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Cammish's Top 10 Testers

I think I might be about to make someone's day here and probably blow someone's delusions of grandeur to smithereens at the same time by giving you all an insight into who I consider to have been the "10 Top Testers of all time". I'm going to limit the listing to home grown domestic time triallists as I don't know enough about what goes on once you've outgrown all that and progressed through to professionalism (as we currently know it) on the Continent where there seems to be an awful lot of evidence stacking up against the credibility of some of their performances. I'm pretty sure everybody's rides over here have always been unassisted though (38 tonne Eddie Stobarts excepted of course….but then I much prefer Army convoys myself!) so that's where I'm going to draw my favourites from…if that's ok with you? Heck…thinking about it..and with all the irrelevant preamble going on here I might be stuck for space, or worse still find you nodding off, so it may be best if I split it up and give you my numbers 10 to 6 this time around and keep everyone in suspense. So, in the time honoured Fluff Freeman fashion…in 10th - Martyn Roach of the Hounslow and District CC. When I started cycling he was one of the real top dogs at the time. OK so there were other BBAR big hitters about and probably others winning more BBARs than him but Martyn resolutely refused to get drawn into all the course chasing that went on at the time and achieved the majority of his successes in National Championships and on local courses. There's no doubt in my mind he could have won the BBAR more than once (1968) if he'd succumbed to all the travelling but he had his own very strong views (and still does) and stuck to them. A real nice chap with a great racing pedigree - ladies and gentlemen Mr Martyn Roach! 9th - John Woodburn - the first BBAR winner over the age of 40 (and still probably the only one..not sure?). John was one of the riders I really looked up to when I started improving (and still do). It was only later that I learned about his exploits other than the BBAR….the Peace Race…. and how good he'd been at the shorter distances too (read his book..it's VERY good!). But what really brings him to the fore in my eyes is his longer distance successes. I remember when he was with the Manchester Wheelers he rode the National 24 and his counting BBAR 12 hour event within the space of two or three weeks…for the sake of the team fgs! I'm not sure if I'd have been prepared to have done that (ok…I know I could NEVER have done that even if I'd wanted to) but it just goes to show the character of the man! Hard, stubborn ba5tard you! Great stuff! But for me, his greatest ride must be his Lands End - John O Groats record (subsequently beaten I know, but his one particularly sticks in my mind because we were both in the Wheelers at the time and it seemed to get a lot of publicity for some reason). I've often wondered how many BBARs an End to End record is worth - I'd certainly have traded a few of mine in for one that's for sure! 8th - Kevin Dawson - eleven BBARs and still counting I reckon! I found it hard spreading my nine over ten years so all credit to him for spreading his eleven over sixteen. I've never quite understood how he hasn't managed to break the 12 hour record though, because he's hammered out so many in the 290s everybody has had him earmarked for a mileage well in excess of 300 for years. I think he's another who is just so stubborn (and hard!) that once he's started he just won't pack..no matter what! I mean....some of his 290 rides have been done in really dire conditions. If I'd started in some of them I'd have packed and saved myself for a better day - not Kevin though! Since he's also held the 50 and 100 records so there's no doubt, in my mind, he's right up there with the best of them. 7th - Pete Wells - This listing might come as a bit of a surprise to some but he was such a great help to me I couldn't leave him out. Ok, so not a multi multi National champion or record breaker but he taught me a lot for sure. I remember going over to Stevenage to train with him during the winter and as soon as we left his house it would be whack..onto the big ring half wheeling each other down the Hartford road (hey…hold on..not half wheeling each other…more him half wheeling me!). For miles this would go on until he'd crack (I was rather stubborn too in those days ;-) ). He'd sit up..say "ok, lets call a truce", and for a mile or so we'd ride along at a more leisurely pace until he'd get his second wind…then it would start all over again. This would go on for the whole ride, so by the time we'd finished we'd both be absolutely wrecked. From being a specialist short distance rider, Pete spread his wings a bit and ventured into the longer distances rapidly gaining a reputation for being a rider who loved cold, wet and windy conditions. I think he won the National 100 one year in torrential rain the day after winning a 50 (might be wrong though?). I can also remember the day he broke the 12 record in the (then) Luton Wheelers event. I rode out watch him start at Biggleswade in the early morning - then went home for dinner. I caught up with him later in the afternoon near Thrapston - then went home for tea. I then got back on my bike and rode out to watch him rocket round the finishing circuit at over 25 mph near Sandy. It dawned on me then just how daunting a prospect the 12 hour was / is. I reckon Pete's got an awful lot to answer for you know! 6th - Ray Booty - a Legend no doubt! Forget his road racing or anything else he might have achieved (3 BBARs, 5 National 100s, 5 National 12s etc), it's THE epic 100 that stands him head and shoulders above the rest. 3-58-28 on 84" fixed for god's sake! It gave me goose-bumps when I won the National 100 the year it went along some of the same roads he broke the record on….to think I was riding where Booty had created history…bloody brilliant! It makes you wonder what he's have done on the current dual carriageways with all the wagons and latest aero gizmos doesn't it? As you'll…ahem…probably be aware we're hoping to be able to answer that during 2009. How much difference do all the aero gizmos make? Visit the site for regular updates on Planet X's Old Skool Series 2009. Better still, (and this is where I cringe cos I rate pretty low on the IT literacy scale!) sign up below to receive "Testing Times" - if all goes to plan (!!!) you'll find further updates there together with race reports (from where I'm sitting!), interviews with other members of the team (if I can ever catch up with them!), product reviews, special deals etc. Come to think of it, what a splendid place to list my top 5 Top Testers of all time ….much more space there! Da dah…got there in the end!
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2 November 2008

