John Taylor’s BtB Prize Presentation Speech

So, believe it or not we had only our second ever, annual BtB prize presentation on Saturday night which saw the majority of the team get together at the team base here in the Midlands.

There were lots of presenation pieces on display and were snaffled up by the riders achieveing their standard awards (which for some had to break 3 National age records just to get their hands on a BtB award!)

So for everyone and those that are interested below is John Taylors opening address from Saturday night which summeraises what a great year that BtB had.

Born to Bike Awards Night for 2016

Ladies & Gentlemen, welcome to the 2016 Born to Bike Awards Night, and to all our new members – Hollie Owens – April Lewis – Ally and Mark Torode – Sean Sleigh – Edgar Reynolds – Dave Ellis – Alan Davies – Kevin Stokes – Chris Hall – Geoff Perry and Steven McLean.  When Geoff Perry isn’t racing, or helping Katya in her races, he can be found working out standards for thousands of VTTA competitors nation-wide.

 Looking at our membership of approximately 35, we are only a small club, but on seeing our riders achievements since 2010 it appears we are a huge club, especially in terms of solo and team awards at National Championships. A nucleus of riders live here in the West Midlands, but others come from as far south as Guernsey, London, Milton Keynes, Coventry and as far north as Stafford, Ashbourne, Sheffield and Ayrshire.

One person in particular stood out in 2016, when she won the National Championship 12hour – Katya Rietdorf, who was also the fastest woman in the VTTA BBAR competition. These amazing results are a ‘first’ for Katya, and she also played a major part in the women’s National 50m, 100m, and BBAR Team wins for Born to Bike along with Chris Melia, Sue Semple and Lynne Biddulph.  It was also a ‘first’ for a Born to Bike’s women’s Championship 24hr team, and a rider who has never ridden a 12hr, let alone a 24hr, – so a first for Libby McLaren. Whilst on this subject, we couldn’t have won the Team award without Jacqui Hobson and Lynne Biddulph, with Lynne pulling out the stops to win the National 24hr women’s event for the 7th time since women 24hr riders were first recognised as Champions in 2003.  This was also Lynne’s 22nd x 24hr.  Our strengths are in our tough Championship teams at all distances and duration, and we are all very proud of those achievements.  And a welcome back to racing for one of Born to Bike’s top long distance riders in 2013 and 2014, Helen Eborall, – a Championship 100m Team medallist in 2013, and in 2014, 247miles in 12hrs won her a Championship silver medal.  All this, despite saying she isn’t keen on the longer distances!

At the CTT Awards night in January Born-to-Bike won so many team trophies, that to save time, the CTT called our 6 women riders en-masse to collect their team awards, and it was great to see – Chris Melia, Katya Reitdorf, Sue Semple, Lynne Biddulph, Jacqui Hobson, and Libby Mclaren on the stage together. They won the 50, 100, 24hr and BBAR. Now I don’t usually say “what if,” or comment on things that could have, or might have been, but if we’d have had a 3rd rider in the 12hr, Born to Bike would have won that Championship 12hr team award as well, after all, Katya won the event, and Lynne came 3rd. In the course of writing the 24hr Journal since 2010; going to many time-trials and official meetings, a lot of people have commented how big the club must be to keep producing so many champions, and championship teams, and that’s the message I’d like to convey to each and every one of you here tonight, – you are all amazing, talented riders, always ready to take more punishment every year!

Never believe that you’ve reached your limit, or that you won’t achieve your goals; listen to your coaches, and tell them your aims. If your best distances are 10’s, 25’s, and the occasional 50, why not come out of your comfort zone, and try a 100, -even if it’s only one event at the end of the season, – you will be amazed at what you can do, and why stop at a 100? Throw caution to the wind, and go for it. Just look at Libby, Sue and Bob’s achievements in 2016, for their very first CTT awards. While I’m on the subject  of tough riders, Clare Campbell Smith also had a good year, coming 8th in the CTT Beryl Burton Trophy; Clare also helped Lynne and Sue to win the top VTTA club team award with 25m in 59-11, 2-6-25 for 50, and 4-41-12 for 100.   Chris Melia won CTT  Championship Team medals, and also took N. Midlands VTTA awards for a 10m in 21-24, a 25 in 55-11, and a 50 of 1-52-24, she was also the 2nd fastest lady in the VTTA short distance tables.   Sue Semple’s fast 50 and 100m times prompted her to remark -“My first CTT medals ever, – a dream come true – so grateful to Born to Bike for getting me there.”

Hollie Owens is our youngest rising star, winning the West Midlands junior circuit Championship in 2013, 2014, 2015, and in 2016 Hollie was 2nd in the GHS Time-trial Championship. At the moment she has a 10m PB of 23-34, which by the end of this year will be down to 22 minutes or less, I’m sure, so good luck for 2017.   Ally Torrode has a PB 10 of 26-11, and a 25 of 1-05-03, and I’m sure that next time she’s over here for a weekend, at least one of those PB’s will be smashed, and with Steve coaching Mark, I’m sure we’ll see some great results from both of you.

I hear April Lewis is very keen, and again I’m sure her PB 10m of 25-12, a 1-4-11 25m and a 50m of 2-19-20 will also be broken this year. The enthusiasm, help and advice   Hollie, April, Ally and Mark will get from other Born to Bike team members should see a successful season for all of them. In 2016 April won the Stafford RC women’s time-trial Championships, plus their club BAR, and short BAR. Her day job is running the South Staffs Cycling Scheme, organising rides for those who’ve just taken up the sport.

Jasmijn Muller’s season was blighted by bad luck, first of all with a DVT while reccy-ing the End to End route, and by the time her treatment had finished, she just managed to fit in 264m for the 3rd fastest woman in the Breckland 12hr event, before travelling with Cat Archer to the USA to ride a 24hr race in the Californian heat of 35-40C. Better luck to both of you in next year’s 24hr, and if you choose to swell our Championship team by riding the Mersey Roads 24hr this year (2017), I’m sure the temperature will be perfect.

73yr-old Bob Awcock was the first called to the stage to pick up a 50m age category medal at the CTT Awards night, proving that Lynne’s advice to ‘have a go’ was correct. He rode all the distances in a busy season, and just a few days prior to finishing his very first 12hr, Bob rode 2hrs-15min for a 50! His PB’s to date are 23-40 for 10m, a 1-01-58, 25m, a 2-11-51, 50, a 4-42-06, 100m and 189.4m in 12hrs. Bob’s 2017 target is to improve at everything.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Bob completed the men’s 12hr team with Dave Pemberton and Steve Biddulph on a very tough, testing day; their support crew was Libby and Lynne who were having a rare day off from racing. Liz and I were also there, giving encouragement and applause, not only to our lads, but to anyone who looked as though they still had a pulse. The 12hr topped off a long season for Dave Pemberton his 206.26m, along with a 5hr-7m 100, and a 331m 24hr was enough to get him 17th place in the Long-Distance BBAR, and 8th in the VTTA tables.  If you’ve never witnessed a 12hr, or a 24hr, or seen the camaraderie between the riders; their helpers, and road-side supporters, it is well worth finding a local event to watch, or better still, come and support your own Born to Bike team riders.

Steve Biddulph’s 224mile 12hr was just enough to shock his leg muscles into craving some shorter distances on the track, and those legs didn’t let him down, coming 18th in the World Track Masters pursuit. In the National Masters Champs Steve got 9th in the time-trial, 12th in the points race, and 16th in the scratch race. In the LVRC Track League he was Overall 3rd; and 2nd in his age-group; 3rd in the points race; 3rd in the scratch race; 4th in the individual pursuit; 6th in the time-trial, and 6th in the sprint. At the Arena Grand Prix Steve came 4th in the points race; 6th in the scratch; 13th in the Kierin. He was also  3rd overall in the LVRC Derby meeting for the 40-44 age group, and had outright wins in the Multi Points race and the Scratch race. – – To think that 2 years ago, he’d never even ridden a fixed-wheel bike, let alone a steeply banked track!

Steve’s PB’s are a 10 in 20-04, a 25 of 52-13, a 1-55-20 for a 50, and a 12hr of 224m. His 2017 target is a sub-19minute 10.

