Watt a challenge - Leeds Rhinos legend Senior in world record bid

He has been a world champion, now Leeds Rhinos legend Keith Senior is aiming to become a world record holder.

Monday, 25th May 2020, 5:00 pm
Keith Senior preparing for last year's ride to Wembley. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

The former Leeds and Great Britain centre is preparing to push himself harder than ever before on a 30-hour cycling challenge - all indoors.

Senior has been involved in charity work since hanging up his boots, because of injury, nine years ago.

Despite being a veteran of Rugby League Cares’ annual ride from Yorkshire to Wembley, he reckons this weekend’s static bike task is the toughest he has faced.

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Keith Senior made a brief playing comeback in Jamie Jones-Buchanan's testimonial game in January. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

The 44-year-old will be riding to raise money for Rugby League Cares, as part of a wider event organised to support the battle against motor neurone disease following his ex-teammate Rob Burrow’s diagnosis last December.

“The static bike world record is 28 hours,” Senior - a four-time Grand Final winner who played in two World Club Challenge victories, said.

“There’s slightly different parameters because everyone was in the same studio.

“We can’t do that so we are going to try the attempt on social media and we are aiming for 30 hours.

Ewan Dowes, playing for Hull, is tackled by Rhinos' Ian Kirke, Ryan Bailey and Jamie Jones-Buchanan. Picture by Andrew Varley.

“Basically, we are going to be sat on an exercise bike, turbo trainer or watt bike for 30 hours, with a few limited toilet breaks, but everything else - drinking, eating - will be on the bike.”

Around 24 people will be riding and Senior has his own team, who will make a donation to the MND cause, as well as RL Cares.

“It was an MND event first,” Senior, who is assistant-coach of Sheffield Eagles, said.

“We [RL Cares] were supposed to do a Toronto to New York bike ride, but that got cancelled because of coronavirus and we have probably lost £100,000 on that.

“The ride has been inspired by Rob Burrow and we support Rob as well so we will be making a donation to MND, as well as raising money for Rugby League Cares.”

Some big names will be riding as part of Senior’s peloton, including ex-players Chev Walker, who is now Rhinos’ academy coach, Gareth Carvell, Ewan Dowes, Wayne Godwin and Mick Cassidy, along with current player Sam Smeaton.

He said: “I have managed to find 10 other idiots to get involved. It is going to be hard; when you are riding outside you get uphill, you get downhill, you can pedal out of the saddle and there are times when you are freewheeling.

“There’s a lot of opportunities to get out of the saddle and rest your backside; but on a watt bike you don’t have that luxury.

“To stand up is difficult so you are constantly sat there, pedalling. There is no respite, it’s not like you have got a downhill bit when you can freewheel. It is a constant battle.”

Dowes, a former prop who began his professional career at Rhinos, recently completed a 26-hour static cycling challenge, along with ex-Man of Steel Paul Sculthorpe.

Senior reported: “I spoke to him afterwards and he had a lot of numbness in his hands - as well as his nether regions!

“He took quite a beating. We are supposed to be starting at 6am on Saturday and finishing on Sunday lunchtime so we’ve got to contend with lack of sleep and the monotony of being on a bike for 30 hours.”

The event will take place on the internet via Zoom as well as Zwift, a virtual cycling app.

“We are hoping to get people to join us,” Senior added.

“But obviously we are on our own, so it’s really boring.

“It’s all right talking to someone on a television screen, but it’s not the same as face-to-face.”

Rugby League Cares supports individuals and communities involved in the sport and focuses on four key areas: welfare, a benevolent fund, grants and heritage.

To sponsor Senior’s world record attempt, log on to https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Keith-Senior4

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