My (the) first sub 3-40 '100' ... or better still ... a National '100' win by almost quarter of an hour.
Prince Charles married Diana Spencer in July 1981. How am I so sure about that? Well that was the
day my mate Mick Yates and I drove up to Ranby, Nottinghamshire to take a look at the course that
was going to be used for the National 100 which was taking place just four days later.
It was a Wednesday and a National holiday but rather than join in any street celebrations that may
have been taking place, we took the opportunity to get a few miles in on the bikes instead. Not that I
really needed them mind you, as I’d already amassed 11,040 miles by the end of June … most of
them being ‘work miles’ … 19 to, and 33 back, from work each day plus another hour or so each
evening. Included in all that were some interval sessions on Thursdays and Fridays, which on hindsight
probably wasn’t the ideal time to be doing them … but it all seemed to work for me at the time.
I’d already had a pretty good season having placed 2nd to Martin Pyne in the National 25 but lost out
to John French in the National 50 due to a puncture and wheel change (still placed second though!).
18 ‘open’ wins before the 100 championship suggested (to me) that I was in with a shout of something
reasonably fast … given the day.
I was already holder of the National 100 record having lowered my own figures to 3-41-32 just a few
weeks earlier. Having had to change a rear wheel due to a broken spoke in that event (I wasn’t having
much luck with punctures and broken spokes was I?), I was certain that, given the conditions, I could
improve still further and with the added competition that comes with a National I was pretty sure that
would be possible when the Championship came around.
The day of the recce turned out to be a real scorcher! We drove and rode (50 miles or so) over the
course and because one of the last legs was down to the Col de Lockwell and back decided that a
light south-westerly breeze would be the best on the day.
The start sheet arrived and all the big-hitters were down to ride. Phil Griffiths, Glenn Longland, Greg
Kinsell, Martin Pyne, Sandy Gilchrist, Mick MacNamara, Ticker Mullins and even ace roadman Pete
Longbottom were amongst the medal hopes …. so the win wasn’t going to be a formality.
Because the event was only an hour and a half away, I decided to go up on the morning rather than
stay overnight. I called for Mick at 5-20 am and we drove up to Elkesley (3 or 4 miles from the start)
where I got out on the bike and rode the last few miles to the race HQ at Ranby sitting in behind the
car to get the legs round at race speed (try doing that now on the A1 without getting pulled up by
Conditions looked VERY good … there was indeed the light South-westerly we’d hoped for so I could look forward to a tail-breeze back to the finishing circuit. All looked good.
For the event, I used my ‘pink’ Every tt bike with gearing of 56 x 12-17. I used a narrow section Clement No 1 on the 24 radially spoked Mavic CX18 on s/f mavic front wheel and a silk No 3 on the 28 spoked Gold Mavic OR10 Campag l/f rear.
I arranged to have checks taken at regular intervals throughout the ride … the first being at 21 miles. Having time checks was very important for me and I relied very heavily on my friends to help out in that respect. Unfortunately my diary doesn’t make it clear who helped out on this occasion (too busy basking in my own glory … confirming the ‘selfish bastard’ theory in No 1 HERE) although I suspect it was Colin Every (who made my frames at the time) and his wife Wendy, who were both a great help to me in the early 80s. Many a time we’d drop Wendy off at a strategic point on the course where I’d ask her to take checks on EVERYONE before me so that I knew EXACTLY how I was doing up to that point. More often than not, she’d then move on to a second and even third point on the course to take more checks on the riders who were the front-runners at the first check. All the information would be passed up to me from the side of the road on a small blackboard. By having regular checks I’d be able to ride the races like a pursuit … which suited my mentality and style of racing.
The course key number was O100/4. The first 14 miles or so were around a Ranby / Retford / Blyth circuit before we hit the A1 for a leg down to Cromwell and back. At 54 miles we left the A1 and went down to Mont Lockwell where we turned and retraced all the way back to Ranby where we repeated the Ranby / Retford / Blyth circuit. The last 4.5 miles were a full-on 56 x 12 blast down the A1 to finish back at Ranby.
I started no 130 at 8-10am. At the first check (21 miles) I was already 2-10 clear of the field (Martin was in second place at this stage but faded as the race went on). This lead increased to 7 minutes or so at 53 miles (Martin was still in second place here … but only by 3 seconds over Glenn) and I was still feeling well ‘in control’ and ready to put the hammer down (which I always seemed able to do) over the last 25 miles.
During the ride I ‘survived’ on 3 bite-sized Mars bars and a few swigs of Coke … the state of the art, technically advanced race nutrition of the day.
With 20 miles to go the race itself was surely won, so I started thinking about the record.
This part of the 100 was always my favourite! I’d just seem to be able to go faster and faster. I wouldn’t be ‘cruising’ any more … I’d be ‘racing’ … and that’s what I liked. I particularly remember the last leg from Blyth to Nornay traffic island where I was rapidly bearing down on Pete Longbottom (my 15-minute man). As we approached the traffic island there was a bit of a tailback of traffic and we both decided to go up on the inside. I was right behind him as we tried to negotiate our way through without losing too much speed, then … ‘bang’ … Pete broadsided someone’s wing mirror and left (I think) Tony Boswell to exchange insurance details with the driver as we both carried on racing down the A1 to the finish.
I could sense my front tub softening … but I knew something ‘pretty’ fast was on the cards and I wasn’t particularly minded to stop to change a wheel at this stage!
Before I knew it I was crossing the line in my (the) first ever ride under 3-40. 3-38-39 to be exact. Competition record by 2-53 … AND a near quarter hour win! Not quite as impressive as Hutch’s 2010 win (by 16 minutes) but hey … a win’s a win and mine was a competition record to boot.
For my efforts, I won an RTTC Gold Medal, a nice champion’s hat, a team medal (with Trevor Greener and Sandy), £8 for the win and another £2 for the team win (that’s £2 EACH … not between us !).
All in all, 486 miles for the week.
After the ‘celebrations’ I hot-tailed it off to sunny Scarborough for a week where my Nan would feed me lots of lovely food and where I’d get in another 506 miles worth of training with my mate Mick (Storey this time!) preparing for the 12 (me … not Mick!).
For more reading (if you haven't already nodded off!) go HERE for Cycling's full report.
Less than 10 miles to go ... somewhere between Blyth and Nornay traffic island.
Photo by Bernard Thompson.