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  5. Episode 10: “Rebecca's Record”

Brother UK Cycling Podcast – Episode 10

Episode description

Rebecca Richardson is the special guest in this tenth edition of the Brother UK Cycling Podcast. Rebecca’s hill climb prowess has made her a familiar face to Brother Cycling’s followers (she’s the reigning Welsh hill climb champion, after all). Now, she’s added another string to her bow: setting endurance records.

Rebecca joins co-hosts Timothy John and Phil Jones, the Managing Director of Brother UK, to discuss her new women’s record for the Brecon Beacons Circuit: a gruelling, 104-mile

loop with 6,500ft of climbing. Rebecca completed the course – which includes an ascent of Black Mountain – at an average speed of 20.7mph.

Rebecca reveals the genesis of her attempt: a quest for renewed motivation in the depths of lockdown. She describes her preparation, equipment choices, nutrition strategy and liaisons with the Road Records Association: an institution whose history can be traced to its foundation in 1888. Revealingly, she describes her fears and satisfaction, too. 

Phil shares his emotional response to the demands of his #TOB1DA challenge: a feat that saw him ride the entire course of the 2018 Tour of Britain, one day ahead of the race. He gets

geeky with Rebecca, too, quizzing her on data and equipment in a “techy time out”.

Tim offers insights into drivetrain friction from his work with one of the leading lubricant brands and, with Rebecca, explores the importance of adventure, the challenges of pacing and the similarities between cycling’s hill climb and endurance communities. He even shares his difficulty in pronouncing the name of Welsh village, Bwlch!

Listen now to enjoy a lively conversation that covers a range of topics, from the technical requirements of Rebecca's record-setting ride to its emotional demands. From aerodynamics to pre-ride anxiety, gear selection to roadside support, this episode explores every aspect of a gruelling cycling challenge that demanded speed and endurance.

 
 

 

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Episode 10: Rebecca's Record

Episode contents

  • 00:02 – Episode introduction
  • 00.36 - Coming Up
  • 01:53 – Part One: Inspiration And Planning
  • 14:16 – Part Two: Techy Time Out
  • 20.20 – Part Three: Highs And Lows, Nutrition And Pacing
  • 32.20 – Part Four: Aerodynamics, Rolling Resistance and Drivetrain Friction
  • 41.32 – Part Five: The Road Records Association
  • 48.24 – Part Six: Social Shoutout

Transcript

Timothy John – 0.03

“If your passion lies in elite British road racing and you want an inside line on the teams, riders, organisers and sponsors that make this sport such a compelling spectacle, you’re in the right place.

“I’m Timothy John and joining me for every episode is my co-host, the Managing Director of Brother UK, Phil Jones.”

Phil Jones - 0.23

“Thanks, Tim. It’s great to be here. We’re going to use this platform to talk about all the key issues surrounding the sport. With special guests, deep dives into hot topics and plenty of chat, we’ll keep you informed about all things UK racing. Stay tuned!”

Coming Up

Timothy John 

“Coming up in this special edition of the Brother UK Cycling Podcast to celebrate a record-setting ride from Brother UK-sponsored Rebecca Richardson. 

“We learn why aero is everything when you’re planning to ride more than a 100 miles at an average speed faster than 20mph.”

Rebecca Richardson

“I was asking everybody, the real aero geeks: ‘What do I do?’ Anybody wanting to do an attempt, they just need to look at the aerodynamics. How can they best improve their chances of [increasing] their average speed? That’s what it’s all about.”

Timothy John

“We discover how a little encouragement goes a long way with riders engaged in gruelling endurance challenges.”

Phil Jones

“In 2018, when I did the Tour of Britain, One Day Ahead, I can recall, here’s me, a grown man in my fifties, seeing another grown man in his fifties  at the side of the road and me bursting into tears.”

Timothy John

“And we gain fresh insights into cycling fundamentals like nutrition by considering food through the eyes of an athlete seeking fuel for the ride.”

Timothy John 

“It’s interesting to think of nutrition in those terms; purely in terms of fuel. We think about anything that we digest in terms of taste and flavour and enjoyment or the opposite. Actually, to think, ‘We don’t want too much fat in this because that will slow the absorption of carbohydrate’ - that’s as very distinct perspective.”

 
 

Part One: Inspiration And Planning

Timothy John

“Hello and welcome to this tenth edition of the Brother UK Cycling Podcast. Today, I’m joined by my co-host Phil Jones, the Managing Director of Brother UK, and by a familiar face with a new cycling record to her name. 

“Rebecca Richardson, since we last spoke, has established a new women’s record for the Brecon Beacons Circuit, certified by the Road Records Association, and if that sounds like a

mouthful, well, the difficulty doesn’t lie in describing the challenge, but in riding it; specifically, in Rebecca’s case, in riding 104.5 miles at an average speed of 20.7mph. 

“Rebecca, thanks very much indeed for joining us today. I mean, where to begin with such a gruelling endeavour? You’re known as a hill climber, of course, so what inspired you to take on a solo endurance challenge?’ 

Rebecca Richardson

“Hi Tim. Yes, I’m mostly known as a hill climber, but my background is more long distance. Growing up in Wales, you just end up riding the lanes, riding big miles. Also, I did a bit of touring back in the day; back in 2015. 

“During the lockdown, we’ve not really had many races. Hill climb season is the tail end of the year, and I just felt I needed a bit of a challenge to get me through some difficult times in January, when we had the lockdown. It enabled me just to find the mental courage to get on the turbo. By doing that, it had a positive feedback loop, and that, really, was what lay behind the challenge.”

