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Beryl Burton: Female Cycling Pioneer

Beryl Burton is, arguably, the UK's best ever female cyclist. In fact, it's hard to find enough superlatives to do her formidable athletic prowess justice. If you haven't heard of her before, you need we've decided to showcase her this International Women's Day. 

Born in Leeds in 1937, Beryl Burton took up cycling as an adult when she joined Morley Cycling Club on their Sunday rides. She got off to a slow start and her husband and constant supporter, Charlie, said that her first year at the club was unremarkable; she generally tailed the group on rides. By her second year, however, she was keeping up. And by her third? She was leaving them in her wake.

Beryl Burton cycling

Juggling her cycling with being a mother and work on a rhubarb farm, Beryl never received professional training but went on to become, arguably, the country's best ever female cyclist. She received accolade after accolade, including the Bidlake Memorial Prize a record three times. The prize is awarded annually for the most outstanding British cycling performance and has recently been awarded to Mark Cavendish, Laura Kenny and Chris Boardman. Not too shabby a list of fellow recipients! 

We've done some digging and give you a round up of this phenomenal rider's crowning achievements:

  • She took the Women's British Best All Rounder (BBAR) title 25 years in a row from 1959. 
  • She was a five-time world champion on the 3,000m track pursuit.
  • She was a two-time road race world champion
  • She held the world record for distance on a 12-hour time trial (277.25 miles) for two years before she was beaten by a man. She held it for 50 years before she was beaten by a woman.  
  • She was ' the Queen of British time-trialling'. 
  • She and her daughter Denise set the British 10-mile record for women riding in tandem: 21 minutes, 25 seconds. 
  • She was an immensely talented rider but achieved all this while only ever riding part-time and as an amateur
  • She was a phenomenal woman.
  • She was Beryl Burton, MBE, OBE (1937-1996).

We salute you, Beryl!

Beryl Burton with a medal

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