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Tandemonium with Janet Birkmyre

Janet’s lap of honour from the Masters Track World Champs

Janet Birkmyre

My enthusiasm for all things ‘bikes’ often gets the better of me and it has got me into trouble on more than one occasion, but this time it’s serious.

The thing is there are just so many ways to enjoy bikes; cross country, downhill, road, track, BMX, tandems, racing, time trials or just exploring the countryside and it’s all good for you!

On this occasion, I had been riding my track bike at Newport Velodrome and it is always such a rush; the sound of the boards, the feeling of speed, the ultimate purity of riding one gear and having no brakes. Then Courteny Rowe, the manager of the velodrome and a respected coach, was talking about having some fun, putting some girls up to try to set a new national record on a tandem and I heard myself say ‘I’d love to do that’. Without hesitation Courtney replied, ‘great, I think you should try for the 5,000m record with Hannah Manly’.

Immediately, a dissenting voice inside me was questioning my motivation, but hey, if Hilary can climb mount Everest simply ‘because it’s there’ then ‘just because it would be fun’ seemed a good enough reason to go for this.

There was one little voice however that seemed to have something worthwhile to say. It was the one that told me I had never ridden a tandem before. That assumes we can discount the few minutes spend riding a cross country tandem round a car park, the day after I got married and four years ago now. This tandem was a gift from my parents, who decorated it with flowers and just married banners, and then presented it to my husband and I during the speeches. It is a testament to their generosity that they did not think us ungrateful when we sold it to buy my first track bike, which opened up a whole new world of fun and bikes.

So will we do it? I really don’t know. I do believe that national records do not come cheap and so it will definitely be challenging. We need to beat 7:04 minutes and I have until 16th May to get some more training in and also, crucially, learn to ride a tandem. I am off to Newport on Friday 5 May to get together with my partner in crime and hope that her experience will make my job as pilot (riding on the front) as easy as possible for a Tandem Virgin.

  • Date: Tuesday 16th May

  • Venue: Newport Velodrome, South Wales

I will let you know how it goes, but for now I would like to thank the following for generously donating funds to cover the cost of drug testing, should British Cycling chose to do so, if they don’t then the Dave Raynor Fund will no doubt be very grateful for the donations:

  • SheCycles.com – dedicated to everything that is ‘women’s cycling’ but I guess if you are reading this you will already know that. www.SheCycles.com
  • Evans Cycles – the largest independent cycle retailer in the UK, voted Best British Bike Shop in 2003 and 2004 and a solid supporter of all disciplines of biking at all levels. www.evanscycles.com
  • Natures Kiss – distributors of a rang of all natural sports/muscle rubs from New Zealand that offer pain relief, sooth bruising and tired muscles and protect you from chafing, in short they make cycling altogether more pleasant. www.natureskiss.net

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