His enthusiasm for the track rubbed off on other club members, and soon Dave Ellis, John McLaren, Sean Sleigh and Alan Davies had taken up the challenge. Sean Sleigh’s results do him very proud, – in the National Masters Track Championships he came 6th in the time-trial and 6th in the scratch race. In the LVRC Track League he was 1st Overall, 2nd in the Track Championship points race, 3rd in the time-trial, and 4th in the Sprint.  In the Omnium he was 4th overall, and went on to win the Multi-points race in the Track League, as well as the Multi-scratch race and the Elimination race. Sean also won the                    overall and 40-44 age group award at the Derby LVRC meeting. Sean’s 2017 time-trial target is a sub 20 minute 10.  Sean also makes trays full of ‘bite-sized’ rice snacks, which he brought along for us all to sample. They were moist, compact, and tasted great, – what I’d call perfect for handing up in 12’s, 24’s, or even on an End to End attempt!

Chris Hall’s PB’s are 10m in 21-23, a 25 in 56-58 and 2-1-47 for a 50. Kevin Stokes loves tandem racing, but his solo PB’s are 21-25 for a 10 a 57-48 25, and for 2017 he is targeting the VTTA Championships at 10/15/25 and 30miles.

In the World Track Championships Dave Ellis was 9th in the pursuit, and 10th in the time trial. The National Masters Championships saw him come 3rd in the scratch race; 4th in the time-trial; 4th in the sprint; 6th in the pursuit, and 9th in the points race. In the LVRC Track League he was 2nd overall, and the Age Group Champion. In the LVRC Champs he had an impressive string of wins in the Sprint; Time-trial; Pursuit; and Team Sprint, and came 6th in the Points Race. At the Derby LVRC meeting Dave came 1st Overall, and at the Derby and LVRC Track League he won the Multi-Points race, and the Multi-Scratch race, and was the LVRC Champion for 2016.

Alan Davies was 2nd Overall in the 45-49 age group at the LVRC Derby Meeting, and at the LVRC Track League he was 5th Overall and 3rd in his age group as well as winning the Multi-Points race, and the Multi Scratch race.

Phil Kelly joined us a couple of years ago with the aim of doing something more challenging before his 50th birthday, and he certainly did that by riding the Anfield 100 in 4-43 and a 12hr in Yorkshire of 233m in 2015.

John McLaren was 10th in the National Masters Time-trial Championship at 1 kilometre, which he said seemed a very long way, -(so I suppose a 100m time-trial is out of the question John?) At the Newport Spring meeting he took 6th place in the Kierin Final, and 6th in the time-trial, and at the Derby Arena GP he was 12th in the Kierin.  Whenever I’ve watched a Kierin, with those mad sprints for the line, I’ve always thought Kierin was too soft a name for the race, and that Kamikaze would be better. John’s Time-trial PB’s are 22-17 for a 10, and 57-43 for a 25. He prefers the track, but his 2017 target is a sub 21min 10, and to finish a 50m event

Ian Manders’ season was cut short with a leg problem, and the treatment means he will not be back to full force until 2018, and John Cornfield’s ‘run-in’ with a car knocked a big hole in his season, and also in his confidence; I wish you both better seasons in 2017, and 2018 – with a lot more luck.  Ian’s PB’S are a 19-52 for 10m, a 53-14, 25 and 1-55 for a 50. John Cornfield has a full-house of PB’s with a 10 of 23-49, a 25 of 57-08, a 50 of 2-01-01, a 100 of 4-35-39, a 12hr of 223m and a 24hr of 410m. His 2017 target is a 240m 12hr.  Dave Pemberton’s 2017 target is to beat evens for a 12hr, and to top 400m for a 24hr. In 2012 John Cornfield, Dave Pemberton and Lynne won the Mersey Roads Championship 24hr team race, and that was the last time a mixed team was allowed in a CTT Championship.

One of Born to Bike’s new members is Edgar Reynolds who Lynne and I have known for many years. He comes from a multi-marathon running background and has ridden a fair amount of 24’s for the Congleton CC. Edgar’s PBs are 23-25 for a 10, a 1-02-20, 25, a 50m time of 1-51-22, a 100 of 4-38-46, a 235m 12hr, and 412.3m for 24hrs. His 2017 targets are to ride the National 12hr and to do a PB in the Mersey Roads 24hr and get 8 x VTTA standards.

You may recall that earlier I mentioned going to CTT meetings in the hope of improving the equality situation, such as women getting the same recognition as the men for their achievements. Well in 2016 we managed to get a women’s team recognition in the 24hr Championships, and a full top 12 women listed in the BBAR tables in the handbook, for the first time ever! We are not quite there yet with all the inequalities but at least it’s a start. Lynne, Dave Pemberton and Steve have attended these Midland District meetings with me, and it’s good to have that support. Many of you belong to different districts, and if you feel strongly about parity in our sport, why not support Born to Bike and the CTT by attending your local meetings to have your say, or your vote.

Congratulations to all the medal and trophy winners, and I’m sure you’ll join me in thanking Steve Biddulph for sorting the awards out, and getting the medals engraved. He was helped this year by Dave Pemberton who updates the website, and also booked this venue. I’d also like to thank my son Mike Taylor of Bridgtown Cycles for sponsoring the medals and trophies. Don’t forget, in conjunction with the Stafford RC, we are again helping to organise and run a 10m time-trial at Etwall on the 6th May at 2pm. Last year you helped to make this event a big success, and many of you managed to ride the event as well as giving it your support.


Born to Bike president            John Taylor

BtB & No Pinz

So half way through the 2016 season we announced (and we are very lucky) to be supported by No Pinz for the outstanding custom design of all of our teams Nopinz AeroCoach “ATS™” “TripSuit” which is the most versatile and fastest skinsuit available that not only helped us to save those valuable watts but also win 2 x National Individual Championship titles (12 & 24hr), 4 x National Team Championship titles (50, 100 mile, 24hr & BBAR), 6 x National Age Group Champions, 5 VTTA National Age Records and 4 National LVRC Track medals to name just a few.

We are very pleased to announce that No Pinz will be supporting the team throughout the 2017 season and beyond.  New for this season, we are delighted to have Blake and Harry at No Pinz design not only our Trip and Super suits but also all of our race clothing line including the new introduction of our ‘white’ training kit!

All of BtB’s race kit and more can be viewed on No Pinz new website Club No Pinz

Fantastic customer service, excellent products and a speedy turn around on all orders make No Pinz the number one choice for BtB.

Lynne Biddulph, Libby McLaren, Jackie Hobson, Sue Semple, Chris Melia, Katja Rietdorf


The last Sprint of the season – by John McLaren

I turned up at Newport for my last race of the season. It was kilo and Keirin sprint event, but after my last kilo effort at Newport, I decided to avoid the kilo at all costs!

After being on holiday for 2 weeks, putting in some very non-sprint type rides, I wasn’t sure how I was going to perform. My only performance indication was racing Steve (Bidders) for signs, which was pretty funny, until he realised my weakness…lack of speed endurance!

After signing on and sizing up the competition (not in the same way Steve does…look at the photos on FB!) I decided to try a new warm-up. I took Libby’s turbo so I could warm-up with some power, rather than spinning on the rollers with no resistance. At first my legs were feeling rather heavy and lacking power. I thought, “That’s not a good sign!” But I persisted with the new warm-up and my legs burst into life after a few flat out efforts and melting Libby’s turbo in the process (she wasn’t amused).

The event got under way with some very talented riders flying around the track, posting some proper rapid times. The winner of the men’s kilo clocked a 1:04.1 (faster than the winning time at the national masters set by Paralympic Champion Jody Cundy), so I knew the Keirin pace was going to be quick.

Eventually it was my turn to get on track. We lined up and picked a card for our starting order. I drew no. 5, so started quite high up the track. All 7 of us lined up, while listening to the new rules. I watched the derny cruise round picking up speed, then as it approached, the starter blew her whistle and we were off.

