The Pedal Revolution Insanity Sportive 100 Miles, 17 September 2023

While I signed up for this as soon as it became available as it was to have been my challenge for the year, as the date drew near I realised I simply wasn’t ready for 150 miles. Then, because the date was later than last year’s – and the days shorter – the event had to be completed in daylight – around 12 hours. In 2022 I did complete the 150 miles in just under 12 hours, but I dropped the idea for this year, thinking I might ride 125 miles instead. But son Matt had expressed an interest in riding it too and thought he might manage 75 miles. 

So we started together leaving any decision on the final distance till later in the day – but we were both doing ok so decided to go for the 100 – Matt’s first century. As I rode to and from the start adding an extra 25 miles, all challenge was not lost. I might have managed the full 150 but not in the time, though riding with Matt made the miles go better – though towards the end I did hear the question “are we nearly there yet” once or twice – an echo from 35 years ago!

Event organisation great, weather mostly cloudy with little bits of sun, mostly quiet roads.



The Pedal Revolution Southwold Roubaix

Well organised, friendly sportive along some quiet roads with good food, good signposting – and atrocious weather!

This sportive includes some optional off-road sections (hence the “Roubaix” in the name – the professional Paris Roubaix race incorporates cobbled tracks) but I didn’t attempt these. The only non-tarmac bit for me was a cycle path, a foot/cycle bridge and a gravel track – but even that was too much for me as I fell off on a steep turn. 

Managed to stay upright for the rest of the day despite the weather’s attempts. Roughly, the first 25 miles was ok – some very slight drizzle but also some sun, the next 25 saw very heavy rain which we then rode out of onto dry roads for the next 25. That lulled me into a false sense of security and, having signed up for 100 miles, was determined to continue with that rather than taking a short cut back to the finish (and wouldn’t have been alone in doing that). Of course, the heavens opened again, though not quite as much as before!

It made for a challenging ride – but that’s the whole point! Quiet roads, good signposting, proper food (wide choice of sandwich, crisps, fruit, flapjack – some homemade), friendly riders, even considerate car drivers  all contributed to good day though cold fingers found it hard to get the bikes onto the car at the end. Rode with Mark McAllister though he’s too strong for me (especially at this distance when I ride to my heart rate and try to avoid over-cooking anything) so often saw him disappearing into the distance to then meet up again later at a food stop.


Hodges and Sons Hadrian’s Wall Coast to Coast Ride 12-13 September 2022

A 3 day riding holiday with our two sons, Chris and Matt. Starting at Whitehaven on England’s West Coast we rode across the country to North Shields on the East Coast – 150 miles with some challenging hills and some unexpected sea cycling.

We all arrived in Penrith on the Sunday evening at the door of our B&B at exactly the same time – Chris having cycled part way from Bristol, Matt and I together by car from Norfolk. Bikes duly re-assembled and stored at a very nice B&B and we were soon off in search of a meal. Not as easy as it might have been (many places shut or full), but eventually found a pub serving food.

This was an organised holiday ride  – delivery of ourselves and our bikes to the start (and collection from the finish), B&B’s booked and luggage carried from one B&B to the next – by a local Penrith company, CycleActive. They provided the route (National Cycle Network/Sustrans 72), but otherwise we were on our own to ride at our pace. First class organisation, great B&B’s, worked really well for us.

So on the Monday morning we duly cycled to Penrith Bus Station where our bikes were loaded onto a trailer and we set off in a coach to Whitehaven along with 7 or 8 others on the same route as us and a few others with the same start point but different routes.

Whitehaven, ready and raring to go – (Click on any photo to enlarge)

Riding along coastal, shared foot/cycle paths we headed north through Workington and Siloth (lunch) in some occasional light rain.  At some point we left the coastal path and were on a very quiet road,  I was in the lead and suddenly saw only water on the road and on the verges either side:

Water, water, everywhere – that’s me in the distance with the others waiting for me to fall over/my bow wave to settle!

Realised later it was high tide and the road was subject to flooding but I just carried on up the middle (hopefully the shallowest part and less subject to potholes). Fortunately it wasn’t quite pedal deep. and we made it, unscathed, to Bowness on Solway for a tea break.

Heading into Carlisle for our first night stop, we somehow managed to get  onto footpaths (with steps), so some bike carrying was required but then found our hotel in the centre of Carlisle. This time we quickly spotted a likely restaurant and made sure of our meal – we felt we’d earned it and were aware of the hills the next day.

