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.
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
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.
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 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.
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’.
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!
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.
Whilst amazing things were being done by some of the team on the last weekend of June, a few of us had our sights on goals elsewhere, namely the BDCA 50, especially Sue and Chris M as it was to be a BAR counter for them.
For me this was one of the key events of the year. I did my first 50 on the reverse version of this course 2 years ago, and despite having only ridden over 50 miles once that year before the race I managed to scrape, very painfully, under 2 hours with a long 1:58. Improving on this was a big goal for last year, but I did a different kind of painful scraping in my first planned 50 of the year, the National, by crashing at 30 mph and leaving a fair amount of skin on the road. This lead to a DNS for the BDCA 50 2 weeks later. So going into this year I’d entered 3, started 2 and finished 1 50. I was hoping that this year would go a little smoother!
Lots of decent long tempo rides over winter and into spring gave me what I felt was a decent base to build on, with the hope of getting close to around 1:51 for the BDCA 50. But then life got in the way, as it does, and I’d only done a handful of 2hr+ rides in the last few months, so it was with a certain amount of fear as the event closing date approached – partly fear that I wouldn’t be fast enough to get a ride in the association event, and partly fear that I would, as it was going to hurt a lot!
There were 7 of us on the start sheet – Chris M, Sue, Libby, Bob, Dave, Chris H and myself. Unfortunately Libby was a DNS due to illness, wisely saving herself for a rather bigger challenge later this year.
Going into the event I had a few targets I was aiming for – beating my PB was the minimum, I wanted to beat my minute man Alistair (friend of the team & Sue’s husband), but the main goal was the men’s team record (1:55:20), and getting as close to 1:51 as possible – having done a few 53 minute 25s this year, the often quoted formula of 2×25 time + 5 minutes indicated I could get close(ish) if things went well. But Mother Nature had other ideas… The day before the race the forecast looked reasonable, small chance of showers, temperature in the high teens, average pressure, and a gentle northerly breeze meaning the return leg should mostly be sheltered. But on the day, it was to be anything but. The weather was ok during the warm up, but as I rolled down to the start to see Dave off a few minutes before me, the sky went black and it started hailing, hard. The timekeeper and start marshals were thankfully under umbrellas but us riders were drenched in seconds. Within 3 minutes the conditions had gone from dry to standing water and spray. Alistair went off, and I pulled up to the line wondering exactly how much sanity I had left! The storm caught Chris M & Sue as they were getting ready to leave the car park causing them to try and take cover – days later Chris’s skin still showed the marks from the crazy hailstorm.
I was counted down and off I went – all of 100 yards to the first roundabout, went to brake, and nothing – the conditions were so bad the brakes didn’t work! Thankfully I’d not exactly gone for a flying start so I was able to cautiously limp around the island. Onto the Etwall bypass and there was standing water everywhere, truly horrible conditions. I made the decision to see what things were like at the turn for the dual carriageway 2 miles away and if there looked to be spray I’d just turn and pack. But, in true bonkers British summer weather style, 2 miles away it was bone dry, so onwards I went!
A lot of the first quarter of the course was spent fighting the crosswind coming from the south, completely against the forecast. At times it felt like the wind was swirling around, probably because of the pressure change from the storm – I can see from the elevation profile that my Garmin recorded that it’s absolutely nothing like the actual elevation, so the weather was playing having with the barometric sensors in the device. Then it was Concrete Mountain, 6 mile uphill slog, where you watch the average speed drop and drop… even worse with the wind apparently against you! You just have to hope that you get most of it back on the trip back down the “mountain”. I’d got a power based plan for the race and stuck to it fairly well, so far, going not far off threshold power up the mountain, with the intention of backing off on the descent to recover. I’d been watching out for Alistair and thought I could see him approx 30 seconds ahead of me. Sure enough, after cresting the climb and getting to the turn, I could see him pretty close by on the other side of the road, and he gave me the thumbs up. I knew I was going to take it easy down the mountain, but was hoping my extra ballast over Alistair would claw some more time back. Even taking it easy I averaged high 30s on the descent, probably my favourite bit of any TT course I’ve ridden – 6 very fast miles, as long as the wind isn’t trying to knock you about!
