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 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 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.
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!