Timothy John

“So you’re turbo training, trying to get yourself through lockdown. I remember you telling me earlier, that you’d got to four hours, which was a leap in itself, and then you were thinking of something even greater on a turbo trainer when the Road Records Association was suggested to you.”

Rebecca Richardson

“Yeah, definitely. I think a lot of people can probably understand when I say that getting outside is my therapy. When it was announced in December that there was going to be a lockdown, it was a bit of a shock to me because I was going to have to stay indoors to look after my son, do my work and somehow try and do my exercise, so, initially, getting on the turbo was just really awful for me. I was mentally dragging myself to that machine and telling myself just to do one hour.

“Once I’d accomplished a week of this, I realised that something really weird was happening, and I was actually starting to find some mental solace on the turbo. I realised I was able to

switch off and numb the anxiety of the stressful situation. I found that I was starting to do more hours on the turbo willingly. 

“Eventually, I did four hours of my own accord and enjoy it. Through this process, I realised that so many other people were going through mental challenges in the December and January lockdowns. 

“It made me think about how much I’d accomplished in getting on the turbo and how much it had helped me find new energy, and I just thought: ‘It would be great to do a challenge that promoted mental health. 

“Initially, I thought about doing a 12-hour turbo [session]. I sent Jonathan Schubert a message. Jonathan Schubert rode the fastest ‘100’ last year. You might have heard of it. He did it through the Road Records Association. He’s also a national 24-hour [time-trial] champion, so I thought, ‘Who better to ask about a 12-hour than Jonathan Schubert?’

“I mentioned it to him. He said, ‘Great idea, but how about a circuit record with the Road Records Association?’ I thought it was a brilliant idea: a long-distance event that was in Wales, on my home ground, in my local county and would give me that extra impetus to keep training on the turbo, and behind the scenes maybe I could do some engagement with my

sponsors and the local kids club and just try and have a positive impact.”

Phil Jones

“Rebecca, can I just ask a quick question? When you’re doing these four-hour sessions on the turbo - and for anyone who does turbo sessions, normally they are the thing you like the least - what were you doing for those four hour? Are you using a training platform, watching Netflix, or cranking out a part of a training plan that’s prescribed for you?’

Rebecca Richardson

“Doing both. I’m on Zwift, which is a platform. I signed up to do a 200km endurance ride. That was getting me onto the turbo at a specific time, because they always have a set start time. Also, it was in line with my training plan. It combined two factors: my training plan and a platform. 

“On those longer rides, you get quite a committed amount of the Zwift community, and they have a great messaging platform, so while you’re riding, people are communicating, and I

found that really helped.”

Phil Jones

“I read a really interesting article recently in the New York Times, written by an organisational psychologist, and he coined the phrase ‘languishing’, which is about these people who, in this whole lockdown period, are sat in the middle somewhere. They’re not mentally unwell, if you see what I mean, but they’re just feeling a bit foggy. 

“It sounds to me that, by creating this goal, what it’s done is cleared that fog and given you a clear objective to get stuck back in and find a purpose for your training and to get up and

out of bed everyday to crack on and do those turbo sessions.

“We can all identify with the fact that it’s not always easy to sometimes drag yourself to the garage or the outhouse and crank a session out. You need the motivation of a wider goal to aim for.”

Rebecca Richardson

“Definitely. It sharpened my mind, for sure. I had a lot of high-pressure work on at the time. My brain was not ready for it. It was interesting. I had a chat with my coach about two months prior to January time. I said: ‘I’m not sure what’s wrong with me, but I feel that I’m detraining.’ He said: ‘ That can’t be right, because your data says that you’re fine.’ I said: ‘No. I think I’m detraining in my brain.’ 

“He said it was interesting that I’m not the only person who’s experiencing and vocalising this kind of thing. The only way I can describe it is if I go to climb a hill and make some big effort, there’s something that missing. Something that I’m not committed to. My brain isn’t activated to race; to have that sharp, aggressive side to me. This challenge I feel really helped

to get me excited and ready for racing again. Is that what you mean?"

Phil Jones

“A hundred per cent. At the end of the article, he said: ‘If that’s you, start getting some short-term objectives in place, some mid-term and long-term objectives, and start to work towards those i.e. create some momentum in your life, however small, to begin to take the baby steps back to feeling out of the fog. 

“I think that’s probably the best way to describe it, rather than trying to over prescribe it or over analyse it: ‘I felt a bit stuck and now I’m sort of unstuck.’

Timothy John

“How much of ‘emerging from the fog’, Rebecca, lay in the sense of adventure that comes with an outdoor record attempt and particularly with a circuit record attempt? We know that you’ve previously been the Welsh 12-hour time-trial champion and that [attempt] was conducted on a dual carriageway where I’d imagine the sense of adventure was pretty low. 

“This was a s circuit around the Brecon Beacons, up the Black Mountain, along the Heads of the Valleys Road: a real sense of adventure. How inspiring was that for you?”

Rebecca Richardson

“Yeah, totally. I think Phil’s really right. You’ve just got to get back to basics and, without knowing it, that’s what I was doing. I was finding something that was intrinsically exciting for me: the chance to get to race beautiful roads. It was almost as if someone had said to me: ‘Create your ideal race course in your home county.’ Many aspects of this route had those parts to it, like Black Mountain and the Bwlch. 

