A FORMER Commonwealth Games star from Dunfermline has pedalled his way into the record books for cycling the iconic West Highland Way.

Former professional mountain bike rider Rab Wardell, who is originally from Dunfermline, jumped into the saddle for the 95-mile route from Milngavie, near Glasgow, to Fort William in September and set a new best completion time.

The 35-year-old, who competed in the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games, finished the stunning route – which includes 10,351 feet of climbing, and terrain that involves carrying, rather than riding, a bike – in nine hours, 14 minutes and 32 seconds.

Rab, who now lives in Glasgow with girlfriend, and Olympic track champion cyclist Katie Archibald, set the new record time just weeks after Fort William's Gary McDonald set a blistering target of nine hours and 28 minutes on the West Highland Way, which celebrated its 40th anniversary this year.

A former British Championships medallist, multiple Scottish champion, Race The World USA winner and British cycling team representative, Rab's attempt was also the subject of a recently-released short documentary film and, speaking to Press Sport, he admitted it took time for his achievement to sink in fully.

Rab, who first got into biking with Inverkeithing-based Sandy Wallace Cycles, had set records previously for the route and explained: "It certainly got a lot harder in the weeks leading up to it when the record was smashed by Gary McDonald!

"It was quite stressful at times; the weather was gorgeous but there was a sustained part where I was riding into a headwind, which is not a lot of fun, and certainly not good conditions for trying to set a record!

"The one mechanical issue I had was that I had a puncture just before Kinlochleven. I think in total it was somewhere between 20-30 minutes that I probably lost with weather conditions and mechanical issues on the day.

"It didn't really sink in for a few days, I would say. I finished the ride and I was initially disappointed because it hadn't gone quite to plan as I'd hoped. I think everyone was a bit confused because I'd done what I set out to achieve; I'd actually gone a lot faster than I'd planned to, and I managed to also break the new record, which had only stood for five or six weeks then.

"I was very satisfied when the dust had settled and I could sit down and reflect on it."

Rab, who runs his own cycling coaching company, trained with Katie during lockdown as she prepared for the Tokyo Olympics, which were eventually postponed for 12 months, and credited her with keeping him "on track and motivated".

That also gave him the inspiration to find a challenge for himself on the bike and, thanks to the support of several sponsors, and his friends at Cut Media – who have produced films with professional street trials rider Danny MacAskill – the film project became a reality.

"The project, as it began to snowball, really became about making a good film rather than about breaking a record," Rab continued.

"Obviously, that was key to the narrative, but it was a bit of a career highlight to be able to make a film, and certainly with the brands and partners that were involved.

"I was excited about the potential for sure but I was really anxious about the pressure of failing, going into it and not managing. I definitely felt the pressure and I was anxious and worried about it but I managed to pull it off.

"I don't want to say it was a good summer or a good year because I know it's been really challenging for a lot of people in this global crisis but I feel fortunate I was able to do something exciting and also something that seems to be so well received.

"The feedback from the film has been great and a lot of people have been saying that they want to walk, or ride, or get stuck into the West Highland Way next year. I imagine the time can be beaten and I'm hoping there will be an excitement around riding the route and seeing what happens with these record times.

"To get people shouting about it, looking at Scotland and wanting to come and visit, if that can happen as well, that's another great success for me to be proud of."

When asked what might be next on the horizon after completing the challenge – which he said he'd like to try again, unsupported – Rab laughed: "Let me just let this one sink in for a minute!

"I do want to capitalise on some of the opportunities that are coming up from this. I am focused on running my coaching company first and foremost, and making sure that my coaching company and the riders I coach and work with are supported, but I am also interested in competing myself.

"I don't know if it's a mid-life crisis or what it is but I'm not getting any younger and it seems like I managed to get myself into a fitness where I could be competitive. I'd like to do some racing and one thing I do really miss is travelling and competing in major events.

"If I could balance that with my coaching company and do some more races I'd be really happy with that."

You can view the film of Rab's record-breaking bike ride by watching the video above, or on YouTube by searching 'West Highland Way: Rab Wardell's Record Attempt'.