Born to Bike RT -Bridgtown Cycles  24hr assault on the wet roads of Shropshire

After their success in the Championship 50 and 100-mile events in June and July, it was another gruelling weekend for the men and women of Born to Bike – Bridgtown Cycles at the Mersey Roads 24 Hour time-trial 22nd / 23rd July 2017 

Once again the 7 tough women and men of Born to Bike’s Long-Distance squad proved they have what it takes for the UK’s, longest time-trial on the CTT calendar; in fact the toughest, longest unpaced time-trial in the world. Libby McLaren, Jacqui Hobson, Lynne Biddulph, Jasmijn Muller, Bob Awcock, Dave Pemberton and Edgar Reynolds excelled themselves in what can only be described for most of our two teams as the ‘toughest 24 hours of their lives’(so far). They survived 10 hours of varied rainfall from Saturday afternoon till after midnight Sunday, but ‘atrocious conditions’ was the only way of describing the torrential rain that soaked the riders in the Prees-Wem-Battlefield area. As if that hilly section of road wasn’t bad enough in good, dry conditions, the riders entered a ‘wall of cold water;’ ankle-deep floods, and a vile slurry spray from passing traffic. A lack of wind meant the cold rain stayed above the riders, encapsulating them until they escaped to normal rain, but knowing they had to return within the hour. Some suffered from loss of body heat, even with race-capes, gilets and over-shoes on.

Bob Awcock doing some fine adjustments in the BtB Support HQ

None of our brave riders escaped these wet conditions, having to pass Prees RAB either every hour from Ternhill, or every 45 minutes on the Quinna Brook circuit. Prees to Battlefield and back had to be covered twice on Saturday afternoon, with Steve Biddulph and John McLaren supplying shelter, sustenance and caring words at the ‘Bridgtown Cycles’ gazebo. It was a godsend in the conditions as our riders could get changed out of wet clothing, and have a bowl of something warm in a comfy chair, although it did lack a blow-heater, carpet, TV, comfy bed, zip sealed door and windows! Long-time Born to Bike supporters Phil and Pauline St. John also found it great to be at the hub, the ‘buzz’ where the action takes place  Jasmijn was the only one who didn’t stop; though she was chasing Christine Roberts’ Competition Record of 461.45miles. Lynne was encouraging the rest of our indestructible women’s team to ‘keep going,’ as Libby had to ease back every now and then due to having had knee surgery in the Spring, and Jacqui was in the latter stages of a bout of ‘shingles,’ – not ideal for such a demanding event.

Libby McLaren on the finishing circuit on her second ever 24 hour National Championship.

The ‘lads’ rode very well, it being Bob’s first 24 hour race at the age of 73, Edgar at 69yrs-of age and Dave (the young lad) at just 50. Edgar being our most experienced with upwards of 14 x 24’s to his credit, and Dave with 6. Dave loves his ‘24’s and builds his season around the Mersey 24’ and the West Cheshire 12hr. So we had a women’s squad of 4 riders and a men’s team. Being the only women’s team it seemed obvious they should win, but it’s not always plain-sailing as anything can happen (and often does), with sickness, total fatigue or mechanical problems amongst the reasons. For this reason it was good we had a 4th rider (Libby) battling away in reserve in case anyone packed. At midnight it was good to see the whole squad still riding. Jasmijn had moved up to 5th overall behind Jonathan Shubert, Vic Chetta and Mike Broadwith. Jasmijn’s 100 time being 4-29, Lynne’s 4-41-04, and Crystal Spearman 4-41-57. Jasmijn and Crystal riding their first official CTT 24hr race, whereas Lynne was on her 22nd 24hr with a PB of 459.29m in 2007, the 2nd highest mileage in history after Christine’s 461.45m. in 1993.

BtB’s very own TT secretary, Dave Pemberton on the finishing circuit.  
Edgar Reynolds, a veteran of the National 12 & 24 hour Championships and his first year riding for BtB.

