With three wins already under his belt, Nik Gardiner (John’s Bikes RT) will be among the favourites to win the National 24-Hour Time Trial Championship in Cheshire this weekend. Signalled
Gardiner dominated the event from 2004 to 2006, and while he did not ride last year due to other commitments, he intends to return to the top step of the podium.
With last year’s champion Eamonn Deane (Bournemouth Jubilee Wheelers) not riding, a new champion is guaranteed. But how does Gardiner rate his chances?
“I’m optimistic, because I always enter races with the intention of winning,” said the 40-year-old from Bath. “But so many things can happen over 24 hours. This title is like no other national title because it’s so long.
“The 24 is a great event because it really could be anyone who wins. Obviously there are a few names you could pick out, but so much depends on the planning and luck.”
The event at Farndon, Cheshire, has attracted 60 solo riders and three tandems, with the first rider off at 1pm and the last shortly after 2pm.
Gardiner is off at number 55, while last man off is Twickenham CC’s John Warnock who was 14th in the National 100, while Congleton CC will be aiming for the team prize with 44-year-old Neil Skellern likely to be their top man, alongside 44-year-old Karl Austin and Graham Barker, 58.
Starting at 1.50pm is Jose Pinon-Shaw, the Pro Bike Kit rider from Lancashire who won the North Lancashire TTA 100-mile event a fortnight ago.
But with so many factors to take into account, picking a winner for the 24 is difficult.
“In many ways it’s not about how good a ride you do, but how many mistakes you make,” added Gardiner. “There are so many things that can go wrong.
“I’ve often wondered whether success in a 24-hour event is about training or personality, and I’m not really sure even now. One crucial thing is to take it seriously, but don’t be too daunted. Don’t think about the end goal because that can be a real downer – just take it a chunk at a time.
“A lot of people think the night will be the worst, but I actually go well in the dark and look forward to it. It helps you to focus more – almost like riding a turbo because there are less distractions and everything is stripped down in the dark.
“The worst time generally is at about 16 hours, when you’ve for a whole working day ahead of you. That can be a real downer, but again, you just have to stay focused and not look too far ahead.
“There are 101 things to think about: Eating, drinking, rhythm, light, the cold… there’s always something.
“It’s a lottery because there are more things that can go wrong but also more things to plan for and get right, so in many ways it’s still within your reach to finish, just as much as a 10-mile event is.
“In fact in some ways you can cover more eventualities, because if you puncture you have time to sort it, whereas in a ten if that happens it’s game over.”