Transcontinental Race – TCR4

Hip Hip Hooray wheels
Hip Hip Hooray wheels

With only a couple of weeks to go until the start of the Transcontinental Race #4 it’s a good thing the new bike has finally arrived. Bike Whisperer HQ was busy with sweat, swearing and Shimano grease and the bike made its debut on a commute last Friday and then straight out into the wild on a little 600k audax called The Buzzard. I’d attempted the Buzzard before, as a Perm, just after Christmas but failed when my GPS went mental after 450k.

There’s still a lot of (mostly panicking) to do before the TCR leaves Belgium for Turkey. At this stage, given how much damage I did during the 700k last weekend I’m looking to just survive the TCR. I have no goals for securing a ‘result’ other than doing my best to finish and finish healthy. My route is about 3700 kilometres and includes about a BILLION metres of climbing, thanks to Mike “suck it up bitches!” Hall who made the checkpoints so that riders were forced to stay in the Swiss Alps, Italian Dolomites and then the Black Mountains. So, yeah as a fat bastard this race is totally not geared up for me. You’ll be pleased to note that I abandoned my weightloss plan months ago for a “drink beer, she’ll be ‘right” plan instead. As such I’ve ordered some even lower gears in the hope I may be able to haul my carcass over all these bloody mountains before the end of days.

For race info:

Checkpoints, etc:

Twitter Hashtag – #tcrno4

2016 Bryan Chapman Memorial (BCM) 600k

2016-08-19: I never got around to writing about this ride but here are some notes I’d made way back when. May as well post them and get rid of the draft email sitting around…

BCM 600k

Started out bit late and didn’t really ride hard enough to catch any fast groups.

Finish: 33.5 hours – 8hr stop time! Must improve, but easy to waste time at controls. Sleep stop was total waste of time, for example.

Sleep kit I tried was still far too cold to be useful – Hunka bivvy, silk liner, PHD down jacket not good enough in -3degC!

Later on Sunday morning I tried sleeping on grass in sun – maybe dozed off, not sure but felt a little better afterwards.

Rough mental patch from post-Kings YHA sleep attempt all the way into next day – need to sort head out! Probably better when competing because then I’m more focused on trying to win and not just trundling along.

Start – Fruit Pastelles bag
Honey Cafe @ ~70k – Beans on toast x 3, Coffee cake, Coffee
Llanidloes control at ~140k – Scone w/ j&c, some other cake, cappuccino, refill bottles

Stopped with Paul in some village – 2 Mars Bars, fruit pastelles? coke?
Kings1 – soup, cous cous mains, fruit salad, instant coffee and squash?
Menais Bridge @ ~300k – Whatever they were offering (mains, rice pud & pineapple) plus cake slice, Soreen pieces, biscuit, coffee, grabbed two rolls (cheese and ham&cheese?) and flapjack piece to carry during long night stage back to Kings.
Kings 2nd – soup, spicy cous cous mains, cake? instant coffee and squash?

Tried to sleep in bivvy outside, failed, just laid shivering

Newtown garage – egg & cress sandwich, 2 x apple turnovers, cappuccino.

2nd Cafe – chocolate cake, cappuccino

Cappuccino at train station cafe, needed toilet

Finished with large Soreen malt loaf, share pack fruit pastelles, Pepsi from service station.

Think I got through 8 or 10 bags of premixed 500ml Torq, 2-3 gels, 1 Torq bar.

Side-mount cages need to be swapped so I can use left hand.
Sunglasses would’ve been good and using sunscreen smart idea.

Need lower gears to make some steeper climbs less work (had 39/28T)

Comments on YACF:
I wondered why I didn’t see you. Though with my pace, it was equally likely you’d left at 6am and I never caught up with you. Hope it gets better soon.

Funny how I’d ‘planned’ to sleep and would’ve been better off if I kept moving instead of freezing in a bivvy and for once in my life I didn’t have a navigation issue (a Garmin device worked for over 24hrs – I know, I should buy a lottery ticket!) using your route. Is that irony? :)

If it wasn’t for another bloke I might’ve missed the Llanidloes? control at 160k. I write the control distances down on a cheat sheet so wasn’t planning on stopping until then but it appeared at ~140k. I think that was the only weirdness.

I think I rode past Aberhasefp. I was so slow it would’ve been open when I went past too. Next time…

I had a good day on day one – loved the scenery Wales had to offer and was surprised it was so warm. Would love to take the missus and explore the prettier bits a little more. Rode along chatting with a guy who wasn’t on the ride until Kings where he split to a B&B in the town.
After trying and failing to get any sleep in a bivvy at Kings (to the guys that asked it said -3degC on the Garmin) I went a bit down hill mentally and just kind of grovelled along for hours and hours feeling sorry for myself. Thought about bivvying again now the sun was out but in the end just laid down on a grassy corner somewhere and ‘reset’. That and some food helped for a while and then the sads came back later and I tried it again outside a pub and a female cyclist (not on BCM) asked if I was ok! We had a bit of a chat and rather than moving inside the pub fence I decided I should just ride. So thanks whoever you were, you cheered me up and got me home that much quicker.
After a final refill of food and drink at some service station I had a fast finish. Ended up pretty pink as I didn’t bother to put on any sunscreen. Weird event for me since I wasn’t racing and it was more of a test for TCR, I couldn’t quite get my head in the right place – since I was adding in sleep stops and I wasn’t pushing hard I just kept dwelling on stuff or getting annoyed when people passed me and I wasn’t keeping up and dumb stuff like that instead of enjoying the ride I was getting angry with myself for not competing! It’s not a race you idiot! Nevermind, I’m feeling better about the whole experience with some hindsight :)
Got some more good info about what works and what doesn’t so next long training ride, whatever it is, should go that much better. Things like Compact cranksets and putting my side-entry bottle cages on the other way around.. :)

