.

"I have got a trophy and from 1908 onwards there are only 11 people who have done the End-to-End, I think back in the late 1800s and 1900s cycling was a way of life.

"There are so many other forms of transport these days that people just do not cycle as much as they used to.

"I think the quicker the record gets the less likely people are to have a crack at it, I took an hour off the time and it was pretty competitive when I made my

attempt.

"No one wants to go through all those months of training and preparation only to fail in their attempt, then look back on the whole experience and wonder why they bothered."

Butler, who competes regularly for Preston Wheelers, is well aware that there are several young riders breathing down his neck.

However, many concentrate on the glamour of short-distance speed cycling, leaving the longer distances to the experienced

riders.

He said: "There are one or two like a younger lad called Peter Williams from Liverpool who I have raced a couple of times and only beaten by a handful of

seconds.

"They tend to concentrate on the shorter distances, so you

always know that if you have an off day they will be breathing down your neck, that is an added

motivation.

"Mostly now I do races for

Preston Wheelers and I am

possibly going to try and do some of the shorter distances.

"I became a father again

recently and obviously that takes up a lot of time so you do not get the hours in the day to put in the preparation which is required for the longer distance stuff.

"I would not want to take part in a race unless I knew I had

prepared for it properly."

In terms of long-distance

cycling, there is not a lot Butler has not done – London to Paris, Liverpool to Edinburgh, you name it and he has cycled it.

And he has won everything he could have dreamed of when he started out on two wheels as a young lad.

He said: "I have done just about everything I ever set out to do in cycling, so I am looking around for other things to do now.

"To be honest there is not that much about, the team events are good because obviously you have other people around you and that gives you added motivation while in the longer distance races it is just you and the weather.

"I started out riding when I was about 11 just for enjoyment and it was not until I was 14 that I started competing and even then I

waited until after I had done my A-levels before I took it too

seriously.

"I always liked the longer

distances and the British All-Rounder (BAR) was the one I wanted to do and I won that in 1995 and 1996.

"After I had done that there was not a great deal left that I wanted to have a go at so I looked at the End-to-End.

"If you had said to me five years ago that I would do that race I would have thought you were

joking, but once I had decided to do it there was no turning back and I just prepared everything, gearing up to that one event.

"I started out with the plan of doing the 1000 miles as well as the End-to-End and once I got to John O'Groats I was about 840 miles into it anyway, so I thought to myself 'if I do not do it now I never will' so I went for the 1000.

"I think around Edinburgh that I felt the worst because the weather was not great and I thought about giving up – but I probably would have never forgiven myself if I had."

With the cycling season

currently at a close and not due to reopen until the beginning of February, Butler has the chance to do a few odd jobs around the house. He expects to get back into preparation for the new campaign at the start of 2005, though he admits when he looks out the window on a typically wintry Lancashire morning

the thought of knocking cycling on the head may cross his mind.

He said: "There have been a few times where I have thought about calling it a day, at the start of last season I was a little unsure whether I was going to do another season.

"I decided to give it a go and fortunately the other lads at the club gave me plenty of motivation and we had a pretty successful season.

"I am sure when it gets to the beginning of January and it is cold and wet outside and I know I have to go out for a ride it will cross my mind again.

"I just enjoy riding, not just the competitive side which is a bonus. I have always enjoyed just getting out on my bike and I could not imagine my life without it."