>British Best All-Rounder
I’ve had a cold all week and won’t be riding race #2 of the Winter Series tomorrow. Instead I’ll wait in for the loft insulation man. In the meantime…
The BBAR competition has been running since 1930. It’s a season long competition and is won by the rider with the fastest average speed over set average distances (50 miles, 100 miles and 12 hours for men; 25, 50 and 100 miles for women, 10, 10, 25 and 25 miles for juniors). The average is calculated as an ‘average of average speed’ rather than a true average to give equal weighting to each distance. There are variants on the competition for veterans and longer distance riders.
The nice thing about the competition for regular club riders is that all (senior male) riders who achieve an average speed of over 22mph receive a BBAR certificate from Cycling Time Trials. This struck me as a decent stretch target in my first full season as a senior in 1977.
I was riding for the Archer RC-Cutty Sark team but was based in Ross-on-Wye in the Welsh Marches. My early season form was okay, with PBs for ’25’ (1:03:53) and ’10’ (24:53) in early May. At the end of June I knocked 20 minutes of my ‘100’ PB with a 4:37:57. Good, but I knew I’d have to improve this to get a BBAR certificate.
In early August I rode the National ‘100’ Championship and improved my PB again – to 4:27:14 (22.45mph). That might be good enough. The next weekend I knocked 10 minutes of my ’50’ PB for a 2:06:06 (23.79mph). Things were looking up. I now knew that my 12 hour target would be 237.12 miles. I’d done 221 miles the previous year but I’d radically overhauled my other PBs during the ’77 season – I thought it was possible.
The Welsh ’12’ Championships were on the first Sunday in September. The week before I took my ’25’ PB down to 1:00:39, so I knew I was fit. I’d ridden the 600km Windsor-Chester-Windsor back in June and was regularly clocking up over 300 miles a week in training (how different to nowadays). I’d ridden a couple of ’12’s as a junior so the time in the saddle didn’t really worry me. Come the day of the race I was pretty confident.
Like a lot of riders I had only scheduled one ’12’ for the year and this was my once chance to get it right. However… It was not a great day. As the wind blew, more and more riders dropped by the wayside or settled for just getting around. I ploughed on with little hope of doing well. Only when I got to the more sheltered finishing circuit did I start to wind it up. I managed to catch a few riders and started to move my speed up to around 23mph. Perhaps there was a chance. It became more like a road race – sprinting out of corners and chasing riders down. Finally the clock clicked over and I was done (in every sense). 238.5247 miles (19.88mph), 7th place and a BBAR certificate in the bag.
The certificate is unfortunately long since lost, but someone posted the 1977 BBAR tables on the Time Trialling Forum recently. There I am with an average of 22.040 mph just a couple of places off the bottom of the table.
After that caning I never finished another ’12’ again. I packed in the next year’s national championship at 130 miles – despite having better ’50’ and ‘100’ times on the books.
If I can organise the support I’d quite like to ride another ’12’. And if you’re going for a ’12’, you may as well pencil in a BBAR target of 22mph…
The photo is of me in the 1978 12 hour championship. I was off number 119. Last man off (and eventual winner) number 120, Glen Longland, passed me after a couple of miles. The photograph was taken just before I packed at 130 miles having not seen another rider since then.