This week’s history excerpt from Peter Riley focuses on the race against the clock:
Since it was founded in the summer of 1927, Welland Valley Wheelers under its various names has been heavily involved in time trials – both Open and Private Club Events.
In 1928, the Club Committee set standard times for ‘place to place’ courses:
- Market Harborough – Cambridge – Market Harborough: 106 miles in 7 hours
- Market Harborough – Skegness: 84 miles in 5 hours 15 minutes
- Market Harborough – Skegness – Market Harborough: 168 miles in 11 hours
To achieve these target times would require an average speed of around 15 miles per hour which gives a good indication of the state of the roads and the weight and efficiency of frames, wheels and running gear at that time. In 1938, Benny Foster set Club Records for Market Harborough to Cambridge and back in 6 hours and 3 minutes and for Market Harborough to Skegness in 3 hours 55 minutes.
The Welland Valley Wheelers racing programme for 1929 was:
- 25 miles Time Trial (low gear – 63 inches and under)
- Open Novices 25 miles Time Trial
- Club 30 miles Time Trial
- Club 50 miles Time Trial
- Six Hours Scratch Race
- Hunter Cup
- Club Hill Climb
The year 1951 opened with controversy over the Club’s courses for 10, 25 and 30 miles time trials. It was reported to the AGM that the courses had again been checked and were found to be “on the long side.”
The 10 mile course was 198 yards too long while the 25 and 30 miles courses were 495 yards too long. (440 yards = ¼ mile)
Club Record Times 1952
25 miles – 1 hour 4 minutes 55 seconds
30 miles – 1 hour 18 minutes 3 seconds
50 miles – 2 hours 25 minutes 50 seconds
Ladies 10 miles – 28 minutes 7 seconds
Junior 10 miles – 25 minutes 13 seconds
Noticeable by its absence is a Club Record for a ‘10’ by a senior male rider. The topic of ‘Evening 10s’ first appears at the AGM in early 1953 when it was decided that they will be held each Thursday from May until August on a course from St. Luke’s Hospital to the Rose and Crown at Kibworth and back.
In 1955, the ‘Evening 10s’ were cancelled due to “a lack of support.” George Halls raised the matter of ‘Evening 10s’ in April 1956 and the decision was postponed until the AGM in 1957. It was agreed that they would be run fortnightly on a Handicap basis but they were then postponed indefinitely in April 1957. It was not until the mid -1960s that Evening ‘10’s became a permanent fixture on the Club calendar.
During the 1960s, Club rules required a minimum of six riders to start a Club Time Trial for it to be counted towards Club competitions and trophies and it was not unusual to find A.N.Other taking part on a regular basis.
In August 1967, four members of the Club rode the 12 Hours event at Coventry; George Barnett completed 224 miles, Vic Barnett rode 216 miles and Dave Livesley and Mick Smith both covered in excess of 200 miles.
In early 1968, Jean Hart rode a ‘10’ at Knowle in Warwickshire and recorded a time of 29 minutes 53 seconds – a time which earned her second place in the Ladies event to no less a rider than Beryl Burton, the reigning time trial World Champion!
In July 1971, Mick Hockridge set a new Club record of 58 minutes 44 seconds for 25 miles while riding the National Championships. Less than a week later, Barry Day set a new Club record for 50 miles of 2 hours 4 minutes and 21 seconds.
In 1984, while not organising the Carnival Criteriums, Lee Scampton found time to enter the National 24 Hours time trial and covered 412 miles 230 yards – an average speed of more than 17 mph.
At the same time, the Club’s time trial courses came under review as U-turns or ‘dead turns’ were banned and until a new 10 miles course could be found, measured and approved, the Club was obliged to run ‘10s’ on the Rockingham Forest Wheelers course.
In 1995, the long established Club time trial from Market Harborough to Skegness was cancelled after objections from the police. Consideration was given to running the event as a non-competitive Reliability Trial but there seems to have been no appetite among the membership for such an event. As a consequence, it was agreed that the Benny Foster Medal would now be awarded to the winner of the Club Hill Climb.