Toogoolawah-born Les Cecil’s epic 240km Kingaroy-Brisbane cycle ride record, set in 1939, still stands today … but a special cycle race on June 8 will try to match or beat it (Photo: BVRTUA)

March 7, 2019

A 240km ride to commemorate the 80th anniversary of a cycling record that still stands will be held on Saturday, June 8.

The Road Record Association of Australia record that in 1939, Toogoolawah-born Les Cecil cycled 240km from Kingaroy to Brisbane in 8 hours and 45 minutes.

What makes his feat remarkable is that he cycled into a headwind on dirt roads through two severe storms, hit 48 mph down the Blackbutt Range, crossed more than half a dozen flooded creeks, and still managed to beat the mail train by more than two hours.

His record is so remarkable, in fact, that it still stands today alongside a dozen other records Les set in the golden age of road records.

So it’s no surprise that Les Cecil’s Jubilee bicycle now has pride of place at the Toogoolawah History Museum.

On June 8, the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail Users Association will be staging a 240km cycle ride from Kilkivan to Toogoolawah to commemorate both the anniversary and the man, and see if anyone can beat Les’ long-standing record.

The ride will follow the South Burnett and Brisbane Valley rail trails, plus a connecting route between Kingaroy and Yarraman using forestry trails.

Because this doesn’t quite add up to 240km, there will also be a gravel road detour at Wondai designed by the South Burnett Mountain Bike Club to rack up the missing kilometres.

“We think the route we’ve chosen will get pretty close to replicating the conditions of Les’ great ride, complete with a waist deep creek crossing across Wide Bay Creek,” BVRTUA president Paul Heymans said.

“Logistics will be a bit of a challenge, of course, but participants will be permitted a support crew as Les Cecil was followed by a vehicle.”

“Following the code of the Tour Divide, this challenge event will be based on the purest of wagers – the gentlemen’s bet. Nothing to win or lose but honour.”

The only prize will be the satisfaction of a podium place, but everyone who completes the course in under 8 hrs 45 minutes will also get a commemorative cycling shirt specially designed for the event.

“Participants are expected to be self-sufficient, but there will a safety team shadowing the event to give assistance if required,” Paul said.

“There will be designated food bag drops at different locations, and a mobile phone, GPS, adequate water, a basic first aid kit including snake bite bandages, a puncture repair kit and basic tools, and light-weight, warm clothing will be mandatory.”

Paul cautioned that the ride would be an event for experienced and fit long-distance cyclists only.

“Some sections of the course will pose significant navigational challenges, and it’s unsuitable for anyone who hasn’t had recent experience of riding 200-250 km off-road in a single day,” he said.

“We’ll organise optional transport for people and bikes from Toogoolawah to Kilkivan in the afternoon on Friday, June 7, but participants will need to make their own overnight accommodation arrangements.”

The ride will run from 6:00am to 6:00pm and the cost is $95, with optional transport available from Toogoolawah to Kilkivan the day prior available for an extra $55.

Registrations can be made on Eventbrite

Footnote: Lachlan Davis, president of the Road Record Association of Australia, said it was important to note that while riders in the Les Cecil Commemorative Ride may set a new record for Kilkivan to Toogoolawah, the only way to beat Cecil’s 1939 record is by riding from O’Neill Square in Kingaroy to the Brisbane GPO under record conditions (ie unpaced, followed by an observer) in less than 8 hours and 45 minutes.

Update: June 10, 2019: Due to a lack of registrations this ride was cancelled; Les Cecil’s 1939 record remains unbroken.

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