Thanks to the organisers and the volunteers. Thanks to other riders who I shared a brief comments with about the cold or my crack cocaine or just a “got everything you need” or whatever.

I tend to do the opposite and do things like maths around the distance remaining – so say it was 50k to go, I’d divide by 2 and that’s 25kph and as it ticked over I’d keep dividing. It gives me something to do and makes the distance to go smaller too. I think I’ll give your method a go. I used to do that in races some times – tape up the computer and ride on feel. Probably easier to do during an audax when it doesn’t matter if you slack off. I’ll add that into my bag of tricks for next long one. Cheers.

I’m sure I was warmer in the bivvy this time with the extra kit compared to last time although it was colder outside if the Garmin is to be believed (-3 vs. 0). I probably should’ve grabbed some cardboard or something from inside the hostel to use as a ground pad but I’m kind of trying to start minimal and add stuff until I can actually sleep. Kind of like trying to fly by jumping off a building first and then adding wings on the second attempt…

Cheers. I wasn’t really looking for a bivvy spot I just used the YHA because if it went badly (it did) I could go back inside have a coffee and leave.
In hindsight I wasn’t tired enough and probably should’ve left Kings after a feed and found a corner in a field somewhere.
I carried my sleeping bag around but didn’t use it because by the time I’d got the bivvy set up I didn’t want to get out and rearrange everything.
Next time I think I’ll try my sleeping bag cover (not bivvy) and sleeping bag along with a sleeping pad of some sort and maybe leave the silk liner and jacket at home.

I’m struggling to find a compact sleeping pad. I don’t like the idea of those crazy light cut-out ones and I think even chopped down, the yoga mat I have will be cumbersome.

PBP 2015

PBP spec' S-Works Tarmac
PBP spec’ S-Works Tarmac

Eurostar to France with bikes booked on the same train, except our train broke down and they transferred us but not the bikes. Us being, Adrian (yacf), Alistair (PieEater on yacf) and Mark. So the four of us had lunch near Gare du Nord, waiting a couple of hours for the bikes to turn up. We then cycled to the National Velodrome in Saint Quentin via the Eiffel Tower which took a couple of hours. Straight in for the bike check and then picked up our packs of numbers and high-viz gillet. Then I headed over to my hotel in Plaisir, repacked the bike and went to dinner with some Willesden CC riders.

Last Supper with Jane, Ray, Mark
Last Supper with Jane, Ray, Mark

After some Belgian beers Mark had kindly provided in the hotel courtyard it was off to bed.

PBP2015 Breakfast
hippy’s PBP breakfast, the F1 had run out of food!

The swarm of cyclists in the F1 hotel meant the meagre breakfast provisions were destroyed before I could get any so it was into my bonk rations I dived for some Torq energy and my anticoag drugs. What a start to the day!

I had to get to the velodrome before 1pm in order to make use of their bag drop, since I’d not booked the hotel room through the whole event (next time I will book a closer hotel and probably book it through so I don’t have to worry about left luggage). Once I was changed and I’d repacked for the 8th time, I left the velodrome and wandered down to Saint Quentin to have lunch. There, while chowing down on a pizza, I briefly met ultra-racing legend Chris Ragsdale who was crewing for another American rider.

Finally into my start pen and I run into Adrian (TransAm racer who I’d ridden with during the 600k qualifier) along with Ciaran, his mate who’d sorted him out the entry for that ride through me on LFGSS.

Tweet: “Riders are lining up for the off. Feeling quite nervous, more so than normal. Good luck to gold coast rider

Start was fast and nervous, certainly not helped by a Frenchie grounding his pedal at speed on a RAB right in front of me not even 5k into the event. I rode up to him and made a ‘heart pumping’ gesture and he said pardon and we carried on, busting our guts to stick with the frantic pace out of town. I couldn’t really believe people were riding this hard at the start of 1230k, had they not heard of pacing? Problem was, I didn’t want to lose the bunch so we continued to ride hard to maintain position in the big bunch. We caught the group in front very fast and someone said later we also caught Group B but I’m not sure about that.


Tweet: “Loudeac now with Ciaran and Aidan. Just let Martin Lucas head off. Feeling tired but OK. Lots still to do. Start was mental, we’re slow now.”