About to leave Carlisle

Day 2 was definitely the hilly day – over 3,500 feet of climbing – I noted one or maybe more gradients of  17% and several of the hills a mile or more in length. Chris was having mechanical issues with his gears but he managed and I managed to stay on the bike and not fall off or have to get off and walk. Matt had little experience of hills but coped really well. Grateful to the kind driver who, on a narrow stretch of road, rather than crawl up behind us on one hill at 5mph, stopped in a layby and waited till we reached the summit before attempting to get past. 99% of drivers patient and courteous.

During the day we visited several of the Roman remains that give the title to this ride – a turret on the way:

Banks East Turret remains and what it would have looked like

Then spent a long time in Roman Vindolanda. This is the remains of a Roman town with a museum and some replica buildings – quite fascinating.

Then onto Hayden Bridge to another very nice B&B. There our landlady advised us to book our evening meal immediately as only one pub in the village was serving food that evening – too late – so fish and chip shop to the rescue and seats and pints in the garden of another pub. Our landlady and her husband had spent much of Covid lockdown in Lego construction:

Set off the next morning towards Newcastle and North Shields. No big hills today but lots of cycling on shared paths so slower speeds and continually looking out for dogs and people – a lot better than city traffic though. We had a deadline – we needed to be at the pickup point at 3pm else it might have been a very expensive taxi ride back to Penrith – so we kept moving, riding along the north bank of the Tyne for much of the way with its distinctive bridges:

Matt was our official photographer with many photos and videos taken as we cycled




The official end to the ride – National Cycle Network 72 though we carried on to a slightly more easterly point:


And then we and our bikes were then transported back to the town we’d started from – Penrith – and another very nice B&B. The welcomes we had from the B&B hosts and the friendliness of locals, other cyclists and walkers all very memorable and made for an excellent holiday.


Pedal Revolution Insanity Sportive, 150 miles, Sunday 22 May 2022

First sportive in ages – until recently didn’t have many free Sundays.



Not really sure what’s Insane about it – my son regularly rides much longer than that and I was riding 150 miles occasionally in 2021 in training for the 12 hour TT that never happened. That year I had felt pretty confident that I wouldn’t disgrace myself at more than that distance – but with the cancellation of the event, my training lacked motivation and I felt I had nowhere near enough miles on the saddle for this event.

But Pedal Revolution events are well organised and with proper food at food stops (not just snacks, other sportive organisers take note) – sandwich, crisps, flapjack, fruit – and pasta at the second food stop. Had been dreaming about the latter as I approached the 120 mile stop – for me, food becomes more difficult as the miles mount up. Flapjack/granola/cereal bars work ok to start with but most energy foods/drinks are sweet (or very sweet) and they just get too much after a bit so I really appreciate something  savoury. Riding without enough food is a certain recipe for a very hard ride or even abandoning it. 

After about 30 miles!

While I knew many of the roads, it was often a delightful surprise to come onto a familiar road from a different direction. Most of the roads were small/very small and pretty empty of any vehicles apart from our bikes – well it was a Sunday, which obviously helped. Even crossing some bigger roads was comparatively easy.

Some riding in company but I’m also quite happy on my own – though when my bike computer and the event sign posts seemed to disagree, it was reassuring when others came by.

Weather crisp but sunny to start with mostly sunny intervals  but very pleasant the rest of the day  – but with enough wind to make riding a little harder at times. Many cyclists insist that tailwinds are just a myth – certainly with twisty roads in Norfolk that can seem very true.

The event covered 100, 125 and 150 miles – and the choice can sometimes be a bit difficult when coming up for a route split. When the 100 mile route split off, it was no big deal but I knew that the choice between taking the shorter 125 mile route and the longer 150 mile would be a challenge, but I had signed up for the full 150 and my granddaughter had given me a handlebar stem cap:


 Well, I saw this every time I looked down at my handlebars and, in the end, there was never really a question when I got to the route split – on I went for the full 150 miles – an extra 2.5 hours, knowing there were a couple of quite steep hills to look forward to.

If I include the two miles each way to the start and back home, this makes my second longest ride ever – though some way behind my 232 mile TT 51 years ago. Having done it once, I’m not thinking of repeating it in the near future – the bike was faultless, but the legs showed their age at the end!



End of a Dream

Well, my plans to ride/race the Kent Cycling Assn 12 Hour Time Trial are over – the race has been cancelled due to lack of entries – not altogether a surprise in the current climate, but still quite disappointing

As you may see from my other posts, this was to have been the 50th anniversary of this my first (and last to date) 12 hour race, but it’s not to be. Both my training and preparation had been going fairly well and I was reasonably confident of being able to finish at or better than my target distance – so that’s perhaps the main positive I can take from this.

