It was a “damp and dismal” November morning just outside Foxton as the best tester Britain had ever known climbed off his bike. He’d given the task his best for several hours but with the wind against him, heavy traffic and being forced to run with his bike after taking a chance in storming past a road closed sign, just outside Foxton, South Cambridgeshire, he’d had to call it quits. Ray Booty would not go to bed on that night in 1955 as the new RRA 100 mile record holder as he’d hoped.
We don’t know what was said but we suspect Ted Gerrard, who himself had failed in his attempt a few weeks earlier and was a member of Booty’s support crew, had some words of consolation.
That day, unseen until these photos on these pages were found (see box), would prove a turning point for Booty. He was already a hugely respected time triallist, a national champion and the Best British All Rounder in 1955, the year of these pictures. Prior to the CTT 100 mile National Championship in August 1955 the chances of anyone, but principally Booty, becoming the first man to ride 100 miles (out and back as per CTT rules) in under four hours had become a fixation of the cycling world.
It had, as Cycling reported at the time become “public aim number one” among the nation’s time-triallist for the 100 mile distance was “the most glamorous and certainly the most exacting” of distances. He won the 100 mile title with a record time of 4:4.30. He broke the record by two minutes and one second in the process. No-one was close to him, second place floundering 15.30 down. When he came close again the following weekend with a 4.06.28 talk of a epoch setting ride rose even further.
He went onto his fateful failed one-way 100 mile attempt later that year. But the following year would prove to be something remarkable.
You can read the full article in the January 6 issue of Cycling Weekly magazine, on sale in shops and online now. You can also subscribe to Cycling Weekly and get it delivered to your door every Thursday.
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