After this it’s a 3 mile dog leg on single carriageway which I remember being quite a bit of a slog 2 years ago when I’d ridden it. I was hoping to see that I’d pulled more time back on Alistair, and as I approached the turn it looked that I had… then I realised it wasn’t the turn and I still had a little bit more to ride. It seems that a few riders unfortunately thought the same and turned early (effectively DNFing) but thankfully I pushed on until I saw the marshals, and realised I was probably about a minute off Alistair again. It was around this point I had a double caffeine gel – hoping for a bit of assistance for the last ~15 miles. This was on top of the large cappuccino in the morning, double espresso 90 minutes before the start, OTE caffeine gel 30 mins before the start, and OTE hydro caffeine drink. I think I may have a caffeine problem….
3 miles back to the dual carriageway now – I was expecting this to be a painful grovel into the southerly wind that I’d been fighting earlier, but instead I had a pretty substantial tailwind – the wind had apparently turned completely since earlier, and the leg back to the DC flew. Although it was here that I was caught for the only time during the race – by the tandem pair that started 13 minutes (!) after me, and flew past me like I wasn’t moving. They went on to beat the competition record. Back on the dual carriageway and I assessing how I’m doing. This should be the fastest leg of the race, so I’d hope my average speed (floating around 25mph) would pick up. I needed a minimum of 26 to get a 1:55. 1:51 was well out of reach, but the men’s team record could still be achieved. Unfortunately this is where lack of time in the saddle started to bite. I’m having to frequently sit up in the last 10 miles to ease the excruciating pain. Thankfully whilst sat up I’m able to put more power out so I don’t lose too much speed exposing my brick-esque aero profile to the wind, but then I started to run out of steam a little with 5 miles to go – a few (not so) micro rests here and there to relieve the legs. But the average speed is picking up – 25.8 or so with 4 miles to go, and then just tripping into 26 as I get off the dual carriage way, with less than 2 miles to go. I get a clear run at the island and push as hard as I can (which by this point isn’t all that hard) to the line. I thought I’d done a mid 1:55, so was going to be close. I rolled back to the car and catch up with Alistair who thought he’d done a similar time. There’s a bit of a wait at HQ for the times to go up, but Alistair takes the last podium spot of the association event with a 1:55:24. Me? An agonising 1:55:27. 3 seconds off the podium, and 7 seconds off equalling the men’s team record. But I’m not disappointed – over 3 minutes quicker than 2 years ago, which was arguably a float day, in at times pretty tough conditions. Here’s to 1:51 next year…
Some great rides from my team mates too, including PBs for both Chris M and Sue (by nearly 2 minutes for Chris and a fine 4th place, and nearly a minute for Sue) boding very well for their BAR attempts!
And after all that caffeine, my cake of choice? Coffee cake. The jitters kicked in on the drive home. Whoops…
1st Martyn Shore (Walsall Roads) 1:52:49
1st John Dewey (Team Bottrill) 1:37:57
2nd Stephen Irwin (North Lancs RC) 1:38:37
3rd Richard Bideau (Pendle Forest CC) 1:39:29
In brief: I am amazed with my first 12: 258 miles, 4 gold, 1 bronze medal (being a vet helps …), National Age Group record and new course record. It was a very close race with Crystal, and I can’t believe I did it. Lynne did a great ride with 242 miles, to get Born to Bike Gold and Bronze overall and gold and silver in the Vet’s Championship. Such a shame that Jasmijn and Helen couldn’t ride – we would have probably smashed the Women’s Team Competition Record …
A new chapter for me – I never ventured into the territory of a 12 h race before, but after deliberately joining a Club with a lot of strong long distance riders I think I was destined to give it a go. Loads and loads of miles on the TT bike were done in preparation for this event, enough to ask people ‘Why don’t you drive if you want to get from Milton Keynes to Sheffield or Didcot?’ Recent power PBs in the National 50 and the E2/100 made me confident that I was in form, a recce of the parts of the course I did not know from last years 100 made me confident that I do like the course, and a lot of planning got into what food my body could take (I thought), and I had so many option available … And a perfect support team of two – one keeping an eye on the competition and riders, one who I knew would always be ready with a sharp comment to make me smile again, and both in the desire to deliver the shortest pit stops possible …
The course in Abergavenny was considered to be pretty fast and possible to deliver 300+ miles for the guys (which is just missed …). I decided to put my head in the sand and not even check the weather forecast beforehand, as I had to ride anyway. But I had a second TT bike ready with aluminium rims, offering better breaking power. In the end I didn’t want to lose time changing, and the course was OK on the carbon rims when ridden carefully – so two spare bikes travelled to Wales in a ‘better prepared than sorry’ (as did most of the kit we packed – we were somewhat over-prepared …).
