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Three world records make Burton’s men ‘officially amazing’

Up, over and side-to-side – Andrei Burton and his stunt-cycling team were at their hopping best this morning when they smashed three world records in the space of 20 minutes to jump-start the 2017 Prudential RideLondon FreeCycle festival.

Burton and his merry-biking men gave the world’s biggest weekend of cycling a record-breaking start at the Green Park FreeCycle Festival Zone when they set best-ever marks for the highest bicycle forward step-up, the longest bar-to-bar bicycle jump and the highest bicycle bunny hop.

First up was Hungarian Lazlo Hegedus who achieved a childhood dream when he raised the ‘hook-up’ record for forward step-up by 2.5 centimetres to 1.795 metres, followed by Burton himself who side-hopped back-wheel to back-wheel from one thin wooden bar to another, pushing the record distance out three times to 2.81m, almost 30cm further than the previous best.

Then came Dutchman Rick Koekoek who broke his own bunny hop record by 2cm when he high jumped over a horizontal bar set at 1.45m.

“Three world records out of three, how good is that?” said Burton afterwards, clutching his latest Guinness World Record certificate handed to him by adjudicator Sofia Greenacre.

“I was confident about breaking mine but I’ve never seen anyone clear the bar the way Rick did. No-one else in the world could do that. And Lazlo with the hook-up was saying he was only 50-50 this morning – so to do that here was amazing.

“I only invite riders who are the best so we expect a lot, but these records are tough, however good they are. So I’m really happy. It’s good to give FreeCycle a record-breaking flavour.”

Burton’s record breaking has become a traditional part of the FreeCycle scene. An incredible seven records fell three years ago while in 2015 he leapt 262cm for the longest side-hop. Last year he smashed another three world records and he was originally aiming to set five new marks this time.

In the end, the team settled for three attempts during a short pause in the London Urban Trials contest held throughout the day at his ‘Buxton Arena’, a zone built specially for the stuntman to replicate the grey-stone buildings and bridges of the Derbyshire town that gives its name to the famous mineral water.

Hegedus was first to take to the stage and after one failed attempt – putting his left foot down on the top of the tower of white boxes, higher than the cyclist himself – he gave himself a bit more speed. 

Up he went, front wheel hooked on top, and in a flash onto the back. The 10-time Hungarian champion balanced for a brief moment looking out at the whooping crowd like a mounted general on his plinth.

“It was my dream when I was a child to become a Guinness World Record breaker,” said Hegedus later. “So to get the record for the hook-up is really special. This is why I came to London.

“I trained specially for the attempt and it took the maximum effort for me to do it. I’ve been training for this for more than 15 years. Fifteen years of experience and hard training and doing shows, and hours and hours of mental focus.”

Then came Burton. At 2.58m the 31-year-old from Exeter made it look so easy he moved the thin white wooden bars out a further 12 centimetres and did it again. Then again. Eventually, settling at 2.81m having hopped up, and along, to balance a moment on the precarious beam. Smile. Job done.

Burton put his right fist in the air and grinned at the cheering crowd. “It’s been fantastic,” he said. “It was such a hectic build-up I wasn’t sure how it was all going to go. But this is the biggest event of the year for me now, so I’m delighted.”

Koekoek was delighted too, as he responded to the crowd’s chants of “up, up, up” by bunny hopping higher than anyone before. But the Dutchman wasn’t satisfied with 1.45m and had three close attempts at 1.47m, getting the height on his third but just catching the upright on his way down.

“When I was 16 I saw someone break that world record and thought ‘I want to do that someday’,” he said. “It’s stayed in my mind ever since, so it was great to do it here in London as part of this event.

“I knew I could jump the height but each day is different. I’m glad it worked out today.”

The trio received their certificates from Greenacre, who was full of praise for their efforts.

“They were absolutely outstanding,” she said. “These guys are at the top of their profession, and achieving something that’s officially amazing.

“You know they are pros, but when you see them actually do these things it is incredible. That first record was 1cm taller than me. It’s outstanding.”

The Burton team’s record-breaking feats were watched by an awed and enthusiastic crowd, the morning pedallers already in festival mood on a day when more than 70,000 cyclists are expected to descend on central London to enjoy 10 miles of traffic-free roads linking seven FreeCycle Festival Zones where they can enjoy every conceivable kind of bike-related entertainment.