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One Record Attempt Too Many                                 Back to Rides in 1991

 (or: Ralph says "Watling Street is quite Hilly, isn't it?")

Hot on the tracks of the Viking Warrior's attack on my Bath&back record, I took to the road in an attempt to relieve "David the Pitt" of the burden of the Birmingham-London shield.

The route requires a north-west wind, and I got a reasonable forecast for Friday 27th September.  This fizzled out on the day, but Monday 30th looked a little better.  Due to the uncertainty, I decided that I would still ride a 50 on Sunday 29th.  As it happened, there was still a hope of NW winds on the Monday afternoon.

Andy Burnet and I set off for Birmingham, hoping that the expected Force 2 winds would prove to be underestimates.  We collected Ivy Mitton at Milton Keynes, and arrived at Birmingham at 1:10 pm.  In the 50 minutes before the 2pm start, I had to decide which route I would use to leave the city.

Although my schedule had specified the exact course, a programme of pedestrianisation had interfered with that.  It is no longer possible to ride along New Street!  Even special permissions would have been worthless as most of the centre seems to be dug up.

I found a simple exit route, but the problems weren't over.  The start point refers to the 'principal clock' on the Post Office.  Well, the Post Office building is currently an empty shell, which will be shortly be refurbished etc.  Meanwhile, there are no clocks visible.  Fortunately, I remembered where DJP had started four years ago, and so I used that point - but travelling in the opposite direction!

I left on time, and covered the first 25 miles (past Coventry, and towards Dunchurch) in 1.2.30 - with a reasonably helpful wind.  Unfortunately, this wind became more of a crosswind as the ride progressed (through Daventry and Weedon) and I was down to 2.9.30 for 50 miles at Towcester.

Onwards to Milton Keynes (bypass), and I was 2 mins up on my schedule.  I climbed through Little Brickhill towards Dunstable, and felt that most of the work had been done in getting that far.  However, my advantage had disappeared by Dunstable, and I was still level with the schedule at St Albans.  I calculated that I needed to maintain 'evens' for the rest of the ride.

From St Albans to South Mimms is only about 8 miles, but the climb of Ridgehill seemed to knock the stuffing out of me.  12 mph is not good news, and I was 2 mins down at the South Mimms roundabout, where Audrey Hughes joined the attempt.  I continued towards Barnet in the knowledge that despite being down on the schedule, I was still up on the record.  100 miles passed in 4.32.30.

The traffic in Barnet delayed me slightly, but things eased for a while before approaching the North Circular Road.  Thankfully the lights were green, and so I was across safely, onto the climb towards Highgate.  When I joined the A1, I was 1 minute down on the record, with 5 busy miles to go.

As dusk was upon me, I decided to abandon my snappy image, and removed the shades.  Suddenly, I could see things again.  I zoomed down the hill under the 'Archway', and was swallowed in dense traffic.  A frantic performance got me to The Angel with 2 minutes left.

As I got to Smithfield market, the time expired, and I reached Albert Ayton at the finish point in 5.8.14 for 112 miles.  Unfortunately for me, Dave still holds the record with 5.6.40.  Rats.


RD 1991

Back to Rides in 1991

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