I haven’t any other 100m or 12 hour details of the event as yet, I’m still working with a provisional result sheet, I’m also intrigued to find out what happened to Jon Shubert; did he have an accident, suffer from severe cold after the rain, stomach trouble, or maybe he just rode to finish for a Team Championship medal? However, it was great for Liz and I to see the whole ‘Magnificent Seven’ still riding just after dawn, going into a cold day-break. Heavy rain had moved away during the hours of darkness and despite our riders wearing full night kit, one or two were on the verge of mild hypothermia. Bob was quite stiff-jointed by this time, and needed a little help to get on and off his bike, it being the longest, furthest ride of his life so far, with another six hours still to ride. Edgar was riding well, looking invulnerable and seemingly doing his usual mileage, as was Dave. Libby needed a little extra care so as to keep her legs warm, but you could see the signs of suffering and physical weariness on her face. Like all Born-to-Bike women, she smiled through the bad patches and never complained. Obviously there was concern about her knee, which prevented her from building up her stamina. We’d said to Libby and Jacqui that their health was more important than finishing a 24hr, or any race just for the team. It wasn’t said as an easy get-out for them, as both riders were determined, and knew not to take any risks.

Lynne started well, keeping in contention with Jasmijn and Crystal, but Jasmijn had  pulled ahead at the 100 mile point by catching Crystal, so Lynne decided to ride her own race and let them go. As far as we know, Jasmijn only stopped once for warmer clothing, whereas Mike Broadwith stopped four times to change, and still did 532 miles! Once mid morning had come and warmth returned I knew that barring accidents etc, all our riders would finish, whereas many others had already climbed off and gone home. Despite weariness they headed towards the finishing circuit near Wrexham, and by this time we knew Jasmijn was still the fastest woman, but looked very stiff in her upper body, possibly from the rain and cold. Once on the finishing circuit we stayed in one place to cheer everyone, but most riders had a fixed stare that said – ‘I just want to finish!’

Libby, Jacqui and Lynne stopped for a quick drink, something to eat or take with them, and it was then that Lynne said she’d had stitch, indigestion and a pain in her side for most of the race, despite taking Rennies and Peppermints; Bob, Dave and Edgar were glad of a cheer as they passed, with the knowledge they’d soon be finished.  At 2:06pm it was all over for our Born to Bike teams, – 7 riders started, and 7 magnificent riders finished.  Arctic Tacx RT’s Championship winning team of Broadwith, Shubert and Abraham rode 1340.80m, and our Women’s Championship Team the 2nd highest with 1175.58m. Our men’s team were 3rd overall with 1034.83m. and a mix of men and women vets, meant we’d also won the vets team championship. Four teams failed to finish this challenging race on such a tough weekend. 11 women started, 10 finished, and Born-to-Bike-Bridgtown Cycles women’s team rose to the occasion once again. Arctic Tacx have won the men’s team race three years in succession, but I foresee a time when their speed, keenness or stamina  will run out, so wouldn’t it be great to have a Born to Bike men’s team ready to take over, or at least challenge them. It’s a truly great event, lots of food & drink (bring your own). Minimum mileage required per man is 500m. – could this be you?  If so, please ask Steve Biddulph or me for more details.          

Looking at our ‘Magnificent Seven’s results so far, Jasmijn 456.42m, Lynne 403.00, Jacqui 316.16, Libby 303.04. Edgar 379.03, Dave 332.42, Bob 327.69m.

 Well done all of you, and dare I say – ‘Roll on 2018’ where there may be two 24’s?

Lynne, Jasmijn & Jacqui; The wining women’s National 24 hour team for the second year running

Born to Bike women are also very fast:  On August 5th, just two weeks after the 24hr, Lynne and Jacqui shook off their aches and pains and travelled to Wales in support of Born to Bike RT at the CTT Women’s 25-mile Championship. Looking at our rider’s short distance form this year, I’d have put Katja, Sue, Lynne, Jacqui, then April in order of performance. Lynne said it was just another tough race, but glad that she’d ridden an evening 10 after the 24hr to give her lungs a blast. It wasn’t so long ago that the women’s 25 Championship took place the same day as the men’s, with about 40 women riders, but I’m glad to see an increasing amount of women racing now, especially at 10’s and 25’s, for almost a full field this year with 98 finishers. Professional Hayley Simmonds won with a 50-10, and Drag2Zero won the team, Rachael Elliot 51-43, Kate Allan 51-50 and Alice Lethbridge 52-40; a new team comp record of 2hrs-35-33. In the past there have been very few teams entered, whereas in this event I lost count after five!

