Twelve hours in the saddle – why would you want to do that. A very good question. At a very early hour at the Bethersden HQ I bumped into Rupert “Roo” Robinson (Crawley Wheelers) and without saying anything to each other we laughed, both thinking the same thing.
With my mid life crises now numbering well into double figures, another challenging event was well overdue. In my latest attempt to show there was still life in the old dog, I entered my first 12 hour. Although this time I would be riding for a very worthy cause, Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital.
Now a 12 hour time trial is a very serious undertaking and its fair to say that simply completing the event is an achievement in itself, let alone clocking up a ridiculously high mileage as Rupert did (see below). Being best man at my brother’s wedding the day before was not ideal preparation but at least it took my mind off the ordeal that was awaiting.
It was pretty warm on the start line but windy, although perfectly acceptable given what was to come later. Riding unsupported, I had left my spare bottles and food bag with the organisers, so I could stop and pick up out on the course. After three hours or so I was starting to think I had not brought enough bottles with me. Fortunately 30 minutes later I bumped into Mike Anton who had ridden out to the course from home and he gave me a spare bottle – many thanks Mike.
It was at this point it started raining and it didn’t take long for standing water to appear in places, not much fun for the riders. A couple of hours later though the rain more or less stopped and the road started to dry out. I could now see a break in the weather approaching and I knew it wouldn’t be too long before the afternoon sun would return.
Now about six hours in and this event was testing my resolve. I had already experienced a low period but was now feeling better having passed the half way mark. Normally in time trials you are watching the clock hoping that it is not ticking too fast, but on this ride I was clock watching and time wasn’t going fast enough !
With about 4 hours to go we were switched back up to a finishing circuit where there were timekeepers every mile or so. It would be these guys that would indicate to you when your ride was over, by checking the clock against your number. This part of the course route was a bit lumpier and initially it tested the legs. We did at least have a very encouraging set of supporters with cow bells ringing and smiles everywhere.
In the last couple of hours another friendly face appeared on the roadside, Peter Bedingfield shouting words of encouragement – many thanks Peter.
Finally my garmin registered 200 miles for the first time and I was a happy man, a few miles later and I approached my last time keeper to tell him I had just completed 12 hours. Now just the few miles back to HQ.
A friendlier bunch of organisers you could not wish to meet. The Kent CA are a great crowd.
Reviewing the results it looked as though Rupert had the best total at 271 miles with yours truly clocking 204.
Ben is riding to raise funds for Great Ormond Street Childrens Hospital – you can sponsor him here