Comments

  • ianc

    That 100? Surely the most astonishing time trial ride of all time? Let alone the 80s!

  • Alan Fisher

    I rode the junior BAR in the mid eighties, was minute man to Guy Silvester for his two tens when he won in 85, Chris Boardman was 2nd in both of those events, but won in 86, there were a lot of riders in junior bar those years taking a mention here, Colin, Gethin and Chris, we were all very competitive, over the short distances, some very close to the top seniors, the most astonishing time trial ride in the 1980s however has to be that 100 which opened our minds to the idea that 3h30 might one day be possible, I am sure they will agree one of our great idols is being very modest here, non cycling friends when I told them would look at me in disbelief and provoke responses like "on a push bike?" or "I struggle to do that in my car!"

  • Stuart Kirkham

    Alf Engers, Dave Dungworth, Derek Cottington, Stuart Dangerfield, Michael Hutchinson, Randy Allsopp,Ian Cammish, Kevin Dawson, Sean Yates, Charles McCulloch. My Top 10. I could do a top 20 or 30. Iv'e included Chas because he is the No.1 Time Triallist in Cheshire & the fastest rider of his age group in Britain.

  • to55er

    Yes...Dave was good wasn't he? What happened to him? He seemed to get to a certain (very good) level then just disappeared. Any idea?

  • old codger

    Hello Ian, one of my favourites was big Dave Smith all though we lived near each other and became good freinds ,the first time i saw him was on the "J" course about 1985 in an event in which you your self won.The reason for the nomination is that no matter what event he entered he always gave 110% and you could see it in his facial expression. Cheers.

  • to55er

    Blimey...hello Ann. Great to hear from you. Colin was one of my heroes you know. I always marvelled at how fast he was.... on the track especially (although I remember having the privilidge of getting in to a few road race breaks with him too...bloody awesome!!). Tell me...when he was riding as a pro at Leicester in the Nationals (when it was on TV one year) did the other Pros tell him to stop making them look silly...because he looked so fast and comfortable he was running rings round them all? I hope you're well...is there any chance of mailing me his email address buy any chance... I'd like a short "chat" if possible. [email protected] God bless!

  • Ann

    Hullo Ian how many Ann's do you know Ian ..no not Ann Illy but Ann Sturgess , Ann and I are good friends from our racing days in the 60's which dates both of us doesn't it ,nice to make contact with you . Colin was always impressed by you ,the way you spoke and treated him .. I have noticed how your riding has continued through the years ...like your assessment of the top ten TT'ists. Ann Sturgess

  • Ian Cammish

    Is that Ann....as in Ann Illingworth?

  • Ann

    Matt Illingworth now lives in Perth Australia ,still doing Ironmans and raod races . Think you will find Colin Sturgess was one of the last to ride "a bog standard road bike " and break comp record ...no tri bars or discs but he had taken his bottle cage off. Shame he never had time to break the 25 mile record held at that time by the great Alfie Engers . I know he could have done it but National committments limited his TT riding .

