Monday, 29 December 2008

Jean Keith Award ride

The day of the Jean Keith Award ride dawned cold and frosty with a glorious wintry sun beaming down as I went to collect Paul before setting off towards Bowlee and the important part of the day - the race route.

I must let you in on the tricks of this race as it's a race like no other (that I know of anyway). The rules are:

  1. Pick a piece of paper out of the envelope. This has a time written on it - your time. Do not let anyone other than the officials see this time.
  2. Remove all forms of timepiece: watches, PC, hrm, mobile phones etc.
  3. Get on your bike and ride the route at whatever speed you think will get you close to the time you picked at the start.
Fun, eh?! Rather hard really. The last time I rode this I was on an MTB and not the lovely Everest, and I was miles less fit than I am now. I think my improved fitness became my downfall. More on that later.
The aim was to get to The White Hart pub near Birch Services for 11:30. Paul and I got there for just gone 11. I suggested we do some sneaky tactics and ride the route timing it at our usual speed, then remember how easy/hard we pedalled etc for riding it 'blind'. Paul though better of my sneakiness and advised against it cos we'd probably be seen by the race officials somewhere along the route. So we sat and waited; and waited some more; and waited...until Stan arrived concerned he'd got the wrong day or wrong start point (we'd changed it from previous years). Good job we didn't try sneak tactics!

Slowly, but surely more Middleton CC riders streamed in, until we had the biggest ever turn out for this event - 9 riders. Most people think this ride is pointless or annoying, so refuse to do it.

Back row l-r: Stan, Joe, Paul, Mike, Me, Cliff, Janet, Steve, Alan. Front row l-r: Race officials Jack and Alan

Once all the riders had arrived, it was a case of getting our times off the officials then preparing to go. It's a mass start so we all set off chatting about Christmas and if anyone had been riding recently etc enjoying the scenery as the route turned left into open country before turning left again alongside a business park, then left again to take us up and over the motorway and Birch Services and finally to the finish line.

As the times we choose are all very close together (know this from past events) it became a little bit of a mass finish too. When I crossed the line I knew my chance of winning it had failed as I heard "19..." - my allotted time was 21.20, so I was out of the running.

We aborted the results giving until we were ensconced in the lovely roaring-fire warmth of the pub with drinks-a-plenty and good grub ordered.

Cliff, Joe, Alan Hilda, Alan, Jack Joe, Hilda, Janet, Steve

I came in 8th place and Paul came in 5th. Paul had managed to stay in the same place as last time we rode, although I'd dropped down 4 places.

Remember my saying my fitness was my downfall? Well, Cliff decided he wanted to sprint a little way and as he's a big teaser towards me, I simply couldn't let him get away that easily, so I took off after him. He was already at the head of the pack when he set off, I was right behind everyone else and some way behind. I curved past Steve and Alan to see Cliff out of the saddle looking behind him every now and then as I just mashed the pedals streaking past the others. Soon it was the two of us out in front of the group, Cliff looking a little panicked and out of the saddle still, myself stomping away and gaining ground fast....til I hurtled past taunting him for being beaten by a girl!

Route out to Bowlee
View Interactive Map on

Boring bits -
Temperature: 4 degrees
Max speed: 32mph
Average speed: 12.3mph
Miles: 22.78 (18.79 for ride out/back. 3.99 for race)
Climbed: 610ft

Jean Keith Award route

View Interactive Map on

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