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

Bath & Back Aug 2006                                    Back to 2006-2007

Dave and I had already made a failed attempt at the London to Bath and back record.  I spent quite a lot of time thinking about the best way to approach the ride to give us the best chance.  Unlike the Brighton or Portsmouth routes, this one hardly had any bits that were quicker than 30 years earlier.  And it had quite a few more mid-size roundabouts than previous aspirants had had to deal with.

The Pitt & Millard tandem-tricycle record was about an hour faster than I had recorded on my own (9h 20m compared with 10h 19m) and felt pretty tight. 

The classic approach to this record was to start at either Reading or Maidenhead, early in the morning, and go east.  After turning at London, ride out to Bath against a steadily increasing west wind.  Then turn at Bath for a tailwind ride back to the start.  This is ok, but the 60 miles either side of Bath are quite hilly.  And tandem tricycles aren't amazing when it gets hilly, twisty and the roads are cambered.

So I figured that maybe we could turn the ride on its head.  We would pick a day with a fair west wind.  We would start at Newbury at 2pm and ride to Bath (against the wind, but with fresh legs).  We would then have a following wind all the way to London (approx 9pm).  Then we would ride back to Newbury against the slackening wind in the late evening.

I didn't write a proper report on this ride, but did have some email dialogue after the event. 

I can't remember who I was writing to (sorry!), but this how it went:

We were running out of chances, and so had a go on Saturday.   I can't
remember how much I told you of our plans, but we started at 2pm from
Newbury, going west. We managed 97 miles.

Here's what I wrote to someone else about what happened :


...... we climbed off a few miles short of Newbury (at Stockcross, just
where the H25/3 used to finish for many years).  I have to say that the wind
at 2pm was considerably stronger than I'd anticipated.  On Friday night I
was expecting perhaps 10 mph.  On Saturday morning it was definitely going
to be stronger, probably 15 mph.  And when we were in Newbury the flags were
flapping very well.

As we left, Dave said that we mustn't let the headwind get to us.  And then
he commented "it's only for 50 miles after all!".   We held our schedule to
Bath, which was kind-of surprising.  But then we really had to start making
progress on the way back.  The trouble is that Box Hill is big and slow.
And there are two hard climbs leading to Calne.  And then Labour-in-Vain
hill out of Calne.  And then Marlborough Hill.  We were only just ahead of
schedule back at Hungerford.

The trouble then was that the schedule was unforgiving.  It was "level
speed".  We were going to do the first 100 in just faster than 4-25, and had
to repeat the feat on the flatter, but more hazardous second half.  After
leaving Hungerford, we started to talk about what to do.  Just before the
feed at Stockcross, we decided to pack.  And then almost immediately Dave
cramped up quite spectacularly. I'm told that it looked quite funny from a

I think there was another factor as well, in that our helpers didn't give
Dave the drinks and food that he was after.  Also when he missed a drink at
one point, they didn't immediately dash past for another go.  Despite a
phonecall with further instructions, he still had to wait quite a while for
replenishment.  This won't have helped.

I really don't think we'll try the Bath and back again.  That was my sixth
ride over the route (three times to eventually get the single tricycle, once
for the mixed, and now two failures for the men's record), and I don't think
I'll be able to be confident enough to try again.  Luckily there are plenty
of others to try.

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