“I felt I was living vicariously the life of a WorldTour pro rider: getting the opportunity to go up and down these beautiful mountain roads and call it a race: a race against the clock.”

Timothy John

“And all of the planning and logistical side of it: Phil, you’re no stranger to endurance riding either, having done the Tour of Britain One Day Ahead in 2018. These are things that don’t come together overnight. There’s a big logistical component, which I guess builds that sense of anticipation, builds the sense of adventure as much as the physical side.”

Phil Jones

“I just want to refer back to the podcast that we did with Rebecca and Adam [Kenway]., when we specially talked about the hill climbing community, and I remember how lit up they were they began to talk about specific climbs and the planning that they were going through to know exactly what effort would be required to win, taking into account wind conditions, atmosphere, tyre pressure, road conditions. I was amazed by it all. 

“So when I heard about this challenge that Rebecca was undertaking, I just imagined if she was like that on the hill climbing, I wondered what she would have been like with this particular record. So come on, Rebecca, you’d better come clean: how detailed was your planning spreadsheet for this particular attempt?”

Rebecca Richardson

“I want to say I just got on my bike and went!”

Phil Jones

“We don’t believe you!”

Rebecca Richardson

“You know otherwise [LAUGHS]. I couldn’t have planned it as detailed as some of those [hill climbs].

“But you know, Phil, from that tour event that the logistics behind…How many days did you do when you did the tour event?”

Phil Jones

“Well, that was eight days with all the transfers in between. It was really significant and took me months to sort out, in all honesty. I was really taken by what you needed to do because you’re against the clock. You have to consider logistics. For example, where Liam has to feed you. You have to think about your nutrition, the road, roundabouts, all of these things that are going to trip you up along the way.  So I just wondered how deep you went in that planning phase about the schedule you wanted to ride to on the day?”

Rebecca Richardson

“Yeah, pretty detailed. When I initially looked at it, I probably spent a week or two in a flurry, form-filling, checking courses. I questioned so many people. As you can imagine, I took a deep dive. What is the RRA? How do I do long distance? I listened to podcasts. I went through every single episode of the RRA podcast trying to determine the attributes of a long distance rider. 

“That was the initial, high level stuff I was trying to do…Liam’s my coach, so I could totally trust the planning to him for training. Then, about three months out, I was already practising

my nutrition [strategy].

“Choosing which bike to ride took ages. I didn’t even know which bike I was going to ride until the Saturday before the attempt, which is bonkers, although I knew it was going to be ok. It’s just a crazy time at the moment for getting parts. It all came together on Saturday.

“About a week before the attempt, when I knew I was going to go for it, I thought everything was in hand, but it took me about another three days solid just putting together the final

details. But that’s just me. I think some people would just get on their bike and ride. 

“I did a plan of every single segment of the ride and what I expected to achieve from that segment, even if it was just holding back and not going too hard. I had cut off points in my head if I was to reach a target time.”

 

Part Two: Techy Time Out

Phil Jones

“At that stage, Rebecca, I’ve got to take a quick ‘techy time out’. It’s ‘techy time out’ time. Your bike, your set-up, your gears, your wheels, your tyres, all that: just give us a very quick run down, will you? I know you rode your Specialized, didn’t you? Did you go with an 80mm on the back and a 50mm on the front?”

Rebecca Richardson

“I think it was an 80mm and a 60mm.”

Phil Jones

“80, 60, back, front.

“Gear wise, what gears were you running?”

Rebecca Richardson

“On the front, I had a 53-39.”

Phil Jones

“Ok. And the back?”

Rebecca Richardson

“Cassette: 28-11.”

Phil Jones

“So 39-11 was your climbing gear, effectively. Alright, I’m going home, Tim, because I have to ride 34-32 most of the time when I’m climbing. Kudos, Rebecca!”

Timothy John

“I’m wincing, Phil, just listening to this!

“Having dealt with the detail, let’s just zoom out for a minute on the bike, because there’s an interesting strategic point, isn’t there? You were allowed, you were permitted to use a time-

trial bike, but you chose not to because, actually, what you’re hoping to do with this record is inspire a few people along the way. Tell us a bit more about that.”

Rebecca Richardson

“Yeah. I think the real, honest answer is that I don’t have a TT bike!”

LAUGHS

“On the flip side, I could have borrowed a TT bike, but there were a couple of things about that. Firstly, if you borrow a TT bike, you need to use it for a couple of months before. I’m not a big fan of borrowing someone’s precious TT bike for two months: wear and tear. 

“And then, beyond that, what are my goals for the rest of the season? I want to road race. I want to do the hill climbs. It wouldn’t have made much sense for me to spend two months on a TT bike, where you’re adapting your body to that geometry. 

“And when I thought about it, I thought: ‘Well, actually, I’d like to show that these attempts are totally accessible on a road bike.’ The circuit challenges are really new. Some of the

haven’t been contested yet, like the Brecon Beacons. It’s really open at the moment. The standard times are definitely achievable on a road bike, as I’ve just proved!”

LAUGHS

Timothy John

“You’re being pretty modest here, because you were actually faster then the first male attempt, which was made on a time-trial bike.”

Phil Jones

“Yes, because, secretly, you wanted to do it in just under five hours didn’t you, Rebecca, I seem to recall? I think [your record] was 5.03, so it’s clearly very do-able for you.

“When I was looking at this as an ordinary person and thinking: ‘Riding a hundred miles on flat Cheshire lanes in five hours would be a problem for me,’ but you rode over 100 miles…was it 103 in total?"

