The loneliness and the dampness of the long distance bike riders.

Sunday 29th July 2018 was meant to be a festival of long distance bike riding for Otley CC riders competing in the Team Swift combined 50 mile, 100 mile and 12 hour time trials based at Melbourne near York. The reality was much different.

The club had a presence in all three events, Claire Jessop riding the 50, Helen Goldthorpe riding the 100, her first ever, with Gary Purchon riding solo and Christine Bell and Rachel Crowther riding tandem in the 12 hour.

The 12 hour also included our club championships, Gary not only hoping to lift the overall title but also to beat his 2016 distance of 212 miles. Christine and Rachel hoped to set a new national age record to complement the one they set in 2016 when they cycled 187 miles, and lift the Women’s trophy too.

The Women’s 50 and 100 mile records of 2:10:49 by Allyson Winks and 4:55:36 by Alison Hargreaves have stood for some time now and it was hoped that with the good weather we’d had recently Claire in the 50 and Helen in the 100 could get very close to those.

But Mother Nature was not on the side of our intrepid riders, greeting them, their helpers and all officials and marshals with a very wet and windy day that saw several non-starters – all our riders are made of stern stuff and started their respective events – and non-finishers in all three events, although there were no finishers at all in the 12 hour.

Gary was the first Otley rider away, starting the 12 hour at 6:04 a.m. followed 44 minutes later by Christine and Rachel, the only tandem doing the half day event.

Photographs courtesy of Gary’s Facebook page.

Gary unfortunately had to abandon the event at 41 miles after he suffered an injury. A wise decision given the conditions.

Christine and Rachel similarly withdrew but after riding for just under 6 hours and deciding another 6 hours in those conditions wasn’t feasible.

However, all rides in the 12 hour were academic as sadly a motorcyclist came to grief on the course and the event had to be abandoned after 8 hours.

Helen was away in the 100 at 1 minute before 7 a.m. Given the conditions, Helen’s first 100 mile TT was to be a real test of stamina and mental strength but Helen dug in, not letting the conditions defeat her, and bravely finished the event, recording 5:23:10.

A mention for partner Liam Mealey of whom Helen says “A special thanks to Liam for his miracle tea (fruit tea with some energy drink powder mixed in). Without that I don’t think I’d have been warm enough to finish”.

Chapeau Helen for finishing the event and also to Liam for supporting her in those terrible conditions.

Claire, off first in the 50, decided not to continue, saying “I couldn’t see anything, the roads looked like ice and heavens knows what it looked like once the cars started coming along those roads given all the extremely large puddles at the side of the road. I saw an ambulance and rider down at one corner, hope the rider was OK, this definitely made me think my decision was the best”.

The rider down fortunately was ok and was just taken to hospital for a precaution.

Photograph courtesy of Greg Jessop.

An eventful day for all concerned although not in the way expected but all our riders are safe which in itself is a victory.

Full results for the 50 and the 100 courtesy of CTT.


3rd August 2018