There is another 12 hour TT the same day – in Wales! That could well have impacted on the numbers as not that many folk are prepared for races of this length. I thought hard about it, but, for me, Wales doesn’t have the same nostalgic feel; the course does have hills – not that much but a lot more than the Kent course (and more than my current training) and I couldn’t get my head around food/drink issues (I was planning on being self-supporting) owing to the geography.

I’d been wondering recently what was to be my target for 2022 – I’d enjoyed doing a 25 mile Time Trial recently and may do a few more – but they weren’t the sort of target I had in mind. 

First 25 Mile Time Trial for 50 years

As part of my preparation for my 12 hour time trial in September – and because I just couldn’t resist it (it was on a Saturday afternoon and an hour’s drive from home)  – I entered the East Anglia Veterans 25 mile Time trial on 7th August. (Veterans are those older than 40!).

Because I had no recent time for this distance, I was the first rider to start, so I signed in, pinned on my number (6 – don’t ask, I don’t know either), warmed up and went off to the start. Was then counted down by the timekeeper and off I went – a few hundred yards of decent single carriageway road, onto a roundabout and then joined the dual carriageway A428 heading west for about 6 miles. Then turned round at a roundabout and doubled back to the first roundabout – then repeated the circuit again.

The road was fairly flat and I just went all out. I don’t normally ride on dual carriageways and it was slightly unnerving at times but I mostly held to the middle of my lane but weaving a little due to the cross winds – and the effort I was putting in. Most vehicles passed with a wide berth, but there’s always a few who think it’s clever to pass very closely. The flat course suited me well and I was amazed to see my speed was steadily around 22-23 mph – a bit higher at times and a bit slower towards the end. I had hoped I would do better than 1 hour 20 minutes, dreamt I might perhaps make 1 hour 15 minutes but was amazed when I saw that I clocked 1 hour 10 and 23 seconds – that’s over 21mph.

That’s on a par with my times 50 years ago (as far as I can remember) and when I apply my veteran’s age handicap of just under 9 minutes, it makes it my best ever 25mile TT – at over 70!

I normally keep a close eye on my heart rate (which is a better guide of effort than speed alone) but I found myself riding at my max heart rate of just under 160bpm – I wasn’t sure how long I could sustain that and, sure enough, my speed dropped off a bit for the last two or three miles – about the same time as I started to get overtaken. Only by about 4-5 riders – but I had expected to get overtaken by lots – bear in mind that the top riders would have been doing over 35mph – but they didn’t start until long after I finished (due to be 150 or so riders).

Still slightly amazed – and absolutely delighted!

No photos, only memories!

12 hour plans in doubt!

The Kent CA 12 hour time trial has been cancelled due to lack of entries. There is a Welsh 12 hour on the same day, but it’s a hillier course and more challenging in other ways… Still trying to work out if I can do it!



Setting Goals for 2021 – Declaration of Intent

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 in 2021. This year will mark 50 years since the Kent 12 Hour Time Trial I rode way back in 1971 – 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.

** I subsequently found that my memory was wrong – I actually rode 232 miles. My disappointment was really that I failed to make the 240 mile mark! I held the record in my club for nearly 30 years and, 50 years on, I still have the third longest ride. In fairness, not that many folk in the club have ridden this particular event!

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 well over 300 miles is to be expected. 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, 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.

Then and Now – 50 years apart. Click to enlarge

This event is due to take place on 5th September 2021 near Rye, East Sussex- here’s the link to the course detail – 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  (these might work for shorter rides but not proving good for long ones) and drinking lots of water (though mine will have an energy powder addition, you should perhaps add tea or coffee) – all from the comfort of your own home. You’ll be able to track my progress on the above link – and you’ll also receive an email link if you let me know in advance that you will be watching. (Comments on this website are currently not working – but training has a slightly higher priority than fixing them!)

This is not a sponsored event – 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 and I’ll use the sense of all the paper money as a sail when the wind is behind me!

