Congratulations to Toby Ellis for his new WUCA World Record on 2022-07-03 on the London to Canterbury course.
I had intended to call this the ‘troublesome priest’ ride – history tells us the last time folks rode between a monarchs residence and Canterbury Cathedral, things did not end well for the Archbishop (Thomas Becket) and perhaps it was time to update history – ride a bike, not a horse and leave the Archbishop fully intact!
It turns out that King Henry II was in Normandy when he almost certainly didn’t use the words ‘who will rid me of this troublesome priest’ and the soldiers never intended any harm to the Archbishop, they went to ask him politely to stop arguing with the King and things got a bit out of hand, no doubt as they would in those days if you wandered about in armour, fully armed with swords etc.
Any hope that I might become a modern day messenger sent by Her Majesty with a suitable missive to her Religious CEO was dashed the moment the team arrived at Buckingham Palace as we were met by a van full of the local constabulary, informing us of our need to proceed at a suitable speed to anywhere outside the security zone with immediate effect.
We found a suitable spot, got ready and I cycled back to the Palace Gates, wondering how I was going to start and ensure the follow vehicle was within range. This somewhat delayed the start although I’m not sure I lost much time given that the first set of lights I had to stop for was no more than 100m into the ride giving plenty of time for the follow car to find me.
The rest of the ride involved getting through 62 sets of traffic lights (28 of which were red and so had to be stopped at). The middle section along the A2 was glorious (for me) as the road was smooth and relatively flat. The crew on the other hand were less than happy given that in all but designation I was riding along a 4 lane motorway (I did google if cyclists were banned from any parts of the A2 and as it’s still designated an A road they are still allowed, but the most liked comment was ‘you can ride on it but I wouldn’t’!) and so the speed differential of the traffic coming up behind them was clear to see in the rear view mirror – certainly not for the faint-hearted!
The finish was almost as slow as the start as we timed it perfectly to coincide with the barriers for the train level crossing being down and so the last 400 yards or so was stationary traffic!
Conditions however were perfect throughout – sunny and warm but not hot and a gentle side/tailwind the whole way.
The bike (Giant Propel Advanced Pro Disc 0) performed as expected thanks to the expert servicing by Sean Wratten.
Huge thanks, as always, go to the team – James MacDonald (Crew Chief), David Beisly (WUCA official) and James Mozden (Driver) who kept me safe and fed me with Jelly Babies and Secret Training Stealth Big Energy Drink.