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

The 12 hour time trial                                                                 Back to Rides in 1997

As noted before, Gerry and I had identified a chance that we could beat the RTTC Competition Record for 12 hours on the tandem tricycle.   Unlike our attempt on the 100 mile record earlier in the year, this was something we really did feel was in our grasp.

The record was held by L & K Bradford of St Neots CC with 245 miles.  So, 20.5 mph would be enough.

We rode the Luton Wheelers / Icknield RC 12 hour.  It was a reasonable day for racing, and we were comfortably on course for the record.  

These days, many 12 hour courses require the riders to complete a series of circuits as they progress through the day.  However, the previous standard format was more based on a sequence of out-and-back detours. 

Most people riding a 12 hour will have some arrangement with helpers to make sure they are looked after in areas like feeding, drinking and mechanical assistance.    I've always been pretty keen to know that my helpers are never far away in case of problems.    However, I think it's fair to say that Gerry had previously been more laid-back, and he was more comfortable going on detours without the back-up.

And so we travelled north on the A1, with helpers parked up and waiting for us to come back.  We were only 5 or 6 miles away when we punctured a rear tyre.   We rode for a while on the flat, and it was then that I realised that we weren't going to get a wheel change - we either had to change the tube or continue on the flat.  I can't actually remember whether the just continued or whether we tried unsuccessfully to do the repair.    We did, however, lose quite a bit of time.

That was in the morning, and the incident only mildly bothered me.   Fortunately you can ride a tricycle with a flat rear tyre without it being a critical problem.

Later in the afternoon we again set off on a detour.

Even when you keep them as simple as possible, tandems have a few complexities that you can't really avoid. One of the issues is that the chain connecting the two sets of pedals has to be correctly tensioned.  One of ways of dealing with this matter is via an adjustable mechanism around the axle connecting the front set of pedals.   This mechanism is really something you hardly ever touch after the initial set-up.   And it never gives any trouble.

We were on the return section of this detour when Gerry noticed a problem.  I think the symptom was the chain catching on something every pedal stroke.  He then spotted the cause.  The whole of this adjustable device seemed to have moved sideways.   My memory is slightly vague here, but there must have been some further crucial development which meant we Had to Stop.  We stopped at a layby which happened to have somebody there watching the riders go past.

We surveyed the damage, and the guy spectating said "I've got some allen keys".   He went to his car and Gerry pointed out that we needed to re-seat the device and then adjust it.   I had no idea what was needed or why allen keys would help!    Anyhow, this guy seemed to have a cool head and knew what he was doing.   After several minutes, he and Gerry had managed to get things back in order and we were ready to go again.  

As we were preparing to leave, our new friend wished us luck with the rest of the ride, ending with "by the way, it's my record you're chasing".   It was indeed one of the Bradfords mentioned above, and we are very grateful for his generous and sporting behaviour.

When we got back to the car, I have a feeling I snarled some unpleasantly aggressive message along the lines of "how about actually looking after us next time?".  We took drinks and food, and carried on ... hoping that we still had a chance of the record.

The final result shows that we were actually 6 miles to the good by the end, so the various mishaps weren't game-changers.   However, if we hadn't had the roadside help for the second problem, then I think we were actually stuck.  Potentially we could've unhooked the front chain and I could've pedalled for both of us.   But that sounds really desperate even if only for a few miles.  Let's not think about it.

The nicer memory was the moment (and hour or so later) when we agreed that we had passed the old record distance with 15-20 minutes to go.  A brief handshake and we just had to deal with those remaining minutes before we could finally stop & lie by the roadside.

Our first 'national' record on the tandem tricycle.   Mechanicals aside, we had ridden pretty well through the day.  Having taken the 12 hour record, we were almost immediately thinking about the 24.
Back to Rides in 1997

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