I wrote Aidan but I meant Adrian. I don’t seem to have any memory of Mortagne (services), Villaines, Fougeres, Tinteniac or Quedillac (services) controls. I do remember seeing Jenny at Villaines (the first proper control) and she said Hoppo was just behind us. He later joined our bunch. I think we then lost this bunch whilst in one of the controls. I remember sitting out the back struggling a bit to get my compulsory high-viz gilet on and then riding off the front of the bunch so I could have a wee without losing them. The pace must have been stable enough at this stage that I could move freely around.

I once again have no memories of St Nicolas (services) or Carhaix but I do remember the long climb before Brest and seeing the fast boys, including Rimas (A020) ZigZag from YACF coming out of Brest. We skipped the offer of free crepes on the bridge whilst enjoying the view of the bay and the big suspension bridge. Wish I’d stopped and taken photos.

Tweet: “In Brest. Can’t believe only half way. Have towed half of Europe across France. Fucking sore. Train back would be lovely. Never doing again.”

I chatted with an older Irish rider who knew what he was doing and convinced Ciaran to turn around and make it at least to Carhaix while we had some daylight. The climb went on forever but the decent was quite fun. I drafted a big hay truck and then a tractor along some of the roads. Silly waste of energy but fun so what the hell?

Tweet: “Might bail on my no sleep plan given how slow I’m moving. Don’t want to be stuck in the freezing early hours again need ing sleep outdoors.”

Tweet: “Like an earthquake refuge here in Carhaix. We slept on the floor. I’m getting more food. Not leaving until sunrise. Too cold. Lost others.”

This was where it went a bit pear-shaped. We’d decided to sleep in Carhaix (32hrs solid riding and 40-odd awake) so had a proper meal and a beer. I thought Ciaran was going to the dorms and lost him. I slept for maybe an hour on the floor then used the loo and had some more food. I was cold and miserable here (should’ve got rain jacket and earplugs). Lots more started filling the place up and I slept a bit in the cafe/fast-food area. Woke again and ate/drank more and used the loo again where I joked with another Irish rider about some funny noises coming from one of the cubicles. He said that Ciaran had already left and I was a bit pissed off to say the least. I went out into the fog eventually and his bike was still there so I was back to wanting to just get moving. I went looking in the sleeping quarters with the help of one of the volunteers but I couldn’t find him anywhere though and I didn’t want to leave him there. I finally had one last look around and found him in a corner behind some tables and we eventually rolled out after losing about 1000 places around 9am.

Tweet: “Finally found Ciaran. We’ll leave Cairhaix soon. Once more into the fog… This has turned into a full value ride.”


Spent the whole day just tapping out an even pace trying not to hurt Ciaran’s ankles too much. I was quite enjoying myself, feeding my ego sitting on the front doing big turns, making it look easy, in my mind. Ciaran was still stronger than a lot of other riders we encountered and was doing turns along with a Portuguese rider? But we mostly towed people through the day, just knocking off one control at a time trying not to take too long in them after the Carhaix debacle.

Tweet: “Only 500 to go. Hahahahahahahahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaa”

Tweet: “In Fougres. Feeling fine, sitting on the front tapping it out. Ciaran bit damaged but he’s still gettin turns in. Probably mood swing now..”

Into another night and memories start to disappear again. “Just tap it out” becomes my new motto.

Tweet: “Slow going in the night but I actually feel fine. Lots of sleeping bodies in Villaines control. Cracked 1000k. Moo.”

Tweet: “Partner in crime too broken to continue for now. Sucks but it’s a tough ride. I pushed on alone to Montagne.

For some reason I was buzzing at Villaines and with only 200k to go wanted to crack on. Ciaran was fooked though so I ended up chatting with David DCLane (yacf) and Brendan, an Aussie who was riding with the Danish guys. After an hour’s sleep I woke Ciaran up but he was still not prepared to continue. I gave him a coffee but he seemed pretty broken and needed more sleep. After a couple more offers we decided to split – he would sleep and nurse his ankles and I would carry on.

Tweet: “Roadside support from locals is fantastic.”

Now ‘off the leash’ I smashed it to the next control – Mortagne au Peche. I remember spending a lot of time getting aero and taking very wide lines around groups or individual riders who would often wobble or be riding right on the middle lane lines, I guess so that if they did nod off they wouldn’t be in the dirt! Arrived and felt a bit knackered – guess the adrenalin had worn off. After some food decided to sleep but was then woken up by a woman after I’d slept through unknown alarms! Shit! I panicked and grabbed everything and ran out with a dead arm from lack of circulation laying on the floor in my full kit. I saw Adrian, which shocked me because Ciaran said he was 10 hours behind (how long had I slept?!). Hugged him and then with a “which way is Paris?!?” sped off. It took me about 30min before I shook off the dead arm and grogginess and then got going again. Back into an aero tuck and racing up and down hills. I was flying past everyone. Stopped to take off the rain jacket and high-viz and sped past more bunches and more ‘road potatos’ – riders wrapped up in foil blankets on the roadside.

At Dreux I was running through the control (difficult in midfoot Speedplay cleats). I ran the wrong way but eventually got in and found water, food (coffee eclair and Paris Brest Paris bun!) and some cans of drink. Carried the coke in my jersey. Disappointed they didn’t have any energy drink to mix into my bottles. Past the Audax Australia guy with the recumbent again and was back on a mission. Flew past bunch after bunch, mad as hell, attack, attack!!! Some duo yelled at me – I looked. They whistled and I realised they wanted me to join them. I was like “if two of you can’t catch me then what’s the point? I’m not dragging your arses to the finish!”.

