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New cycling race format sees cyclists aiming to ride at exactly 20mph to work around new speed limits

In the unique new event to be held on open roads, the winner will be the rider who completes the course as close to exactly 20 miles per hour as possible, and organisers have come up with some smart ways to keep competitors bang on the limit

With 20mph now the default speed limit on restricted roads in Wales, and other parts of the UK moving to impose the lower speed limit in residential areas to improve safety, it was feared the sport of time trialling on open roads could be under threat; however, a new organisation has come up with a novel cycling format to beat the restrictions, with first prize going to the cyclist who can ride at precisely 20mph.

As road.cc reported in February, questions were raised over how certain time trials could continue where parts of the course restricted motor traffic to 20mph, with top TT riders able to average in excess of 30mph on fast courses. The new Cycling Timed Miles (CTM) organisation thinks it has the answer, as its fun new racing discipline is all about accuracy and restraint rather than speed.

In an exclusive interview, the CTM’s CEO Simon Swatch told road.cc: “The CTM is bringing a whole new dimension to competitive cycling, as the winner is the rider who gets closest to the time target rather than the one who gets to the finish line first. It’s like darts or that one with the stones and sweeping on an ice rink but on bikes, pretty much.

“No GPS computers, speedometers or watches will be allowed on the day, so riders will have to use their inner clock to pace themselves.”

What if participants go over the speed limit, we hear you ask? The CTM has it covered, with a fleet of XL Bully ‘pacer dogs’ on hand.

The dogs, who were all rehomed by the CTM following the recent XL Bully ban, are specially trained to detect bicycle-shaped objects moving at speeds of 22mph or more, ensuring a tough deterrent for riders straying too far over the 20mph target.

“It could even help drivers to stick to the limit themselves,” Swatch added.

“If you’re following a talented rider in a CTM race who hasn’t attracted the attention of the dogs, you know they’re riding at pretty much bang on 20mph.”

With the speed obtainable for most amateur cyclists and the aim of the game being perfect pace judgement, there is no need for age or gender categories in CTM races, Swatch boasting that his new organisation is “the most inclusive going.”

“We’re pretty much uncancellable!”, laughed Swatch, lightly gripping his four snarling pacer dogs.

Despite organisers working hard to devise the new format to be compliant with the lower speed limits, it’s feared that overzealous police officers could see cyclists who go over 20mph at any point in their race, or finish with an average time that is faster than 20mph, as easy targets for enforcement.

“For those who weren’t aware, you can actually get points applied to your driving licence for reckless cycling offences, so we’ll be keeping a close eye on the speedometer during CTM events,” said PC Samuel Stickler.

“And before you accuse us of misusing our resources… well I didn’t make the rules, and many crooks apprehended for seemingly minor offences turn out to be guilty of more serious crimes. A number of CTM cyclists we’ve caught riding at 21mph or above have also been done for sock height and sunglasses under helmet strap offences since we began our crackdown.”

Arthur Boil said: “It’s about time, these bloody cyclists shouldn’t be able to get away with it.

“I saw one go through a red light this morning from the cab of my monster truck, and immediately stopped texting so I could post the evidence to my local Facebook group. It’s high time they had number plates and insurance and paid road tax, or something.”

Despite a heavy police presence, ominous canine threat and complaints from locals, pilot CTM events have proved popular so far, with cyclists relishing the new challenge of trying to keep to a constant speed.

Clarence Claris, a time trial veteran and early adopter of the new format, told road.cc: “I can’t seem to crack that elusive 30-minute 10 mile, and keep coming in with clockings of around 28 minutes. Not meaning to humblebrag or anything, but guess I need to step off the gas a bit!

“Anyway, I’ve currently racked up 13 wanton and furious cycling offences and 17 dog bites from my first dozen Cycling Timed Miles races, am banned from driving and have spent the last three post-race evenings in a prison cell. All things considered, it’s still marginally cheaper and less stressful than doing Ride London, so I’ll go again after serving my latest sentence.”

An Easter Sunday CTM 10 mile event in Gwent yesterday saw the winner Maureen Merida-Speeder clock an impressive 30:12, with Brian Reynolds-Steel taking 2nd place in a time of 30:24 and Ray-Lee Chopper coming 3rd in 30:37. 125 budding 20mph time trial enthusiasts competed on the day, with 53 disqualifications, 27 hospitalisations and 15 arrests recorded.

If you’re interested in signing up for a CTM event, click here.

* Update, noon: Congratulations to all the sleuths out there who clocked (pun intended) that this was indeed an April Fool. Enjoy your bank holiday rides today, however many miles per hour you're attempting to ride at, and watch out for them dogs!

Arriving at road.cc in 2017 via 220 Triathlon Magazine, Jack dipped his toe in most jobs on the site and over at eBikeTips before being named the new editor of road.cc in 2020, much to his surprise. His cycling life began during his students days, when he cobbled together a few hundred quid off the back of a hard winter selling hats (long story) and bought his first road bike - a Trek 1.1 that was quickly relegated to winter steed, before it was sadly pinched a few years later. Creatively replacing it with a Trek 1.2, Jack mostly rides this bike around local cycle paths nowadays, but when he wants to get the racer out and be competitive his preferred events are time trials, sportives, triathlons and pogo sticking - the latter being another long story.  

