AwesomeantiX Home Page Potpouri 2011: 24-Hour 2012: Trailwalker 2013: L-E-L

My second National 24-Hour Time Trial Championship - 25th & 26th June 2011
I had great memories of 1999 and the 438.173 miles I covered on my first effort at a 24-hour ride. Therefore, when it was announced that the 24 was returning to Sussex in 2011, I knew I had to give it another go.

To do an event like this, you need to train and I spent the preceding eight months getting the miles in. 200 miles a week on my own in all weather was the recipe. Every time I went out, I had to top 63 miles (100km), even when it was grim. I managed to record 41 x 100km rides in 2011 leading up to the 24.

My 24-hour aero hat with custom graphics by Girdy

I did numerous tough Audax rides, including an adventurous 400km which took the best part of 24-hours and involved riding through the night in torrential rain. To finish off my prep I had a week in France and 410 miles with nine elite club mates. I also did a full early season of time trials, with varying degrees of success. My times unfortunately showed that I wasn't as good as I was in 1999, but then I was 12 years older.

Final Preperation

Along with doing the training, I used my time to plan and prepare every other potential (and hypothetical) detail. This can be quite destructive and stressful, as you're constantly drilling down and focusing on minutia. After 15 years on my old Colnago, I went for a new TT bike. I then fretted about riding this radical TT machine.

Along the way, plenty of people helped me out in the build-up (thanks) and many conversations were had with my club mates and I believe I got quite obsessive as the big day approached.

Custom built drinks bottle holder & headlight bar
Simon Farmer built me an aluminium platform to hold my drinks bottle, complete with titanium bar to mount my headlights on. This is a real work of engineering art and performed faultlessly, despite the best efforts of the road surfaces to create mechanical carnage. Mike Anton and Mark Winton loaned me lights. The USE lights are from another planet compared with the funny little Cateye lights that I used back in 1999. I went through a misty night with total confidence. Astrid sorted all the homemade food. After research, she made various batches of custom energy bars. These were thoroughly tested (enjoyed) and consumed in France. Fresh batches were made for the 24, and along with bananas and Hi Five in my drinks bottle fuelled me for the bulk of my ride. On my three sit down eats, I enjoyed pasta with tuna and chicken & salad cream in bread - it worked.

With the miles on the clock and the bikes, food, equipment and spares all sorted, it was time to race. One final and vital detail - yes, my support team. I don't come from the old school of cycling, who'd ride out to an event and leave a spare bottle in a bush etc - I like the star treatment, even if my talent doesn't justify it.

This time I asked our club's fastest two riders (Nick and Rob) and our previous fastest rider (Mark) to help and they all said yes! Opening the batting was Mark Winton, who met me at the event HQ, loaded his car (see photo) with all my stuff and there really was loads - I won't list it all, but nearly all of it returned home the following day untouched - as it should be - no dramas.

Team Photo - 8 of the 9 Lewes Wanderers before the start - Photo: Mike Anton
Time to head down to the start - Photo: Mark Winton
Mark's car loaded to the rafters - Photo: Mark Winton
At the start with Mike Anton (Pusher off) & Mick Kilby (Timekeeper)
The Race - A few final checks, chats and Mr Anton launched me and off I went. It's very strange starting a TT without any desire to go full chat and get into the red asap. I knew the course, had all the legs in my head and immediately switched to positive thought mode. I'd been fretting right up to the start, but now I was riding and enjoying it - Simple. Drink every 20 minutes, eat from food bag on bar or back pocket every hour and let's get those miles ticking off. Mark would pass me up an open drinks bottle when requested and after pouring it into my open topped bottle, I'd throw the empty back for him to reclaim. The pouring didn't work quite as smoothly as I remember and there was a bit of spillage over the front of the bike, probably down to the crap roads - I'm sure it wasn't like that back in the halcyon days of 1999.
Out of the saddle - Photo: Mike Anton
Heading west along the A272 at Newick - Photo: Mike Anton
The lights are on - Photo: Mike Anton
No drama and 100 miles in 4 hours 50 mins. only four minutes slower than my 1999 pace. Back in 1999 I was number 52, so I'd requested the same number this time - looks good in the photos! Stopped for first routine pit-stop after about 6½ hours. I headed off to the A272 and the journey to West Sussex and the night circuit, whilst Mark having completed his shift handed over to Nick and headed home. Nick had probably the toughest leg, as he had to follow (without losing me) to West Sussex and then base himself on the night circuit in the dark and when we got bored with West Sussex (when they closed the night circuit) he had to follow me back to Chailey, where he meet up with Rob and handed all my stuff over for the final leg.
Smiling in Henfield on the night circuit - Photo: Mike Anton
I liked the night circuit; it seemed a lot less demanding than the earlier sections. I had a feed from team Dwyer and put the lights on at about 9:30pm. Looking at the post event photos, it seemed that riders wore all sorts of kit, including leg & arm warmers and over jackets. I started in full summer kit and completed my whole ride without adding or removing a single item. I set off in shades, but ditched them after 30 or so miles because of sweat constantly running over the inside of the lenses. I went through the rest of the race with my eyes unprotected and got the odd bug in the eye, but no disasters.
Rather than trying to get bottles handed up on the move in the dark, I pulled in on most laps to top up as needed and had another sit down feed in the middle of the night. I kept my 'off-the-bike' time to a minimum and completed 224.79 miles in my first 12 hours. This was seven miles down on my 1999 performance.

Nick handed over to Rob and we were back in East Sussex for the concluding hours. I ploughed on, but was slowed by the fact that I rode most of the second half of the event in a more upright (non-aerodynamic) position. This was mainly down to my neck stiffening up and being unable to maintain a forward looking position whilst on the tri-bars and it certainly cost me quite a bit on the total mileage count.

Apart from the odd tweak of cramp, the perennial uncomfortable bum/saddle interface and a general lack of flexibility, I can report that I l loved the whole event and was pleased with my performance. I can't thank my helpers enough and everyone else who cheered me on along the way. It was a great event.

Sunday morning and still smiling - Photo: Lawrence Watts
Nearly there and a thumbs up for Lawrence Watts
Post event - back at the HQ for tea & cakes with Paul (Katie & Luke) Gibbons

Planet X and Colnago frame graphics by Girdy

I finished 19th with 419.550 miles. You can find more on my 24 and read reports from my club-mates by clicking on the covers of the three Lewes Wanderer magazines on the right.

You can read my 1999 report from the time on the LWCC Archive website

Next stop - I need a new challenge to obsess over and keep my busy for 2012.

Read more in LWCC magazine No. 249 July-August Summer Special - Starts Page 19
Read more in LWCC magazine No. 250 September edition - Starts Page 13
Read more in LWCC magazine No. 253 December edition - Starts Page 10

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