With 10k to go I was in agony – I’d rubbed my sit bone skin raw with the new ISM PN1.1 saddle. I didn’t want to stop to add more chamois cream though. I remember drinking the can of coke riding away from a bunch on one of the final climbs. Fat man in vertical ascent shocker! They must’ve hated that. 🙂 The crowds were cheering me on – it was fantastic. Then I was at the velodrome, down some silly dirt track chute and parking my bike, right next to Mark from the Eurostar who’d had a stunning ride on such a non race bike.

Tweet: “Finished.

Into the ‘drome to hand in the brevet card and a feed and then got chatting to Chris who’s rider had knocked 30 hours off his PB! Found DCLane again and also Brendan with another Aussie who was heading off to Alpe d’Huez later that week. Probably other people but I was a bit vague after that final effort. I had a shower and then struggled around St Quentin looking for the Gare and decided it was just easier (if a lot more painful) to ride back to the hotel.

Tweet: “What do you do after cycling 1200k? Ride another 10 to get back to your hotel.

Had a disappointing steak from the same place we went the other night (chatted to a Canadian rider who’d packed after 600k) and back at the hotel helped a German rider R109 with charging his phone so he could find his mates. I fell asleep before he could give me the charger back but it was on my door when I woke. Finally had some F1 breakfast and then, since it was raining and I was so sore I grabbed a cab to the station and took a train into Paris Montparnasse. Then after some fool told me to get a Metro ticket and I was then told “no bikes” after buying the ticket I decided to ride the 5-6k to Gare du Nord (it wasn’t raining here and I stood up most of the way). Dropped my bike off and went in search of beer. Found beer, travelled home, having a nice conversation with a Kiwi couple who’d been working in England and were touring Europe before heading home to New Zealand.

Tweet: “My mouth feels like it has the plague, also known as The Baguette Death.

69 hours total, 46 hours ride time, 24 hours lost in Controls. Powertap stopped after 13 hours so no idea about true effort of this ride.

Summary posted on YACF: I enjoyed the first fast 12 hours riding with Ciaran in the D bunch. I think we were at Brest in 26hrs. He wanted to stop but I wanted to push on while it was still light. So we did to Carhaix, where we spent 9 hours! I think I got a couple of hours sleep and multiple feeds here then lost Ciaran and finally found him after searching the entire complex and thinking he’d left without me. The late start meant we missed the fog. Then it was a nice day with me mostly riding easy pace on the front of a small group of Ciaran + randoms. At Villaines that night though his ankles were too much for him so he had an hour’s kip while I talked to DCLane and Aussie Brendan in DK kit. Woke C up but he decided he couldn’t go on, not now at least so I had to carry on without him. Smashed it to the next control – Montange? Then slept through my alarm so I don’t yet know how much time I lost. Was woken by a woman and panicked about how much time I’d been asleep so rushed out, with a dead arm as I’d slept in all my kit, past Adrian (TransAm racer) and after a “where’s Paris?” was on the road. Hammered it from here to the finish, passing tonnes of broken looking riders. I was feeling fine right up until 10k to go when I was really struggling to stay seated with such pain from the Adamo (probably not the best choice given the long stints of slow sat-up riding). Still came in pretty quick though and was pretty happy with most of the ride.

69hrs total, but 24hr of that was wasted in controls! Sub-50hr next time, not messing about.

Summary posted on LFGSS: I had to leave @scultura at Villaines as he was broken and a kip didn’t help. Tried to egg him on but the poor bloke had left everything on the road. I left and went a bit mental but then fell asleep at the next control and slept through my alarms! Some woman woke me and with a dead arm I ran out to my bike asking which way Paris was! Saw Adrian TransCon and then bashed the final two sections, soloing past tonnes of broken looking people. Road bike + adamo did bad thing to me. Couldn’t sit properly for last 10k. Enjoyed first 12hrs in mental bunch, but we lost it at control then it all went shit. Second day was good fun just tapping out easy pace in nice weather. Next night I was enjoying until losing @scultura and no idea how long I was out for. Skip controls and there’s massive time saving to be had. Is there a PBP perm? 🙂

Ciaran ended up buying trainers and taping his ankles to finish in 76hrs! What a champ!
Ciaran ended up buying trainers and taping his ankles to finish in 76hrs! What a champ!

Oh, just wanted to say thanks to to Marcus for his great packing lists, they helped me a lot when it came to thinking about what to carry:

marcusjb pbp packing lists
marcusjb pbp packing lists

Other bits and pieces…

PBP 2015 Results database:

Interview with Marko Baloh about 2015 Paris-Brest-Paris

Matthew Scholes (thesloth YACF) report on Paris-Brest 2015

History of the PBP – Strava Blog

Fastest rider of 2015 – 42:26

GS Henley H25/1 25mi TT – 18/04/2015

55:12 (PB) 25mi PB by 21 seconds (3 years ago!) and a course PB by 33 seconds (2 years ago during the Newbury RC – Pete Jarvis Memorial).

