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

Unfinished Business                   April 2002      Back to Rides in 2002

Approximately a year ago, you may recall the amusing story of how Dave Johnson and Ralph Dadswell (me!) made an unsuccessful attempt to break the Eastern Counties RRA tandem tricycle record from London to Cambridge and back.

Despite a smooth run into London, and missing the chaos that can exist at Cambridge, the rush hour traffic of Harlow and Bishops Stortford combined with an ill timed puncture to mean that the final 40 miles into the wind were just too much for us to cope with.

Accordingly, we were honour-bound to return for another try.  This time we chose a Sunday, but otherwise the routine was the same as before.  The route is 104 miles long, and the record dated from 1974 was 4h 31m 8s by Dick Drury and John Leiper.

We started in chilly conditions from Epping Forest for the 10 miles into London.  At the turn, we were 2 minutes ahead of the schedule, and had only lost a few seconds when we returned to our start point.  Harlow, Sawbridgeworth and Bishops Stortford were (thankfully) clear of traffic, although the signs at roundabouts were shockingly inadequate, frequently causing me to nervously check behind me as we left junctions, just to be sure that we were still on the correct road.  We also took a brief excursion off course near Bishops Stortford as I was confused by a sign.  We were running at about 5 minutes up by this point.

Along past Ugley and Newport we were moving well, and hit the heights of a 10 minute advantage at Stump Cross (52 miles).  We had realised that we were being helped by a southerly wind, and therefore that (as before) we would lose some of this credit on the return to Epping Forest.

We were 13 minutes up at the Cambridge turn, and as expected we then began to hand it back.  At Stump Cross we were back at 10 minutes, but surprisingly we held that for the next 15 miles, and had only slipped back one further minute at Sawbridgeworth.

Dave had been ill during the previous week (ever since a dodgy performance in the race at Windermere!), and he was starting to falter a bit in the last hour.  However, the record wasn't really at risk by that time, and although we started to labour a bit, we still had 7 minutes in hand with 5 miles to go.

We had planned to take a short cut at the giant roundabout south of Harlow, but unfortunately our way was blocked with gates and other obstructions, forcing us to add a quarter of a mile to our planned route.

Nevertheless, we still held on to the seven minute advantage, and it was with considerable relief that we crossed the line after 4h 24m 11s.  Albert Ayton looked after the timing, with Peter Smith and Graham Mann following us around.  Everything was fine, apart from Graham riding home with my car keys in his pocket!


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