On 20/21 July 2019 three club members rode in the National RTTC 24 Hour Time Trial and all three finished. By all finishing the club achieved 3rd team. Here are their stories.
24 Hour Virgin – No More
So in June 2018 I rode the Welsh 12 Hour and somehow talked myself into doing a 24 Hour event. It took a little while before this seedling thought became public knowledge but after it was announced at the Club Dinner in January I was sort of committed. This commitment increased after Robbie Richardson and Jamie Richardson-Paige said they would also ride, so we had a Chippenham Wheelers team.
I set myself some training targets as this was a huge ask having only ridden two 12 Hour events before. The first of which was to train for the Mallorca 312 as I felt that a 12 hour ride with mountain miles would stress me in a similar manner to flatter course in Cheshire. Whilst due to a mechanical I did not complete the 312, I still did 146 miles with 12,000 ft of climbing against the 8,000 ft of the 24 Hour course. I also did several 8 and 9 hour static turbo training sessions, including one which started the day after a 100 mile sportive after work and finished at 3 a.m. Yes, I know a turbo trainer is not the same as the road – no wind, no traffic, no rain but also there is no stopping and no coasting; so it is very efficient.
I was lucky that I had a bunch of friends who agreed to support me and several weeks before the event we met to discuss the course, support and introduce some of the team to a time trial bike, deep section wheels, valve extenders, the lighting bar I had constructed for fitting to the bike. Fortunately, Emma took control and built a 5 hour shift pattern for the team ensuring that she and Paul (my support from the Welsh 12) were on overnight giving me my most experienced crew when I was most likely to need them. So many enduring thanks to Paul Freegard, Emma Angove, Pete Sears, Mark Gault and Sean McGilligan (and their families for letting them go).
Come the week of the race the weather forecast was getting better by the day, although the drive North on the Friday was pretty grim as the heavens opened and it was the start of the school holidays. Going up early was worth it as I was able to drive most of the course. Although I had studied it on MapMyRide, Google Earthed it and Google Street Viewed it and all I had managed to do was to stress myself. Once I realised that actually it was just turn right at first roundabout (RAB) after the start onto the A41 and follow it to turn right onto the A442, etc and that I only needed about 5 road numbers and understand the circuits it all fell into place. Mind you despite the recce I thought one of the RAB turns was the main RAB and not the mini, fortunately the signposting and marshalling was faultless throughout.
At this point I should say that the organisation was first class and that we are really lucky that so many people are prepared to give up their entire weekend to enable a bunch of cyclists to put themselves to such an extreme test of endurance. Time Trialling is one of those sports that depend on volunteers and I think in a way that many others do not.
On the day I got to the HQ quite early to find the car park quite full already with lots of camper vans, mobile homes and some very expensive bicycles. It was nice to see familiar faces from West DC clubs and shortly afterwards the rest of the Chippenham crew arrived. We transferred the kitchen sink from my car to my support car (spare bike, 3 spare wheels, spare clothes/shoes, tools, food, gels, water, lights and much else). The support crew then had the problem of access as it was all packed according to my logic and moving it between vehicles as shifts changed. Maybe I took too much but the outcome was that necessary kit was used and no mechanicals occurred.
There was a moment of panic on moving off to the start as I had fitted 25 mm tyres which meant a very small clearance to the frame of my bike and in transit the rear wheel had moved. This meant it jammed as I tried to pedal off. However, as I had set off with 25 minutes to spare for a ½ mile ride there was time to adjust everything. I rode a couple of miles just to check everything and then joined the start queue, watching riders being ticked off and starting every minute.
The weather which had been threatening rain all day began to clear and the temperature was a reasonable 20C or so, the winds were a bit more than light but not extreme and it was overcast. This remained true for pretty much the whole event, with the sun even making an appearance on the Sunday. In my view the weather could not have been much better – lighter winds would have been nice, but I’ll take wind over rain and hot sun any day.
So, at 1418 hrs I set off knowing that I would be riding till at least 1418 hrs on 21 July. This should have tempered my pace and to a degree it did. I rode at an ever-decreasing hourly power number 230W – 220W – 210W – 200W almost on the hour with my first stop at 4 hours to refuel, top up water and take on salt tablets as the complaining muscle appeared to be just cramp from lack of salt. During this first section I saw my club mates but could do the math to see if I was gaining on them, it turned out that I had made just over 2 minutes on Robbie for the first 100 miles. Having completed the first section we moved to circuits of Quina Brook which I quite like at 12 miles. It should have been 4 laps and stop but due to the need to put on evening riding kit and fit lights this didn’t quite work. Despite the stops I was going well and squeezed in an extra lap of Quina Brook by getting to Prees Heath before the 10 p.m. cut off.