Cold, bit windy from the NE, decided against overshoes (which was silly as it took ages for my toes to thaw out afterwards) but it was dry so I used my bling Shimano shoes. New gearing setup (single 55T carbon ring) seemed fine and the cranks I installed didn’t fall off so that’s a bonus!

Not sure why there were so few racers but hopefully James gets more riders for his other events in the future.

High Wycombe Lesley Cole Memorial 10mi TT – H10/22

20:53 (PB)


The crew came out to ‘watch’ this one (read: drink coffee in the carpark for ~20min) but it’s always good to have someone there to help or support or both. Arrived in good time for a change and had decided not to bother taking a turbo for warmup due to the rain. Of course it wasn’t raining when I arrived so I just rode up past the start and then back close to go time.

I’d not ridden this H10/22 course before so had collected some useful tips from the ‘sperts on lfgss as well as a bit of Google StreetView crawling (I must’ve been keen!). Plan was basically not to go out too hard like last time and then lift when it ramped up a bit on the way out and again on the way back. It kind of worked. I felt I’d done pretty poorly, but to be honest my power wasn’t as far off the last 10 mile I rode (and won).

I took heed and started out ‘easy’ but then found I couldn’t really lift later on so settled into a bit of a miserable groove thinking I was doing rubbish. Both the RABs were taken very slowly because it was damp, my brakes aren’t the best in the wet and I couldn’t see a bloody thing through my stupid visor! I had to keep sitting up to look under it and wiping it off with a finger to get about 30 seconds of decent vis before it fogged up again. Grr.. serves me right for taping up the vents. I should’ve applied some of that anti-fog stuff I bought last time this happened. At least I’ll know for next time. I was managing to lift the power quite a bit on the draggy uphill sections but it was annoying I couldn’t seem to motivate myself to keep it on for the flatter parts. WIth a mile to go I was confident I could PB and I picked it up a bit, stopping the clock but not really noticing what time I’d done. I only accept official times anyway so I like to wait until I see it on the board. PB by 23 seconds on less power thanks to the course mostly I’d guess. It wasn’t windy which helped too although the vis problems counteracted that.

Adam Topham won the event with a 19:16 (but he writes books on time trialling so he should be fast ;)).

Met Andy from the forum and chatted, ate some cake, clapped the winners, drove home and took Mal to brekkie. Thanks to the organisers and the (large number of) marshalls, helpers, etc.

West London Combine 10mi – H10/2

First race of the season, first win!

21:58 (H10/2 Course PB by 4:10 and *cough* slight improvement on my previous ride, 5 years earlier)

hippy 10mi TT win?! WTF?! Ron Purdy Pics 20150303-1-02-combine-10-1-3-15-9-640x384.jpg

Bit of a surprise to be honest – 10mi TTs aren’t exactly my forte (they’re about 500 miles too short!) and this was a full field of 120 riders. Although it was windy as buggery, the sun was shining so I think most people started. The last 10 I’d ridden was a couple of years ago at the end of the season in Kingston Bagpuize where I’d PBd with a 21:35. This one was entered as a bit of a laugh since it would be the first time on my TT bike since winning the World 24hr TT Champs and it was far enough away from any of my goal events that it wouldn’t hurt to have a crack.

The race itself was a bit rubbish – I rode out to the start and of course arrived in a panic with little time to spare, threw all my warm kit at Scherrit who’d come out to watch and pinned on a number. Nick McCullough kindly used his warmup to tow me to the start line – thanks!

Started out reasonably well and controlled, until baulked at the first turn and then proceeded to put down way too much power in a silly attempt to secure a power PB. This worked for a while but at the turn RAB I was starting to struggle. At the slight rise after the turn, my power was about 200W down on the outbound leg, at least it was when I glanced down – I wasn’t really paying much attention to the Garmin to be honest. The cool thing about 10s is they’re half over before you realise you’re in a world of hurt! Struggled along basically recuperating and then, with a mile to go started to cane it again. Ploughed into a big trench that caused my recently ‘recalled due to safety issue’ S-Works bars to twist so the Garmin was on a funny angle! Awesome! Hope they last until the finish..

Specialized Aerobars meet British roads

They did and I stopped my clock at 22:05, having started it on the 5s count. So short 22 or long 21? Went back looking for the gloves at the start but the Middlesex RC starter/organiser had grabbed them and taken them back to the HQ for me. Thanks!

At the HQ, chatted to some people and saw I’d pretty much posted the fastest time and then they wrote “1st” next to my time so that pretty much confirmed things. Wow, I’d won a 10mi TT. 🙂

2015 WLC Middlesex RC 10mi TT hippy wins!

Thanks for dropping the chainrings off umop3pisdn, sorry I didn’t get to see you in person. Thanks to the marshals and organisers, Scherrit, anyone who helped put cake in my face hole after the event, basically.

