12Hr RTTC National Championships 2022

Stats: 3rd Lady overall

258 miles – only 5 miles off first place

Marcher Trophy winner – best 12h and 24h combined result in the country

By Joanna Cebrat

Having seen the start sheet for this year’s 12h nationals I didn’t think a podium finish was even possible. My aim was to do the best I can on the day and have “fun”.

I absolutely love the long distance events where both mental and physical fitness play an equal part together with logistics and your team’s efforts to keep you moving.

We arrived on Friday afternoon to explore the area of South Wales near Abergavenny (highly recommended). My partner, Mark Jones, had a nice leisurely ride on Saturday and after that we drove the course. We instantly knew that it was going to be hilly and confusing with even 2 sets of roadworks traffic lights that you passed 4 times … so unfortunately no chance for a new PB.

The weather forecast was also horrible with wind and rain but I had good practice in those conditions on the 24h TT in July so somehow I wasn’t scared of it. My main competitors were ladies I follow on social media and look up to.

The race favourite was Christina Murray from Army Cycling who is a machine with multiple national titles and 24h record of a whopping 490 miles ! She finished 3rd overall, including blokes in last year’s 24hTT!! This year she has been going really well and even attempted a LEJOG record in July, so she was certainly a favourite to win the 12h Nationals even according to the Spindata website, lol.

Also in the competition was the current LEJOG record holder Christina McKenzie who in 2021 cycled across the country in just 55h 17 min… Last time I competed against Christina in the 12h TT in 2020 I finished almost 16 miles down on her, she won on that occasion.

Another name to watch was Pip Jenkins of 1904RT, a former national 12h champ who beat me in all this year’s 100s along with Lisa Davis from Drag2Zero, we normally finish within a few meters to each other but Lisa has had an amazing season full of PBs so she was Spindata’s 2nd favourite to the national title this year.

The remaining female field was strong but beatable.

I set off with a purpose, aiming to hold power numbers agreed with Joe Cadwallader my coach. I was going pretty fast considering the weather conditions, like a rocket up all the hills passing many riders, men and women, I was just sticking to the power targets!

I then realised something was not quite right with the power readout as my heart rate was a bit higher than expected along with my avg speed.

Obviously my power was a bit higher than indicated and I was burning more matches than I should have that I paid for later on. On reaching the first 100 mile at a point where Mark had parked I stopped for the first time for a comfort break and supplies. Mark told me I was 4 min up on Christina Murray and 5 min up on Lisa – I jumped back on the bike not quite believing the stats. Surely he must have had it wrong!?

I was expecting Murray, the Machine! to pass me any time after the 100 mile mark. She started only 8 min behind me. After another lap I spotted the Army Cycling support team standing next to Mark and they were all shouting “you are leading, keep going”!

It was such a wonderful thing to have this support from a competitor’s team but heyho this is the wonderful cycling community and the sport spirit. I still could not quite believe it – a club rider like me was leading in a national event among some top guns! Unfortunately my lead ended after 7h of dominance with a couple of adventures – one of them was avoiding a crash into a tractor that pulled out behind a blind spot that in all fairness could not have possibly seen me. Unfortunately I had no choice but to go into the grass verge where I crashed and bent the front mech which caused issues with the gears skipping and chain dropping to the small ring for the remaining part of the race. Also the chain was rubbing on the front mech. I didn’t realise this until I cleaned my bike after the event – we all know that it cost me watts and a loss of average speed .

After the crash I was heartbroken and fell into a zombie mode. The dream of a rainbow jersey was over. I knew I had lost a lot of time at that point. I stopped for the last time.

Ken Woodward arrived in the afternoon to encourage and watch me suffer. I am not sure I even properly said hello to him – I was in a “zone” at that point. Army Cycling support was shouting something “you should not stop at this point” but I did, and having full bottles made me happy but another 3 minutes had passed and gone with the wind. I rolled around the finishing circuit with mixed emotions in the pouring rain – I could not see anything on my Garmin at that point -my visor was so wet.

I was happy because I gave the top girls a good run for their money and sad that I missed the opportunity of winning 12h nationals in such a company. Both Christinas are riders who won’t stop even once over the 12h – no pee stops, grabbing bottles on the go and just keeping moving. They also wear skin suits. Mark said the Army Cycling could not believe I am in a baggy club top! But heyho! it was a Bury Clarion top in the end – special 🙂 !

After the race both Christinas have congratulated me saying that “I gave them hell” and made them work harder than they expected. They were super friendly, warm and funny… and I am hoping we will push each other to the limit in the future races! The 3 of us dominated the field!
The effort would not be possible without my Mark Jones ! He did a great job training with me and supporting me on the day. My dear friend Ken Woodward was there all afternoon too after finishing work at 1am and driving to South Wales! What a wonderful team to have beside. And of course all that would not be possible without Joseph Cadwallader from 360 cycling who turned me into a “lactate monster” this year and I would like to think this is still a work in progress! I do wind him up a lot in the process and I know he loves and hates it – honestly I do give him hell at times but he is one of my favourite people on Earth and he knows it!