Travellers' Tales: CTC's Veteran Triennial

In June 2016, Julie Rand took part in South West London CTC’s Triennial Veterans’ ride

I’m riding along a busy country lane in Surrey on the squeaky bike I use for commuting, my audax bike being indisposed. The rain is falling in biblical torrents, bubbles forming as it splashes into the puddles at the roadside. I can just about make out my cycling companions as they round the next bend yards in front of me, a blur of bright colours in the gloom.

I’m taking part in a century ride for over-50s. This is meant to be fun, I remind myself. Then I get my second puncture.

I’ve never ridden so far, so fast!"

Julie Rand

But by the afternoon, the downpour stops, an apologetic sun shows its face again and, after a very brisk 40 miles post-lunch, I start to believe that I will make it back to base before the 12-hour time limit expires. This is in no small part due to the support of my new riding friends, who kindly wait for me at every junction.

They might be older – at 55, I’m the youngest in my group – but they’re extremely fit, their steely calves testament to the many riding miles they’ve amassed. All of them ride good quality road bikes.

The Tri-Vets rides are part of Cycling UK tradition and date back to 1928. As the name suggests, they take place every three years throughout the country, and participants can test their stamina over 100 miles or 100km. The oldest finisher in South West London’s 100-mile ride is an 82-year-old, a near-90-year-old dropping out at lunchtime due to the severe weather.

By late afternoon, the gorgeous, rose-strewn Surrey villages seem to be whizzing by – I’ve never ridden so far, so fast! – and we complete the last mile together. The welcome sight of more cake than even hungry century riders can do justice to is our reward, as well as an enormous sense of pride and satisfaction.

I just hope I’ll be fit enough to tackle the next Tri-Vets ride in 2019!

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