Rebecca Richardson

“A hundred and four.”

Phil Jones

“A hundred and four, but with 6500ft of climbing within those 104miles, and I was thinking: ‘Goodness me, I would be out on the road for about 10 hours doing that sort of distance.’

“So, I think for people who are ordinary riders, people like me who do things at a weekend, the average speed that you achieved to do that: 104 miles in just over five hours. Does that

work out at 22mph? Is it in that range? What was your average speed?”

Rebecca Richardson

“Well, my average speed was 20.7mph. Those four extra miles were a bit of a tricky one. In my head, it was 100 miles, five hours. But it’s not. It’s 104 miles. If you think a ’10’ might take you 30 minutes when you’re pushing along. That’s almost like an extra 15 minutes. 

“I’m really happy. I’m not going to lie. I’m really happy with that average speed. I’ve never done that distance over that elevation that fast, so it’s kind of what I wanted on the day, really.”

Phil Jones

“I can only imagine, Rebecca. I’m still trying to target 20mph average speed on a flat, Cheshire lane, let alone in the Brecon Beacons!”

Rebecca Richardson

“I wish there hadn’t been big stops on the roundabouts, and there was one set of traffic lights where I was literally unclipped, having a drink. I feel like I want to go again and do a 4am start and miss all the traffic.”

LAUGHS

Timothy John

“How much confidence did you take going into the record attempt from your success in winning the Welsh 12-hour time-trial title? I know they’re not directly comparable, but you’ve taken on an endurance challenge that requires a high average speed. Was that a useful banker, psychologically?”

Rebecca Richardson

“Not really. That 12-hour was horrible, if I remember. It was the worst event I’d ever done. I sold my time-trial bike after that. It was the hottest day of the year. It was 30 degrees. What was that really hot year we’d had? 2018. 

“I knew I’d won after six hours, because [my competitor] had quit, but I had to finish it. By that point, it was just a case of turning the legs for six hours. This challenge was different because I was trying to put out some power and wanted to perform for the whole duration. 

“But what I did take comfort from was the fact that I’d raced  a lot of National Road Series race, and they’re quite long and quite attritional. I knew I could do it, thereabouts.”

Timothy John

“And was it a more satisfying experience all round? The Brecon Beacons Circuit, I think would have demanded far more from you as a rider: descending and cornering and all that kind of stuff, rather than simply riding up and down a dual carriageway for 12 hours. Did that give you a greater sense of satisfaction?”

Rebecca Richardson

“Definitely. I’m much more of an adventurer. When I look at the 12-hour, I did it because I was interested in the Trans-Continental Race. I thought: ‘Well, I’d better do a 12-hour first.’ This was about three weeks out from ever thinking about doing a TCR. In hindsight, I thought I would’ve been better off doing a point-to-point: a journey race, an audax, or something like that, rather than riding up and down a bypass. I’m massively in awe of anyone who can do [a long-distance time-trial] and keep mentally motivated. Very difficult.”

 

Part Three: Highs And Lows, Nutrition And Pacing

Phil Jones

“Talking of that, Rebecca, did you have any mental highs and lows during your attempt? What was going on in your mind? I’ve heard you talk about being very emotional at the end. Going through those five hours, did you have any lows that you had to push through?”

Rebecca Richardson

“The lows came the night before, really, because of the local restrictions that we had in place. The weekend before could have given me an opportunity, but I’m sure you know yourself that once you start travelling, it really starts telling on your body. 

“I decided to leave it to the Saturday. We drove the 100 miles. At that point, I got onto the A465, which is a bypass. I hadn’t realised how steep it was. I got back to the Airbnb, and I was a bit teary. I was saying: ‘I don’t know if I want to do this. I don’t even want to do this.’ I was massively worrying that I was even going to get to the six-hours standard time, having seen

that bypass. 

“In the morning, I woke up at 5am, and my first thought was: ‘I don’t want to do this.’ But then I got on the bike and everything settled down straight away. I was really anxious about the bypass. I knew it was going to be a busy road. I’m really rural. I live I the countryside. [The bypass] was really noisy.

“But when we got onto the A465, the hilly one, everything cleared off all of a sudden. There was construction work. The whole bypass was empty and pretty much available for me. I relaxed. All I had to deal with was this massive climb that I had to get up. 

“After that, you get onto this really weird section with a diversion, which has been in place for a few years now, where you go onto a single track lane. It’s all potted and rutted. Cars are coming the other way because of a diversion. I was trying to squeeze past cars. At one point, I had [very little] space, which is weird because I was dead worried on the bypass, but that

kind of stuff I was totally familiar with because it was like back lane riding. 

“It was just really weird. I was like: ‘How can I be scared of a bypass but not of a car that’s given me four feet to get by?; That was the only low I had, Phil, in that respect.”

Phil Jones

“The voices of doubt that we all have. That’s just being human, isn’t it, that those voices appear in your head at big moments. 

“And tell me about the moment, Rebecca, because I thought it was so lovely, when you saw those people at the side of the road: that ‘filled you up’, as I recall, as you came to the end

of the attempt. There were some people at the side of the road cheering you on.”

Rebecca Richardson

“Yeah. As I came towards the 10-miles to go marker, towards the end, you go up a climb called Bwlch. Tim, I think you’ve had problems pronouncing the word, Bwlch!”

Timothy John

“You can tell I’m a writer, can’t you? You get away with it in print! But, yeah, thanks for that. Bwlch. I’ll bank that for future reference!”

