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The Extra Mileā€¦                    April 2001     Back to Rides in 2001

.... well, that didn't help.....and the puncture happened at a difficult time.....and as for the wind for the last couple of hours......

That sounds like a load of excuses, and maybe they are.   Perhaps I should be gracious, and say that the existing record was too good for us.  But when was I ever gracious in defeat?

In March, I decided that Dave Johnson and I would ride the London to Cambridge and back, attempting to beat whatever the Eastern Counties RRA record was.

I was a bit surprised to find that it was 4 hr 31 m for what I initially believed to be 109 miles (later adjusted to 103).   I immediately concluded that March would be too early, and that the ride should take place when we were a bit fitter.  Perhaps we should have tried it in May.

We set off from Epping Forest at 0700, travelling south through Woodford to the turn at Stratford.  We were ahead of schedule at that point, mainly due to predictions of long delays in Leytonstone being unfounded.  Back at the start point, we were still slightly ahead as we made our way to Harlow.

By now, the traffic was quite heavy, and we found ourselves riding alongside queues.  Progress was "on schedule" to and through a very busy Bishop's Stortford, and then we saw some open roads.

We claimed a three minute advantage at Newport, and were moving well.  Then we hit some debris, and picked up a front wheel puncture.  This was more of a problem than it might seem, as the following car was still recovering from earlier delays and it was several minutes before it appeared.  I can't be certain, but we lost at least 4 minutes, and so were struggling to get a cushion before turning south into the wind.  I might have measured the course incorrectly, as we were moving very well but still only 2 minutes up as we approached Cambridge.

The Cambridge turn was witnessed by Liz Milne, who was probably a bit concerned to see us just 2 minutes ahead, with a fairly brisk headwind awaiting us.  Any concerns would have been justified, as we then began to struggle.  We'd lost those two minutes by Stump Cross, and by Newport (80 miles) we were 2 minutes down.

I was ready to abandon, but Dave wanted to continue.  We had lost another minute by Bishop's Stortford, but held that deficit at Sawbridgeworth.  However, a heavy shower and maybe a bit of fatigue left us six minutes adrift when we left Harlow.  We did a sneaky shortcut across the M11 roundabout, to place us 6 minutes down with 6 miles to go.

Some hope.  The time ran out when we left a rather busy Epping, and we toured to the finish point.

So the 1974 ride by Dick Drury and John Leiper lives on.  I had a call from John this evening, and he did concede that he and Dick were quite pleased with their Cambridge and back ride.  That said, though, he was sure that Dave and I would beat it.

The course turned out to be 104.5 miles, so we needed over 23 mph to beat 4h 31m 8s.  Our 4h 37m 30s is some way off, but I'm fairly sure we can do a better job next time.   It's just a case of fitting it all in!


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