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Saturday, 25 July 2015

The Ystwyth 10

8 year old club 10mile TT record falls 
I went along to help marshal the Ystwyth 10 mile TT recently on the Lovesgrove course which is currently the faster of our two 10 mile distances, based on the then club record time by a member – 21.23 by Dafydd Dylan. That night, the record fell to Gruff Lewis.
The achievement was not struck on me until the next day when I actually thought about how many riders had ridden that race over the years. A very rough calculation tells me that it's approximately 16 events per year, so to take it back to 1955, that's 960 events in total. For arguments sake we'll round this down to 900 to allow for cancellations for road works and weather. An average turnout, despite a late noughties peak of 40 riders per week, was usually more like 8-10, and so based on 10 rides per week as a conservative estimation, the Ystwyth 10 has been 'time-trialled' at least 9000 times in its 60 year history. 8999 of those rides were slower than Gruff Lewis' ride that evening, some of which were his own attempts since around 2011 when he began to attack the previous record of 21.23, set by Dafydd Dylan, a school friend of Gruff's and also a former semi-pro who set that record in 2007.
The history of the record itself is sketchy before 1987, ironically the year that tri-bars first started to make their way into the sport, via triathlon. It was student Rick Morris, a popular and successful triathlete who broke the record with 22.53. How do I know? I spent three seasons with that time sellotaped to my stem, with splits for various locations on the course to  hit, to try and beat Ricks time. I can remember most of them : Lovesgrove junction (now a roundabout) - 3.55, or anything sub 4 minutes, Capel Bangor village sign (6.55), 5 mile turn (11.30), Capel Bangor sign on return (16.00 ), Lovesgrove roundabout (18.50), Finish (21.53).
The fatal error in my split calculations was that I only planned to match the course record, and so that is exactly what I did, twice, before finally breaking it with 22.46 in 1996. Gruff probably had a similar idea of splits and of course, expected power output these days, in his pursuit of Dafydd.
So Rick's time stood for 9 years, Dafydd's for 8 and mine, well only for one year, as another student, Arwel Davies came along in 1997 and rode what can only be described as 'the perfect 10' one summers night that year. The local scene was strong in 1997. Arwel was a fine tester and road man and still races to this day. Another two students, road racer Simon Owens, a Welsh International at the time, and Daniel Roberts who was possibly the most talented cyclist I had witnessed up to that point were also on the local scene at the time.
These three, coupled with locals like Alastair Rhodes, an international standard duathlete, Meirion Davies and myself, both second cat roadmen at the time meant that chaingangs were tough and thus the time trials became faster. That said, my record wasn't threatened until that night. A calm, non-existent wind, plenty of traffic, a hot but not too hot night and Arwel with his Jeff Bruce TT machine and Spinergy wheels had a flyer to record 21.57. He's knocked me out of the water and then some. He's even broken 22 minutes, something that only four riders have managed in history!
Poor Daniel Roberts. He rode to 22.01 on the same night, albeit after Arwel and so never actually held the record.
A 22 minute time has become a regular occurrence in recent times, none more so than Danny Thorogood, a regular at the time trials since the early 2000's and in a second coming after some rides at the distance during his student days in the 1980's. Both he and Paul Robinson of Felifach ruled the roost during the 2000's until the 'Penweddig' youngsters Dylan, Lewis and Williams came along with their regular forays into the sub 22's.
How long will the new record last? How long will the courses last, with all the new regulations regarding no dead turns and no right hand turns in any new time trial course, it seems Llety's days are numbered, although somehow, it seems to soldier on!

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