I felt that I had my feeding strategy about right as I survived on gels and energy bars for the first 100 miles and then moved onto the food of gods – Melton Mowbray mini pork pies, Ambrosia cream rice and banana, all washed down with Coca Cola. I certainly never felt a lack of energy although at one point I craved a change and the local petrol station provided a ham/salad/and something sandwich as a change. Of course, Jelly Babies made an appearance mid-morning just for a different sugar rush. Fluid intake is always a challenge but again the number of mini halts for calls of nature tell me that I mostly got this right despite my team regularly challenging me that my water bottles didn’t need a refill. (They really did care!)
As night fell, we moved onto the night circuit on the A41 and A442 doing turns at Prees Heath, Term Hill and Epsley RABs in a 20-mile loop. Having thought I had good lights I could not quite believe the strength of some coming towards me and some rear lights seemed to outdo the Fourth4Four rear favoured by many time trialers. The issue with night riding is that you do lose perspective on your speed, but I felt that I must be going alright as at the 12 hour point I was on 230 miles. I knew my mileage would fall away but it gave me confidence that 400 miles was in the bag. This of course was when it nearly all went wrong. I passed my crew smiling and happy at about 0330 and got to Prees Heath. On the return I began to feel quite strange and found it very hard to concentrate, holding a line was difficult and I was beginning to think I was going to have to get off when I saw the petrol station in the distance. I made it to them, somehow got off the bike and immediately nearly fell over – then realising that I had mild hypothermia and could not stop shivering. (It had taken 33 minutes to ride 7 miles compared to 23 minutes an hour earlier.) What had happened was I had got damp and stopped generating body heat. A full change of clothes, a sweat top, puffa jacket and a space blanket and a 45-minute stop, plus lots of encouragement and a crew who clearly hadn’t considered I wasn’t going to ride on. I rode on, generated some body heat and never really looked back helped by the fact that the sky was lightening as dawn was breaking.
It did also help seeing Robbie and Jamie during this period and their support vehicles who shouted encouragement as I went past. Plus of course every time you went past the tented city at Prees Heath you got cheers of support from the 100+ people who spent the night there seemingly making a party of it. This made for a fantastic atmosphere throughout as Prees Heath was the central hub for the majority of the circuits.
It is worth saying at this point that riding the A41 at night is not fun, the south bound route suffers from articulated lorries thundering along the road and the north bound route has potholes and broken surface on the edge forcing you to ride further out than you feel comfortable with. Add in being the main route for police cars on “blues and twos” I would imagine the traffic count is interesting.
Moving back on to Quina Brook in the morning was depressing as my first lap was frankly pathetic but then I picked up pace and was quite enjoying it when suddenly it was 10 a.m. and time to move onto the transition section to get to the finishing circuit. This was a lovely section of road on the A252 which was smooth, undulating and fast – or it would have been if it hadn’t been for the block headwind which took some of the pleasure out of it, but it was still nice to get 30 mph+ in places. With over 3 hours on the finishing circuit I had learnt to hate the section between TK3 (Time Keeper) and TK1 which had a long draggy climb before a short descent to TK1. So I was really pleased to work out that my finish time would put me between TK1 and TK2, in fact by my calculation my 24 Hours was up 200 yds before TK2 which made it really efficient.7
My statistics can be seen at: https://www.strava.com/activities/2551844647 on Strava which also required some planning as a Garmin 810 lasts about 9 hours if you are using it with full functionality. The solution is to use 2 power bars in series as the power source. At 17 hours 40 minutes the Garmin wanted to auto power down and on removing the power lead it showed 100% charge and ran easily for the remaining time. This confirmed my theory that a Garmin sense the charge of its power source and not its own battery if on a secondary power supply.
You will be thankful that I am not going to provide a blow by blow account of the statistics for the ride (I can for those interested!) but am very proud of my average rpm – my cadence was 54 rpm!
So my reflections for a 24 hour race are:
- Proper Prior Planning Prevents Pretty Poor Performance – preparation and training are vital.
- It does pretty much write off the season as training for endurance reduces speed.
- Helpers are vital and choose them wisely, they need to get on or else it may not go well.
- The atmosphere of the event is fantastic and it really is the “blue riband” event.
