Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Martin Pyne – National ’25’ Champion in 1981


HomeInterviewsMartin Pyne - National '25' Champion in 1981

He’s ridden somewhere around 2,000 races, of those he’s won 820 ‘open’ and 51 ‘club’ events.

He broke Sean Yates‘ 10 mile TT record and held the 30 mile TT record for a decade.

He’s ridden for Great Britain at the Worlds.

And perhaps what he’s best remembered for: he was British 25 Mile Time Trial Champion in 1981, relegating ‘super tester,’ Ian Cammish to second place. 

A decade later he was still fast enough to take the bronze medal behind ‘chronoman supreme’ Chris Boardman in the 25 mile title race in 1991. 

And he NEVER changed down a gear.

Mr. Martin Pyne.

Martin Pyne
Martin Pyne was 25 Mile TT Champion in 1981. Photo©Cycling Weekly

Martin, your first race please?

“That would be the Kent Division Schoolboy Road Race Championship in 1970 when I was about 12 years-old.

“I was DNF – my next race after that would be a club time trial.” 

The one everyone remembers you for: the National ‘25’ in 1981, memories of that day?

“Good memories, I was pretty confident going into it, I’d broken the ‘30’ record the weekend before with 1:0:11 so I knew my form was good.

“I’d beaten all the main contenders for the ‘25’ that year, except for David Akam but on the morning he was DNS.

“The race was on the A14 and A10 and I couldn’t get myself to hurt that day; but I’d eased off into it so was fresh and rested, Ian Cammish was second, 50 seconds back, our Breckland squad won the team too.” 

You broke the ‘10’ and ‘30’ records in 1981 too.

“I took three seconds off Sean Yates’ ’10’ time in a Saturday night event on the F1 course. Our Breckland team broke the ‘10’ team record four times between 1980 and ’81.

“But there’s a bit of a tale about the ’30’ record…

“Minutes before the start a Transit Luton van hit a rider and he was trapped beneath the vehicle, I witnessed it, ran over and helped lift the van off the guy so he could be dragged out.

“The incident was on my mind all the way round but when I looked at my watch at 10 miles, I thought to myself; ‘I’m going all right here.’

“I finished with 1:0:11 which took almost two minutes off the late Roger Queen’s 1:2:07 previous best.”

Martin Pyne
Martin Pyne sought an aero advantage where he could. Photo©Phil O’Connor

Most of us remember you as a CC Breckland man but you actually changed clubs a few times.

“Yes, before the Breckland I was with VC Norwich.

“I was with VC Slough for a couple of years after Breckland then went back to Breckland but then I joined Polytechnic in 1988.”

You’re best remembered as a short distance man but did you ever ride a ‘100’ or 12 hour?

“I rode three 12 hours and finished two; the first one was in 1976 when I was only 19 years-old and did 232 miles, my best was 262 in 1991 which got me sixth in the BBAR.

“I also rode several 100’s during my career with a best of 3:50:22.”

What were your short distance personal bests?

“The 19:41 when I broke the record was my best ’10;’ my best ‘25’ was a 49:31 which I rode just a few weeks before I won the National ’25;’ the ‘30’ was the 1:0:11 when I set the record.

“There’s a bit of tale with my 1983, ’50’ too; I was inside John Watson’s 1970 record of 1:43:46 with a 1:43:00 but Dave Lloyd had finished before me in the same event, the Otley CC ‘50’ on the V153 course, with a 1:40:52 so my ride didn’t count as the record – but then Ian Cammish came in with a 1:39:51 to record the first ever 30 mph ride over the distance and I became the third fastest ever 50 miler at that time.”

You rode the Worlds in 1979.

“I don’t have very good memories of that one, two laps up and down a motorway.

“The BCF held a series of test events to select the team that year, which was Bob Downs, John Patston, Joe Waugh and me.

“I went off at 70 kilometres but had probably done too much early in the day, the team finished with 2:6:54, which was the fastest ever by a GB team at that time, but way back in 17th position behind East Germany.”

Tell us about your training.

“I used to ride a heavy, 24lb bike with panniers and a dynamo on 72” fixed wheel, I’d ride 12 miles to work then 25 miles home all during the season – I did that for 15 years, around 250/300 miles per week.

“But I had a bad crash on that fixed bike and went back to riding gears for training.” 

Martin Pyne
Martin Pyne joined the Polytechnic CC in 1988. Photo©supplied

Did you have a coach?

“I only ever had advice from one person, that was Stan Turner, I met him at a training seminar and he gave me a schedule to follow but was the only time you could say I had ‘coaching.’”

Did you always work during your cycling career and are you a family man?

“Yes, I’ve been a fibre glass laminator since I was 18 years-old. I used to work on the body panels for the Lotus Elite sports cars, just now I’m working on aerodynamic body panels for lorries.

“I’m 66 years-old in four months so will be retiring then, I’ve been married since 1987 and have three grown up daughters – and I’m a grandfather now.”

I remember you had some radical bikes.

“I used to ride a Baines, ‘Flying Gate,’ which were built by Trevor Jarvis, they had an ultra-short wheelbase which made them very lively and responsive – that meant they probably felt faster than they actually were! 

“I still have it in the shed.

“And the late Mike Burrows built me a ‘mini-bike’ in 1986; that had a 24” front wheel, it was fast but took a bit of getting used to.”

Martin Pyne
Martin Pyne’s 24″ front wheel time trial machine. Photo©Richard Clarke

You were always a man for the big gears.

“I rode 57 x 12, that was the gear I set my competition records on, I’d start in the 16 sprocket then, ‘bam!’ into the 12 sprocket and I never changed down, headwind or not.

“My team mate, Richard Bradley used to call me, ‘The Animal!’”

Did you ride the road?

“I did when I started with VC Norwich and then later in my career too – I remember a spell where I had six second places in road races on the trot, I just used to wind it up from a long way out…”

And are you still racing?

“My last race was in October last year, a local ‘10’ on the A 143 in East Anglia.

“I’ve had health issues, a heart valve doesn’t close properly, it’s ‘leaky’ and I’ve had ankle problems with ligaments and tendons, it’s frustrating because my foot moves around and I can’t pedal like I used to – there are people beating me who normally wouldn’t.”

Your finest hour?

“The national ’25’ win, I beat Ian Cammish by 50 seconds – and he was a great rider.” 

If you had your time over and could do anything differently?

“I wish I’d ridden more road races but apart from that, no – I won what I wanted to win.”          

With thanks to Phil O’Connor for the featured image.