Twelve Hours in the Saddle

How do you fancy spending a whole twelve hours one Sunday on a push bike? Sounds painful? You have heard nothing yet.

This twelve hours is a race! The idea to go as far as you can in the time. Even the Tour de France riders do not spend that long on their bikes in one session.

Where do these mad men and women come from? All over the country, but guess what? Among the 70 odd riders taking part there are eleven, yes eleven, representing the Rye & District Wheelers.

Who are these mad people? Well one is no less a person than the editor of this magazine! Who else? Councillor Bantick, No, not after his escapade with the sailing dingy last week………

Where will it all happen? Why, on the roads of Kent, it is after all the Kent Cycling Association Championship Twelve Hour and the Wheelers, for the first time in their history actually have a man gifted enough to win the men’s event, a lady who is the favourite to win the Women’s event and a team capable of winning the team competition.

Dave Wheeler, an unassuming chap of 40 plus with a clutch of children and long suffering wife, has already won several open events this year, mind you, they were all shorter distance races from 10 miles to 100 miles. Twelve hours is a long time he will tell you, and the best riders from all over the country are coming to this one. The winner will probably have do over 260 miles.

Bronwen Ewing, no she doesn’t come from Dallas, English with a Welsh name and Scottish husband, Bronwen trains by riding to and from her home in Fairlight to the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford where she works as a physio. Her ambition is to beat the club record time of 224 miles set by Bronwen Ewing. He is so worried she might do it he is returning early from his holiday and has entered at the last minute after saying he was not riding this year!

Bronwen Ewing
Bronwen Ewing

With Barry entered it seems possible that the team event, which was won by Rye Wheelers in 2007, could be theirs again, despite the fact that VC Elan are odds on favourites in the eyes of most experts.

Who else from Rye would dare to enter for such a gruelling challenge? Try the diminutive Landlady of the Royal Oak, Carmen Kubisa. Carmen has been fitting in her training early in the morning, setting off sometimes as early as 5am. All this after a busy night looking after her customers. Her enthusiasm equals her madness, she cannot fail and is sure to do a creditable distance.

Who else? Try Steve Maxted, the king of mechanical amusement machines who is usually found tinkering with the penny slots at the Heritage Centre. Steve is an old hand having ridden and completed last year’s event. His mileage was impressive, 178 and a half miles on a tough course, made even harder by a howling gale.

There are others like David Bryant, whose father rode for the Rye Aces Cycle Speedway team, Paul Simpson, who rode but failed to finish last year, Andrew Croft and Mark Amon, riding their first Twelve and Dave Spice, a member of Rye’s winning team in 2007.

Those that have completed a Twelve in the past will tell you they feel part of a special group. The strongest Twelve man knows that the weakest suffer just as much, respect is universal.

Think of them as you go about your usual routine on Sunday 9 August. The first rider will be off at six followed by the others at minute intervals.

Perhaps this vision of pain and suffering may inspire you to join them next year but if you really want to experience the ultimate in cycle time trialing the National Championship 24 Hour event is coming to East Sussex roads in twenty-eleven!

From “Rye’s Own” Suppliment July 2009