Taking on a Guinness World Record cycling challenge is a tough proposition for anyone. When that challenge is held on the Isle of Man TT mountain course, it’s even more foreboding. And if the person taking on the challenge is suffering the advanced stages of kidney disease — and will soon be undergoing a transplant — it’s downright incredible. But then 44-year-old Mat Dibb is someone who refuses to slow down.
“I was diagnosed with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis [FSGS] — chronic kidney disease — in 1991,” Mat says. “I carried on with life. I’ve always loved cycling and it became even more important to me after I was diagnosed. In fact, a few of years ago I did John o’ Groats to Land’s End — 1,000 miles in 10 days.
“But over the last couple of years my kidney function has dropped dramatically — I’m now at 20 per cent kidney function — and when it drops to 10 to 15 per cent I’ll be put on the transplant list. It’s become a question of watching my numbers and waiting, but it’s incredibly frustrating because I can feel my energy levels dropping as my kidney function deteriorates.
“However, I have something else to focus on right now.”
That’s right, because on September 14, Mat will attempt to set a new Guinness World Record on the Isle of Man TT course on an electric bicycle.
“I’ve been out to the Isle of Man in the last couple of years to combine two of my main passions: motorsport and cycling. Due to my reduced energy levels, I’m riding electric bikes these days. So I noticed that while the island gets invaded by something like 50,000 motorcyclists over the TT fortnight, riding electric bicycles isn’t something that is done very often there,” Mat says.
“I researched and spoke to Guinness World Records and it turns out there isn’t a category for e-bikes. But with Guinness it was very hard to agree with them a specific category. They couldn’t understand why it didn’t fit in with the TT Zero category, but that is for electric motorcycles, where they’re lapping at 120mph. The bike I’ll be riding is pedal-assist — it’s hybrid technology.”
Although this will be a new official Guinness World Record, an unofficial record for the course is already held by Isle of Man local TT hero Conor Cummins.
“My record attempt will happen while I’m taking part in the Shopright Mountain Challenge — it’s a proper time trial event for cyclists, with timing chips. That’s fantastic because it should fulfill Guinness’s criteria perfectly,” Mat says.
“And as it happens Conor Cummins did the Shopright Mountain Challenge a couple of years ago on an electric bike. Conor’s time was 2h 41m, but he stopped for a cup of tea with his mum in Ramsey. So I’m going to maintain the tradition and my mate will be standing outside Conor’s mum’s house with a cup of tea and a camera waiting for me!”
Although Mat has his own e-bikes for commuting and mountain biking, his sponsor — e-bikeshop.co.uk in Farnham — is getting hold of a specially quick model from manufacturer Moustache. “It’s flat-bar, but it’s more geared up for road riding than a typical hybrid.
“If I’m going to have to ride flat out, or as flat out as I can do for a couple of hours, that should be fine. I still go out for three or four hours every Sunday morning with my mates. I’m cycling to work every day, which is 30 miles a day anyway. So, assuming I get around my lap without any mechanical failures or crashes then I should be a World Record holder.”
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