A few years ago, almost by accident, I started to set my riding goals or main targets for the year ahead. It started with my first century ride (100 miles), then RideLondon (2017 and 2018), Tour de Yorkshire (2018), Tour of Cambridgeshire (2019 – an antidote to Yorkshire whose hills defeated me). 2020 was to have been the year of the 2 day 2 x 100 mile Tour de Broads Sportives (Spring and Summer).
Well, those events in 2020 didn’t happen due to the pandemic but instead I rode a 2 day 2 x 100 Km solo event on the same weekend as the Spring event was to have been held and I rode a 2 day 2 x 100 mile solo event around the time the Summer was due. (In the spring, the challenge of finding water made me reluctant to head too far afield – I can carry enough food, at a pinch, but not water – but this became easier in the summer as lockdown had eased).
But here we are at the start of 2021. This year will be the 50th anniversary of the Kent 12 Hour Time Trial I rode – that’s the only event from my earlier career whose results (213 miles, 6th place) I can still remember (I had been a bit disappointed not to have made 220 miles – a nice round figure). While time trials are races against other riders, they are also, even primarily, races against the clock, with everyone aiming to improve on their previous time.
Each rider starts one minute after the other, and it’s strictly solo riding – no riding behind someone else in their slipstream or even alongside. Time trials are normally 10, 25, 50 or 100 miles – but a 12 hour event is a blend of speed and endurance – ride as far as you can in 12 hours on a given course. I think the winner in 1971 rode around 260 miles – these days over 300 miles is quite possible. I have no expectations of riding that far (or even as far as my earlier achievement) – after all, my bike and all equipment might be fairly new, but the legs are not!
It was the first (and only) event of that length I rode. I had wanted to do it again, but circumstances didn’t permit. So 50 years later I plan to make good on that, hopefully riding again for the club of which I was then a member – Gemini Bicycle Club in Greenwich, South East London.
50 years ago my support team was invaluable – they got me to the start (and home), waited at points around the course, kept me supplied with food and water – and encouragement. I still remember the slight feelings of disappointment when the going was tough and I couldn’t see my team’s little white van and the lift it gave me when I saw it and my team. These days, most of my support has been virtual – and, yes, it has been effective but I’m hoping having actual people on the road will tip the balance between just finishing and finishing well.
This event is due to take place on 5th September 2021 near Rye, East Sussex- though, of course, nothing is certain at the moment. While I do plan to have an actual support team in place, I hope you’d think about virtually joining me – cheering me on, eating jelly babies and flapjack and drinking lots of water – all from the comfort of your own home (go easy on the jelly babies). You’ll be able to track my progress on this site – and you’ll also receive an email link if I know in advance that you will be watching.
This is not a sponsored ride – but charities have taken a massive hit in donations during this pandemic and if you really want to encourage me, pledge and make a donation to a charity of your choice and let me know the details and I’ll use the sense of all the paper money as a sail when the wind is behind me!