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38 comments

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mattw | 2 weeks ago
3 likes

I like this - it is exactly how vintage or historic motor events are sometimes run. There's a version called 1/100 where penalty points are received for every 0.01s above or below the target time.

They are called Regulaity Trials.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regularity_rally

Example
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3wopbwbFRM

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PRSboy replied to mattw | 2 weeks ago
1 like

Regularities are actually really good fun... I did one with a friend last year as 'co driver'.  In all seriousness I can imagine the format converting well to cycling as the competition becomes one of skill and judgement rather than speed.

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Terry Hutt | 2 weeks ago
1 like

You can solve the whole 20mph TT problem by tweaking the rules slightly. Everyone rides a single speed beach cruiser, wearing bermuda shorts and bare feet. Unless they can spin at 150 rpm, 20 mph would be out of the question. It solves so many problems.

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mark1a replied to Terry Hutt | 2 weeks ago
2 likes

Terry Hutt wrote:

You can solve the whole 20mph TT problem by tweaking the rules slightly. Everyone rides a single speed beach cruiser, wearing bermuda shorts and bare feet. Unless they can spin at 150 rpm, 20 mph would be out of the question. It solves so many problems.

Carpet pedals allowed?

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Two | 2 weeks ago
0 likes

I presume that this is a bad taste April Fool. Do you really have to drop to the level of the right wing populist voter? The 20mph in built up areas in Wales is not only a life safer it is also popular with the local inhabitants. The press has already spread the myth that the whole of Wales has a 20mph speed limit and that this move is going to kill off the tourist industry. Given that the new limit will save cyclists' lives it seems odd that anyone on your editorial team would think it was suitable.

Perhaps I'm wrong but I didn't think your readership would be made up of GB News watching, white van driving fans of Weatherspoons, the people who might actually find the article funny. Time to grow up?

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Hirsute replied to Two | 2 weeks ago
4 likes

Wow, what a take. Sorry you had a humour bypass at Easter

And for your info

Following the Note to Districts sent by the National Legal Adviser dated 17 October 2023, an informal discussion after the National Council Meeting on 3 December 2023, and further consideration by the Board at its meeting on 4 February, the Board has prepared a new Guidance Note concerning courses which have 20mph limits.
 
The main point to note is that generally 20 mph limits and time trials are incompatible. Most riders travel between 20 and 30 mph.  Riding at that speed is capable of causing public outrage and danger to riders and other road users who will not be expecting vehicles to be approaching so fast. Such conduct could cause the Government to review the existing permission for time trials to take place on public roads, expose riders and organisers and CTT officials to the possibility of civil and criminal proceedings, and invalidate the insurance CTT holds for participants in time trials. 
 
The Board considers that the Rules of CTT have always required riders to ride safely and obey all traffic signs together with the Highway Code and that failure to do so is a disciplinary offence.
There will therefore be an overriding principle that all riders in time trials must adhere to posted speed limits as well as all other rules of the road.
It follows that in order to achieve fair competition, where a course with a section which is subject to a 20mph limit is used, riders must not exceed that speed. Otherwise, the event will no longer be a “race of truth” as a rider who exceeds the limit will gain an unfair advantage over one who does not.
 

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perce replied to Two | 2 weeks ago
3 likes

Is this another April Fool? It's a day late.

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Rendel Harris replied to Two | 2 weeks ago
4 likes

This really shouldn't have to be explained, especially as it is mentioned right there in the article, but just in case: back in February Cycling Time Trials announced that on any section of a TT where the speed limit was 20 mph it was compulsory for riders not to exceed that speed (even though it would not be illegal to do so). This April fool is having a joke about that and the idea of a future where the prize would go to whoever could adhere most closely to the 20 mph limit. It in no way says that 20 mph limits are wrong (road.cc have been consistently in support of such limits) nor is it in any way pandering "to the level of the right-wing populist voter". Your peculiar and poorly conceived outrage is entirely misplaced.

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Hirsute replied to Two | 2 weeks ago
7 likes

Anyhow I love GBnews. How else would I be outraged by the National Trust going woke by making scones without butter ? Or by the CofE going woke with allowing the Lord's Prayer to be said in Urdu when we all know Jesus spoke English and the bible was written in English before we even spoke English in Englaland.

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john_smith replied to Two | 2 weeks ago
3 likes

You are right. Road.cc is a disgusting right-wing rag. Nothing to do with GBNews though. Road.cc is sponsored directly by Moscow, and a lot of the content is penned by Vladimir Putin and Dmiti Peskov personally. It is fake news of the worst kind. As you are probably aware, it has been banned in the EU since 2014.