The pace at the beginning felt really slow, but was good to settle everyone before the fun really started. As we approached the home straight at the end of the 3rd lap, I was thinking, “Get ready to cover any moves, stay low and stay in the slipstream of the rider in front.” The derny pulled off, and the pace steadily increased. With 2 laps to go, I was still in the same position and still drafting the rider in front. I knew it was going to kick off soon. As we entered the back straight everyone threw the hammer down. It was time to give it everything. My initial pick up was slow, but that was mostly down to my slow reactions rather than power (basically caught napping a bit), so I lost a few metres on the 5 riders in front. By the time I passed the bell with 1 lap to go I was about 5m behind. I was pedalling as fast as I could on my 96” gear. Staying low and as close to the pursuit line as possible, I wasn’t backing off, but couldn’t bridge the gap to the riders in front. I pushed hard all the way to the end and felt very pleased with 6th out of 7 riders for 2 reasons:

  •  Difference in kit – they were on the quickest equipment. Aero carbon bikes, carbon discs and carbon 5 spokes with speedsuits. Whereas my kit is more entry level and not very aero (at +40mph being aero is massively important).
  • Phase of training – I’m only part way through my strength phase. I still have power and speed phases to come next year on top of more strength training.

I asked Libby to time my last 200m, because I knew I was much faster than my poor flying 200m time at the National Masters suggests.  Libby got my last 200m at 11.6 seconds. That was another reason to be really pleased, because that was achieved mostly on my own.

The first 3 laps of race 2 were very similar to race 1, apart from people were moving around a lot more, which messed up my rhythm a bit, but by the time the derny pulled off I was in a position to give it the beans after another lap or so. The only problem was these guys were very strong kilo riders and someone thought it would be a good idea to go with 3 laps to go. I half-heartedly went with them to begin with hoping they’d slow down, but as we flew down the home straight I saw we still had 2 laps to go and I swooped up to the top of the track and called it quits, thinking I’d save my energy for the last race, hoping it would play out similar to the first race, because I don’t train for 3 lap races. I came off the track and smiled to Libby and she knew straight away why I pulled off with 2 laps to go.

Race 3 came round pretty quickly. The last race of the night. My last race of the year. I drew no.4, so was pretty much in the middle of the pack. Again, after lap 1, the riders were fighting for position, for the next couple of laps. By the time the derny pulled off with 3 laps to go, we were all having a good old scrap for position. One of the riders was leaning on me to gain my positon round turn 1, but I wasn’t fussed, thinking to myself “I’m use to doing this at 170mph, so this is nothing”. Then with 2 ½ laps to go, it was on. I went flat out, after learning from my mistakes in the previous race. I was up with the 1st 5 riders for another lap. With ½ a lap to go I started to get dropped a little. I was running out of steam and I hadn’t even started the last lap yet! By this time I was a good 10m behind the pack in front. I kept on pushing hard, but was falling back further and further. I had to keep going as hard as I could to keep the other rider, who was drafting me, behind me. On the final bend I was proper struggling. I don’t know what power I was doing, but I didn’t feel like much. I thought, “I can’t give up now. I can rest as much as I want on the way home, but have to keep pushing”. On the final straight I couldn’t see or feel the guy behind me. I knew I had beaten him. This gave me the extra boost to keep pushing hard to the end. I finished 6th again in the final race and realised I actually dropped the other rider behind me. Libby clocked me at 12.4 seconds for the last 200m, a time I was pretty happy about, considering I ran out of steam before I started my last lap.

Although I wasn’t up with the top guys, I felt really good about my performances and it reminded me about how much I enjoy the sprint events. It also showed me the training I’ve been doing over the last 5/6 months has made me a stronger, faster rider, and has made me even more focussed on the men’s sprint in July 2017. By then I’ll have better equipment and a stronger, faster, more powerful engine.

Girl Power at Breckland 12 Hour

The Breckland 12 Hour TT was scheduled just two days after taking my last anticoagulants for Deep Vein Thrombosis which had put a halt to my 2016 season before it even really started. What better way for a comeback than going straight for a 12-hour time trial?! I didn’t have any hopes for a good result given I had only been able to train on the turbo for months with much reduced training hours. The goal was completing rather than competing and, above all, to enjoy myself. And I sure did enjoy myself; I had a ball! My legs felt fine after the race, but my jaw muscles were a little sore from all the smiling (and the odd grimacing).

I couldn’t have wished for a more competitive and fun line-up with Jill Wilkinson, Bronwen Ewing and my lovely team mate Katja Rietdorf, the 2016 12-hr National Champ.

Katja on the finishing circuit of the CC Breckland 12-hour TT
Katja on the finishing circuit of the CC Breckland 12-hour

For the first 6 hours I seemed to be on fire (probably due to frustration of being trapped inside all summer). Riding within myself, and despite battling a very stiff headwind on much of the course, my average speed of 23 mph gave a shimmer of hope of getting close to the competition record.

But after 6 hours my neck muscles gave in and riding in the aero position meant only being able to see the road immediately in front of my wheel…. not the best idea, particularly at the Browick end of the course which has quite a few potholes and lumps. The longest training session I had done on the turbo was 6 hours. Perhaps I should have increased it to 12 hours? I certainly would be mad enough to do so. The biggest difference of not having ridden on the road for so long was no longer being used to look ahead. For months I had just been staring down at my Garmin. Perhaps I should have considered a different set up where I can look at a screen ahead of me while on the turbo. Perhaps I should have raised my bars a bit. Perhaps the road feedback and different use of muscles was always going to be a challenge. Who knows.

Anyway, it didn’t matter for this race. I was here to enjoy myself, not to win or set a record. Unfortunately, I was one of the earlier starters and was quite lonely on the road for much of the time it seemed, but it was good to regularly see Katja pass on the other side of the road. There were so many friendly faces along the course and I was surprised that so many people knew my name. It really helps to get so much encouragement, both from those racing, their supporters and all the club marshals and helpers.

My husband Chris had to work through the weekend so I couldn’t cash in on his promise to support me for up to three races per year. Instead, my friend Rob came along and his army background really came to the fore with super slick support resulting in 100% confidence in each and every bottle and banana hand-up.

Since the DVT scare I have been much more careful to stay on top of my hydration. I consumed a staggering amount: 2x800ml of electrolytes in my camelback vest, 10x800ml of either energy mix + electrolytes or just very strong electrolytes, 1x 500ml of flat coke, 1x 600ml of chocolate milk, 3x500ml of rice pudding, 3 bananas, 6 (?) gels, 2 bars … and still being caked in salt and not needing the toilet shows how much of a heavy sweater I am. And it wasn’t even a hot day!

Jas having fun & staying hydrated at the CC Breckland 12-hour
Jas having fun & staying hydrated at the CC Breckland 12-hour

For much of the day it was so close between us. Eventually Jill won with a phenomenal distance of 272 miles (so close to the competition record of 277 miles and it wasn’t an easy day….!!), followed by Bronwen with 270 miles and I unexpectedly managed to set a new PB with a distance of 265 miles. Katja rode really well, but in the last few hours the fatigue from a long season of racing (with some great achievements) got the better of her and she stopped the clock at 239 miles*. There were of course some great rides by the men too, but it was nice to see such girl power at the Breckland 12 Hour.

What a great event, what a day and what a nice way to come back to racing again with a big PB! I wish the season wasn’t nearing its end, but I already look forward to a great 2017 with my Born to Bike teamies who I owe for keeping my spirits up.


* These are the provisional results

@ photos courtesy of Danny Watkins and Rob Gardner

The best laid plans of mice and men

Born to Bike RT at the Mersey Roads 24 Hour July 2016:

In May everything seemed to be going to plan,  Jacqui Hobson was training hard, albeit more in an anti-gravity way due to limited time, but then like Lynne, she knew what was needed to get herself in good form for a 24hr, after all, this would be her fourth one. Lynne was into her normal training and racing routine of 25’s, 50’s, and 100’s; she also managed to fit in a Championship 12hr of 242m, coming third behind Crystal Spearman and Born to Bike’s Champion Katja Rietdorf winning with 258m on a tough, wet Welsh course. As always, the target for the Born to Bike womens squad in 2016 was to ride as many Championships as possible and also to win team awards.  Everything was going fine, Jasmijn was building up for her attempt at the Land’s End to John o’Groats record in 2017 by using 100’s, 12’s and the Mersey 24hr as part of the team; – that was until halfway through a reconnaissance ride over the End to End route when she picked up a stomach bug.  To continue her journey and in an effort to recover from the bug, Jasmijn took a train from Cumbria to north of Edinburgh; sitting for hours without exercise and possibly suffering from de-hydration created a DVT, from which she is still recovering.

