Welsh 12-hour TT championships 2019September 4, 2019
Jill Colman had a front row seat, feeding and supporting our team riding the Welsh Cycling Association 12-hour time trial championships in Abergavenny. This is how it went for her, as her boys helped the team to a new Welsh record distance, as well as her son Dan to a PB distance and third overall.
It was a fairly last minute decision this year for Paul & Dan to join Shaun Griffiths in riding the Welsh 12 hour championship timetrial. Having entered the week preceding our French trip the purpose of our holiday became last minute panic training!
Initially we were going to stay in the motorhome the night before and utilise Dan’s car for layby hopping during the 12 itself. After probably 30 seconds it became apparent that a Citroen C1 wasn’t really up to the task so plan ‘b’ was a bed & breakfast and fill the Transit with spare bikes, wheels and all the other paraphernalia required.
Up at 4am with the alarm and by 5 we were heading over to the HQ to meet up with Dan, Shaun and new member Chad Scallan from Cardiff. Steve Reynolds & his helper Richard Wade (Hornets) were there too so there was a bit of nervous banter going on before they all gradually filtered off to ride the 2.5 miles to the start.
Dan’s girlfriend Izzy was my wing(wo)man for the day and we followed to the start to make sure they got off ok. Just as well because with 2 minutes to go Paul found his rear tyre flat! Quick wheel change and off he went losing only a couple of seconds. It was a small but strong field of 31 riders. Chad was first of the club off at 13 minutes past 6, then Paul 6:23, Shaun 6:33 & Dan at 6:35.
We headed to our first feeding spot on the hill past Raglan Castle and studied Dan’s feeding schedule that he must have spent days creating. The menu for the day consisted of isotonic energy drink, isotonic & caffeine gels, flat cola, malt loaf and croissants. After preparing enough bottles for the first couple of feeds we sat down to wait. The first leg of the course was Abergavenny – Monmouth – Usk – Raglan – Abergavenny with bottles at 17 & 38 miles.
We then headed towards Hereford and situated ourselves approximately 8 miles from the turn where we could feed twice without moving. By now Dan had caught Paul for 12 minutes and was steadily distancing himself from his father. Once Paul was through we had to hot-foot it back to Raglan castle and settle in for the longest part of the day.
When reaching us all riders had covered 100 miles. This was a 25 mile circuit that the faster riders would complete 5 times. We were in an excellent position as we could see riders twice each lap although they only took one bottle per circuit. At this point Rhianne pulled up alongside with Shaun on board. Unfortunately he’d been feeling unwell all morning and decided to call it a day at approximately 75 miles. In the meantime Chad had been having problems of his own on the borrowed time trial bike he was using. He was unable to use his rear gears so rode the first 100 miles toggling between his front chain rings. When he caught up with his support crew he used his road bike for a lap whilst his mechanics made running repairs with cable ties & duct tape then he swapped back.
At 150 miles (3rdcircuit) Dan had factored in a quick pit stop where he sat down for two minutes while we swapped his bottles and he had a drink of water. It was at this point he realised he couldn’t swallow anything solid! So as nice as the malt loaf and croissants seemed in theory there was no way he was going to be able to eat them. At this point Dan was 2ndrider on the road and feeling comfortable.
Once the first man on the road completed 5 of the 25 mile circuits all riders were turned onto the 15 mile finishing circuit. As Paul had been passed by the leaders he was turned after 4 laps. We decamped onto the old Abergavenny road and positioned ourselves on one of the flyovers so again we could keep tabs on the riders twice per lap.
Izzy and I started noting times of some of the riders and it soon became clear that Graham Kemp from Team Bottrill had several minutes on the rest of the field. A quick Google revealed that although he hadn’t ridden a 12 hour before, he was the current 24 hour champion and competition record holder with a mileage of 544 (with a first 12 hour of 300 miles!). Battling in second place was Dan and last year’s Welsh champion, Tony Jones from TRCC.
Paul was beginning to suffer terribly. Into the last couple of hours and the north-westerly wind was sapping the last of his (and I don’t doubt, all riders’) energy as they headed north on the old road towards Abergavenny. His chosen comfort food was egg custard tarts which we managed to scoop out of the pastry case and into his mouth for easier swallowing. That was when he realised his back wheel had gone soft! The van was a couple of hundred metres away so we borrowed a track pump from another helper to get it back to 120psi for another lap and got the spare wheel ready for the next time we saw him.
Shaun, after a rest and some food showed what an absolute trooper he was and came back out on the finishing circuit to encourage the boys right to the end.
The battle for second place was ongoing with Dan & Tony. They were neck & neck with only seconds separating them until the last hour when Tony found another gear & started to reel Dan in.
We waited for Paul to pass us for the last time with about 20 minutes of his ride left, then organised the van to make room for a couple of weary passengers before setting off in pursuit. There were 10 timekeepers situated at intervals around the 15 mile finishing circuit. Riders must keep riding until their time is up then stop at the next timekeeper. We passed Paul with about 4 minutes to go just before he rejoined the old Abergavenny road and could tell he wouldn’t be stopping at the first timekeeper so pulled in at TK2 to wait. The relief on his face was instantaneous as he climbed off his bike stating, for the very first time after a 12, ‘never again!’.
Within minutes Dan rounded the bend and seconds later Tony appeared about 100 meters behind having made up over 4 minutes to get Dan in his sights. Dan was in the last 10 minutes of his race so we bundled Paul & his bike into the van and headed after Dan. We caught and passed them just after the Steel Horse cafe, Dan still managing to hold off Tony and pulled in just before TK4 as Dan’s time was up.
He was absolutely shattered but grinning from ear to ear – just over 294 miles, a 12 mile personal best.
Back at the HQ and we found Chad who’d covered over 262 miles on his debut. Along with Paul’s mileage of 249 was enough to claim (provisionally) Welsh competition team record of 806 miles and an improvement of over 7 miles on the previous record set by Dan, Paul & Cliff Jackson in 2013. Congratulations also to Steve Reynolds who was hoping to break 200 miles and finished with an amazing 237!
We had a little wait whilst all times were checked before the presentation. A massive thank you must go to Robin Field & his merry men for another excellent event. It had been a very long day for all involved and there were as many marshals and helpers as there were riders.