Hampshire cyclist, 82, set to become first person in UK to cycle one million miles

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CYCLING one million miles is the equivalent of completing Land’s End to John ‘o’ Groats 1,052 times or travelling to the moon and back twice but a retired civil servant is set to become the first person in the UK to cycle one million miles in their lifetime.

For the last 67 years Russ Mantle has carefully recorded every ride in his diary as he cycled to and from work, competed in races and pedalled up some of the world's highest mountains during tours across Europe and America.

On Thursday he will reach the one million milestone by cycling five miles from his home in Aldershot to cafe in Mytchett, Surrey.

Russ, who has never married, described cycling is his 'true love'.

The 82-year-old said: ‘When I think about it, it is quite remarkable.’

Nicknamed 'mile-eater Mantle’, Russ said: ‘When I started recording in 1952 I had a cyclometer that made a 'tick-tick' noise and in the 1990s I replaced it with a more modern one which goes on my handlebars and records my miles.

‘In my early days cycling was all I thought about and the natural thing to do was to cycle. To me it just seemed obvious to record my mileage, that's what a cyclist does.’

In the 1990s Russ, who worked for the Department of Environment for 25 years, cycled 265 miles from Aldershot to Monmouthshire in Wales and back again in one day.

Now Russ isn't able to cycle as much but still averages 25 to 30 miles every other day.

He said: ‘This year I'll do about 8,000 which is going to be my lowest ever.

‘My fitness has always been great but over the last three years it has deteriorated.

‘I got rid of my car about four years ago. On its last three MOTs it had only done 50 miles a year each time.’

Paul Tuohy, chief executive of Cycling UK, 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.’