The morning was nice, not too cold, and the start was really chilled. Checking to bike over, yes, but no real warm-up needed. Setting out I really struggled with keeping my power target of 175 W (I wanted to be conservative and do 170 W), and for the first 90 miles I actually rode on 183 W. Having the number on your bum always helps to forget about the niggles and anxieties you have in other rides, so descending to Monmouth was no problem at all, and I only told myself off for passing other riders and going too hard. I tried to keep the power down but couldn’t really … The first rest stop did shock my supporters a bit, I think, as I was gone way quicker than they expected. I only thought if this is a close race, one way to make up for usually being the slower rider is to stop less. So off I shot again up to Hereford, and that leg was clearly easier than it was during the recce. Again, a number on your bum makes you forget about rough road surfaces, and the biggest worry was not to overcook the inclines … The traffic light was red both ways, but it was a welcome moment to put the feet down and eat a gel whilst standing. Getting close to Hereford was the first time I came passed Lynne and waved a hello, having missed her at the start. Other than passing other riders I cannot say that I had a clue what was going on around me. Crystal seemed awfully close at the Hereford turn, but I couldn’t remember hat number she was off at, so that didn’t mean much. I expected my supporters at 91 miles, before the Abergavenny roundabout, but they had not yet passed me since I last saw them keeping an eye out on the field and timing riders. Drinks needed rationing and I was pleased that they would be stationary for the main loops – and to find them at the agreed place when coming to Raglan for the first time at around 100 miles. I still didn’t fancy solid food, but only protein shakes and gels … And off I went again, hearing that I am ahead of Crystal. After that I never heard a lot about the positioning, but got the gist that I am doing well from the way Steve and Dave were constantly cheering me on when I was passing them. Steve might have said that I was in the lead, but to be honest: I can’t remember.
It was getting quite warm at some point, and cross winds came up on the A40 bit from Monmouth to the Ragnar turn, making me slightly uncomfortable on the bike. The I thought I am bonking and losing power when doing the A40 from Ragnar to Abergavenny for the first time, and was so pleased to find out that it wasn’t me bonking but it strong headwind, as things suddenly were extremely easy after turning at the Abergavenny roundabout. And I was pleased that this leg, which was part of the finishing circuit was my preferred leg. The second time on the mid-day circuit the rain started to settle in, and even though it intermittently stopped, it was pretty much there till the end of the ride. It stopped long enough to dry out in-between, only to be soaked again half an hour later. And to wonder with 3 h to go whether the body spending a lot of energy on heating me up might give me hypothermia? More gels was the solution, but by then I also had to concentrate on eating and drinking was clearly becoming less frequent … And all that thought out solid food was not used. Not even the tested almond butter bacon sandwiches – the body could not take anything solid. So protein shakes and gels it was – I think about 20 😮 And opening them became more and more difficult, probably a sign of exhaustion. At times my right leg must have looked like that of an extreme body builder, with 6 empty gel wrapped stuffed in. That cannot have been aero, but where else to put them? Fresh gels in the left leg, waste disposal in the right, and more gels in the top tube bag …
I was surprised how few riders were on the course, compared to last years 100. Round and round you go, singing along in my head and constantly telling myself not to overcook it. The power had settled on 177 W, and stayed at that. I couldn’t believe that I was still keeping 21.5 – 21.7 mph – I thought I wouldn’t be able to even achieve 21. And was certain that it would drop on the finishing circuit, which it didn’t. 6 h was a high- and low point, half time but still sooo long to go. 8 h felt good, but surprisingly at 9 h I was almost ready to pack. I hated everything, even though the body ached not worse than anticipated. Rotating the shoulders at every roundabout and doing the neck stretches clearly helped. But I did see why people say they are relieved when getting on the finishing circuit, and I was longing to sit up a bit more. On the other hand I clearly wanted a 4th round on the mid-day circuit as it was faster, and I was chuffed that I got it. With the rain settling in I saw even less of other riders around me, and spotted Lynne less frequently. It’s amazing how you can be in your own little world for 12 hours … A pain cave, but a world of focus and concentration. The knowledge that I can go for a ‘real’ medal, not ‘just an age group win’. That was worth fighting for, right? So I did, and didn’t let go. Yes, the roads were monotonous, the highpoints was coming past Steve who was always so cheerful and gave me the impression that I was doing well. Dave told me every time that I shall ‘dip deep’ and I never had enough breath to yell back ‘what do you think I am doing?’. Plus Kerry always cheering me on – and off course Burti and Geoff, my own supporters. The sign language of what I needed was getting better and better, chamois cream was frequently asked for seeing the sogging wet clothes, and an easier to do up zip on the skin suit would have clearly saved another 10 s and got me more miles. As would the Di2 batteries not running out and making me ride the last 7 miles or so in the small front chainring. By then I was told ‘Go for the win’ and I so hoped that this misfortune would not cost me the win …
Seeing others finish over the last hour (the first rider finished approximately 52 minutes before me) was easier than I thought, by then I was digging in for the win and found extra energy to keep me going strong. I was chuffed when passing a timekeeper 1.5 minutes after the 12 hours, and not having to go even further, and when my supporters passed me I could not believe how far it was to the next layby. I was tempted to just stop and ask them to come back, but knew a cool down would be good. Getting off the bike? Only by laying the bike on the floor and me being held up. A change of clothes, then lying down in the car. On the drive back to the HQ my legs were shaking, and I was never ever as exhausted in my whole life. Waiting for the final results took ages, and even though I was fairly certain I won (Crystal thought she did 256, I 257) I felt it was too close to not see if as an official result before really believing it.
