It was at the Pickwick Garden Party, with you as one of my guests, that I suggested that you ought to go for RRA 100 record. I pointed out to you that Booty had done a 3.58 out and home '100' then went on to go 30 minutes faster to break the straight out 100 record with a time of 3-28. You had already done 3.32, so if you applied the same principle you should be able to do a 3.10 You must have done some deep thinking because you said you would have a go. I said I would sort out the course and submit the schedule for an attempt.
I purchased a rev counter and sorted out a course using a similar one to Booty's ... starting on the A10 just north of the M25 and finishing just before Norwich . I found an ideal starting point in a lay-by on a dual carriageway (where several cars associated with the proposed attempt could park). I went out several weekends to measure the course in sections learning more about course measuring as I went. As I covered the last 25 mile section to the finish, I watched the rev counter come to the correct digit for the 100 course to find I had finished EXACTLY on a white line across the road. "Great" ... but I am glad that Brenda (who followed me in the car) was not there at the time because my language was not what one should hear. It was the white line for a set of traffic lights at a cross roads!
This problem meant I had to measure the road backwards to find several points that could be used for the finish. On a following weekend I had to go to the start to find a suitable starting point as it was a very busy section with two islands and traffic lights. I finally decided to start on the roundabout above the M25. On a following weekend I measured the whole course on the hottest weekend that year with a temperature in the 80s. I had it checked with two experienced course measurers who found my measurement 50 yards short which could be as a result of us taking different routes round traffic islands. This gave me great satisfaction in my efforts. I then lodged a schedule with the RRA for you to attack the record and then waited for the right conditions.
The day came and the record attempt set off and things went great being well up on the record I drove the following car with the timekeeper who started you and observing the record and would time the finish. At about 70 to 75 mile we hit a traffic hold up. We witnessed you disappearing up the outside of the stationary traffic whilst we crawled forward one car length at a time for some quarter to half a mile until I could turn down a single track lane to do a detour to try and get to the finish. We rejoined the course (if I remember correctly) with some 10 miles to go. We had some scary moments in the narrow lanes and during the drive to get to the finishing
point. We arrived too late to time you and found you already sitting on the grass verge. I sat down beside you and you stated that you managed to get there with about 1 minute to spare so beating the record. I apologised. Your next comment is still etched in my brain.' Don’t worry Keith there is always another day. But I won't break the record on this course'. I asked why not, and you replied because of the trees. You then explained the reason for that remark.
I believe it was a few weeks later when I was with Brenda at the Golden Wedding celebrations of Ron Kitching which was out of this world ... a weekend celebration to remember. For the evening banquet we were seated with Mike Breckon and we were discussing your attempt. He was very interested and he asked if I thought you could break the record. I said I had no doubt.
The rest is history
I finished up just being an Official Observer and seeing you take 13 minutes off the 100 record.
I will never forget you receiving your first professional record schedule for the RRA 50 record and then receiving your invite to your wedding, Do remember my comment? "You cannot get married that day. That's the day the wind will blow" ... and wasn't my prophesy correct with the wind blowing strong enough to blow the church doors open and the leaves of the trees blowing down the aisle with all the laughter and comments from your cycling friends?
I also recall your thoughts on what the 25, 50 and 100 mile records could be which you set your sights on. 40 minutes for 25 miles. 1hour 20 minutes for 50 miles and 3 hours for the 100. Unbelievable 25 years ago but not today. Pity we haven't got any more Mike Breckons
It's been a pleasure recalling some golden moments in my life.