In Print: Chasing Walter Greaves (for 45,000 miles)


By Léo Woodland, Illustration by Rich Kelly.

It’s been held by General De Gaulle’s chauffeur, by a professional, by several amateurs… yet never, so far as I know, by an American. It’s the record for the greatest distance covered in a year. And 75 years ago this winter the record was broken by the oddest man of all, and certainly the most disagreeable.

Walter Greaves had reason to think little of the world. For a start, he had only one arm. But he developed his grievance into such an unpleasant personality that one member of his old club told me he didn’t dare reflect on the old record-breaker “for fear of what I may say about him.”

The idea for a one-year distance record was born in the days when bike companies advertised the reliability of what they made. Working men bought bicycles and they wanted them as indestructible as themselves. What better proof than a bike that had gone further in a year than any before?

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