  • to55er

    Strikes me as being a nice chap too.

  • colin

    richard prebble wasn't bad.. He always used to turn up for the mid week club time trails around Cheltenham back when he was winning championships, the younger guys always a bit in awe. Maybe not just the young..

  • joel

    Hahaha , maybe you should have done top 20 eh? You'll never please everyone and even if you list top 100 you'll still have missed someone out!!! You should be in the top 10 though Mate, there's room in there for you somewhere!! I don't know a few of your mentioned but you're still on the go n going strong plus there's all those batty straight out records you have as well.Good luck with it Fella.

  • Playtex

    Plonker ? To55er? Trying Times ? What sort of Emporium are you running here ? And thats Mr Plonker to you......

  • dave

    Not only limited to planet x team riders , anyone can write - well be getting some guest writers for sure , hopefully the likes of Ben Instone , Dave Brailsford , in fact anyone - its going to come togethor in January . Until then Ian - post your top 5 !!

  • to55er

    The Testing Times....talking of which.. (hopefully) it's going to be a monthly magazine / fanzine to include race reports (from the team...god help anyone who signs up then!!), blasts from the past features, great rides from the past, my heroes (well not necessarily mine...could be Sams, Mark's, Dave's etc!!), top tips from members of the team, scandal, gossip etc with something from any one of our team members...could even be Wayne (love that...what makes him go so fast eh?). Anything else anyone would like in it...let us know! Bear with us though...bit busy at the moment putting lots of lovely "SL Pro Carbon - Dura Ace Build Unbuilt C18 Crazy Offers" in boxes. Do sign up though.......

  • to55er

    You have to sign up to receive Testing Times to find out you plonker!

  • Playtex

    Come on, i can't stand the suspense any longer ! Who's top five ???

  • Playtex

    Yep. Met Eileen a couple of years ago. Think she was 81, but her mind was sharp as a pin. Probably sharper than mine was when i was 20..... Still interested in the racing scene as well. Nice lady.

  • to55er

    Still turning in some cracking bike splits so I understand?

  • Dr assos

    Yes matt's in NZ he's been doing Ironman events and looking at the talent !!

  • to55er

    My own top ten hasn't been based on sheer speed or number of wins.....personally I think there are a lot of different elements that make a top time triallist. As far as I'm aware Alf never rode anything (time trial wise) over 50 miles but without doubt he was such a character he'll figure in a lot of people's listings. You're right in what you say Dave....I certainly wouldn't rate myself very highly. When you've ridden with the likes of Daryl and Yates you're bought down to earth with a very big bump and I've still got the bruisings on my arse to remind me just how good I was! Good to see other "nominations" being put forward too. Yes Lee...Matt Illingworth! Fast or what? He's in NZ now isn't he? And the pocket rocket....really nice lady often seen on the social circuit. Broke just about every record on the RRAs books. Ah...RRA records..you baiting me Playtex?

  • Playtex

    What about the "pocket rocket" Eileen Sheridan....... ?

  • dave

    If we allow bonus points for character , spirit and genius -, then youd have to move obree and engers right up the field , looks like Ian youve not left any place for yourself ? or maybe you are exercising your fifth amendment , however based on your 5th place in the 1984 Chesterfield Spire Christmas 10 well , we can understand your relctance to proclaim yourself a great , thought we all know even better men were further down the field that day riding their 60cm pearl white guerciottis. 1st Burton 2nd Obree 3rd Engers 4th Boardman 5th Hutchinson

  • Dr assos

    Obree forgot about him Thing about Boardman ,Hutch not the characters like Alf ,Obree Cammish ,Lloydy ,Webster

  • Playtex

    Obree,Booty,Boardman,Yates and Hutch.......

