I have just attended the Cycling Time Trials 'Champions Night', held at Heythrop Park in Oxfordshire, to pick up my bling for finishing 2nd in the 2016 BBAR competition. Check it out below - that's real zinc alloy that is.
You are probably wondering what the BBAR is. A lot of people don't know, even those who consider themselves keen cyclists.
It stands for 'British Best All-Rounder', a national time trial competition, in which riders are ranked by average speed* over their best 50mile, 100mile and 12hour time trials of the season. The Wikipedia page (here) has some more historical information, but suffice to say in the good ol' days it was really popular and regular competition updates would appear in cycling weekly and people were generally interested in the event. Now it barely gets a mention, which is a shame because it turns out I am quite good at it.
*it is not a true average, but the average speed from each event divided by 3. I.e an average of the average speeds. Not the average speed over the entire distance. I think I am making this sound more complicated than it is....
WHY I DO IT...
I first became aware of the BBAR competition only a few years ago. I went through a phase of riding sportives (freeloading them, natch, by accidentally riding the same course that just happens to have a sportive arranged that day) with mates with the aim of getting the strava KOM. One such time, in 2013, me and two friends 'entered' the New Forest 100 and had a really great ride. I was convinced we would be significantly faster than anyone else riding the event. And we were, almost, but there was one person who was much quicker - by 13mins (actually, 3 people, riding together, but that ruins the story); Julian Jenkinson*. I found out he was the 'BBAR' winner in 2010 with an average speed of 27.202mph. I started to read up about the competition and I was amazed at the speeds the winners were averaging. In fact, I thought it was probably a typo or I was misunderstanding how you calculate the speed or something.
Skip forward to 2015 and I found myself finishing 2nd overall (see blog post here), something I never thought would be possible. I think I'm now hooked....
*sadly, Julian Jenkinson recently passed away, suffering a heart attack while out on a bike ride. I was particularly saddened by this news, despite never having the chance to meet him.
2016 BBAR REVIEW
I remember a conversation with AS Test Team mate Paul Elcock at the beginning of 2016, where I was reflecting on my 2015 2nd Place BBAR result. I was pleased with the placing, but there was a huge difference in average speed between my rides and those of Adam Topham & Richard Bideau (who was unfortunately disqualified through no fault of his own). I was saying to Paul I didn't think it was possible to close the gap at all - I was already churning out all the watts. Anyway, we concluded I needed to work on my aerodynamics. I spent loads of hours testing positions out at the track, and was lucky enough to get advice from Rob Barrett and David Woodhouse (who is now also a team mate).
The testing paid off. I was significantly faster than I was in 2015, and I have closed the gap significantly between me and the top.
I won't go over the detail of each race because I've already written about them in 'race reports', but as a basic comparison;
2015 qualifying times:
- 12hr 292.15miles
- 100mile 3:37:18
- 50mile 1:44:20
- BBAR average: 26.903mph
2016 qualifying times:
- 12hr 311.26miles [Race report]
- 100mile 3:28:17 (a week after the 12hr) [Race report]
- 50mile 1:38:13
- BBAR average: 28.430mph
I think I could have gone marginally faster if I had learned about pacing before my last race of the season, if I hadn't gone wrong 100meters from end of the Shaftesbury 50, and if the BDCA 100miler hadn't been cancelled due to poor weather. Still, it leaves some room for improvement during 2017. I can't wait....
Congratulations to Richard Bideau who won the 2016 BBAR with a mind boggling all time record average speed of 28.867mph. He gave a great speech at the Champions Night dinner, which you can watch on the YouTube CTT channel.
Also picking up an award at the ceremony was GS Henley team mate Harvey Weinberger, for winning the junior national hill climb award; an incredible achievement.