Het is vandaag al vijf jaar geleden dat Billie Bartram, beter gekend als Billie Fleming (naar haar tweede echtgenoot, de wielrenner George Fleming; ze is ook gekend onder de naam van haar eerste echtgenoot: Billie Dovey), is overleden. Zij is heel belangrijk geweest voor het vrouwenwielrennen of nog meer voor het fietsen voor vrouwen in het algemeen, ook al omdat ze honderd jaar is geworden, wat toch wel een soort van “bewijs” voor haar gezonde levenswandel was.

She had taken up cycling around the age of 18 and, following the ideas of the Women’s League of Health and Beauty, she rode across the United Kingdom on a mission to promote the health benefits of cycling. She gained sponsorship from Rudge-Whitworth to provide a bicycle and financial support so that she could ride every day of the year in a wide variety of weather conditions. She was also sponsored by Cadbury chocolate. She was self-reliant on her journeys, cycling alone and calling in at cafes to eat. She did not carry any water. The distances were authenticated through a cyclometer on the bicycle and cycling check cards signed by witnesses that she submitted to the Cycling Magazine (now Cycling Weekly) offices.
Her cycling record bid started 1 January 1938 from Mill Hill in London. The summer weather was good, but December 1938 was snowy. The distance she travelled each day averaged 81 miles (130 km), but was up to 196 miles (315 km) in summer.
Her mileage (29,603.7 miles or 47,642.5 km) set a women’s record and attracted international attention. Her subsequent plan to cycle across the USA had to be called off because of the Second World War.
Haar record hield stand tot 2016. American Amanda Coker began a UMCA certified attempt to surpass Fleming’s record on 15 May 2016. On 21 September 2016, after only 130 days into her attempt, Coker passed Fleming’s record. Coker then went on to set the Guinness overall record (male or female) on 15 May 2017 when she finished with 86,573.2 miles (139,326.34 km). [Wikipedia]

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