Rebecca Richardson

“Bwlch is a village that sits on top of a hill. You approach it from a mile or so, and you think, ‘Oh gosh, I’ve got to get up there,’ but I knew my friends were going to be there: Heather and Ben, who’d driven down with their kids, all the way from home - a two-hour drive, just to wave to me at this point. 

“I didn’t know for sure if they were going to be there. Also, it’s the last climb, before a fast, nine-mile finish. As I got to the top, I saw them all and waved. Their kids, Gable and Jess, were there: Arthur’s best friends. As I created the hill, I started crying. It made me really, really emotional with happiness. I don’t know why that’s the case because I knew they were

going to be there. 

“It’s just such a lovely thing to do: to drive all that way. I wouldn’t expect anybody to do that. It was really touching.”

Phil Jones

“I think, particularly, probably after the year that we’ve all had. This was an outlet for you, wasn’t it, Rebecca? This was your thing after that very difficult period that you had had, and I guess all of these things suddenly come into view when you put in such an effort, and you have this connection with someone that you know, as you’re coming to the end of it. I can only imagine it. If it was me, I’d be feeling quite emotional; quite stirred up by that moment in time.”

Rebecca Richardson

“Heather and I…She’s a mum at the school. When the lockdown finished last September, we said, ‘Hey, shall we just get together after school, once a week, from school and go for a walk with the kids, and it was really just to get the kids together because they hadn’t been able to play together, and also just getting them outside because they’d been stuck inside quite a lot as well.  We did that every week. We only stopped at Christmas time - well, just before the Christmas lockdown, because it got too dark. 

“When I saw them as I passed them, what made me so emotional is that I thought about Heather and me doing something for the kids each Wednesday and now here was Heather doing something for me, and I felt really emotional about that.”

Phil Jones

“It’s really touching, Rebecca, thank-you for sharing that with us, and I can really identify with that. In 2018, when I did the Tour of Britain One Day Ahead, I was doing a stage that went through Worksop, and I knew somebody who lived in Worksop. They messed me the night before and said: ‘I’ve taken the afternoon off work, and I’m going to stand by the road and see you. I remember being three or four miles out of Worksop, and I broke off the front of the bunch that we had. I said: ‘Let me ride forwards a bit.’ 

“I can recall, here’s me, a grown man in his fifties, seeing another grown man in his fifties at the side of the road and me bursting into tears. What it was, I’d felt that I’d been putting out such an effort, physically, the fatigue was starting to build. We’d had many days of being on the bike and then the transfers every day between destinations. 

“And then, suddenly, it was seeing somebody you know, who you have some built up story with, and then suddenly they appear at the side of the road, and it just sort of opened up the

well, so I can really identify with the moment you saw your friend.”

Rebecca Richardson

“Yeah, that’s really nice. It sound really similar: somebody from outside of your bike community who’s reaching and connecting to you. They’re not doing it because they’re bike fans. They’re doing it because they’re your friends, and they want to support you. Thinking about what you just said, that sounds like what is going on there.”

Phil Jones

“I think it was a touching act of human kindness at a time when, perhaps, we all appreciate human kindness, and those events become amplified, perhaps even more so now. In 2018, it was probably just me feeling a bit depleted. It’s a really touching story. 

“I wanted to ask you about food and nutrition. What were you eating, and what were you drinking? What did you need to get this done?”

Rebecca Richardson

“Well, you need quite a lot of carbohydrates. I don’t really know much about nutrition, in terms of on the bike. You think you know a lot, but putting it into practice is really difficult. About a week before, a friend of mine, Andy Nicholls, who’s also a nutritionist, said: ‘Do you want some advice?’ I said: ‘Yes, please.’

“We got it down to a nice strategy, where we had half my hourly carbs in a bottle; so, liquid carbs. And the I had a Rice Krispy cake, you know, like crispy squares, the Kellogg’s ones? And then I had a gel with about 90g of carbs. 

“You don’t really want to have fat, because as soon as you put fat in there, it slows down the digestion of carbs. Your muscles are using glycogen. You can get glycogen from carbs, Anything that slows that reabsorption back into your system is going to slow that absorption of carbs back into your system is going to impede your muscles working, so that worked

really nicely. 

“I did feel really sick, actually . Obviously, drinking and taking in 90g of carbs [every hour],  by hour three-and-a-half, I did start to feel really nauseous. Even if you feel sick, your body or your muscles don’t know that. They still need those carbs! I thought: ‘As long as I’m not physically sick, I’m going to keep eating and drinking,’ and that worked.”

Timothy John

“It’s interesting to think of nutrition in those terms: purely in terms of fuel. We think about anything that we digest in terms of taste and flavour and enjoyment or the opposite. Actually to think: ‘We don’t want too much fat in this because that will slow the absorption of carbohydrate,’ that’s a very distinct perspective. 

“I wanted to ask, Rebecca, because we often hear Grand Tour riders, don’t we, and particularly from riders who win from a breakaway with a stunning, solo effort they say: ‘I had good

legs. I knew I had good legs today, and that’s why I attacked.’ Did you have that sense on the ride? And, if so, what stage?”

Rebecca Richardson

“I never had that sense of good legs. The day before, I knew my legs were fresh, and I knew that because I was doing my warm up and I was having to hold back. For the first hour-and-a-half, my legs were fresh. I had to hold back on Black Mountain.