That meant Plan B had to be activated; – where to find a third rider for the 24hr team? Lynne and I had often talked to other members of the squad about trying a 24hr, but they tended to back away quite quickly, except for one person; – Libby!  Perhaps the mistake we made was in trying to entice riders after they’d ridden a hard 50, or 100 on a bad day, with them imagining having to race like that for 24 hours. Libby’s eyes glazed over a little when we said about her having a little cat-nap occasionally during the 24hour if needed, plus the fact you could eat what you like, and didn’t have to continually drink carbo.  We also said the camaraderie with other riders and their support teams was amazing, plus the fact that once you get to the finishing circuit, everyone applauds and cheers you on. Then there’s the relief of lying on the grass afterwards, which has to experienced at least once in a lifetime; also the proud feeling of going up to receive a CTT Team award medal at the HQ with an invite for two people to the awards night in January at a posh hotel; – well that finally persuaded her.

Libby at speed
Libby cruising around the Mersey 24 Hour Course; her first of many races to come!

In all seriousness, Libby didn’t take too much convincing, but time was running out for getting stacks of miles in before the 24hr, and despite some longish rides with Lynne, Steve and John on a Welsh coast holiday that was it.  What was, or wasn’t done was irrelevant now, and as long as Libby had that goal of finishing, that was all that mattered. Her husband John was happy to look after her, and even more happy when we said that all he needed to do was wait at Prees in a tent and give her food every couple of hours or so. With a café and a chip-shop within tripping distance (over the guy ropes) and a night out to look forward to in January, he too was convinced. On the day, Bob Awcock came out to assist John before dashing home at midnight to ride a Vet’s 25 next morning. Bob showed a lot of interest in the race, so we may have another Born to Bike member riding next year with Dave Pemberton, and if we can find one more, then we have a men’s team as well.  Now who could that lucky person be? – – Whatever happened to J.C.?

As with all events of this nature, keeping a men’s or women’s team of three going without a back-up rider relies on fate or fortune; sickness, accident, mechanical failure, or total fatigue, it’s all in the hands of Lady Luck. Arctic Tacx RT swept the board with 1st,2nd and 4th place, but equally as important was their Team competition record, beating the previous figures by over 100 miles. Born to Bike ladies team didn’t break a record, but they did draw a lot of praise from supporters around the course, especially at the HQ when the medals were handed out. What struck me about the winner Mike Broadwith, was when he passed riders in the first few hours of the race, we heard him say -“have good ride!” Afterwards at the HQ, just before the awards, he sat outside sprawled across a seat and the first thing he asked me was “how is Lynne, I think we’ve both struggled today, and how are the other two, did your team finish?” At which point I congratulated him and said that everyone was fine thanks, and yes, all the team finished.

Jaqueline at Prees
Jacqui at Prees Roundabout well into the race

We couldn’t have claimed the ladies team award without the brave efforts of Jacqui, Libby, and Lynne.  We expect it of Lynne, after all she’s the one everyone looks up to when it comes to riding ‘24’s, but Libby and Jacqui, you were amazing, the way that you kept riding. During the day in normal racing kit it was difficult to tell who was coming towards us, was it Libby, Jacqui or Lynne, they all looked good, so during the night it was near on impossible!

Libby’s husband John had a tent/gazebo at Prees so he could see her on a regular basis, and I know she was partial to beans on toast at one stage; I also heard the word ice-cream mentioned, but whatever it was she eat it must have suited her as she always looked happy. Being on different sides of the course meant we didn’t see Jacqui very often but nevertheless she looked cheerful, unlike last year when she struggled to eat and had to rest on the grass verge, what a determination to finish on both occasions. Due to the field being spread out over a 20mile section of road, or on a 12m circuit, we often went four hours or more without seeing either of them, so it was such a relief on finding them, knowing we still had a team. Jacqui’s partner Andy, and her brother kept her going.

Lynne as ever, gave it everything she’d got, knowing that to maintain a lead over the second placed rider requires a lot of work, especially when some riders have no previous performances at 24hrs, and on the day it is difficult to gauge what they are doing, or where they are, what they are capable of, have they done the full course etc.  Steve and I checked and calculated meticulously for the first 100m, to make sure she was in the lead from the next woman by at least 30mins, but once the Quina Brook circuits were entered after 7pm until darkness, it was difficult to be sure. Lynne’s estimated 100m was 4hrs-52mins, and provisional 12hrs was 237m.

Lynne at Prees
Lynne on her way to her 7th National 24 hour title

The temperature at the start was 27C and at midnight it was still 21C, only dropping to 16C during the wee small hours till dawn. Most riders opted to wear shorts all night, and we didn’t get the normal chilly air between dawn and 8am so there was nothing to take away the ‘hotfoot’ Lynne had suffered from the 100mile point. She loosened the velcro straps; she tried wearing loose shoes, and old shoes, but whatever she did made no difference at all. Even dousing her feet with a cold wet sponge didn’t cure it, but then it is the inability to spread your foot out and flex your toes (as when walking) that keeps the hot-foot sensation going. It is pressure across, and on the cuneiform bones that causes it.

Liz met up with us at 5.30am to give Steve a break, she brought hot coffee, fresh toast, lots of enthusiasm, and we shoved as much kit as we could manage in our little white van. Steve parked up on the Quina Brook circuit to have a sleep while Liz and I looked after Lynne. Throughout the race she’d had three short comfort stops, those in the hours of darkness were also for checking and changing light batteries and Garmins. She was sick in the night, which is a regular occurrence for her, often as she’s riding along. Once night time was over, we knew they would all have renewed courage; see more people they knew in daylight, and as long as they could survive a few more Quina Brook circuits till 10am, they would be almost home and dry as the saying goes. The breeze picked up on the open spaces of the main road, which helped push their tired bodies to the finishing circuit. Liz and I saw all four of them on that road towards Chester, and they still looked good; determined to finish. Once they reached the finishing circuit we breathed a sigh of relief. Steve was stationed on another part of the circuit, and Liz and I stayed put.  On finishing, Lynne was credited with 418m, Jacqui 345m and Libby 305m. These mileages are only provisional, so they may change on the final result sheet.

Dave Pemberton had a good race, his sister, Anne came out to help him until well into the night. He ate and drank well and always looked in control; – that was until he reached the finishing circuit and crashed, probably on some gravel. He suffered painful bruising and skin abrasions to his arm and leg, nevertheless he still carried on for a mileage of 331.4m. It must have taken a lot of courage to continue, I know what it’s like to ride when your skin is ‘smarting’ and your muscles are stiffening up with every pedal stroke. I don’t know how much time he lost, or what his mileage would have been without the fall, but his performance couldn’t have been used as part of a ‘mixed’ team, as it has in the past, due to recent CTT rulings.

Dave Pemberton  at TK 6 - 3
A solid and brave ride from Dave after going ‘cross country’ (not through choice) on the finishing circuit

We heard during the event that Hayley Simmonds had broken Comp Record with 1-42-20 in the Shaftesbury 50m, and that Born to Bike’s Chris Melia rode 1-52 in the same event, -both amazing rides. Then I recalled 2009 when Lynne had a short break from riding 24hr events in order to concentrate on the BBAR, she came out to the 24hr late on Saturday tea-time and said she’d ridden 1hr-51m in the Shaftesbury 50, so nothing changes, does it; I’m also pretty sure she came 2nd in the BBAR that same year! She asked how Marina was doing, and as she stood there watching the riders go past on the Quina Brook circuit in 2009, I saw the look on her face that said ‘I’d rather be riding this 24hr than dashing all around the country trying to find courses for fast BBAR rides.’

National Team Champions - 24 hr v2
All smiles on the finishing circuit

I’m sure 24hour riders are a breed apart, and whatever your ability is, once you’ve ridden one, the need to ride another comes back every year, like a homing instinct. For me it is the ultimate in time-trialling, and the Mersey Roads event is the one to ride, or watch. Like Libby, why not give it a try next year; we can all give you sound advice to allay any doubts you may have. If riding doesn’t appeal to you, why not come up to Shropshire/Cheshire to encourage the team, or be part of a support crew?

This was Lynne’s 22nd 24hr, her 7th Championship win, her 15th Merseyside Ladies win, and the Turner Cup.

If you’ve enjoyed reading this report, why not join the 24Hour Fellowship for an even more detailed account, plus many more articles and stories about long distance time-trials and RRA road records.