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chrisonabike replied to john_smith | 2 weeks ago
4 likes

Correct comrade Smith!  In fact, in a former incarnation it was known as road.cccp (itself a rebrand from an earlier German version with a two-letter suffix) and received instructions from Stalin ("why are you writing about bicycles rather than The People's tractors or tanks?  This is your last warning!")

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john_smith replied to chrisonabike | 2 weeks ago
1 like

Indeed. And the original road.ss was initially used solely for publishing updates on Hitler's autobahn construction projects. It had nothing to do with cycling. 

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Clem Fandango replied to Two | 2 weeks ago
5 likes

Wait, I'm confused....   I thought the casuals/ hard working Putinbots had determined that we are tree hugging, Grauniad reading, tofu munching, libtard, wokerati lefties?

Can I maintain my (easy) average speed of 25mph whilst ignoring red lights (unless they are established) now or not?

My head hurts, I'm off to the local Spoons....errr I mean... local trans vegan collective cafe.

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Tom_77 | 2 weeks ago
1 like

My local parkrun used to do a thing where you ran without a watch and tried to predict your finish time. A cycling version of that would probably work quite well.

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chrisonabike | 2 weeks ago
0 likes

For those pining for a "slower time trial" there is of course the hour - the shortest distance you can cover in that time.  (Apologies I think road.cc covered this as well, just couldn't find the link).

https://www.cyclingweekly.com/news/davide-formolo-rides-just-918m-to-set...

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Cyberspy | 2 weeks ago
3 likes

Brilliant idea, but just need a, wider variety of speeds. I'd like a 12mph version to encourage all of us 'less fit' (I don't wanna say 'fat/old f***ers') to get into competitive cycling too!
No need for the dogs - we'll all be peddling as fast as we can anyway!

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leedorney | 2 weeks ago
1 like

I think this would be a good competition actually...

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Matthew Acton-Varian | 2 weeks ago
2 likes

Good one Road.CC!

In all seriousness, an unassisted speed challenge like that sounds like a good skill. Trying to hold a predetermined average speed with no assistance over a set distance would be an interesting concept IRL, sans the XL Bully speed monitors.

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JLasTSR | 2 weeks ago
1 like

If you said that they were cycling between time control points and had to arrive at set times. Only equipment allowed a bike and a stopwatch. This would then be road rallying for cyclists. Then you could have classes for 15mph 20mph 25mph. You could have a timed mile section as well where you had to set a time on mile 1 and repeat it for mile 2 and 3 that could be on flat section. Enjoyed the April Fool though. 

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General Zod | 2 weeks ago
0 likes

You know speed limits don't apply to cyclists, right?

oh, just spotted the date!

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GrandTourer | 2 weeks ago
2 likes

Had me until the XL Bullies.
But the real giveaway was when they used my name without asking permission.

Arthur Boil.

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NotNigel | 2 weeks ago
15 likes

In other news, Lancashire Constabulary and Police Scotland issue a joint statement saying they are going to 'try harder' in all cases involving incidents between motorists and vulnerable road users.

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wtjs replied to NotNigel | 2 weeks ago
3 likes

In other news, Lancashire Constabulary and Police Scotland issue a joint statement saying they are going to 'try harder' in all cases involving incidents between motorists and vulnerable road users

And I have a lifetime membership of  Friends of Lancashire Constabulary

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chrisonabike | 2 weeks ago
6 likes

It's all fun until the first "rotor doping" scandal - with cyclists having perfect pitch tuning their brakes so they can unfairly gauge speed from the rotor rubbing. And how long till someone realises you can also sabotage an opponent's machine so the noise sets off the dogs?

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hawkinspeter replied to chrisonabike | 2 weeks ago
2 likes

chrisonabike wrote:

It's all fun until the first "rotor doping" scandal - with cyclists having perfect pitch tuning their brakes so they can unfairly gauge speed from the rotor rubbing. And how long till someone realises you can also sabotage an opponent's machine so the noise sets off the dogs?

I reckon you need to warp the rotor slightly so that it makes contact once per revolution. Also, smearing a bit of bacon grease onto opponents drive chains would attract the dogs.

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chrisonabike replied to hawkinspeter | 2 weeks ago
2 likes

They could now they won't fall foul of the Bacon Tax.

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john_smith replied to chrisonabike | 2 weeks ago
1 like

In fact you wouldn't even need perfect pitch. You could hook up a microphone to an oscilloscope and get a fairly good idea of the frequency from that.

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chrisonabike replied to john_smith | 2 weeks ago
1 like

Scrutineer would spot it. I would expect it on sale though as an example of "rider gamesmanship" (totally excess for normal rider use) trickling down into the general market, because "it's what the best racers do".

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Pub bike replied to john_smith | 2 weeks ago
2 likes

Someone has developed a ConnectIQ oscilloscope app for the Edge 1040.  You could use that so you wouldn't have to carry any bulky equipment with you.

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chrisonabike replied to chrisonabike | 2 weeks ago
1 like

Incoming news - bat protection lobby "making a lot of noise" about possible disturbance to roosts.

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