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 my 50th anniversary of this 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 knew I couldn’t sustain that for very long, and, sure enough, I couldn’t quite hold the pace to the very end.

I did get overtaken 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 did (due to be 150 or so riders).

Still slightly amazed – and absolutely delighted!

Noticed someone taking photos – will add if possible.

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 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.

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!