Imagine, if you will, climbing onto your bike early on a summery Saturday afternoon and going for a 60 minute solo ride at a pacy 21.5 mph. Sounds good, nice even.. Now imagine staying on your bike, needing to maintain that speed, for another 23 hours straight. Doesn’t sound so good anymore, does it? Imagine how you might be feeling by 10pm on Saturday evening; with darkness falling, knowing that you will still be going hard at 10am the following day, having ridden right through the night with only burning muscles and an exhausted mind for company. And when 10am finally rolls around you still have four more hours to do. At the same viciously relentless pace.
Welcome to the very singular pain-cave that is the 24 hour Time Trial.
On 22nd July, whilst most of the cycling world was focused on the casual Parisien denouement of the Tour de France, a few hardy amateurs were completing the Mersey Roads 24hr National Championships Time Trial. Having taken themselves to their limits for a full day and a night, the event was won by Stuart Birnie, riding his third ’24’, with a spectacular distance of 518.372 miles (833km) – beating the defending champion, Ultan Coyle, by a margin of just 5 miles, less than 0.5% of the collective mileage. For most of the race they were only separated by a couple of minutes at the respective time-checks. If the distances alone are impressive, then the addition of the pressure of a closely-fought encounter is incredible.