LUMBERTON — A 49-year-old Lumberton woman chalked up her fourth world record on Sunday after completing a 24-hour recumbent bicycle ride that spanned 470 miles, surpassing the previous record by almost 30 miles.
After traveling 14-and-a-half laps around a 32-mile course, Maria Parker smashed the record of 442.46 miles that Sandy Earl, 48 years old at the time, logged on a recumbent bike in August 2011.
Parker began pedaling rural Robeson County roads at 6 a.m. Saturday. By about 5 p.m., Parker had shattered her own 200-mile road record by 35 minutes; and three hours later, she bested her 200-mile, 12-hour record by eight miles.
Parker also holds the 100-mile road record, set on Oct. 1, 2010.
Three officials from the Ultra-Marathon Cycling Association tracked Parker’s progress, which slowed after the first eight laps from an average of 21.5 mph to about 15.5, according to Parker’s husband Jim.
“Trouble was on the horizon as she could not eat or drink enough calories to keep this level of effort going,” he said. “The only food she could tolerate was chocolate milk.”
The milk upset Parker’s stomach, Jim Parker said. She also had to combat temperatures that dropped to 39 degrees overnight.
“She was unprepared for the cold air temperature after midnight … she was forced to stop and add layers of clothing, including a heavy fleece coat that slowed her down,” Jim Parker said. “Despite these challenges, she pushed through each lap… .”
Parker began riding about six years ago when she and her husband opened “CRUZBIKE,” an online business that sells recumbent bicycles.
“This is the last record that I think I can do, that I haven’t done yet,” Parker told The Robesonian on Friday. “So this is the last one on the list.”
Parker said she plans to take part in long-distance, multi-day endurance races in the future, and also to plan events to raise money for brain cancer research in honor of her sister, Jenny Mulligan, who was diagnosed with an incurable form last week.