                                             John Taylor  President of Born to Bike-Bridgtown Cycles.


* All photgraphs in this report are courtesy of Martin Purser



A fast day for the ones who got along with the heat …

Traditionally the Shaftsbury E2/50 is taking place on the hottest Saturday of the year, and this year is probably no exception. The usual 27 degrees might not have been reached, but we were not much below that. Still, this year there we had more or less no wind according to the forecast – it didn’t always feel like this out on the road, but even a wimp like me could handle an Enve 8.9 front wheel – so it must have been very calm.

Ever since starting to TT three years ago I wanted to go sub 2 h for 50 miles, ideally sub 1:58 to get on the All Times Fastest list. So far the heat on the E2/50 and me often being unable to ride the few other fast 50 courses for a variety of reasons has left me stuck with a 2 h 2 minutes PB for a long time, and seeing today’s heat made me wonder if I could gather the willpower to break that time. Plus seeing that until last weekend my legs were just not doing as told, I was not quite sure what to expect. Yes, I felt a lot better during the week, and hoped to have finally recovered from the 12 h Championship – but you never know until you are out on the road, do you? At least I know the course ‘inside out’, seeing that the E2 was the first dual carriageway course I ever rode, and I just love the E2 courses. I feel you can get into a proper rhythm there, not being interrupted by roundabouts and turns like you are on Etwall, but you just stay on the inside lane and pedal on.

Chris Melia had the great idea to meet up on Friday night and stay close to the course – her drive from Sheffield was a bit longer than mine, so that made sense and was a perfect excuse to have some fun. We drove the course and I tried to pass on my ‘expert knowledge’ where to expect things to be hard just due to the tarmac of a false flat which actually is an incline etc – and I was glad to hear that I did not overload her with information, but that it actually helped her not to be discouraged when it felt especially hard exactly at the predicted spots. Combining fun times and TTs is just the perfect way – thanks a lot, Chris!!!

The supersized cooked breakfast I had must have been digested by the time we raced, even though Chris’ option for porridge made for a faster ride (but to be honest, I don’t think it was down to the breakfast – Chris is just amazingly fast and way faster than I am. My conclusion is that it must be the age – speed comes with age right? At least I am getting faster every year, so that MUST be true 🙂 ). For the first time ever I did not get into any stomach problems when riding in the heat – those OTE products do honestly agree with me very much, and helped to make this ride much more comfortable than any E2/50 I did before (and those are usually the hottest rides I do …).

The true muppet moment came when looking for my skinsuit at the HQ – and realising that I left the bag with my most aero skinsuit in Chris’ car at the B&B. Luckily I had already decided to not bother with trip socks and overshoes due to the temperature (also in that bag), and had a spare pair of gloves in the car. And thanks to the amazing generosity of Nopinz I do actually have a ‘spare’ BtB skinsuit – so disaster was prevented, but I think I am keeping the mug for being the team’s biggest muppet for a while longer …

So all was well and not eventful before the start, pouring water over ourselves made the heat bearable for a few minutes. For BtB, Clare was off as number 1, then Chris number 11 and me the lucky number 13. I spotted Clare when she was coming back from Four Wentways, with Hayley Simmonds and Clarice Chuang already being close. Chris was also well on her way past the roundabout before I got to the turn, but that was not expected any other way. The start felt good, but I did already see the power not being as high as hoped and aimed for. But seeing my recent performances I rather kept to the lower power and hoped to keep it going – which I didn’t, but at least I was mentally able to push right until the end. I realised once more how comfortable I feel on this course, knowing my way around. Closing in to my minute woman Jody when getting to the Red Lodge turn was satisfying, as our times have usually been very close, with either of us being faster at different events. I lost her again due to more traffic at the roundabouts, and because I once more struggled at the dog leg. Going slower there allowed me to refuel on two gels, which gave me much needed energy. Karen Ledger passed me for 2 minutes around 25 miles, which I felt wasn’t too bad seeing her recent performances. Chris was doing an amazing approximately 53 minutes at the 25 miles split, and I was only hoping to keep myself together at that point. 56 minutes for me at the 25 mile mark, but from experience I know that I always have a negative split and slower second half in this race. Still – the sub 1:58 to get on the All Times Fastest list was not out of reach, even if I slowed down a bit, and that was a big motivation. More motivation was gathered by the fact that I kept both Karen and Jody in sight after rejoining the A11 and the A14. It took me a long time to finally pass Jody – and once more I managed to pass someone on ‘a climb’ – OK, a drag. Maybe I am not that bad at going up the drags? And as a positive surprise going up the drag didn’t feel as hard as it did sometimes before (certainly going up it for the 3rd time in the E2/100 was painful), so another piece in the puzzle of keeping me motivated was found, despite seeing a continuous drop in power. I had a mental blank trying to remember the average speed to get on the list, but 25.9 mph still sounded like I am on target. Another slow stretch of road going from the A14 onto the A11 allowed for another gel – weight reduction, right? The road until the start of the final 10 miles stretched itself, as usual – but I was pleased to feel that the legs did take some encouragement to keep on pushing. I never had to tell them to shut up, as they never complained. They were just utter silent, and refused to put out more power, but worked on an OK level. Strange …

When I started the final 10 miles I saw Hayley coming towards the finish, and did actually take the time to consider whether she got the competition record, and was fairly certain she did before telling myself off for not focussing on my own ride … So on I went, round and round. Time and average speed looked good at the final turn, a final gel was gulped and the legs were finally told to shut up, even though they still didn’t really complain … They were told that they can fall off after the finish and shall finally work hard to earn that status … If they would not hurt properly after the ride I might just hit them until they hurt – I wanted that list, and wanted it badly. Maybe I should have started to work for it earlier? Easier said than done, but maybe I could have given the legs a serious telling off earlier? Then again, they did not let me down as they did in the last races, so one ought to be nice to ones legs, right? And they honestly did work hard for those final miles.

It all still looked good going past the penultimate sliproad, and the legs continued to help, and even though I don’t trust my Garmin time to be accurate, if it’s showing a 1 h 56 minutes finish, I should be on the list

A cool down spin was necessary before joining Chris at the car and finding her as happy as myself, or probably even happier. She finished in 1:52:24 – which not only was a PB by 5 minutes, 5 seconds, but also got her the National Age Group Record. Luckily my legs were OK at that point, as some Tiggerish bouncing by the two of us had to happen – we were both just over the moon with happiness J Clare suffered more from the heat than we did and finished in 2:06:25 – still clearly well done for finishing in the heat.

For the riders who coped with the heat it was clearly a fast day – Hayley Simmonds broke the competition record by over 4 minutes with a 1:42:20, and plenty of women managed to get onto the All Times Fastest list. And I was pleased to hear that Chris shares my love for this course – I see more joint mischief coming up.

So I think we can clearly call this race another success for BtB – racing in a team is just fabulous!!! And my amazement goes to the BtB’ers who started racing today earlier than I did, and will go on until tomorrow afternoon. You 24 h girls are the real stars!!!





Lessons learned in the past weeks

So, today I rode my 3rd 100 mile TT in five weeks, with a little 258 mile 12 h race sprinkled in for variety and only one weekend off. Guess what: the legs and the mind are still exhausted. So I learned a lesson about the necessity of proper recovery …

Saying that: I still managed a sub 4:10 ride today (OK, just, with 4:09:55), and kept together better than last week during the National 100. But a constant drop in power for each of the four laps of the Breckland B100/4 showed that the legs have not yet fully recovered from the 12 h race three weeks ago. Or is it the mind? Which of them is more important?

Admittedly, my recovery from the 12 was hindered by important work deadlines and the general catching up necessary, and by fighting a cold hindered my recovery from the 12. So I felt utterly not ready for the National 100, but wanted to do my bit for the team. Still, this was one of the first times I could not really push on any longer. Yes, I finished the National 100, and ‘pushed’ as much as I could to help us winning Team Gold, but it was not the fighting spirit I usually have when having a number on my bum.

Today the legs felt better, and I could not at all believe that until 85 miles I was still on for a PB. My legs did not feel like being on for a PB, and the power was so much lower than during the PB ride. But all fell apart with an ever-increasing headwind for 10 of the final 15 miles, and very very exhausted legs. Luckily the same was true for many other riders, who also complained about how hard this last leg was. I was utterly chuffed when a guy told me that he was impressed how I held him off for the final 20 miles – I think a lot of us were suffering at that stage.

