Having remembered my first Twelve Hour Time Trial, I then thought about the last one I rode back in August 1985. By this time I had reached the age of 50 and whilst I still rode fairly regularly I had just taken early retirement from work and had not yet succumbed to the urge to start training properly, as a man of leisure.
The last twelve came about as a result of a late night in the pub after club night in November 1984. Having had a few pints myself, me and nine other club members (with the help of the beer) managed to convince each other that anyone could ride the local Kent Cycling Association 12 Hour event. In our drink inspired wisdom someone suggested all that was needed was a small cash incentive as we felt that to ride for 12 hours just for a medal (even though none of us was capable of making the top 20 finishers let alone the first three) was just not enough reward.
It was unanimously decided that the 10 of us would each sign our name on a ten pound note (which was handed to the elected treasurer) and that the resulting Hundred Pounds would be shared among those who managed to finish. The only other rule was that to qualify as a finisher you had to complete at least 200 miles.
I can’t speak for the others but my 1985 racing season was very hit and miss so when it came time to enter the twelve I still imagined I would be able to spend a leisurely day riding around the Kentish lanes and so I filled in the entry form as an act of good faith. It transpired that five of the ten actually lost their “bottle” at this time and so we now had the kitty to share between the remaining five assuming we all managed to finish.
Having decided to ride my time trial bike (with a single front 56 tooth chain ring) I started like a rocket and had caught two of my club mates well before 100 miles but then my legs just ceased to work and by the time I got to the A20 about to head toward the coast I had had enough so I stopped and sat on the side of the road to give a cheer to the two that I had passed earlier. However neither of them appeared, meaning that if they had packed and I didn’t finish, the two club riders that had started before me and were further up the road would be on for a prize of fifty pounds each.
Here the story gets complicated as unbeknown to me one of riders preceding me had already been turned early, and the two behind me likewise had been given a shortened course and all three were already heading for the finishing circuit. In fact only one rider from the club did the ride along the A20 and having seen no sign of any of us he assumed he was now riding for a prize of 100 Hundred Pounds.
Amazingly, because four of us had not had to do the hard leg down to the coast and back it mean't that all five starters managed to finish over the 200 mile target and our reward was £20 each. So my last twelve was a kind of success even though I only managed to complete 204.636 miles.
I can't go into some of the murkier aspects... like my son handing up gravel in a bag to one of the five other lunatics (disguised as something lovely to eat) or the sub-category of 'shirt and tie' finisher as it might make the whole thing look ridiculous and not the serious race that it clearly was.