  • Dr assos

    Webster now he was quick won Nat 25 loads and good for a wind up but like Alf the RTTC must have wondered what he was going to say next Mr Tosser you've got to put yourself in there too the 80's Wow !! Top 5 Alf , Cammish , Webster , Yates , Hutch other ones include Dangerfield and my mate Matt Illingworth

  • Playtex

    Remember seeing Yates at the Redmon, the bloody veins in his legs were bigger than my legs ! His brother, Christian, was down at Thanet last year, riding fixed. Someone said he was riding 125" gear. He had a pretty standard tubed frame. Needless to say, he pi55ed over everyone on that day. There, that should start Cammish off on his "Old Skule" rant again....... : )

  • to55er

    Yes….excellent! (Both Gethin and Lloydy). The Anfield record was broken by Andy Bason earlier this year btw…although he probably wouldn’t have beaten it without the use of tri-bars, disc wheel etc. Quite how much difference they all make remains to be seen…..roll on Planet Xs old skool series eh?

  • Bernard

    Has everyone forgotten the mighty talent of Dave Lloyd? He may not've been one for the mega distances but won nearly everything he ever entered, still holds the Anfield 100 record and probably still holds pre-tribar records for 10 and Circuit of the Dales etc etc. All-round animal and his sparring with Mr Cammish raised the profile of the sport greatly.

  • shedster

    Lets us not forget the mighty talents of Gethin Butler

  • to55er

    And yes Mr Playtex…Yatesy was fast too. He was another (in the early 80s) who turned up at Sawtry. I was in awe! He was huge…his legs were like bloody tree trunks and I couldn’t believe how fast they went round…like ruddy pistons. He didn’t get selected because he “was a bit of a liability not knowing what team timetrialling was all about!” When you see it first hand at such close quarters (hung on their wheels dreading when they’re going to swing over so you have to try to go through on them) then you really do appreciate just how good these guys are!

  • to55er

    Good to hear your views Stuart – everyone’s different and everyone has their own reasons for having their own favourites….so I doubt (m)any people’s top 10 would be the same. Good to see you mention Daryl. We were good mates in the early 80s and he helped me in team time trialling. We (the short listed BCF team) would regularly met either on the A1 at Sawtry or the A604 (now the A14) near Bar Hill. I remember one evening in particular Daryl was “on fire”. He virtually picked the team himself by giving the ones he didn’t want in the team a hard ride. Going up past The Trinity Foot near Swavesey he was on the front… and just went faster and faster. One by one we all slipped off his wheel until he was charging off into the sunset all on his tod!! Afterwards, he just grinned and said “I was going pretty good tonight wasn’t I?” That was FAST! Yes..he was fantastic! I see he contributes to Cycling Weekly’s forum board so he’s still about and showing an interest too..which is good (still as controversial as ever though :-) )

  • Playtex

    Went down to the Redmon 2 up in Surrey a few years ago, watched Yatesy and Wiggins break course record despite being held up in traffic. Now that was impressive !

  • Stuart P

    Great stuff Ian, for what it`s worth my vote for pure speed and class goes to Boardman and Obree, for mind blowing talent and determination Beryl Burton but my favorite has to be John Woodburn. Fifty years at National level, eveyrthing from the 25 to the 24 hour and still going strong week in and week out. One of the biggest thrills I`ve had in 30 years of riding a bike was being caught by John in an event earlier this year, a hilly course in appalling weather I may add. The man is a legend and must be as hard as nails. I wish I had the nerve to ask him to sign a photo I have of him. Also Webster, Booty etc all fantastic riders. Plus Mr Cammish, I`ll never forget your 100`s in the early eighty`s inspirational stuff. I`ve got a photo here of you in your prime that I will have to get you to sign some day.

  • Playtex

    Your No1 is No4.......Of that i'm sure. I'm a poet and i didn't know it : )

  • Ian Cammish

    Someone's got my number 1! Could be Stephen. Could be Playtex. Could be....urm... Andy!

  • Playtex

    Obree has got to be in there. Anyone that rides 25 miles to an event with a turbo trainer strapped to his back, warms up on it, races, and then rides home with it on his back again has got to be top five.

  • andy

    Rushes off to sign up to the "Testing Times" to see if I even get a mention. No?? Maybe next year when I manage to break the magic 20mph barrier on my Pompino.

  • Ian Cammish

    Warm...but not hot Stephen.

  • Stephen Nightingale

    Awww Ian, you leave yourself open to all sorts of gratuitous second guessing. Top 5? Alf, Boardman, Yerself, Hutch and Beryl. You might consider the intriguing prospect of all time top team of three: I vote for Cromack, Smith and Watson of Clifton CC. They got team and/or individual records for everything (but the matter of Alf's 25, and the 10 which wasn't yet on the books).