- I had far too many stops and for too long but I finished, so they worked for me.
- Cold is insidious and don’t ignore the first signs, I had felt chilled but thought nothing of it.
- I think a 24 Hour is actually easier than a 12 Hour
Would I do it again, you bet but am not sure I will ever get the necessary permissions again and my support crew said once was enough. Four days later I am still on a high with a real buzz from the experience.
Finally, for the record our results were:
|Rider||Distance||Position||+ On Standard|
|Christina Murray||478.42||1st lady / 12|
|Robbie Richardson||416.32||32||+81.69 (std 334.63)|
|Paul Winchcombe||413.54||36||+89 (std 324.54)|
|Kate Bradley||270.03||64 – Last finisher|
16 riders Did Not Finish
From Instagram by cycling.jamie.
Another great weekend at the National 24 hour Time Trial, such a great event with a fantastic atmosphere. Its the third time I’ve ridden this race now and I love it, it absolutely nails what the UK TT scene should all be about, people on bikes, having fun and challenging them selves, crowds of people out at all hours to cheer the riders on, and the organisation is 2nd to none. It was fantastic to see the comp record go to Graham Kemp, and amazing that the previous record holder was out on the course to cheer him on. I didn’t quite get to my target of 450 miles (ok I missed it by a long shot) but I did ride the first 208km with out stopping once, didn’t even unclip, and I was holding 32kmh all the way up in till some where between 3 and 4 am, where I got sleepy and it all went tits up. Just couldn’t keep my eyes open while on the bike, and I kept having hallucinations, I thought I could see my helpers just up the road from me, and then I’d blink and they weren’t there anymore. I decided I need to take a break because I was being dangerous. I didn’t stop for long but the sleepiness ruined my average speed and I didn’t get the legs working properly again until 7am. This is a tough race to crack, and I’m happy to walk away with a finish, and a PB of 390 miles (629km) my dad also rode (5th picture is of both of us) And Paul from our club too, we had a good go at the team prize but sadly the arctic aircon team thrashed us! Any way thanks to all the people that came and helped us, Steve, Stuart, Paul, Emma, Sean, and Nikki, my mum and my cousin luke, who made me chuckle by wearing a different hat and shirt every time I saw him. (2nd pic is team and helpers, 4th is @luke__carter__ ).
I’ll be back to this event again soon I’m sure, I know I’ve got more miles in me than I’ve managed so far.
ONE WONDERFUL DAY IN THE SADDLE THE MERSEY ROADS 24 HOUR TIME TRAIL
For me and many this is “THE” event of the year. Having helped my son ride the last two events I knew I wanted to ride another one it was just a question of work and life not getting in the way of riding it again. With the aim of riding side by side with my boy.
I love all the preparation and riding for the event. It gives a huge focus to the season, but the Mersey event is itself truly something remarkable. To me it feels like the last breath of British time trailing as we know it, harking back to the 50’s and 60’s with spectators out for the whole duration encouraging helping and creating an atmosphere that fills me with goose bumps.
We arrived at the race with 2 hours to spare and just soaked up this atmosphere enjoying a chat and all the preparation that everyone is going through – cleaning bits of bike or sorting out what food they need or simply sitting quietly waiting for the off.
Ok I am never going to sit quietly but I was pretty nervous – could I still do this, will I finish? All these thoughts are a kind of mental map of what you are going to go through because you know very well at some point you will suffer.
When me and Jamie made our way to the start the adrenalin and pure excitement really kicked in. I took a video of Jamie starting which was embarrassingly shaky much to my son’s amusement.
The race for me was just pure joy. It was a day out on the bike, and I rode in that frame of mind. I had really hoped that I might make 400 miles, but I was much more keen to finish than worry how far I went. It took all the pressure away and left me to ride my bike and yes, there were times when it hurt but for the whole day I just kept grinning with a sensation that I have never had before in an endurance race. I was sad to stop.
This race is so special a gem with people prepared to give up their entire weekend to stand on a roundabout or road junction to marshal the riders in the right direction and all of these people are the real stars of the race and I hope I thanked every one of them.
The event organisers are in a league of their own. It is such a slick operation with amazing attention to detail.
It was an absolute pleasure to ride with Paul Winchcombe and Jamie Richardson-Paige, yes, the Chippenham Wheelers finished as a team. Each of us went through highs and lows and for me the result was almost the least important part. I just loved being there, I just loved taking part, AND LOVED RIDING MY BIKE.