www.dadswell.co.uk  Mostly cycling records, mostly on three wheels

At last, a North-West Wind            Back to Rides in 1994

After the almost mandatory wait of several weeks, there was at last an opportunity for a record attempt.  We had been watching since mid-June for either west, south, or north-west winds. Eventually, the lengthy settled spell of weather showed signs of taking a break, and a day with winds from the North was in prospect for Friday 12th August.

So, Dave Pitt's Birmingham to London tricycle record was the target, and I hastily arranged for Alan Hodgson and Den Mills to be my back up team.

We travelled to Birmingham during the morning, stopping off for a brief meal on the way.  There was definitely a suitable wind, probably in a north-north-west direction. 

I needed to learn the start, as the defined point had been changed from the Head Post Office to a footbridge in Broad Street.  Unfortunately, time was getting tight, so we parked near the start, and I immediately rode off to check the finer points of this new exit route.  I had no problems sorting out this revised start, but was disappointed to notice that Edgbaston Street was closed, and a diversion was signposted.

I started at 3pm, and was immediately weaving my way along the devious exit route, including a dismount to get past a locked barrier!  When I reached Edgbaston Street, I followed the diversion, believing that I would soon be directed onto the A45, which is where I wanted to be.  To my horror, I was sent on a large loop which ended up with me being 200 yards from where I had been over a minute before.  Fortunately, the 200 yards covered the 'closed' section of Edgbaston Street, so I was at least not lost.  I briskly dodged onto the A45, and was back on course.

My first scheduled time check was at the M42 junction, which I was expecting at 9 miles, in 23 minutes.  Despite moving well, though, it took 25 minutes to get there ... and I had covered 10miles!  Clearly the new start coupled with my unfortunate detour had added a mile.

Onwards and around the Coventry ring road, I was ahead of schedule at the Willenhall island, and covered 25 miles in 20 seconds over the hour.  I had been worrying that my car didn't seem to have caught up with me, but it did eventually put in an appearance, and I got a feed at about 30 miles.

Taking the old route through Daventry, I was soon at Weedon Bec where the route joins the A5.  I was now 5 minutes ahead of schedule as I set out on the attractively undulating Roman Road to London Town.

By Towcester I had made further gains, and 50 miles had passed in 2-4-0.  When I arrived at the Milton Keynes bypass I really had the chance to get things moving.  I gained several minutes on this 10 mile stretch, and probably only lost a small amount of that on the new Little Brickhill bypass. 

As I approached Dunstable, my car went ahead again with plans of feeding me on the next hill.  However, an unexpected junction with traffic lights prevented this.  Or so I thought, as I rode beside the queue of cars.  Suddenly, Den was out of the car and sprinting along the road, to eventually feed me in front of a large audience, just as the lights changed!

From Dunstable to St Albans I was still able to build on my advantage, and Andy Burnet was clearly delighted to shout "quarter of an hour up!", as he sent me into St Albans.  The dreaded climb beside the M25 at Ridgehill was next.  To my amazement, it was much less traumatic than I had remembered, and South Mimms was soon on the horizon.

After an elegant manoeuvre took me across some mini-roundabouts, I found myself in the M25 service area.  Most fortuitously, the lights were kind to me on the giant roundabout, and I was relieved to be on the road to Barnet.

100 miles passed in 4-11-30, and I took my third and final drink near Whetstone.  It was like the Red Sea opening when the traffic stopped at the North Circular Road, and I aggressively made my way up the last climb towards Highgate.

At my last checkpoint, where the route joins the A1, I was 16 minutes up, with a mere 6 miles left.

Despite some difficult moments, usually caused by broken-down vehicles, I managed to ease myself past the obstacles, and finally over the Angel intersection.  The last mile was quite fast, as I went through the Smithfield Market building, and along the pleasant setting of Little Britain.

All that remained was to negotiate King Edward Street, and I could see Albert Ayton waiting at the finish.  He offered a time of 4 hours 48 minutes 49 seconds, which I was pleased to accept.

My beating of the previous record was 17 minutes 51 seconds, and I made the distance 112.7 miles.

Lard and Andy Little soon appeared at the finish, having been in Little Britain as I rode through.

It was a pleasure to witness their beaming countenances, although they seemed quite intent on proving that any claim to a record would be invalid.  They were certain that the differential on my tricycle was actually an electric motor!

After I had been finished for about 15 minutes, Keith and Brenda Robins appeared, having been delayed at work.  Some 10 minutes later, Alan and Den arrived with my car, offering me a lift home.  I was quickly cleaned up, and we were on our way.

So, my 9th RRA record, and the 3rd Pitt record beaten.  How many more to go?

Ralph Dadswell  Aug 94

Back to Rides in 1994

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