“But after that, I never really felt like I had an extra push in me. I never got tired, as such. I think I paced it quite well because the fatigue just very slowly built up on me. Never, at any point, did I feel that I was having to ‘pedal squares’, and when I say ‘pedal squares’, it means cramping up and everything’s going. 

“But at the very last drag, about 200m from the lay-by where I finished the course record, I put in a bit of a dig, probably the first one of the whole attempt, and within a minute, my legs were totally destroyed. At that point, I thought I’d paced it so well, because I was on the line for quite a long while. If your legs pack up that quickly, it’s a sign that you’ve put in a good

effort.”

Timothy John

“How hard was the pacing aspect? I mean, coning back again to your 12-hour time-trial, if you’re on a pan-flat dual carriageway with no scenic disruption, no reason to get up out of the saddle, no corners, no oncoming traffic, I guess all you’ve got to think about is pacing and your on-bike computer, but when you’re riding over undulating terrain, to say the least - 6500ft of climbing in this ride - when you’re constantly changing position on the bike, when you’re dealing with all kinds of environmental aspects - roundabouts, traffic lights, oncoming traffic, all that kind of stuff - how hard is it to keep an eye on pacing?”

Rebecca Richardson

“Pretty hard at the beginning. You’re trying to hold back. Actually, the bypass was probably the hardest part for me. It’s not terrain that I particularly like: big wide roads the go on forever. Because of that, I was in that aero position for…I think I was in the aero position for about an hour-and-a-half. After that, I couldn’t change up into my big chainring, because the nerves in my hands and become a bit trapped with the pressure of riding on the ‘drops’. Mechanically, my body was not enjoying that so much. I had a bit of pain in my hip, which apparently is your hip flexors: they get a bit tired because you’re in that aero tuck position. 

“That prolonged position in the saddle - that would have been about the three-and-a-half hour mark - and then as soon as I got back onto the country roads, the really ‘rubbish’ road, it was like a new release of energy. It was a familiar type of riding for me, and after that I was fine.”

Part Four: Aerodynamics, Rolling Resistance And Drivetrain Friction

Phil Jones

“Rebecca, kit wise. Did you go with normal bib shorts and top, or did you go with your skin suit?”

Rebecca Richardson

“Skin suit. There are massive aerodynamic advantages. Anyone wanting to make an attempt, they just need to look at the aerodynamics and how they can best improve their chances of that [high] average speed. That’s what it’s all about. 

“I had a road bike, but I spent a good…Again, we talk about that research aspect, Phil. I listened to all the aero/TT podcasts: there’s a time-trial podcast and obviously one from the

RRA. I was asking people who are real aero geeks: what do I do? 

“Aerocoach has information available on their website about bottles. I had a bottle on my seat steam because that’s the most aerodynamic position, and that research is out there. I had some ‘trip’ socks with Velotoze shoe covers. Apparently, that’s a very fast combination. The Velotech suit I had has been tested and has done really well in tests, so I felt pretty happy with my Brother skin suit. 

“I decided to go pure road in the end. I did also buy some clip-on bars and practised with them, but in the end I decided to take a different slant with the road bike and ended up going with a standard set-up. I bought an S-Works Evade helmet, which is one of the fastest out there, so, yeah, I did a bit of research.”

Timothy John 

“The tyres you were using, Rebecca…You know, I often think that the tyres are the most overlooked component of a bicycle. It’s literally the only point of contact between you and the road, and you had some very fast tyres for this attempt.”

Rebecca Richardson

“Yeah, rolling resistance of a tyre on the road is a massive factor, as are dry or wet roads. I even read that a moist road, a damp road, can be faster than a dry road. I was having all of these conflicting amounts of research that I was listening to, in terms of what do I do and when do I go. I decided I wanted dry roads for cornering. The tyres I had were [Vittoria] Corsa Speeds. I think the tubeless 25mm Corsa Speeds have been tested as one of the fastest in the world, which is why I chose to use them on the day. 

“When I typed in the rolling resistance of that particular tyre at the pressure I wanted to ride at into the algorithm on My Windsock which is a piece of software where you can analyse how fast you might expect go at a given power output, weather conditions and kit and position, the rolling resistance of the tyre seemed to play a massive part in changing that outcome,

so I made sure to have it on the day.”

Timothy John

“Did you practice with any of your race day set-up, or did you keep everything in reserve in the hope of a psychological boost if nothing else?”

Rebecca Richardson

“I practiced with the wheels that my friend leant me. It was a bit of beg and borrow situation. She had a lovely set of HED wheels. I wanted to proactive with those. She also had a disc wheel, so I practised with that. I practised with a clip-on handlebars versus being in the drops. The only thing I didn’t have was a full skin suit, so I was hoping that would give me a slight mental boost on the day.”

Phil Jones

“Rebecca, dare I ask about your power output? Can you recall what your peak was, your average was, your normalised was? Just for the geeky listeners out there who like to hear such things.”

Rebecca Richardson

“Yeah, my normalised was 197w. I changed power meter the day before. I ended up using a Dura-Ace crank power meter, where normally I use the PowerTap pedals. Based on the performance I put in and the average speed, it would suggest that maybe they were slightly under-reading, but let’s just say I think that was a good enough round figure there. I think max output as about 300w. I never really went very hard on the ride at any point. 

Phil Jones

“That’s all about power to weight ratio there, isn’t it? If I was pushing 197w, Rebecca, I’d end up going about 17mph average on a flat road. How trained you are, your weight and I guess all of your hill climbing experience, really came to the fore on that type of circuit. That hilly circuit leant itself very well to your riding style and physique, I guess. 