But seeing that I was still on for a PB at 85 miles, I am certain that four weeks ago, before the 12, I would have pushed harder for those final miles. I used to not care about head winds, and certainly not drop the power going into one – so this was another important lesson in how important the mind is for succeeding in races. Yes, I did not give up, but I did not push as hard as I usually do in a race. It shows again how perfectly all came together for the superb PB on the E2/100 with 4:04:26, and the 12 h with 258.04 miles. It was planned and executed ‘to perfection’, and now I am looking forward to a break in racing after next weeks E2/50. I do honestly hope to find the proper mental capacity for racing by then. It’s a distance I still want to get on ‘the list’, so that should help me to keep pushing.

So now I understand about ‘A races’ and how you get mentally and physically ready for them – and that you cannot keep that state going forever, even of you want to and think you have recovered. I am still chuffed about today’s performance and the win. Even if things don’t go well, I don’t completely fall apart, and have been ahead of two riders who have faster 100 PB’s than me. But I have learned an important lesson about recovery, and that a 12 takes it out of you way more than I would have ever imagined.

I guess I need to thank my amazing team to get me out even when I felt exhausted, and for making my racing season a lot of fun. Definitely Dave Green for getting me into this amazing shape – and despite me cursing him on a regular basis he is still willing to get his picture taken with me 😉 Also OTE for allowing me to eat an ever-increasing amount of gels to keep me going whilst still liking their taste and not upsetting my stomach, and Nopinz for my comfortable skinsuit. And everybody whom I continue to bore with my stories about cycling, and who despite that encourages me to keep going.

So one more race, and then a well earned break. And then who knows …

Today’s provisional results:


Katja Rietdorf               4:09:55

Jill Wilkinson     4:12:23

Emma Taylor   4:15:50


Mark Turnbull 3:36:59

Daniel Bloy       3:38:11

Dave Green       3:40:42 – I worked hard to not let him come past me, maybe that’s what really kept me going 😉

The National Track Masters Championships 2016

With one months worth of sprint training, I headed to Newport for the Masters National Track Championships (talk about being chucked in the deep end – I blame Steve for putting the idea in my head!). Having only competed in one track league event at Derby I knew I was never going to win, but was keen to lay down some benchmarks to beat next year. My first race was the Men’s Flying 200, which started with me frantically removing my overshoes, because I never knew overshoes were banned in track cycling (who knew!). Once removed, I was pushed up the straight for me to begin my build up with the plan to build up speed without expelling too many watts. 1/2 a lap goes passed, then another. Things were hotting up and I was on my last building up lap. I came off turn 2 and headed down the back straight for the last time getting faster and faster, staying up high and as close to the wall as possible. Just underneath the big screen with my name on it, I put the hammer down.
Out of the saddle, sprinting out of turn 4, staying close to the wall down the home straight, building up more and more speed. Towards the end of the straight I begin my decent and sat back in the saddle, hunting out the apex of the black sprinters line at the 30m point. My legs were spinning, flying up and down like mini pistons propelling me towards the start line.
I pass the start line and the clock begins. I could feel the g-force pushing me harder onto the saddle. Half way down the back straight my legs should be flying, but for some reason they weren’t spinning as quick as they should be. Did I use too big a gear. Can’t change it now, so got to dig deep and keep pushing. I’m telling myself, “Push push push…spin spin spin…not long to go. Keep it going.” I fly pass my wife Libby at close to 40mph and can hear her cheering me on. “Come on…move it,” I tell myself. Round the next two bends, I feel the g-force again, while trying to focus on the black line. Out of turn 4 I look up and realise the finish line at Newport is at the end of the straight not mid-way like at Derby. Dig deep, make it count…GO GO GO… and finish. My track sprinting debut was over…but how did I do. Before I got half way round the bend I knew it wasnt a great performance (it’s one thing producing the ‘goods’ in training, but completely different when you are at the nationals and have been hanging around for ages waiting to do your race). On the back straight I looked up and saw my time on the large screen (12.818s). I thought to myself, “Well, at least it started with a 12!” Afterwards, I realised the combination of a 108″ gear and legs that weren’t firing on all cylinders prevented me from getting on top of the gear. Oh well lesson learnt. But still I got a new PB.
Many hour later, the rounds of the Men’s sprint began. I changed my gearing to 96″ to help me accelerate.  I was in Heat 1. Another first – I’d never been help up on track before. There was no gun, no whistle, no beeps, just a GO. Very weird. Being a novice I was straight to the front and cycled along the cote looking back at my opponent all the way around the track. We slowly cruised around in this fashion for another lap, until we approached the last lap. The bell rang. I looked forward for a tenth of a second and bang. My opponent saw his chance and took it. He went flying passed me. I knew I had the gear to accelerate quickly. I pushed hard, trying to chase him down. My legs were spinning faster and faster, slowly gaining on him. Round the last turn…push push push, but to no avail. I couldnt claw back the deficit gained on the inital jump. I was great fun though. Even though I lost that race, I haven’t had that much fun since racing people in the 100m.
My next race was the Repechage. I changed to a 100″ gear for this race, because I felt the 96″ sort changed me a little in the last race. There were 3 of us in this race. Same format as before. My opponent on the inside went off pretty fast. I zipped up behind him in case he tried to go flat out from start to finish (a tactic I saw earlier that day). I had to make sure I was able to cover any moves made by the man in front, but also the other sprinter behind me, who was higher up the track than I was, which could’ve been a problem for me if he went for the jump.
With a lap and half the sprinter behind picked up the pace. The man in front of me saw this and went for it. I chased him down as we passed the bell. Gaining on him with each metre. I pushed and pushed – I wanted to win. I moved out to pass him at turn 3, but went too wide (almost up to the blue line), and lost that extra speed I had and couldn’t make the pass stick, so had to settle for 2nd. What a great race. A great event. Definitely my favourite cycling event.
The next day I had the Kilo Time Trial to do. 4 Laps! I was not loving the idea of doing 4 laps! Steve was there that day like an eager beaver! He had a long day ahead of him and I was trying to get him to chill, but no…he was like a kid at Christmas! To give you an idea of our ‘noob-ness’ I think we were probably the only two people without TT bars. I didn’t even know they were allowed (I really should do more research into the sport I’m doing before trying it for the first time at the nationals!). I missed Steve’s race, because I was busy getting ready for mine, but looked up to see his time 57.0 for 750m…thats some good stuff! Another first for me: Starting a race from a starting gate. How was that going to feel? I settled on the bike ready for my 4 lap adventure.
The clock began to count down…then the countdown beeps started. I got out the saddle ready for a big lunge forward on the final beep…wait for it. Ready. GO. Big lunge forward. Big push on the pedals (after a little bit of a wobble) and another big push. GO GO GO. I could hear Libby cheering me on. All I could think about was getting on top of the gear. Still out the saddle building up speed towards the end of the back straight, I sat down, and gave it all I had. 1 lap in the bag, 3 to go. Telling myself, “GO GO GO”. Half way down the back straight I was thinking, “How am I going to do another 2 and half laps? I know push harder and use leg momentum to turn the pedals round…GO GO GO”. I could hear Libby & Steve cheering me on again at the end of the back straight. Round turn 3 & 4…2 laps in the bag…half way. I was beginning to struggle. The lack of training was started to show. My legs felt like they weren’t producing any power. My friend Mike, who was also competing in the 75yr old category was cheering me on at the finish line. This kept me going until I got back round to Libby & Steve who also cheered me on. After another lap of pain and not getting on top of the gear, it felt like I was cycling in treacle. My cadence must have looked ridiculously slow. I’d had enough. “What a stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid idea…I need to pull out. I’m not going to make it. I need more holes to breath out of.” I thought to myself. I was about to peel off, head up the banking and dnf. But Mike was there, cheering me on. I had to keep going. I made it down the back straight for the last time. Hearing Libby & Steve cheering me on again, gave me enough to keep pushing till I crossed the finishing line. What a mess. Again, wrong gear choice meant I never got on top of the gear and expelled way too many watts try to accelerate out of the start gate. Another valuable lesson learnt!!! I knew my time was going to be slow, but how slow? I looked up at the scoreboard and saw a 1:1…….thank goodness for that! Down the back straight I could read the time 1:19.668. At least it wasn’t a 1:2….! Another P.B. Not amazing times, but next year I’ll be back to beat them.
It was a fantastic experience and helped me realise I chose the right sport. I always knew time trials weren’t for me. Time triallists never understand me when I say 10miles is too far. Track sprinting is where I belong. I’d just like to say a big thanks to Libby for supporting me and running around after me all weekend. And a big thanks to Steve for giving me the idea of competing in the masters and cheering me on at the track.
Next stop. Keirin Competition at Derby. Another first…

Team Champs again! RTTC 100 miles

Sue 2016 National 100 mile TT
Susan Semple – Photograph courtesy of Martin and Alison Purser

This year’s event was hosted by Stockton Wheelers Cycling Club. And what a marvellous job they did. Big thank you to Colin Whitefield, Chairman and Doug Howes, Event Organiser and all the wonderful volunteers.

