Colin Ross takes on the National 12 Hour!

By Colin Ross

0 hrsI guess I’m actually doing this then.

I honestly can’t remember why I decided to do a 12hr TT this season, 


but I think in part it was a result of spending too much time with Gary Boyd who, for reasons that I will never understand, loves riding 12 and 24hr TTs. He left it until a couple of weeks before the event to mention that he was a DNF in the same race last year after falling asleep on his bike.


2 hrsat least it’s stopped raining. I averaged 38kph for the the last lap, imagine if I can maintain that for the whole 12hrs!

In my preparation I had looked at pretty much every table of predicted times online, stalked riders on Strava and created spreadsheets within spreadsheets. In the end, I had three average speeds written on a bit of tape stuck to my bars. One was enough to beat the club record (34kph), one was a realistic target (35.5kph) and one was rather optimistic (37kph)

3 hrsI definitely can’t maintain that for 12hrs

At this stage I was averaging higher than my optimistic target and had already had to stop for my first of 5 comfort breaks. It’s depressing how quickly your average speed drops when you turn off auto pause. I set my computer(s) to show me stats for each 20 mile lap and only once in the 12hrs did I look at my overall average. It really helped to break up the seemingly insurmountable task, and allowed me to start a fresh after a bad lap.

4 hrsok, lets accept that I went out a bit too hard, but to look on the bright side, I still have 8hrs to settle into a more sustainable pace!

My brother had kindly agreed to support me and had ridden down to arrive by my first stop at around 4hrs. I drove down the night before and parked by the side of the course. I stopped once around 100 miles in, and after that, he ‘handed up’ a bottle as I went past. From around 8 hours onwards my solid food had run out and he started taping chews or bars to the bottle.

6 hrsthis is officially the longest ride I have done; that will show people who compare themselves to me on Strava. That reminds me, must think of a hilarious name for this ride.

I never did think of a good name, despite having plenty of time. Time generally passed pretty quickly and it was a massive boost to get past half way and know that you are closer to the end than the start. It’s an out and back course so there was a pretty decent headwind for half the lap. Generally I was averaging over 40kph on the way out and trying to keep the speed up as best as possible on the way back.

8 hrsnever again, must remember this feeling when I think about entering another 12hr.

This was probably my low point and also the windiest that it got during the day. Some more friends had arrived and their cheers really helped. I had also left a sharpie with my supplies so they could write messages on the bottles that were being handed to me. At this stage we were getting quite good at the hand ups and I was taking bottles from my brother at 36kph as he sprinted along beside me. He may be poached by another rider for next year.

10 hrsThank f**k we are onto the finishing circuit.

The course is pretty simple compared to most 12’s. It’s a stretch of dual carriageway with three roundabouts and after around 10 laps of the main circuit you start turning at the middle roundabout. This helps as the headwind section is shorter, but it also misses out the hilly and extremely bumpy section at one end of the course. The road surface is terrible and you have to pick your line carefully, especially if you are running a 20mm from tyre on trispoke. The section approaching the bottom roundabout is referred to as the ‘Chawton Roubaix’ and has seen a fair few broken bars and pads in it’s time.

11 hrs 15 minsWoo Hoo, broken the club record! Now to push on and put it on the shelf… or I could just stop now.

The hardest thing I found about a 12hr is that it’s a sustainable effort, but you are constantly bugged by the knowledge that easing off slightly wouldn’t make that much difference in the grand scheme of things. Motivation is a big factor. Little things can be a big boost, like miss reading the time and realising you have an hour less than you thought, although it can also go the other way.

12 hrsI better reach the time keeper soon as I need another piss!

A bit like the hour record, you have to carry on after the 12hrs is up until you pass the next timekeeper on the road. I had been doing plenty of calculations and worked out that I should finish pretty close to my support, but if not, I would have to carry on another 2 or 3 miles until the next timekeeper. This would have left me with an additional 7 mile ride into the headwind which was not going to happen! I eased up slightly to make sure and then skidded to a halt to answer nature’s call.

I rode the 3 miles back to the van, and had a wee sit down. Then it was off to the HQ to sign out. Can you believe we didn’t even get a free cup of tea! 

Having had a bit of time to reflect on my ride and look at the data, I’m not sure I would have changed things an awful lot (apart from not doing it in the first place). I was pretty much spot on with my ‘realistic’ predicted distance of 265 miles, although it would have been better to start out slower and maintain the same pace throughout.  I would have gone a few extra miles if I had not had to stop so many times and I think I could have ridden without a pit stop 4hrs in. But all in all, I’m very happy, especially on my first attempt.

A big thanks to the Lynn and Rupert for hosting, helping and cheering me. Richard and Ger for their boundless enthusiasm and most importantly my brother David for his amazing support and top notch handing up.



For those interested, here are the stats –

Distance – 428 km / 265.9 miles
Average – 35.67 kph / 22.16 mph
NP – 199W
AV HR – 143 bpm

TSS – 612

IF – 0.71
Cadence – 89
Moving Time – 11:52:34
Stopped – 7:26
Climbing – 2109m
Calories – 8,627

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