1971 Result sheet 

Kent CA 12 hour TT 1971

Gemini Club Results (club was formed in 1971)

Kent CA 12 hour TT – Gemini BC Results

Pedal Revolution Rallyé Events

A new take on sportives! Sportives are mass-participation events where riders gather together, start together, ride together etc – in both small and larger groups – and therefore not acceptable under coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

Instead these Rallyé events mean riders choose their own routes and distances but book a time slot to arrive at the event village (for food stop and photographs and socially distant chatting). Only limited numbers are able to be in the village at any one time so there will still be the sense of riding in a big event – but without riders actually congregating at any one time.

There are 3 events planned:

26 July  – the event village for this one is about 12 miles from home so I plan to head into Suffolk first and aim to ride about 120 or so miles that day


Saturday 15th August: This was to have been the Tour de Broads double weekend (2 x 100 miles) – and – for me – it still will be though I’ll be entirely on my own  today – I plan to ride to Walberswick and Southwold using a different route to the one I used for the July Rallyé event. Riding to the seaside is a new exploit for me (the swim not so likely) :

Sunday 16 August This is the proper Tour de Broads Rallyé – the event village is in now in Filby ( a village near Great Yarmouth); I had been hoping to ride to Great Yarmouth and include some of the Broads as well, but in view of the hot weather being forecast – and therefore the crowds expected at the seaside, the event village has moved inland and I’ll be exploring some smaller roads to avoid the coast road:

Oops – got that wrong! Sportives are almost invariably on Sundays and I assumed that the Sunday was the big TdeB day – nope, that was the Saturday when I was doing my own thing. Went to the event village on the Sunday and was puzzled to find no activity. Eventually went my own way and realised my date mistake when I got home.

Happy that I did manage 2 x 100 mile rides over the weekend though. Deliberately kept the pace down but was surprised to find a very similar average moving speed on both days (15mph is a fairly good speed for me over 100 miles) and it was only after about 80 miles on the second day when I also lost the tailwind I had been enjoying that the tiredness kicked in.

Sunday 6 September – the event village is in Norwich – again about 12 miles away away so I plan to do my own round Norfolk ride first before heading to Norwich and then home:

Well, the day was largely cloudy, but fine and I enjoyed meandering around Norfolk – some pleasant lanes, an unexpected but dry bridleway (which avoided a busy road). Kept the heart rate and therefore speed down and this worked well. Got a bit lost in the Northern Distributor road series of cycle paths (couldn’t understand what my bike computer wanted me to do), then got lost again in the Broadland Business park until I came to roads I recognised.

At around 90 miles I was steeling myself for a short, sharp and busy hill when I got overtaken by a young lady on a sit-up bike who just sailed past me, closely followed by another young lady on a regular road bike. I caught up with them on the flat and, yes, the first was on an electric bike. I had another 30 miles or more to go so the motor was an interesting idea!

I had wanted to do more than the 120+ miles, but I’d already been out more than 8 hours so kept to plan and didn’t extend the ride.







Pedal Revolution Rallyé – Old Buckenham – 126 Miles 26th July

A brilliant day – and this type of sportive suits me quite well. I chose my route to go down to the seaside (Southwold), then over a footbridge to Walberswick to the Black Dog Deli (well worth it). Saw some other Rallye riders on the way – they must have thought I was going the wrong way!

Then headed back towards the Event Village where I met some friends. Everyone here suitably keeping a safe distance. Wanted to make this a 200Km ride so rode on rather than take the quicker route home.

Friday-Saturday, 15-16 May 2020

This weekend was to have been a two day, 2×100 mile sportive, Tour de Broads Spring Double, one of my big challenges for the year – it’s nearly 50 years since I last rode two big rides back to back, though what sticks in my mind the most is the 12hour time trial I rode then (213 miles = 6th place).

In this time of lockdown the event is, of course, cancelled, but, for me, the challenge of multi day riding remains – I simply have no idea how my legs and I will respond to a second day’s riding and I want to find out – so I’m now riding a solo, private Tour de South Norfolk on 15-16th May. There is also the challenge of finding food and more especially water, so I’m only aiming for 2 x 100 KM rides, over local routes I know well and with short cuts and shops mapped if need be.

There was to have been a second event in August – Tour de Broads Summer Double – by then I should know how my legs will cope and, hopefully, I can plan food stops a bit better – so the target is the 2 x 100 miles for then.



Well, that went quite well. Legs on Day 2 seemed fine though the choice of some small, gravelly lanes from Winfarthing to Hapton was unwise – would have been better to stick to the Turnpike (but that can feel boring as I use it often). That, and the hills towards the end (deliberate choice) seemed to knock the average speed down (15.0 vs 15.6 on Day 1).

Yes, will aim to ramp up to 2×100 miles by August!