Katja, Sue & Lynne after the National 25 (missing in action was Jacqui and April)

The course near Neath is known as the ‘ski slope,’ and Lynne described conditions as 15 miles of downhill into a head-wind, and 10 miles back; coming so soon after the ‘24’ she was pleased with her time, coming 35th with 58-17, but Katja was our fastest rider in 27th place with 57-18, just 59 secs faster than Lynne. Sue Semple had a great ride with a 58-36, but described hers and Alastair’s journey to the event in heavy traffic as ‘touch and go’ in many places, Monmouth being the worst, whereas Lynne and Steve struggled for nearly 2-hours to get through the West Midlands on their way to the event. Jacqui was pleased with her PB 1-04-18, which proved she’d also recovered from the 24hr; April’s 1-09-50 was also a good performance on not exactly a ‘float’ day.

Just one week later – the ECCA CTT Championship 12 Hour:

So that’s 3 Championships in 3 weeks – AMAZING! Course E2/12hr Sawston – Royston – Duxford. Lynne thinks she first rode this 12hr course in 2008 when she won the women’s Championship medal with 251.12m, and stood on the podium alongside Ian Cammish who won the men’s event with 283.68m. Lynne wasn’t officially asked to go on the podium, and it was Ian Cammish who invited her to stand with him. I felt then that a great stride had been made for parity and equality with a helping hand from Ian. Lynne won the Championship again in 2011 on the Shropshire course with 252.55m, but without the backing of a women’s team, as there wasn’t a Championship Team award or medal at that time. But there was a Competition Team Record listed, and Walsall Roads CC  Lynne Taylor, Marina Bloom and Tracey Maund have held that record since 2004 with 743.47m.(an average of 247.9m per rider!)

Despite having 5 Born to Bike women on the start sheet, only Lynne, Katja, and Jacqui found the energy to ride the 2017 ECCA Championship 12hr near Cambridge. I’m not quite sure what happened to our other two women riders, but they certainly missed out on a cracking day on a new and faster 12hr course. So far this year we’ve already won Championship Team medals at 50-miles, 100-miles, 24 hours and the BBAR, so it just needed 12hr medals to top it off, but with the women’s squad reduced to a team of three, it was fingers-crossed that they all finished. Bob and Edgar also proved they were up for more punishment, as will be seen by their results (Bob a PB 208-miles we think)!

So far in our 8-year history, Born to Bike – Bridgtown Cycles women in 2013, 2016 and 2017 have won the women’s 50m Champs. Team medals, and in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2016 and 2017 won 100m Team medals as well as being the fastest BBAR Team in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2016 and 2017, but as you may have noticed in the handbook, the women’s Team race at 12hrs and 24hrs isn’t annually recognised in print. Only men’s teams are listed after their solo Championship winners, so I will strive at future CTT meetings to get this anomaly corrected, hopefully for the next handbook, after all, we’ve won the 24hr Team award and medals three times since Born to Bike was formed; first with a mixed team of Lynne, (JC) John Cornfield and (Pembo) Dave Pemberton, for the 2012 overall Championship Team which was lucky as ‘mixed’ teams are no longer recognised. The 2016 ‘24’ had a women’s team of Lynne, Jacqui and Libby, and in 2017 Jasmijn, Lynne and Jacqui.  Mixed teams are only allowed in Vets championships.

My interpretation of the CTT ruling is if 10 or more women enter, then gold, silver and bronze are awarded. If there is 5 or more, then gold and silver are awarded to the fastest two, and if there’s less than five; just a gold. These rulings at the moment seem to be more for guidance as the CTT has so far looked kindly on the subject. The way forward is to get more women entering, even though quotas shouldn’t govern this ‘catch-22’ situation. Hypothetically I wonder what would happen if 5 women entered (including a team of three), and all the team finished, each one with very good mileage, either at 12hrs or 24hrs?  I can only recall one Born to Bike rider in discord with this system in recent years, and with more women entering 12’s and 24’s maybe it won’t happen again. In this years Mersey 24 there were 12 women entered, so gold, silver and bronze medals were awarded, plus Team medals; and with 19 women in this ECCA 12hr, with Born to Bike having the only team, I’m sure we’ve won Championship Team medals again!

