Sunday, January 15, 2012

George Pilkington Mills

George Pilkington Mills
George Pilkington Mills (1867-1945) was the dominant English racing cyclist of his generation, and winner of the first edition of the Bordeaux - Paris bicycle race in 1891. He set many records on bicycles and racing tricycles. He later won races and set records as an early car and motorcycle racer.

At the age of 18, 1886,  Mills set the record of the shortest time for riding from one end of Britain to the other. A distance of approximately 900 miles. He broke the record twice that year. Once on a large wheeled penny-farthing bicycle and once on a tricycle. On the bicycle he rode the distance in 5 days, 1 hour and 45 minutes. It took him 5 days, 10 hours on the tricycle. The record he set on the penny-farthing still stands today. That same year he also won the North Road 24-hour time trial on a penny-farthing with 288 miles and set records on a bicycle for 50 miles and 24 hours (259 miles) and set a tandem-tricycle record for 50 miles.

In 1988 he set the 100 mile tricycle record at 6 hours, 58 minutes, and 54 seconds. Mills also set the 50 mile tricycle record that year at 2 hours, 53 minutes and 42 seconds. It must be remembered that these records were set on dirt roads. The tires used in those day were not of the quality today's tires are and they were often slowed by multiple punctures.

George Mills won the first ever Bordeaux - Paris bicycle race in 1891. The organizers of the race, Veloce Sport, invited him because of his reputation and records in long distance races. Long distance cycling  events were very popular in this era. Bordeaux - Paris is a race of approximately 350 miles. During the early races pacing was allowed behind tandems and regular bicycles. In 1931 the pacing was taken over by motorcycles. In the inaugural event there were 38 cyclists entered. 

Mills took his first break 215 miles into the first Bordeaux - Paris race. He stopped for five minutes and ate some raw meat and a "specially prepared stimulant". He continued on to the finish in Paris where an estimated 7,000 spectators awaited the racer's arrival. The second place finisher was over an hour behind Mills. Riders were still coming in two days later.

Mills served in the military during World War I and joined the Home Guard during World War II. He was a founding member of the North Road Club (cycling club) in London. And remained a member until his death in 1945.
George Pilkington Mills

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