An 82-year-old man who has become the first person in the UK to cycle a million miles has declared he has a million miles yet to go before he dies.
Russ Mantle has kept meticulous log books of every ride he has completed in the past 68 years, completing an average of 14,700 miles a year.
The former carpenter and joiner, from Aldershot, Hampshire, completed his millionth mile to the cheers of well-wishers at the Canal Cafe at Mytchett.
Mr Mantle, a Cycling UK life member who started cycling in 1951, said: “One million – I feel the same as usual.
“It’s just another milestone, I went through 700,000, then 800,000 and so on, it’s another milestone to pass a million to go on to 1.1, 1.2, and so on, I will probably finish up very close to two million by the time I die when I am 100.”
He added: “It was just natural progress, I knew I would get there one day.”
Describing his love for cycling, he said: “It’s just the sheer mobility of it, the convenience of a bike, when I go shopping I can park it right next to the entrance door, no walking, meet clubs, make friends on the bike, it’s always been natural to me to do it on a bike.
“From the early Eighties onwards, I was always on my own, get on a plane up into the mountains. It was nothing for me to spend all day up in the mountains, I just love high places.”
Explaining why he does not wear a helmet, Mr Mantle said he cannot put it in his pocket, and added: “Even though I have been unconscious for four of my serious accidents, I still won’t wear a helmet, I must have a hard head I suppose, I can still remember things clearly, all those accidents haven’t affected my memory.
“I always bounce back as if it hadn’t happened. The most serious one was probably when I was knocked unconscious for three days in Southampton hospital by a lorry that smashed my arm in two places but I have got full movement.”
When asked what the future holds for him, Mr Mantle, who has cycled in America, Canada and mainland Europe, replied: “Miles, miles, miles.”
Mr Mantle has kept paper diaries detailing all of his mileage since 1952, as well as the results of his many race wins during his time competing in time trial races between 1953 and 1975 when he set numerous records.
After retiring from racing, Mr Mantle led rides for the West Surrey CTC for 20 years and is still a member of several cycling groups.
Cycling UK chief executive Paul Tuohy said: “Cycling a million miles is not only incredible, it’s almost incomprehensible. Russ never set out to break any records, cycling is simply a part of his life. Russ is an inspiration and he shows us all what is possible.”
Mr Mantle’s milestone is the equivalent of travelling to the moon and back twice or circumnavigating the Earth 40 times.