Wonder how I’d go if I trained? Don’t listen to anyone who says commuting is junk miles. 😉


2014 World 24hr TT Championships, Borrego Springs, USA

1. hippy, 493 miles, 20.7mph

2. Meurig James, 484 miles, 20.3mph

3. Chris Hopkinson, 439 miles, 18.5mph

4. David Haase, 439 miles, 18.4mph

5. Barry Dickson, 439 miles, 18.4mph

It’s almost a month after winning the World 24hr TT Championships and I think I’ve forgotten most of the bad things that happened – most of my body parts are back to ‘normal’ although I did manage to get DVT on the flight home – make sure you move around on long flights kids!!!

Malwina and I flew into L.A. and drove straight to Borrego Springs a couple of days before the race to try and acclimate and adjust to the timezone change. It didn’t work – we were up at 5:30 on race morning! Doh! The weather though was lovely! We did some taste testing of American food (*cough* and beer *cough*) and some previewing of the course as well as meeting some of the local wildlife.

Borrego Springs sunrise

California Tarrantula

Registration and bike inspections happened on the afternoon of the race and went without any issue other than a bit of discussion about race number position.

One interesting new fact I discovered was Meurig James was now on the start list. Meurig used to be a member of one of my clubs, the Willesden CC before he moved to the USA. Back in 2009 Meurig set almost all the club’s time trial records and it got me thinking “I’d love to have my name in the history books of British cycling, a club record sounds really cool”. Thing was, Meurig didn’t hold the 24hr club record, it was long-distance cycling guru and author Simon Doughty and it seemed achieveable (it took two years but I got it!). So, I would be racing against a former clubmate and a guy I knew was faster than me over most distances. Beating his club 12hr record earlier this year might’ve helped reduce the shock of seeing his name on the start list but not by much!

World 24hr TT Champs #50

The race itself was going to be a bit strange compared to British time trials for a few reasons (other than it being warm and dry! :P). First, it started in the dark at 6pm. Secondly, it started in waves of riders rather than riders being started at 1 minute intervals – I knew everyone would go off fast and I wondered how this would change my race.

Also the pit arrangement, where all rider support was to be given from one place, basically made fast handups impossible. There would be a lot more stoppage time for me compared to the Mersey Roads National 24hr last year.

Riders were also required to slow down when crossing the start/finish line so that the timing system and manual timing people could see/hear your rider number. For almost the whole race I avoided the ‘speed hump’ here only to realise after the event that it was the electronic timing pad! Lucky I was very vocal when calling out my number.

There was one big junction on the course that also required riders to slow down to 10-15mph. This took a couple of goes to get right – it really was a crawl through there!

During the TT I was fine for the first few hours, gradually reeling in the fast starters and taking the lead after five hours. An existing injury (an abrasion from a long training ride in the wet the week before) flared up and at 2am, after eight hours of riding, I had to add a pair of knicks over my skinsuit to reduce the pressure on my raw inner thigh.

Towards the twelve hour point I was struggling to stay awake (I guess that’s actually 24hrs awake at that point). A lot of the other racers are RAAM riders so they’d probably laugh at me admitting this but I was really struggling to concentrate, almost binning it at one point with a wobble into the very soft, sandy verge. That woke me up! :S

After fourteen hours riding I was starting to get weary of the (in any normal situation great tasting) Torq fuel I was using, so Mal did a runner to a nearby cafe to grab me a bacon and egg bagel. This probably didn’t sit well for a lap but after that was a nice change of flavours. At 1pm (19 hours elapsed) I had to stop and have Mal and Hoppo’s partner Jen remove my aero overshoes as they were causing some pretty serious pain to my feet. It was the first time I’d worn them for longer than twelve hours – even now, a month later, the top of my right foot is still sore from the pressure. At the 3/4 mark the race was no longer on for a PB but the thought was that 500+ miles should be doable.

At some point during the Saturday afternoon, the wind picked up, massively. In some sections of the circuit I could barely control my sail, I mean, bike and I’m weighing in around 90kg, so I don’t know how the lighter guys felt about it. It never really felt like you could take advantage of a tailwind either because it was on the straight with the slow-down junction or the there were a bunch of turns to go around but the difference was doing 35mph on one side of the circuit vs. doing 6-8mph on the other side. Barely walking pace!

In those horrid conditions I remember riding so pathetically that I spent most of a lap looking over my shoulder just waiting to be passed by Meurig. It didn’t happen and my team (Mal and Jen knew each other and so had kind of teamed up) said I still had a 30 minute lead. Whether it was a psychological boost from this news or whether it was just a couple of gels kicking in and getting rid of the bonk, I’m not sure, but basically the next lap was back on at my normal pace and I was feeling good about the race again.

The organisers decided to move racers onto the shorter finishing circuit early, due to the strong winds being a bit of a safety concern. Unfortunately they made that call a bit late as I headed out for yet another windy long loop. Around this stage there was some confusion about lap times as Meurig had suddenly jumped in front of me. What had happened was that he was put onto the short laps before me and they’d counted his first finishing circuit lap as a long lap. I tell you what, it caused all my ‘fans’ watching the timing online all manner of stress! 😀 Mal told me as well and so most of the finishing circuit was ridden in anger – “how could a rider be in front of me yet I’d not been passed?” kept repeating in my head. I remember David Haase (RAAM rider) kept telling me to hammer it or something of that nature – it was another quick finish from me!