I am sorry I can’t say more about the whole race – I guess it was a fast course but with elevations, and I surprised myself that the lumpy back road of the finishing didn’t slow my speed down. Thanks to all people encouraging me riding to constant power and telling me it can be done. You are right! And overcooking it a bit at the beginning was not detrimental. I still much rather ride a 12 than support it, I have to say. The rain didn’t help in general, but I think it did actually helped me as I was not overheating. And I was glad that the Trip Socks were keeping my calves warm.
I am still amazed with the mileage, and think the list of achievements is as follows (it pays out to be over 40), but I might be wrong:
Women’s Gold medal (English National Championship)
Women’s Gold medal (WelshNational Championship)
Women’s Age Group Gold
Vet’s Women Gold on standard
Vet’s Bronze on standard
New National Age Group record
New course record (by almost ten miles)
4th on the Women’s All-Times Fastest (or Furthest) list
Not bad for a first go at a 12. Yes – I played high risk, and went for all or nothing. But I won and am just chuffed and happy and thankful to all the people who supported me in this journey!!!!
Danny Grieves (GS Metro) 294.142 miles
Tejvan Pettinger (Sri Chinmoy CT) 283.995
Gregory Woodford (Reading CC) 279.074
Katja Rietdorf (Born to Bike-Bridgetown Cycles) 258.036
Crystal Spearman (No Pinz) 255.901
Lynne Biddulph (Born to Bike-Bridgetown Cycles) 242.780
ECCA100 – 12 minute, 17 Watt PB and 4:04:26 get me well on the women’s All Times Fastest list
The winding up to next week’s 12 h Nationals continues. A proper power PB at last week’s National 50, and today a massive PB over 100 miles. I am very pleased about those results, and having two power PBs in a row make me think more positive about achieving my power goal for the 12 …
My strategy of shifting my rhythm seems to pay off – recently bed time was 8 pm to get up again at 4 am. Maybe the biggest advantage was that I can fall asleep very early before those early morning races. The 2:30 am start today wasn’t too bad, meeting Helen Reynolds at the HQ to hand over bottles and discuss how to to the refill of my Speedfill bottle. Suddenly I ran out of time and needed to ride to the start a bit faster than intended. Oh well, a good warm up it was 🙂 Not being 100% sure where the start is didn’t help, and seeing the riders at the start line was a relief. 4 minutes to go – time for a gel and focussing. And adjusting the tape with my target times for the roundabouts so I could actually see it whilst riding.
