If you’re a sad old tester like me you’ll remember that wonderful day back in 1978 when ‘King’ Alf Engers discovered the Holy Grail – it took 49 minutes and 24 seconds.
The first 30 mph 25 mile time trial.
Hard to imagine that Alf’s time would only have given joint 21st position in the event we’re about to discuss – some four minutes behind the winner, John Dewey of Team Bottrill/HSS Hire.
John is the ‘big bruv’ of Douglas Dewey who used to appear regularly upon VeloVeritas’ pages, having produced some stunning road results in Belgium and West France before wanderlust and love took over from watts and red kites.
Dewey Senior produced a 45:20 to win the Lea Valley CC ‘25’ on the E2/25 on the remarkably early date of April 8th.
It’s the fastest ever ‘25’ by a ‘true amateur’ – Dewey holds down a full time, high pressure job. Marcin Bialoblocki (44:04) and Alex Dowsett (44:29) have both gone quicker but are full time professional athletes.
New Zealand’s Olympic rowing champion turned cyclist Hamish Bond has come close with 45:22 on July 2nd but Dewey is still third fastest of all time – and fastest amateur.
We opened by asking John he felt about professionals being allowed to compete in what is still a very amateur arena.
“It’s fair enough but I’m pretty proud of my ride, it’s a different ball game for me than it is for the pros – I have to juggle commuting, a full time job, kids and try to fit my training in around that.”
The E2/25 must be rapid, 24 rides inside 50 minutes at the start of April!
“It’s on the A11 and A14; it was a good day but it didn’t seem like one at the start with high air pressure and a southerly breeze.
“I’d never ridden it before but it’s known as a fast course and was certainly good for me!
“We took competition team record too, with my teammates Matt Smith (45:59) and Brett Harwood (47:16).
“The course is sheltered and there was a tailwind back – I couldn’t quite believe how quick I was going.”
How did you judge your pace?
“I put in a big winter of training so I know in theory what watts I can ride at.
“I decided to go ‘full gas’ out into the headwind and not hold too much back and try to go into the red with around five miles to go.
“It was a good decision because the last five mile were blisteringly fast – riding on power takes a season or two to get used to but that was a really day for me and I put out my best power ever.”
[We did, of course ask what that power was but it is – inevitably – ‘top secret’ ! ed.]
You have a big job in The City, how do you fit training to go at these speeds in?
“I’m a pretty focussed, disciplined person – I’ve always loved cycling but am at a time in my life now when I decided to really concentrate on it.
“I have the commute, the job, a wife, one year-old and a four year-old at home so training is down to brutal turbo sessions courtesy Matt Bottrill’s training which has me going five minutes faster than I was last year!
“I went with Matt a year ago and I’ve stepped up several levels with his training; it’s brilliant – if brutal.
“I always knew I had a decent engine but needed the specific training to make the best of it.”
Douglas tells us you’ve been in the wind tunnel?
“One of the team’s sponsors is Drag2Zero, aero guru Simon Smart’s company and I spent time with him in the wind tunnel and on the track at Derby.
“The sport has changed so much, you can’t just turn up and knock out the times now, you have to be aero – it’s so important.
“I went from ‘long and low’ to a much more compact profile.
“It took a bit of getting used to on my lovely Giant time trial bike but three wins from four races speaks for itself.”
Tell us about the ‘long socks.’
“We call them ‘calf guards’ – one of our sponsors is Endura and they make lovely kit.
“They smooth the airflow over your legs so there’s less turbulence and they’re said to be worth around three/four watts – all those little savings add up.
[We’ve heard that before, somewhere? ed.]
Can you describe your Giant for us.
“I’ve gone single ring this year, a 58 with an 11 to 28 cassette – a little lighter and a little more aero.
“I’m on an ENVE 7.8 front wheel and a Zipp Super 9 rear disc with clincher tyres.
“I have Ceramic Speed – who are another of our sponsors – bearings in the bottom bracket and run their over-size rear derailleur rollers; again, little savings in watts which add up.
“I run a waxed chain too; equipment has come on so much – it’s an arms race now!”
We were looking at your ‘10’ time, relative to your ‘25’ it’s ‘slow’ at 19:07?
“It’s not a distance I’ve concentrated on; my ‘25’ equates to an 18:08 but I prefer longer stuff – I took silver in the National ‘100’ last season and a bronze in the circuit time trial.”
Your 1:35:56 for a ‘50’ isn’t a million miles from Matt Bottrill’s comp. record of 1:34:43.
“I think that on a good day it’s possible but it’s very hard to target records – there are so many variable involved.”
Your ‘100’ is a 3:25:46; again not so far away from Charlie Taylor’s 3:21:31 comp. record – and what about a ’12?’
“I was second in the National ‘100’ last year and it’s a race I’ve targeted for this year; and I think that on the right day that record is doable, yes.
“As for a ‘12’ a part of me would like to do that in the future.”
[Whilst Charles Taylor’s ‘100’ record stood when we spoke to John about his ‘personals’, Adam Duggleby has subsequently reduced the mark to a startling 3:16:51. ed.]
Goals for 2017, sir?
“I’d like to get some strong results; our team would like the win the national TTT – and I’m after medals in the ‘25’ in August, the ‘50’ in June and ‘100’ in July.
“There are quite a few clashes in the calendar between championships and potentially fast races – I’ll have to pick my days carefully…”