“So does that mean that in future you’ll be looking to target other RRA records with similar profiles across the country? Are we going to see as great a success for you with RRA records as we’ve seen in hill climbing?”

Rebecca Richardson

“That would be nice! 

LAUGHS

“I can tell you the news, Phil, that I’ve bought back my old time-trial bike.”

Phil Jones

“Ooh! Ok! So things are getting serious again. Right, ok!”

“So what is your time-trial bike? Tell us quickly about that.”

Rebecca Richardson

 “It’s a really old, Giant Trinity TT bike, and it’s the same frame that Jonathan Schubert used to record the fastest ‘100’. When I found out that, I thought: ‘Oh, I really wish I hadn’t sold that time-trial bike!’

“I sold it to a friend of mine and he decided that he is not going to be racing for the foreseeable future. He’s got a bit of an injury. He literally told me a week ago that he was going to sell this bike, and I thought: ‘No! I can’t let it go!’ We just can’t get bikes at the moment. It’s a bit weird, but I’m buying it back off him.”

Phil Jones

“That’s a great omen, isn’t it, that the universe has brought that back to you. That can only be a good thing. So what’s the set up on it? Does it have a disc wheel? What sort of group are you running on it?”

Rebecca Richardson

“It’s got a disc wheel and a 50mm front wheel. It’s a pretty fast bike. I think the fastest ’25’ I did on it was a 53.53, so it can shift. I’m going to make some improvements to it though. 

“I definitely want to play around with the body position. I always felt there was a bit too much gap between my hands and my face, so I want to get some more upright bars. Groupset-

wise, I think it’s a combination of Ultegra and 105, but I’m going to change all that. 

“I’d hate to admit it, but it’s  going to be faster. I kind of say that because you don’t want to have to buy a TT bike, because you think, ‘Does it really give me speed?’ But all of that drag is coming from your body, and if you can get your body down and stay in that position…And then the components. Having things like hidden brake calipers really does help. 

“So, in answer to your question, I might go for some more [records].”

Phil Jones

“There are low cost watts you can acquire and then there are high cost watts. When you look at that scene, you can go down a rabbit hole in terms of how far you go, because ultimately it’s only really as big as your wallet and as big as your budget. Some people are investing tens of thousands [of pounds] in their entire set-up, from skin suit right the way through to the CDA of the bike right. Wind tunnel testing and all these sorts of things. 

“But I think you have all the raw ingredients, effectively. Once you’ve got the physical capability, then get the technical capability and tweak that as much as you can. At a certain point,

when those two marry together, it will make a fairly formidable set-up  for some of those RRA records moving forwards.”

Rebecca Richardson

“We had a waxed chain to improve the efficiency. We didn’t have bar tape. We just had electrical tape to try and wrap everything really tightly. They were the main things. We were just trying to make it really efficient, mechanically. 

“Like I said, I did all that research. You can save a watt here, or save a few watts here, and that can be a lot, particularly in your drivetrain efficiency. Moving into the future, I’d always

focus a lot more on that: where can I make those ‘easy’ watts? Save those watts. I say without getting too geeky, but it is all about getting geeky, isn’t it? 

LAUGHS

Timothy John 

“The savings in the drivetrain are unbelievable. I did a lot of work for Muc-Off last year, and they have PhD-qualified scientists who work in a field called tribology: the science of friction. All of them said the sheer complexity of the bicycle chain leaves everything else for dead, really,. It moves in different directions at the same time. Part of it is slack while part of it is under tension. Part of is fixed, within the link, while the other part is revolving .There are so many different factors to take into consideration before you begin to formulate the lube.

“So huge amounts to be gained there, and, of course, they worked with Brad Wiggins when he broke the Hour Record back in 2015. They made pretty much a silent chain which played a significant part. 

“More prosaically, let’s talk about the RRA: proper, grassroots cycling and that, of course, is Brother’s calling card in the sport: the company and Phil, through the sponsorships, they really try and give back really trying to create platforms to perform that support the sport at the grassroots. And it doesn’t come much more grassroots than the RRA, so tell us a bit about them.”

Part Five: The Road Records Association

Rebecca Richardson

“Yeah, actually I was thinking about Muc-Off: that is the lube we used. They claim it’s the fastest lube out there.”

Timothy John

“Yeah, I spent last summer trying to cling on with my fingertips to what their scientists were telling me, so I could write about it. But, yeah, they’re the real deal. There’s some proper science there. But, yeah, the RRA: tell us about them.”

Rebecca Richardson

“Yeah, they’re a really old organisation, going back to the 1880s, actually. You did have the National Cyclists Union then. They were pushing in the 1880s to put all racing onto the track because there was a lot of friction between horses and carriages and cyclists.”

Timothy John 

“We’re not talking drivetrain friction here, are we? A different type of friction!”

LAUGHS

Rebecca Richardson

“No. We’re talking horses and carriages and really heavy steel bikes. There was a legal case where a woman’s horse was frightened by a bunch of people racing past on their bikes. She put in a legal case and they banned road racing. I think it was in the lanes of Hampshire, but that extended across the country. 

“There was a lawyer at the time who worked out a loophole because they say you’re not allowed to ride together in a bunch, but there’s no reason why you can’t ride by yourself and just time it, which is where we got time-trialing from, but it was all a bit undercover. You had a secret code for where you’d go and meet, and that’s where Cycling Time-Trials gets its

coding from. 