In 2014 I entered my first 100 mile TT, the Anfield event. Loved the atmosphere but hated the ride especially as I missed the club record by 74 seconds. Couldn’t leave it at that so entered the BDCA 100 later that year. Club record secured, time from retire from100s.

In 2015 I joined Born to Bike – Bridgtown Cycles racing team and learnt their aim for 2016 was to field teams for each of the National events. So that is how I once again find myself on a start line for a 100.

6:49am – 5. 4. 3. 2. 1…… here I go again.

Conditions were pretty good, 17 degrees and a slight cross wind. Oh wait, make that more of a headwind once out on the A19.

Team mates Clare Campbell-Smith and Lynne Biddulph were already out on the course starting at 6:34am and 6:40am. I was closely followed by Katja Rietdorf off at 6:53am. Sadly Jacqueline Hobson wasn’t able to join us today.

So my plan was to push on the way out and enjoy the return and repeat. Simple!

The course was slightly more draggy on the way out than I expected but I was comfortably tapping out a nice rhythm, my average speed was lower than I expected by the turn but I’d make it back on the return, which was indeed enjoyable, well sort of.

First 50 miles done, just one more lap to go. 2nd bottle and gel handover successfully done. Great big thank you to hubby Alastair Semple for being my support, couldn’t have done it without him. Now back out onto the A19. Flipping Eck! Who’d turned the wind up? This previously draggy section which would take me to the 75 mile point felt hillier and my average speed started to drop. No problem, I’ll make it up on the homeward section, I kept telling myself. At around 74 miles I started with a vicious cramp all the way down my inner left leg, ouch! I decided I needed a brief stop at the final bottle and gel handover, not long but enough to help the leg relax.

Tailwind had increased, traffic had increased, so I was now feeling confident I could regain what I’d lost and beat my target of a sub 4 ½ hour ride time. All was going to plan until around 15 miles to go where I started to feel my energy levels dropping. And where had the hill come from, it wasn’t there on the first loop. Miles 90 to 95 were the worst, I actually thought I wouldn’t be able to finish as the cramp had returned. I kept getting out of the saddle in the hope to alleviate the pain. I took one last drink and then look at the computer and saw 96 miles, now at least I knew I could finish. But could I do it in the time I’d set myself, I daren’t look.

Slip road approached, yeah! Village approached, woohoo! Where on earth was that finish line? Suddenly I saw it and further down the road I could see Alastair jumping up and down, I knew I’d done it, a sub 4 ½ . Official time 4:26:42

Not only had I finished so had the rest of the team too.

Katja 4:26:34
Lynne 4:29:53
Clare 4:41:12

The next question was, had we done enough to win the Team Award? After a long and agonising wait it was finally confirmed we had indeed won, the joy was overwhelming.

A grand day out. Improved my 100 time by 5 minutes and 43 seconds. Improved my 2014 BBAR average speed and was once again part of the winning team in a National Event.

Big thanks Nopinz, OTE and Beet It without them I would never made it through the 100 miles.

And a great huge thanks has to go to all my team mates, those who rode and those who didn’t because without them I would never had entered and I wouldn’t have achieved what I have done today.

Top Three Results:

Hayley Simmonds (AeroCoach) 3:46:37
Angela Hibbs (Fusion RT Fierlan) 3:49:30
Bronwen Ewing (Rye & District Wheelers CC) 3:59:32

Ryan Perry (Langdale Lightweights RT) 3:23:52
John Dewey (Team Bottrill) 3:25:46
Richard Bideau (Pendle Forest CC) 3:26:24

Zero to Hero, (well sort of!) – The birth of the BtB Track Team

So when did all this start?

 Back during the dark nights of October 2015 I had a cunning plan to try and compliment my training and thought that it would be a good idea to get myself up to the newly opened Derby Velodrome and see what all this malarkey about track cycling is all about.  Obviously to do this I needed a partner in crime and then stepped in John McLaren!


 So you would think that to get on the track would be easy, in fact the hardest part is sometimes trying to get hold of the arena to book yourself a slot on what is already becoming a popular pastime for the whole of the Midlands. The route to glory starts with stage one of your accreditation whilst this will last an hour; but be assured that this hour will be of pure joy, excitement and exhilaration!  In all the stages of accreditation there are objectives to be met before progression is allowed to the next stage.  Objectives and aims get more intense and harder to achieve and it’s not just a case of turn up for a pass, people do fail.

Stage two for John and I came very close to stage one; the reason being is that we were that excited that as soon as our stage one finished we quickly ran around to reception to see if there were any spaces on the stage two that started straight away thus to avoid a potential 3-4 week wait.  Having completed this stages three and four soon came and passed and then it was on to bigger and better things – SQT’s aka Structured Quality Training.

One really good thing that Derby Velodrome offer is that once you have completed your accreditation with them then you are free to ride any velodrome in the country.  If you have become accredited at other velodrome’s then you will need to book Derby for a familiarisation session before you are let loose on the Midlands boards.


 So SQT’s come in a variety of packages.  Generally speaking, for the majority they are split into SQT A & B.  ‘A’ being the more experienced riders and are of a quicker pace and B’s for the mere mortals amongst us.  Derby also offer, women’s specific session, discipline specific session (Derny or Madison) and also sprint and pursuit training.  So why not jump in the deep end and do the derny session, what’s the worst that could happen?  It turned out to be proper good fun (and hard work); whizzing around the track behind a two stroke engine motorbike and the adrenaline of it all was infectious. Soon John and I progressed up to SQT A’s and started to learn more about the track, not just riding fast around it but more learning track craft which is a fine art in itself.

 Derby Track League – Why Not!

 Having been clearly bitten by the track bug, the next obvious step for me was to enter Derby track league and test myself amongst the more seasoned and experienced riders.  I was really chuffed that I got accepted to race in the league and started off life in the C group to allow for certain teeth to be cut.  Previous road race experience served me well in this group and the ability to time trial certainly helped as I’m never afraid to push into the wind.  If I’m honest, I loved racing in the league during the early stages but mainly it was used to get some high intensity work outs that can’t really be replicated on the rollers or turbo.  I would often do the races for my own personal gains rather than tactically to try and win (and even be a main part) in the event be it scratch or points.

My first taste of victory in the league came in a race called the points de prime in which this race lasts for 12 laps (a whole 3 kilometres) and the first rider across the line every lap gets one point and the winner is the one with the most points.  So what better way to start this race as a ‘unknown’ as to go straight from the gun and hang on!  Plan executed to perfection, well I say perfection, I lasted 5 laps which luckily was enough to win the event, the remaining 7 laps were done trying the hang on to the coat tails of the peleton.

After sampling success, my hunger for the track grew and grew and I started to feel like I was more at home on the track rather than the road.  What I hear you say not do any testing again!  Well no not quite that serious but certainly to put road racing on the back burner for a season or two.  After a lull in the league where all these decisions were made I decided to race a little bit more tactically and place my personal training gains as secondary.  For the track league I ended up in 5th place overall before it resumes in September where I will hopefully have moved up from the C group leap frogged the B and jumped straight into the A’s.

