Archive for August, 2007

Time trialling in the fifties

A young member of the Northwood WheelersA young member of the Northwood WheelersA young member of the Northwood Wheelers

A young member of the Northwood Wheelers time trialing in the fifties. Note the unusual frame with curved seat tube and very rare rear triangle.

The following was found on the Northwood Wheelers website. To the best of my knowledge there has been no such club for at least twenty five years so presumably the writer is a former member who has published his memoirs under the name of his old club. I believe that in September 1954 the writer would have been aged eighteen or thereabouts so he did a good ride for a youth. Incidentally on the previous Wednesday he rode 153 miles to Brighton and back as “training”. None of this tapering nonsense in 1954! WLCA is short for West London Cycling Association. The less said about the “loan” of the GPO van the better!

Sun Sept 5th 1954, The WLCA 12 hour event on the Bath road

Got out of bed at 2.00 a.m. and left in the van at 2.45 on our way to Theale. [Bob Harvey, who worked for the Post Office, had borrowed a GPO van for the weekend to carry our bikes, and ourselves, to the event. In the wee small hours of the morning, as we drove through Reading, a policeman stopped us – presumably to check – and asked Bob for the van’s registration number. Bob calmly got out and went round to the front of the van to find out …………very suspicious, but we were allowed to continue!].

We got down to the start in safety, and I was off in a damp mist which persisted for the first three hours. It then cleared up and the rest of the day was quite warm and sunny. I averaged ‘evens’ [20 mph] for the first 80 miles and covered the first 100 in about 5 hours 6 minutes. I reached the finishing circuit with about 2¼ hours remaining, and covered another two laps and 4 miles before finally ‘running out’. My total mileage for the 12 hours was about 225 miles 1000 yards, and I think that I just beat Rodney Bridge. If I did, I won the club championship and broke Alan Stratman’s club record! I can’t be sure until the final result. [The official result showed that I covered 225 miles 1661 yards, a new club record].

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P-B-P update no. 3

The good news is that Bob Harber and Damon Peacock both finished in eighty seven hours. I believe that Bob was a little quicker than 2003 which given that the weather was worse and he is now the wrong side of sixty is quite an achievement.

Sadly it seems that neither Ray Kelly nor Mike Butler finished as they both disappeared from the web site at 1000km. I calculate that Mike was just twenty minutes outside the time limit at the Villaines control. Surely he wasn’t pulled out with “only” 225km to go. As I said previously Mike seemed to have a long stay at Loudeac both out and back. That is fine if you can ride quickly between controls but IMHO you need to get in with a fast moving group most of the time and many of the older riders just can’t hack that. Incidentally I phoned Gino Goddard to give him the news about his cousin and I asked him how old he is. Gino said he doesn’t think he is seventy yet!! He is expected in the UK next month so I am hoping to meet him.

Poor Ray Kelly has, it seems, had to abandon for the second consecutive time and again at well over half distance. He may also have been pulled for being out of time at an intermediate control. I believe you will be allowed to continue if you have evidence of some misfortune but I think just having a bad spell cuts no ice.

So of the five riders I chose to track only three qualified. I think the drop out rate is normally about fifteen per cent so maybe I jinked them. Nevertheless they are all heroes and deserve respect

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P-B-P update no.2

As Beryl Burton showed many years ago women can hold their own with men in endurance cycling (remember her 12 hour ride of 277 miles?) so I am not surprised that of my group of riders Sheila Simpson is the first finisher. She took just over 86 hours so she was comfortably inside the time limit. Not that I am sure “comfortably” is the right word as Sheila doesn’t seem to have had too much sleep. Like everybody else she rode through the first night and then maybe two or three hours sleep for the next three nights. I have read that Sheila says she slows by two hours every four years so she has two more P-B-P’s in her which will take her to nine!

Of the rest Bob Harber and Damon Peacock arrived at Dreux (1156km) at 10am so they should be OK but at 1pm French time Ray Kelly and Mike Butler are not yet recorded as arriving at Mortagne (1082km). Ray however didn’t start until 11.10pm so he has some leeway. Lets hope it is an admin error and they are, in fact, on the last 70km stage.

It is now 3.15pm French time, fifteen minutes to go for 9.30pm starters, and the PBP site seems to have crashed! Over-use I guess.

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P-B-P update

It is five pm in the UK and for a lucky few PBP is over! Besides tracking a few acquaintances I followed a couple in the fast group selecting at random numbers 11 and 44. They got to Brest at 615km (385 miles) in 20hrs 35min. and returned in 24hrs. 15min for  total time of 44hrs. 50min. Some ride  for 1225kms (765 miles) eh? Interestingly although they were clearly in the same group no.11 always checked in a minute or two after no.44 at each control. I guess no.44 is the pushy type.

Here are the turn times for the riders I have followed. Remember that they started at various times between 9.30pm and 11.10pm.

Sheila Simpson, a woman I met on the 2003 event. She is middle-aged and doesn’t look particularly athletic.  She has finished six times and is going like a train getting to Brest in 38 hrs 18 min. Well done Sheila.

Bob Harber, Brighton Excelsior rode in 2003 when he just beat 90 hrs. He got to Brest in 40hrs 46 min.

Ray Kelly, Willesden CC, has finished four or five times. In 2003 he rode on the back of a tandem but sadly the freehub packed up after 800 miles. This time he turned in 40hrs 45min. Don’t presume that Bob and Ray have been riding together as Ray started one hour after Bob.

Gino Goddard’s cousin from Texas Mike Butler turned in 41hrs 30min and seems to be slowing after a quickish start.

Finally Damon Peacock, Southport CC, who warmed up for the event by riding the 24hr TT championship took 40hrs 33min.  Of course it is not just speed on the road that matters but time in the controls is important. I think that they all had a kip at Loudeac after 450kms. There are many unknowns such as meal breaks but also unknown unknowns including mechanical problems and crashes. The good news is that they have all got longer to return than it took to do the outward leg so with luck they should qualify.

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Paris-Brest-Paris 2007

pbpnight.jpgYes it has come round again and instead of riding I am sat in front of the computer tracking a few acquaintances as they head toward Brest. They left Paris at about 10pm Monday and they have ninety hours in which to cover the 1220km route. On friday Gino Goddard told me that his cousin Michael Butler, who apparently lives in Houston, Texas, is riding so I am keeping an eye on him. he seems to be doing fine at the moment. A Southport C.C. clubmate Damon Peacock, who I don’t actually know having moved from Southport thirty years ago, is also riding but he seems to have taken it very sedately to the first control at 222km. Lets hope he is holding plenty in reserve.

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