“But, actually, the organisation that was really at the forefront was the RRA, which was set-up to ratify this new form of racing that was the time-trial. We still have the ’10’, the ’25’, the ’50’ and the ‘100’, although the most popular now are the Cycling Time-Trials courses, but then they also ratify all the long-distance rides, like John O’Groats to Lands End, Edinburgh to London, Cardiff to London, the ‘side-to-side’: all the big, long-distance records in Britain that you can think of are officiated and ratified by the RRA. 

“They have a resurgence every now and then, and I think now we’re heading into one of those periods. In 2019, they brought in six new distance records, which are the circuit records. They’re based in six national parks. You have to have three or more checkpoints and then they are ratified by the RRA. If you break the record, you will be in their record books until

they finish, whenever that might be.

“It’s a really grassroots organisation, I think, comprised entirely of volunteers. I was really surprised. Most of them are retiring or past retirement age. When I touched base with Brian Edbrook, the General Secretary based in London, I had about six people contact me, volunteering to come and help me on the day.”

Timothy John

“You had a chap called Doug Gale come along and help you on the day, I think. What role did he play?”

Rebecca Richardson

“Doug was the officiator. He sat in the van with Rick and kept time in accordance with my schedule. You’ve got to write out a schedule. Your schedule has got to be, depending on the course - mine was 104 miles and I had 13 points along the route, and I borrowed a schedule, kindly loaned by Chris Gibbard who’d done the event in September. 

“Now I know a bit more. This is hindsight, gained after the event, I now know what a schedule is and how useful it is for the timekeeper. Every time you go past a key point, it could be a roundabout, but something that has a definite point to define against. You would have said what you expect to have done by that point in the event, in terms of timing: from zero to ten, I think that’s going to take me 30 minutes. 

“So if you’re there in 25 minutes, he reports back to Brian: ‘She’s five minutes up.’ He then reports to Mike Broadwidth, who’s doing the Twitter feed, who Tweets: 'Rebecca's five

minutes up.’ It starts to create a picture for the timekeeper and anyone else who’s shown an interest in the event. 

“You do get enthusiasts who come to see the event. They'll have the schedule printed off, waiting for you to go past, and the excitement is: ‘Is she up or is she down on her schedule?’ The problem was that I got my schedule slightly wrong in that I expected to do 10 miles in one minute on my schedule! That really threw Doug. It was a massive mathematical error to estimate that I would ride 10 miles in one minute. 

“And then he’s just checking to make sure that we’re not doing anything out of hand, like getting drafts or following a car or taking a sticky bottle!”

LAUGHS

Timothy John

“You mentioned Rick. He’s your partner, he’s a formidable hill climber himself and a mechanic.”

Rebecca Richardson

“Yeah, he’s my partner, he’s a mechanic, and he’s a really good hill climber. He’s really into it. He’s into cycling, full stop. Not just cycling but the whole scene; the history of it. He and Doug got on very well. Two enthusiasts!

“Rick will help out with the team. He’ll drive the team car, as a friend. He’s just one of the bunch of people who really enjoy being involved with cycling, and he’s a great person to have around on a day like that.”

Timothy John

“Just following on there, Rebecca: you were telling us about the Road Records Association, a very grassroots organisation. You told us that Chris Gibbard had shared his schedule with you. That you’d been in touch with Mike Broadwidth. It does seem to have that same community spirit as the hill climb. Would that be fair?”

Rebecca Richardson

“Definitely, yeah. With the hill climb scene, as soon as you get involved, you’ll find that there are loads of people want to contact you and say, ‘How about you try this? How about you do this,’ offering help; going, ‘Why don’t you go for that hill?’ I was really amazed to find another community like that in the RRA. 

“I think I’d call them ‘long-distancers.’ They’re just absolutely fanatical about doing crazy challenges. Mike Broadwidth is the current Lands Ends to John O’Groats record holder. He’s a maths teacher, a family man; he’s got two kids. It’s just insane what he did. He kept dropping hints for me to do a 24-hour and Lands End to John O’Groats. I’ve only just done a five-

hour ride. I’m not sure about 24-hours!  

“They’re just a different breed, but then you ‘d say they’re the same breed because hill climbers are fanatical as well, only about going up hillsides. I’ll have to choose which camp I’m in now, because they don’t quite marry up well together.”

 

Part Six: Social Shoutout

Timothy John

“Well, look, Rebecca, thanks very much indeed for joining us today. It’s been fascinating to hear all about the attempt from the inside. 

“Let’s finish in our normal fashion. We also round up with what we call the ‘social shoutout’, so Rebecca, let’s start with you. If people wanted to follow you on social media - on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram - how can they do that?”

Rebecca Richardson

“Twitter is @RRA_Design. That’s my business, not the RRA! And Instagram is @bocs_richardson.”

Timothy John

“That’s B-O-C-S underscore Richardson. That’s brilliant, thank-you.

“Phil, where can people find you on social media?”

Phil Jones

“Yeah, the best place to find me is probably on Twitter. For cycling-related matters @roadphil. If you do have a bit of business in mind at any time, you can find me @philjones40: four-zero, that is.”

Timothy John

“And if you’d like to follow Brother Cycling on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, you can find us @brothercycling, all one word, on all three channels.

“Rebecca, Phil, thank-you very much indeed for joining me today. Thank-you very much indeed for listening, and stay safe.”

INTERLUDE

Phil Jones

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