This week, British Cycling lost one of it’s true pioneers of women’s cycling with the passing of Eileen Sheridan at the age of 99.
One of Britain’s greatest ever cyclists, Eileen blazed a trail for countless female riders before women were even allowed to compete on the Olympic or world stage.
Eileen first started cycling with Coventry Cycling Club in 1944, and began racing a year later, winning a 25-mile time trial and breaking her club’s record.
She then rode in the national time-trial championships, where she was crowned the winner, before taking a break from the sport to give birth to her son in 1946.
Returning to the bike just seven weeks later, Eileen began to test her endurance with 50-mile and 100-mile time-trials, and she became national champion for both distances in 1950.
In 1951, Eileen signed a professional contract with Hercules Cycle and Motor Company and went on to break the 12-hour and 24-hour record. She broke all 21 of the Women's Road Records Association records, with five of them yet to be beaten, including the London to Edinburgh record of 20 hours, 11 minutes and 35 seconds, set in 1954.
Nicknamed for her short stature at 4’11, the Mighty Atom went on to break the women’s record for Land's End to John O’Groats in 1954, in two days, 11 hours and seven minutes, having ridden the first 470 miles to Carlisle without a break, and bettering the previous record by more than 11 hours.
After reaching John O'Groats, Eileen had a break for less than two hours, and then continued riding, as her team wanted her to set a new 1,000-mile record. She completed the 1,000 miles in three days and one hour, smashing the women's record and finishing two hours and 20 minutes down on the men's record.
Eileen retired in 1955 and had her second child with her husband, Ken Sheridan. In 2016, she was inducted into the British Cycling Hall of Fame.
She will be fondly remembered and sorely missed, and our heartfelt condolences go to her family and friends at this time.