It was a strange feeling to ride with target times – them being to finish in 4:08 to get on ‘the list’ with a bit of time to spare. The agreed power was 205 W, but that was forgotten quickly. I told myself not to overcook it, and felt somewhat bad when lapping my minute women, who has faster 100 times than me, but on other times I was in the lead. Still, I felt good and wasn’t going THAT hard, only 15-20 W above target 😉 Getting to the northern end, the Red Lodge turn, was quick and nice – neither traffic nor wind. But the turn immediately reminded me of the bad road surface on that stretch, and soon after that I was reminded of the painful long incline after the start of the E2/25 course … Trying not to overcook it, but frequently going to 246 W on the climb made me ride on a 217 W power by then. But it felt good and I got to see Helen at the Four Wentways roundabout exactly on target time. I wasn’t sure if I could keep up that power, but so far it felt good so I tried to stick to keeping to this power. And make use of the fact that the northward journey always seems easier, but the song’s ‘Keep on pushing, you’re pushing real good’ and ‘Spinning right round, round round, like a record baby’ started to play in my head. I was pleased to see the average speed up to 24.7 at the Red Lodge turn, and was sorry to see it constantly drop going to Four Wentways, riding into a proper headwind. And I am sure the roadsurface was even slower and the upholds were longer. At least I knew the course again properly … I dropped down to 24.3 by the time I reached Helen for a quick bottle fill up, the stop and roundabout making it drop to 24.2. Still well on target, in fact I was so ahead of target time that I had to shout at Helen that I am coming up the slip road. She was ready but don’t quite expect me. Anything just over 24 mph was necessary to stay under 4:10, but again there was the nagging doubt whether I can keep up the power for another 38 miles? I was utterly pleased to see the average speed increase by 0.1 mph between the turn and the finish – so there is hope for it not being spoiled at the end. I thought again to make use of the tailwind and me liking the northward leg, so I tried to increase the average speed as much as possible – 24.6 mph at the turn. Thinking back I am no longer sure about the tailwind, as during the return leg I think I had a tailwind there, so the wind must have turned at some point. Great for my ride, but I heard many others complain about it … At this point I thought I just go for it, and whenever I looked at the power metre I saw them down at 180 – so why the average power did not drop I still don’t know. But inclines now meant sitting up to use other muscles (unless I thought there was a head wind and being aero paid off), and there were plenty of clusters of tired riders not really separating, and plenty of passing back and forth. This was stressful as I tried to keep to a rhythm and couldn’t quite do it. And I did hurt. A lot. And even more. But seeing the speed so high meant I really wanted to keep it going and collected every ounce of energy I could muster. Lots of yelling at myself, lots of telling myself I don’t have a PB until I am over the finishing line, too much can happen. Seeing the second last exit was good – it can’t be far. One more incline, sit up and push up it … Push it real good. Glad to see the timekeepers right after the turn – hurray! And having the Garmin show 4:04:20 meant even if that’s not accurate, it will be under 4:10 🙂
Pedalling on to the HQ was tough and painful, but the cool down was needed. Much needed.
A superb ride by Alice Lethbridge got her the win in 3:57:35, and I am very pleased with my second place in 4:04:26. Eleanor Haresign came third in a 4:11. Overall winner Richard Bideau did not seem to be affected by the wind when doing his 3:22 …
Lots of people liked this new version of the E2/100, being completely on dual carriageways. I certainly do, and three laps work well for me … The wind was a bit all over the place, so you never knew what the next lap will bring. A huge thanks goes to Helen Reynolds for a new bottle refilling record, reducing the time for two refills from 30 sec to 22 sec. It really helped to have you there!
Overall a great event, and having two strong power PBs makes me more confident for next week’s National 12! Recovery now 🙂
On Sunday 12th June, the much talked about RTTC National 50 mile championship took place in Plymouth – an event which daunted some but which proved to be very successful for the intrepid BtB riders.
Ever since the details of the event were announced, this race had been causing plenty of chatter on time trialling forums. Firstly, the location in South Devon meant that for most riders there would be a long journey to get there and the horrible prospect of an uncomfortable stiff-legged drive home afterwards. And then there was the daunting course terrain with over 7,000 feet of climbing and several ascents that many time trialists would feel nervous to attempt without the aid of ropes and crampons. But for many, it was the prospect of a 5.30am start in order to avoid the traffic on the A38 that was the last straw. This wasn’t going to be championship that would be convenient, comfortable or quick!
But for most members of the BtB race team, hardened by many years of successful long distance racing, this was pretty much business as usual! Six members of the women’s team and one member of the men’s team decided to take part – and winning the team gold medal was very much the goal for the day.
Happily, having braved all of the challenges which the race presented (including the deluge of torrential rain which started just after the first riders set off), the BtB Women’s team were rewarded with both gold and silver team prizes. Chris (7th place overall and second in age category), Katja (10th) and Sue (13th) were the fastest women’s team with a time of 6:30:52. Lynne (14th), Clare (15th) and Libby (22nd) were the second fastest team.
BtB’s lone male team member was also rewarded for his efforts. Bob was awarded the age category prize for the 70+ age group. Angela Hibbs won the women’s event in 1:56:02. Ryan Perry won the men’s event in 1:39:50.
The Anfield 100 is one of the “classics” of the time trialing calendar. First held in 1889 and organised by the Anfield Bicycle Club, it has produced many great rides by time trial legends including Andy “Wilko” Wilkinson and Lynne Biddulph (nee Taylor).