To keep us ‘trackies’ interested over the summer months Derby track league planned a monthly race meeting (2 x endurance; 2 x Sprint nights) and this certainly inspired me to do well.  In the interim I had been on a few Wednesday afternoon sprint sessions and decided that after not being that bad at track cycling I would enter the National Masters Track Championships at Newport Velodrome in Wales!  The sprint sessions that I went to at Derby certainly paid off as I ended up winning every race that I entered within the C group with the most memorable of them all is lapping the field in the 80 lap points race and finishing with 50 points (must be an arena record there somewhere!).  I’m looking forward to the next meeting where I’ll be mixing it up with the big boys in the B group before deciding whether to leap into the A group for the remainder of the league.

Quick pose during a Derby league meeting

 National Masters Track Championships (NMTC)

 So as I eluded to, I entered the NMTC and choose the TT (750 metres), scratch and points race to compete in and not too enter the pursuit (3 km) which now I have regretted knowing that I’m more suited to this event given a proven testing background.  This was compounded by lots of my new found trackie friends at the track were surprised that I didn’t enter.  I think my reason behind it were that putting some sticks on my track bike and learning a new craft would take me too long with the champs only 3 months away from time of entering.  My partner in crime John had also entered the Championships and with a medal winning background on the track (the athletics track that is) he had entered the sprint events including the match sprint (with a flying 200m lap to get a seeding) and the Time Trial (and for John being such a young pup this distance was the kilo! – pays to be over 40!)

John and Steve Chillin
John & Steve Chilling prior to the Time Trial

John was the first to venture down to Wales on the Thursday evening as his races started with the sprint and that lasted the whole day Friday and finished with the kilo Saturday morning.  For me it was a journey down (pretty much into the unknown) Saturday morning ready for my first race, the TT.

I arrived at the track nice and early as to avoid any last minute rushes and to get myself a space for my rollers, bike and an abundance of kit.  I won’t lie I was extremely nervous and it felt like the first time I entered and attended my first National Time Trial event that indeed I was swimming with the biggest of fish now.  The buzz around the velodrome was immense; there was event after event going on and plenty for the eyes to take in.  The first and probably most lasting memory that I will have is seeing lots of riders in their club kit but most of them wearing the world championship bands from past World Championships that they have won. In fact, these outweighed the number of past National Champions!

Signing on for the event took place and I then started to set up my kit and get everything prepared; bike was pretty much done and I decided on the gear that was going to attempt the TT in.  Rollers placed ready and I was ready to soak up the atmosphere.  John and Libby arrived around lunch time for John’s event.  Given John’s single day of more experience over me he was ‘old hat’ to all this going on, having already done his sprint event the day before and you could tell with John and he seemed lots more relaxed where I was still bright eyed!

The thing that first grabbed my attention during the racing was that the other age groups were already on the track doing their thing so I started to watch them and remember seeing them leaving the starting gate in a massive gear, pushing to get on top of it and get into their pace.  I was thinking at this point “maybe I should have had a go at actually starting from a proper start gate”!  After watching a couple of riders, the method the clock counts down and where they actually apply pedal pressure to get going I was confident I would hopefully be ok.  Soon after a lot of waiting around, plenty of nervous loo breaks it was my turn to go onto the track.  Luckily I have ridden at Newport about 4 years ago so wasn’t fazed to much about the track itself but more to the starting gate.

Warm Up
Warming Up prior to the TT

Before I knew it my bike was in the starting gate and I was upon it!  Suddenly it all got very real and the ambient noise in the arena was not to be heard anymore.  Focusing on the track ahead the infield turned into a blur and time slowed down.  The lights on the digital countdown turned from red to green with a loud beep and it started to count from 10.  Come on Steve this is like any other time trial that you have done. 5, 4, 3, 2, big breath, lean back and prepare to push, 1, GO!  I left the gate which turned out to be very similar to that of a TT but instead of getting a friendly push off nothing happened and it was up to me.  A slight wobble on the wheel and I quickly gained momentum and I was off.  Whizzing around trying to build the speed up to 30 mph and my cadence up to around 120 rpm I set off.  Clearly still very nervous that half way through into one of the turns I found my I had lost what little upper body strength I had and my arms were starting to give way!  My positon changed on the bike and the front wheel started to wobble and my weight shifted to the rear of the bike.  This is a scary moment to be honest after all I didn’t want to crash on my own on the track in front of so many ex-World Champions.  I regained control of the bike finding that I was pushed high into the banking and carried on losing valuable seconds but I remained upright giving it my all to the point that when I finished the effort I was on the verge of blacking out from the effort.  The end result, well firstly survival and finishing in 9th place with a time of 57.021; Yes, not setting the world on fire but it will hopefully prove to be an important benchmark for more to come.

Rest was then the order of the day before my evening race; more soaking up of the atmosphere required and also to give John a shout as he bombed around the track in his kilo time trial.  Soon before I knew it I was warming up on my rollers ready for the evening scratch race.  I remember people watching as everyone is rushing around getting ready for their own events and then I saw one of the riders donned in his very fine World Masters Champion skin suit sporting the famous rainbow bands (something if I’m honest I will be going for in a few years).  Just the sight of him wearing the ‘world champs’ bands inspires me more and more.  I chuckled to myself thinking that I would hate to be in his scratch race!  So there I was on my bike, helmet on, rocket fuel gel consumed and ready to roll onto the track to start the scratch race.  Just before clipping in the reminder of the 22 riders formed around me and yes you guessed it, there he was the current world masters scratch champion in my race!  Excited I thought to myself ‘oh well if I last the distance I know whose wheel I want to follow’.

Lead out in Scratch
Honest, I was at the front!

The 15 kilometre scratch race was under way and not to lie but it was relentless and the hardest race that I have done, clearly under geared (94.5”) the race was strung out from the start and no let up.  A few riders dropped out with the high pace and though I had no impact on the race I hung on to finish 16th and very chuffed; final race time was 19min 10 sec for 15 kilometres so just short of 50 kph, I reckon my average cadence must have been 1,000,000 rpm!


leading the pack
The current World Masters Scratch Champion sitting 4th wheel with me on the front

A night of rest (well listening to the traffic on the M4 with no air con in my hotel room) came and went and soon it was morning and time to get back to the track for my final race, the 15 kilometre points race.  The script was pretty much the same as the day before, get to the track, sign on and wait around for a fair few hours before getting ready and warmed up.  I lucky enough to remember to take my camping chair with me and I manged to grab 40 winks at some point!  Having spent most of the afternoon trying to relax and calling up Lynne (who had to work during the event and letting her know how much I was missing her – especially as she is my rock and always happy to help me with my track racing) it was time to get on the rollers.

I like the points race as there is an opportunity for everyone to do something but like the scratch it does turn out to be a lottery!  It started off well to be honest and instead of hanging on I managed to get myself on the front and decided to try and make a bit of an impact and go for it.  Slowly easing away from the chasing pack I discovered I had another ex- world champion on my wheel!  My moment in the spotlight was only short lived as the pack caught us back up after 2 laps and then things ramped up for the sprint but nonetheless I was there before I disappeared in the pack.  The pace was sky high and again a few dropped out but I was determined to hang on in there and finish and with that I solid 12th place.  Chuffed with my performance as this weekend was all about experience and seeing what event I wanted to do and what events I would be good at.

Meanwhile back at base camp in the Midlands a sneaky order for a set of pursuit bars has gone in and arrived and now the pursuit training will begin and the target set of winning the National title next year will start.

Next race for John and I is this weekend in the Derby Grand Prix on Saturday 9th July.  I will be racing in the Endurance events which feature a scratch, points, elimination and 10 mile GP and then I thought for fun I would enter the Kieran and give John a hand, though in retrospect I reckon I’ll be on my chin strap by then and too tired! We will see!

Finally a big shout out must be given to the BtB sponsors whom with Beet-It and OTE helping the team and me keep fuelled for these events (especially the rocket fuel gels!), to KitBrix for helping me #keepittogether with the team kit bags (essential for different events).  To Blake Pond at No Pinz for providing my custom made track ‘trip suit’ which proved to be not only the smartest, most aerodynamic suit at the Championships saving watts where it matters but it is one of the most comfortable suits I have worn.  Thanks also to Bridgtown Cycles & Bike-Fit for all things to do with bikes and pedalling.

The final words of thanks must go to my wife Lynne.  She has been there for me on countless occassions at Derby track league carrying my kit for me (well i did treat her to a trolley in the end) and being the most supportive person a husband could ever wish for.  Lynne thank you.