That was a proper event, old school characters riding and running it, passing up bottles. This event is certainly one of the oldest and certainly one of the toughest. It takes place on rolling roads south of Liverpool, it is now the only 24 left so every year it is the national 24 hour championship. Men, women, old and young, on solos, tandems and trikes, all are there together with their own personal goals.
I had two goals, the most important was to finish. Then there was a club (Century RC) record to aim for.
We drove up from London with aprehension but looking forward to it, I’d never done a 24 before. 12 hours, 100 miles but not a 24. John & Chris got me to the start, a very relaxed atmosphere with lots of chatting, some real characters were there whose life had obviously been club cycling, it was so similar to the old North Road 24 when I helped Owen do his 24s in the 1980’s.
1.58pm I was off.
My first 100 miles was fine, 4 hours 54 minutes, feeling ok under the circumstances. At 120 miles my back was sore so I got off for a regroup with John & Chris, mainly to straighten my spine for a minute. Also to change bottles, change glasses and get my lights on for the night section. Talking of which it was a beautiful night, a half moon to help light the road, no wind, I was lucky. The section I was dreading turned out to be fairly pleasant, until my main light ran out of juice so I briefly saw black until I quickly turned on my reserve.
The morning came and I plodded, it was becoming a plod rather than a streamlined beeline. I reached 300 miles and there were J&C, I’d had it, feeling wobbly. 10 minutes off the bike, a sandwich and a cuppa and I was off again. I discovered a gel in my pocket, downed it. Within 10 minutes I was feeling much better. The sandwich, gel and whatever else I managed to cram into my mouth had kicked in and I felt fine. Nice and steady, not too hard, I wasn’t capable of doing ‘hard’ anymore.
I reached the finishing circuit, did one lap and reached 395 miles. Once more I was fading, done in, end of my reserves! Sixteen minutes break this time, feeling dazed. I crammed in a sandwich, tomatoe, some fruit and tea. I just wanted to sit there for half an hour but John reminded me that I was still on a decent schedule so off I went, wobbling a bit as far as I can remember. But to my amazement I started feeling ok again, the mini break and influx of food was kicking in. I was actually going to finish this event. Several timekeepers are spaced out along the finishing circuit and at 23 hours and 59 minutes I passed a timekeeper but to finish a 24 you have to go to the next so they can calculate the overall distance finished between the two. The next was two miles of rough road into the wind, that was hard. The timekeeper came into view, number 58 I called and that was that. I was half a mile from the HQ, a pleasant flat spin with no effort, the crowds on the roadside applauding every rider.
I missed the club record (Century RC) but being part of an event like that made it easy to bear. I’d finished which was my main goal, 425.3 miles, happy with that.
My helpers, John & Chris Togher were as much part of the event as me so big thanks to them for driving, running, brewing, slicing, spreading, shouting, bossing, predicting ….
For anyone interested, my dietary intake was
10 teas (maybe more)
3 rounds of ham, pickle & tomatoe sandwiches
8 750ml Carbohydrate drinks
3 750ml bottles of water
2 boiled eggs
1 malt loaf
2 750ml bottles of rice & peaches
1 bowl of tinned fruit with a splash of rice
1 bowl of fresh mixed fruit