Crossing the finish line for the last time I’ve done 497 miles but the last lap isn’t counted so officially it’s 493 miles. I’m told I’ve won but I wary because of the aforementioned timing issues so I’m wanting confirmation. I can’t physically get off the bike. Someone congratulates me on the win and a woman tries to interview me but I’d just smashed it trying to get the final lap to count so I mutter something at her not really thinking straight (see below). If you don’t finish the lap before the time is up, the whole lap isn’t counted, something else that differs from the British TTs where a series of timekeepers will work out your average speed and thus your final distance based on that between two points. Eventually I can get off the bike, get my shoes off and sit down to have a chat with Chris ‘Hoppo’ Hopkinson a British rider, also a multiple RAAM competitor and pretty much every other ultra race on the planet this year! There’s some packing up going on and we head to our hotel to clean up and then on to the dinner. I thought there’d be a formal presentation but that wasn’t the case – just a lot of people wondering who the hell I was and was I going to be racing RAAM next year… “no” is the answer to that one!

2014 24hr World TT Championships

Glad it's over! - hippy wins 24hr World TT Champs

As it was our first trip to the USA we now had a week or so to relax and do some touristy things like see Las Vegas, visit the Hoover Dam, visit Flagstaff and a bit of Route 66, marvel at the Grand Canyon among other things. I’d like to thank Mal for being awesome, The Bike Whisperer duo for helping me get there, all the guys and girls that were supporting me from back at home(s), the organisers and all the lovely Americans that made our whole trip great fun! I’m totally up for doing some more racing over in the States.

Recovery begins

2014 6-12-24 Hour World Time Trial Championships – Episode 01

2014 6-12-24 Hour World Time Trial Championships – Episode 02

2014 6-12-24 Hour World Time Trial Championships – Episode 03

2014 6-12-24 Hour World Time Trial Championships – Episode 04

Cool lap time chart from David Baxter:

David Baxter, World 24hr Lap Times

“Chart of the top men and women in the 24-hour race, showing progress over the main loops. Hippy Hippy didn’t start out the fastest, but he had the most consistent lap times, with only one lap over 1 hour. Interesting late charge from Valerio Zamboni! (from”


2014 Windsor Hill Climb (HCC011) – Track Terminator Tommy Z tears up tarmac to topple Helpless Hippy


– Photo by Kulvinder Hambleton-Grey

A large field of riders was in attendance at this year’s West Drayton MTB Windsor Hill climb, inlcuding Willesden’s Ed Packard who’d driven for 2 hours just to suffer for 2 minutes. Good to see you, Ed. Let’s get that 12hr team happening!

The more the merrier might apply to rider and spectator numbers, but I can tell you it doesn’t apply to hill climbs, as I found out when I had to race up Windsor Hill a second time due to a timing malfunction on my first ride which meant no time for me. My legs were already toast but being a gutton for punishment I went again, clocking a pretty poor 2:16 I think. It really didn’t matter what my first time was though because Tom Zittel absolutely smashed it this year with a 1:4x (I’ll confirm times later). Well done man, top ride and it’s about time someone from Willesden rode under the 2 minute mark!

I’m not sure of any other times as I was too busy trying to force air back into my body to bother asking but it was good to see so many riders out. Now, some brekkie, before heading out for something I’m a bit better at – long TT rides.

2014 AAAnfractuous 200k Audax

AAAnfractuous Dirty Legs

Tucking into a lovely homemade curry now after getting around in just over 8 hours. My second audax can be nicely separated into two halves. The first half battling the elements and the second half battling my bike!

As usual I left the house late so had to haul arse to get to Chalfont. I still didn’t start until 8:30. The rain started shortly after that. My habit of wearing too little continued and I definitely felt the cold after being turned into a drowned rat. Next time I’ll bring a rain jacket or at least arm warmers, promise. Being cold did encourage me to keep the pace up though so I started to catch up with other riders. At the first proper control (The Waterfront caf? in Benson) I managed to leave my glasses behind so had to go back for them. Note to self – don’t put anything down at controls!

Off into the rain again and as it was quite exposed a lovely headwind. This leg to Wantage was a bit of a slog!

Into the Vale & Downland Museum caf? for a sticker and a couple of pieces of cake then back out for more rain – damn it was cold now! Pace goes up!

Around the 100k mark the route headed south and then swung around to head back east – beauty, now the rain had stopped and there was a tailwind to help out.

The next leg to Pangbourne and Little Henry’s Cafe wasn’t too bad but my crash-damaged (not on the audax, it happened years ago) shifters meant I couldn’t get my low gear. I was already over-geared on some of the nastier climbs so this was definitely pushing far too hard. Oh well, HTFU.

Stopped for a piece of Victoria sponge at Henry’s and as I’d run out of liquids grabbed a can and some sparkling water (1.75L in about 5 hours was a bit on the low side). I should’ve got more but they didn’t have my usual refill choice of Lucozade Orange and I was in a bit of a hurry anyway.

I thought with only 60k to go it would be relatively plain sailing from now until Chalfont Saint Peter. That wasn’t to be though as more and more climbs were piled on and the nature of the lanes meant full gas on the descents wasn’t an option (not a safe one anyway).

