Lyng woman rides in memory of trailblazing Billie Fleming

Norfolk cyclists who are riding approximately the same route that Billie Fleming would have taken on

Norfolk cyclists who are riding approximately the same route that Billie Fleming would have taken on this day in 1938, pictured from left Gill Stead, Anna Buick, Alex Nichol, Sara Flatt and Angela Mason. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

A group of women rode with a purpose as they took to two wheels in honour of a trailblazing cyclist.

Sara Flatt, her daughter Anna Buick and friend Alex Nichol joined a nationwide tribute to Billie Fleming.

Londoner Mrs Fleming, who died last year aged 100, still holds the record, set in 1938, for the most miles cycled in a year by a woman – a stunning 29,604 miles.

In her honour, a nationwide attempt started in January for women up and down the country to replicate Mrs Fleming's route. Each day, women have been riding the distance the legendary cyclist pedalled on that day in 1938, and they will continue until they have completed the record number of miles over 365 days.

Ms Flatt set off from her Lyng home on Monday morning, and together with Miss Buick and Miss Nichol covered 70 miles, taking in Fakenham, Cromer and Aylsham - three of the towns Mrs Fleming would have passed through 77 years ago on her year-long adventure.

The mum-of-two also organised an evening ride from Dereham Leisure Centre which saw her ride a 25-loop to Watton and back with friend Sarah Cooper, ticking off another two towns which featured on Mrs Fleming's route on June 29, 1938.

Ms Flatt, who works as the regional events officer for British Cycling, said: 'We had a fantastic day, it was the best day I've had on the bike for ages. What made it so enjoyable was that we were riding with a purpose, we were actually doing something, it was linked to something, and it just added another dimension.'

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During their morning ride, the trio of Ms Flatt, Miss Buick and Miss Nichol met up with a group of women cyclists from Holt at High Kelling.

As they cycled, they reflected upon what it was like for Mrs Fleming, who was 24 at the time, to cycle an average of 81 miles a day in the pre-Second World War years.

'We take so much for granted these days and Billie took on such a serious challenge back in 1938,' said Ms Flatt. 'Even though it's not that long ago, the bike and clothes were very different.

'Would I ride 100 miles on a steel bike that was too big for me and in essentially normal clothes without all of the energy drinks, et cetera, that we get today?

'She did that on a bike that didn't fit her very well day in, day out. That was a really big achievement, and something very special.'

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