An early get up for many of the riders to make their way to the HQ at Shawbury with the first rider off at 6:01am. The weather forecast was for sunny weather with a wind that slowly increased throughout the morning.
Born to Bike RT’s first rider to start was Dave, off at 6:58am. Phil followed at 7:24am and finally Lynne at 7:34am. They all made good time on the first section of the course to Prees Island roundabout with Dave seeing his team-mates on the opposite side of the dual carriageway on his way down to Tern Hill Island as they were heading up towards Prees Island.
The main circuit is an undulating loop on both ‘A’ and ‘B’ roads, including the notoriously pot-holed section along the A442, and is ridden four times. There are some flat, straight sections and a cheeky little steep section at the High Ercall roundabout. The early breeze had slowly increased throughout the morning making parts of the course at times a bit of a slog. Once on the circuit the support from both marshals and spectators increased with every rider getting lots of cheers especially at Espley Island which is always a popular place to view this race from. Even the faster riders shouted support to slower riders as they overtook them. That’s all part of the camaraderie within the time trialing community. Especially at the longer distance events.
All of the team put in great rides. Lynne finished the race in a time of 4:33:29 and was placed 3rd in the Ladies competition, 44th overall. Between the top three women riders there was only a time difference of 62 seconds! Phil finished in a time of 4:49:29, 57th overall, and Dave 5:07:04, 66th overall. There were 79 finishers, 8 DNF’s and 13 DNS’s.
A new men’s course record was set by Ryan Perry who smashed the previous record and finished in an incredible time of 3:33:20.
Ryan Perry Langdale Lightweights CC. 3:33:20
Richard Bideau Pendle Forest CC. 3:36:18
Steve Irwin North Lancs RC. 3:42:10
Jessica Rhodes-Jones Beacon Roads CC. 4:32:27
Rachael Mellor Holmfirth CC. 4:32:59
Lynne Biddulph Born to Bike Bridgtown Cycles. 4:33:29
On Saturday 21st May, a number of intrepid riders defied their advanced years by braving the wind and the rain to take part in the VTTA’s National 10 mile championship on the A1 course at Long Bennington.
The forecast was for heavy rain in the afternoon – and unfortunately on this occasion, the prediction was just about spot on! Just as the first few women set off, the heavens opened and the challenge of being able to see through a soggy visor was added to the joys of dealing with strong and gusty cross winds.
But since these were hoary old veterans, very few riders cried off and the race went ahead with a full field. And at least the traffic seemed mercifully light, thanks to Manchester United who were providing alternative entertainment on the telly. But despite the biblical conditions, BtB’s Sue Semple managed a cracking course PB in 23:58 with a standard of +4.55 (and if you don’t know what that means you are probably too young to need to worry)!
BtB’s Chris Melia decided that 10 miles just wasn’t long enough in such nice conditions and decided to add a small detour through Foston Village, up a steep hill. Her finishing time was 24:07, +4:56 on standard, earning her the ‘foolish old bird’ rider award.
The event was won by 85 year old Ron Hallam with a time of 27:06, +6:41 on standard. Bronwen Ewing was the first woman with a time of 22:28, +6:25 on standard.
(The brighter non VTTA members will probably have worked out by now that rankings in VTTA championships are based on variations to ‘standards’ which are set according to age. Its a system which allows riders over the age of 40 to keep competing year after year on an ‘even playing field’ with younger riders).
While the Great British weather is trying to decide what to do the BtB team has no problems this weekend with a firm split in the team between continuation training for targeted events and racing for training, you can be sure that the team will be amongst it!
Starting off on Saturday afternoon and kicking things off we have Clare Campbell-Smith who is racing in the Hampshire Road Club promoted 10 mile time trial event near Liphook, Hampshire.
Moving North-East will see Katja Rietdorf starting as scratch lady in the Cambridge Cycling Club 10 mile time trial event.
Finishing off the racing on Saturday we are able to field two teams of 3 to take part in the Coventry CC promoted Diana Cooke Memorial 10 Mile Time Trial event. Leading the ladies team of 3 into action is Lynney Biddulph with Sue Semple and Libby McLaren. The men however, go into bat first with Bob Awcock, Dave Pemberton and Stevie Biddulph all looking on improving their position in the Midlands Vets League.
Finally its back down to Wales on Sunday and to the fast R25/3H course for the Welsh Championship 25 and one of the leading riders and up there with a shout of victory is our very own Chris Melia.
Good luck to all our riders this weekend; ride hard and ride safe.