Interview John Woodburn

After a recent time trial I caught up with veteran rider John Woodburn. He’s been racing for over 50 years with an enthusiasm undimmed by his 75+ years.

John Woodburn was national 25 mile champion in 1961. In 1982, at 45 years of age he also set the cycling record for the 847 miles journey from Lands End to John O Groats. His time was one day, 21 hours, 3 minutes and 16 seconds. (average speed 18.828mph) Cycling Weekly reports after arriving in John o’ Groats hotel, his ankles had swollen up. He was taken for a bath and then hobbled into the lounge of the hotel announcing ‘The old man’s back’.

His first attempt in 1981 failed because he was carrying a virus. But, in his next year he was successful.

In many respects the 1950s were the golden years of cycling in UK. Very low traffic volumes. The days when you could have courses which had a u-turn in the middle of the road, and you didn’t have to worry about traffic lights.


In those days the HQ was often getting changed under a railway bridge. It’s easy to be nostalgic for the old days, though as John says the glow of nostalgia can easily forget the experience of riding to events in rain and having nowhere good to change.

As John says it is difficult to cycle with today’s traffic volumes. But, cycling is still essentially turning the pedals and if you have a real love for cycling these other issues become secondary.

Saturday was my first flat time trial of the year. A 10 mile TT on Bentley course. My time was 21.15, which is fine for first 10 of year. By the way, John Woodburn finished in a time of 24.00 (av. 25mph) not bad for 76 years old.


4 Responses to Interview John Woodburn

  1. Stan September 12, 2011 at 7:28 am #

    Well done John, another ‘under the hour’ at Port Talbot.

  2. Patanga May 19, 2011 at 4:55 pm #

    Last week or so I was riding along with 80+ age group ironman record holder. To say he had “a few” stories to tell was an understatement. And it was quite a feat for me to keep up with him for 20km!

  3. Failed Bucks Tester May 17, 2011 at 12:47 pm #

    Good interview, he’s very entertaining. Interesting point on driving/riding to events – I think the rider from the Maidenhead (John’s one-time club) he refers to who doesn’t drive might well be (the very fast) Pete Weir. That’s my tuppence worth.


  1. Cycling into Old Age | Cycling UK - May 17, 2011

    [...] Interview with John Woodburn [...]

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