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Amanda Coker becomes first woman in history to break 500 miles in 24 hours

Amanda Coker (Twenty24 Pro Cycling)
Amanda Coker (Twenty24 Pro Cycling) (Image credit: Twenty24 Pro Cycling / Barbara Kreisle Photography)

In the 24 hours that it takes the Earth to rotate once on its axis, there is time, it seems, for nearly anything. On October 23, 2021, Amanda Coker’s world rotated around a 28-mile section of road in Florida, as she became the first woman in history to ride more than 500 miles in 24 hours. In total, she rode 512.52 miles - about the distance between London and Frankfurt. She crushed the previous 29-year-old record of 439 miles by 76.2 miles, and accumulated an astonishing 10 other world records. 

“The first twelve hours flew by so quickly,” she said, “I concentrated on settling into a smooth and steady rhythm, focusing on getting calories in early and keeping my caffeine levels even. During the day I had one headphone in listening to music and I could hear all the notification dings from my friends, family, teammates, athletes, sponsors, and followers. Even though I couldn’t see the messages it definitely helped boost my drive just hearing them!”

The course that Coker had selected for her world record attempt was surveyed and certified by WUCA (World Ultra Cycling Association). The route was “an out and back open road” close to her home, with good visibility and “a nice sized area on the right side of the white line to ride in.” Crosswinds, however, blew in from the nearby Florida Hills, and “even through the night time the crosswinds were constant, regardless of the North/South direction.”

Despite these conditions, Coker seemed to relish the challenge of cycling at night. “I like riding in the dark, especially during an ultra-race,” she said, “there’s just something unique about riding with only a light guiding your way, it makes you feel like you’re flying on the bike.” 

In the dark, after 342 miles, Coker, ”figured it was about time to pull into the pit for a quick bathroom stop. Being out in the Wilderness Preserve, there were no bathrooms here, so I used a small camping shower tent and a portable potty bucket. My crew were phenomenal in that short break; swapping out fresh bottles, checking tire pressure, checking portable chargers, helping me clean up and giving me supplies. It was like a NASCAR pit stop, many cogs turning.”

It was not just her crew that provided valuable support as Coker’s family and friends cheered as she rode past every lap, their encouragement spurring her on. “Talk about a burst of energy that overcomes you,” Coker said, “there’s something powerful when your friends are jumping up and down dancing and cheering!”

Their cheers became even more delirious as, after 23:13:45 of riding, Coker completed 500 miles. “That moment was so special, Chris (my Crew Chief) got a video of me celebrating and with that exclamation of excitement and elation, I dumped all my adrenaline. It was quite the moment, the sun was rising, the air was cool, and I could hear my voice echo all across the road.”

Fourteen miles later and Coker had been riding her bike for 24 hours. “I unclipped and fell into my Mom’s arms,” she said, “my body was so tired that I couldn’t lift my leg over to dismount so they had to remove my Felt seat post, and guide the bike away. I knew I would cry, so the tears flowed as everyone surrounded me in a huge group hug.”

In her day, Coker had time to break 11 women's overall world records, including the furthest distance completed in six hours, 12 hours and 24 hours, as well as the fastest time for someone riding 100km, 100 miles, 200km, 200 miles, 300km, 300 miles, 500km and 500 miles.

"It should be noted that I was focused on the 24 hours and used the additional ten records as motivation in route to breaking the 500-mile barrier! I'll definitely make a proper attempt at the shorter distances in the near future," she said.

Twenty24 confirmed that Coker's record attempt was verified, certified, and officiated by WUCA.

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Issy Ronald has just graduated from the London School of Economics where she studied for an undergraduate and masters degree in History and International Relations. Since doing an internship at Procycling magazine, she has written reports for races like the Tour of Britain, Bretagne Classic and World Championships, as well as news items, recaps of the general classification at the Grand Tours and some features for Cyclingnews. Away from cycling, she enjoys reading, attempting to bake, going to the theatre and watching a probably unhealthy amount of live sport.