Then, after crunching through something on the road, the back end starts getting washy. Damn it! Flat rear tyre. So I spend a good 10-15min with numb hands swapping the tube. While I’m doing so a rider goes past. “I don’t think so!” as I take off in pursuit, smashing some climbs ignoring the power meter like the rest of the day (don’t tell coach). I collect him and carry on. All of about 15min later tssss “ARRRGH!” another rear flat!! I triple check the tyre just to make sure I’ve not missed a piece of flint or something but, like the first time, I don’t find anything. Last tube better hold. It does and I’m soon off after the ‘rider in red’ again. I collect him down the road as now HE is on the roadside fixing a flat. Someone really needs to sweep the lanes in the Chilterns.

I’m out of water and food but reckon I can make the last 20k ok. It’s a bit of a struggle with a partially inflated rear tyre but half way back I find a half-eaten Torq bar. Sweet! A few more hills are put away and then A413 and HQ! Nice! I’m totally caked in black road grit, brake dust and assorted other gunk but Paul kindly sorts me out with a drink and a jam doughnut, I have a chat to some other riders and then I’m off heading for home.

All in all a good day and anyone out there would’ve earned some hardman points. Many thanks to Paul and anyone else who helped organise. Also to the controls that I dripped my way through 🙂 Respect to the slower riders too who have some crazy lanes to negotiate in the dark!

Dirty, busted Kinesis

– Carrying an extra couple of kilos of dirt and crud didn’t help

If you want to ride it next year, check out Paul’s Anfractuous website.


2014-06-15 Newbury RC 12hr TT – H12hr/8

293.63 miles

I’d started writing this after the race but seem to have got busy in the mean time. Here’s a quick summary, basically for my own notes. Contains some of Rachael’s race report too.

Second place to current BBAR Champion Adam Topham’s 298.13 miles as well as a PB and Willesden CC club record by over 20 miles.

This was my first race of the year – yeah, straight into a 12 hour, no mucking around and the first time I’d ridden the race bike since last season. Just to make things a little more worrying, we’d swapped the cranks for shorter ones and changed my brakes over the Friday just before the race.

The loudest team in the UK, Mal and Scherrit, were back out on the roadside supporting me.

I started a bit faster than I’d planned to and than I’d usually do but I knew I was fitter this year and hadn’t ridden a 24hr TT three weeks prior so I was fresh and pretty sure my power should be up. It was and I felt comfortable holding the higher power. It was a power PB by almost 20W for the 12hr duration so pretty good.

The main problem with not having done any training on the race bike was that the saddle was different and even stopping twice to reapply chamois cream, it cut me to shreds. Not smart. Not fun.

Big thanks to the organisers, all the marshalls, competitors and of course, my team. 300 miles… ? 😉

Snippet from Rachael Elliott’s race report:

Running a 12 hour event is never an easy task, but organising an event on an entirely new 12 hour course is one which takes military precision and patience. For this, we are extremely grateful to the huge team of helpers (please see the back page of this results booklet) ? as well as the riders ? for supporting the first (and hopefully the first of many) Newbury RC 12 hour time trials. We were pleased to be blessed with good weather for the event, although an ever increasing breeze during the day meant conditions got steadily harder for the 27 riders who started the event.

Back at HQ, we heard that both David Triska (Farnborough & Camberley CC) was first back to Chawton and looking ?exceptionally fast?. However, it was Adam Topham (High Wycombe CC) who stole the first big news headline of the day. Topham covered his first 100 miles in 3:47:42 ? and quick calculations showed that if he could keep this pace up, he would cover 316.7 miles in 12 hours ? a whisker away from competition record. Sadly, two punctures and some kit issues meant Topham was forced to spend a significant amount of time off the bike in the second 100 miles, and allowed National 24-hour champion Stuart Birnie (Willesden CC) to clock a second 100 miles faster than Topham. It was getting painstakingly close. Somehow, despite his issues, Topham managed to put in a third 100 miles in a sub-4 hour time and finished strongly to record an exceptional distance of 298.13 miles. Birnie meanwhile, who reportedly spent just 31 seconds off the bike all day, broke his old personal best by over twenty miles with 293.63 miles. And testament to his long distance credentials, circuit timekeeper Marion Fountain reported that Birnie finished the 12 hour time trial looking stronger than most riders do at the end of a 10.

Tom Glandfield (Lewes Wanderers CC) was perhaps the surprise placing of the day. Although entering with some good credentials, Glandfield was riding entirely unsupported and only decided to enter the race after riding the Hounslow 100 three weeks previously. Politely acknowledging Chief Timekeeper, Jim BUrgin every lap, Glandfield went on to ride a massive PB with a stunning distance of 286.41 miles.

Amongst the ladies, Sharon Clifford (Coventry RC) and Mandy Hibberd (North Hampshire RC) were battling it out for the win. Clifford’s primary aim was to beat her club’s 12 hour record of 221.93 which (impressively) had been held by Sheila King since 1959. Clifford successfully smashed this record with a distance of 235.10 miles, whilst Hibberd – who changed from her TT bike to a road bike part way through – also recorded a new club record of 228.33 miles.

2014 Newbury RC 12hr Results