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A Brisk Hour of exercise .... and then a little sprint.         July 2002    Back to Rides in 2002

Last Sunday (28th July) was a good day.  It was my birthday, the sun shone, and the wind didn't blow.

Oh, and it all started with the Leo RC 30.  A year ago, we had been told that the 2002 event would be on the "real E72" course, and that it was guaranteed to be a fast day.  Almost unbelievably, this promise came true. 

The last of the 93 solo riders was John Woodburn, and he shot away out of sight, fully committed to showing those youngsters how to ride a bike.  And then it was time for the tandems.  There were nine on the list, including two former Tour de France riders.  Dave Johnson and I were on the only tandem-tricycle, placed 4 minutes ahead of the favourites, Zak Carr and Glenn Taylor.

We were despatched at 0746, with a target time of 1h 1m 56s, which was faster than 29 mph.  In the first mile, we were down to 27mph, so things didn't look fantastic.  But this was just a blip, and we were riding well for the rest of the outward leg to Stanway.  Here we had to leave the A12 for a 5 mile detour into the wilderness. 

Immediately, we were down a couple of gears, and riding on roads with cambers (to say nothing of roundabouts).  We had been almost a minute up on the record when we left the A12, but 2.5 miles later (at the turn) we were just level with it.  It goes without saying that we were a minute down when we rejoined the A12.  I shouted to Dave that we had 23 minutes left, and didn't bother to mention that there was almost 12 miles to go.  I think he was well aware of the kind of speed that we had to produce - to be precise, it was 30.25 mph.

I didn't bother try any more calculations.  We just had to keep that speedo saying anything that began with a 3.  Incredibly, unfeasibly, it kept on happening.  Even on the rise away from Kelvedon, which can sometimes be so awful.  As we approached the Witham bypass, I shouted to Dave that there were four minutes left.  I had no idea whether we would get the record or not - we just had to be totally committed for another couple of miles.

We got to the western end of the flat section, and the road started to turn and rise.  We knew the finish wasn't far away, and as the hour point passed, I shouted that there were two minutes to go.  Suddenly, we could see the chequered board, and could tell that we were going to get the record.  We crossed the line with 41 seconds to spare, clocking 1h 1m 15s (29.4 mph).   Phew, what a relief, and what an extraordinary day!

We weren't the only record-breakers, as the Carr/Taylor duo had shattered their own tandem-bike record, taking over two minutes off, to clock a staggering 54m 33s, which is a 33 mph average.  They had caught us at 17 miles.  We decided to let them go.

Of the solos, John Woodburn clocked 1h 2m 53s, to embarrass everyone younger than him (most of us!), and was generally quite pleased.  The only thing that bothered him was "the fact that you beat me, Ralph".  I must blushingly point out that I did have some help, but as all tandem stokers know only too well, they just don't get the credit that's due to them!


Here's the front page of the result.   John Woodburn didn't just win the event, but set an Age Record and rode the fastest solo 30 of the year.   Aged 65.

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