All the information for this event came from Steve Biddulph who looked after Lynne and Bob, so as well as handing up food and drinks, Steve was texting and ringing riders times through to Liz and I at home as they passed him. With a 5am event start time Jacqui (11) passed the 80-mile point at 9:08am, just inside evens; Alice Lethbridge (66) 9:15, Richard  Bideau (85) 9:15 Alice Lethbridge (66) 9:15 Bob (31) 9:24, Edgar (19) 9:25, Lynne (64) at 9:26, Crystal Spearman (78) 9:32, Katja (88) 9:50, so as you can see Bideau had caught most of the field by this point, and knowing Duggleby and Shubert didn’t start, it was left to Danny Grieves, Andy Jackson, Peter Harrison and Carl Donaldson to provide a challenge to Bideau, Grieves being last year’s winner on the Welsh course, and Katja the women’s. So Lynne was level with Katja here at a 23.5mph.

100-mile times: at the moment I only have Lynne’s, which is a 4-25-16, including 1.5miles off-course due to a badly placed direction sign; -apparently other riders went wrong too. Lynne said it was scary climbing over a barrier and crossing four lanes of a fast dual carriageway and losing approx 8 minutes, – the same amount of time Crystal Spearman had gained on her. Lynne took 5hrs-34m for 125 miles – still 35mins inside evens, and at 133m she’d taken exactly 6-hours at 12:04pm, Crystal Spearman came through at 12:07, so was 11mins up on Lynne.  Katja through at 12:20 was 8mins up on Lynne, and Alice Lethbridge was 18 miles ahead of all the women, and definitely on for competition record. Jacqui came through at 12:12, but I think she may have been detoured to keep the field together, as was Bob at 12:40.  By mid-day conditions were very hot as Katja and Crystal rode neck and neck on time, and Lynne wasn’t losing much on them either. Steve said other women seemed to be riding well, especially Army CU rider Christina Murray, sister of Keith Murray, another time-trial star of the last 20 years.

Confirmed 100 mile times:

BtB Riders:

Katja  –  4:20:54                                                  Lynne  –  4:25:16

Jacqui  –  5:08:13                                                Bob  –  4:49:00

Edgar  –  5:16:43

Best of the Rest 100 mile times:

Peter Harrison   –   3:37:19                               Alice Lethbridge   –   4:02:40

Richard Bideau   –   3:39:12                              Crystal Spearman   –   4:16:40

Andy Jackson   –   3:45:22                                 Christine Murray   –   4:20:33

Danny Grieves   –   3:47:45                               Michelle Lee   –   4:18:07

Rich Hunt   –   3:51:56                                        Carl Donaldson   –   3:45:55

By 1:38pm Lynne had covered 163m, and took a quick stop. With 186.7m ridden in 8hrs-24mins for a speed of 22.15mph, we realised Lynne was onto a possible PB, but it would be a close-run thing, as her best ride was 252.55m on this course, when she again won the CTT Championship in 2011. Steve now had to concentrate on Lynne’s speed as she went onto the finishing circuit at 2:50pm with 202 miles ridden, as a slight drop in mph would mean missing a PB. After one lap Lynne was closely followed onto the circuit by Katja, then Crystal. By 4:13 Lynne’s second 12.76m lap was 40mins the same as Katja, with Crystal taking 45mins. Bob was already on the circuit, and his first lap took 49mins, but the real battle on time was between Katja, Crystal and Lynne. Edgar’s first lap took 47mins, and the next entry on Steve’s log is a lap of 34mins from Alice Lethbridge, then 32mins from Bideau and Jackson, so obviously neck-and-neck for these two. Hoppo (Chris Hopkinson) had a 39min lap, Christina Murray with 38min, then Pete Harrison with 31 & 32min laps Lynne had another two laps of 38 & 39mins, and flying in an effort to beat Crystal, and match Katja’s lap times. Such impressive rides by our Born to Bike-Bridgtown Cycles squad, with Lynne, Jacqui, Edgar and Bob having raced for 24hrs just 3 weeks previously!   Three CTT Championships in 22 days!

 Steve’s last two logs were – Lynne due here at 16:53- -( passed at 16:51) then – Lynne due at 17:31 for 240m+ 1 more lap =252.76m   But it was going to be touch-and-go for a PB, and no-one knows the results yet, but the organisers were pretty sure that Beryl’s 277-mile competition record had been broken by Alice Lethbridge by 9 miles.

One abiding memory was hearing the harsh rumble of carbon wheels as riders sped past while Steve talked on his mobile, – it’s as if I was there at the roadside – – John Taylor.

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