The Tin Can Ten

by | Oct 30, 2023

The Tin Can Ten started sometime around the 1990s.  The following article and linked video is about the event held on 20 July 2002, organised by the Loughborough Phoenix CC under Cycling Time Trial rules.  It was published in the Veteran-Cycle-Club’s bi-monthly magazine, News & Views, which is distributed to all members.  Past copies of the publication are available from the Club’s online library. 

The Tin Can Ten is a fun event organised by the Veteran-Cycle Racing Club for hub-geared cycles. Held on two laps of a Loughborough Phoenix road circuit the distance was actually 10.8 miles.  This video has been provided courtesy of Tony Hadland.  It is quite long and shows the social side of the event as well as the actual race.

“Small wheels were almost the order of the day with seven riders on funny little folders. On the other hand the Tin Can hasn’t gone all modern as witnessed by John Skeavington’s (non-competing this year) 1886 Coventry Machinist’s tricycle at the start and Keith Wileman, correctly attired in ‘Patterson’ rig of plusses, weskit and watch chain, on his Raleigh Cross Frame.

Sartorial concerns are not normally part of the Tin Can, but if Phil Wray’s stars’n’stripes shorts help him go faster (like Mr Cippolini?) then David Westwood’s panama hat must surely have reduced the aerodynamics of the grand old Sunbeam. Weight reduction is a point of interest, so, though Ann Danver’s shopping basket might add a pound or two to the machine, it usually contains something to meet every eventuality … mobile phone yes, but maybe the sun-cream was a misjudgement?

Roger Bugg’s Grose boasted a seat pillar drilled out in the manner of Toni Merkens which he assured us could play tunes in the right wind conditions. A seat pillar of the misbehaving sort clearly gave Chris Thompson some anxiety; riding a machine that’s already a bit on the small side, it can hardly then help to find the saddle gently subsiding on to the top tube, so it was a great effort on Chris’s part to record the time he did.  Andrew Tokeley came close to breaking evens for the first time on his new Moulton and probably would have done but for the chain coming off before the first bend.

There are always some intriguing bits of equipment at our event: Ron Johnson uses Cliff Smith’s old wheels in his Bates in the hope – no doubt – that some of the magic of rims and hubs that have achieved faster times than most of us could dream of will rub off on him. David Lovegrove’s Record Ace has a left hand crank lovingly filed out of a William’s one to match the Raleigh type.  The Sachs Duomatic gear made another appearance this year in Dave Minter’s Moulton… back-pedal to change gear, (look ma no wire!) but be careful not to operate the rear brake, also back-pedal, at the same time.  David used our tough-guy event as a warm up for a 24 hour the following weekend and we hear did a very creditable 373 miles!

Roger Walker’s AW 3-spd was hidden inside a 5-spd hub shell, just to confuse us; if there is more of this sort of thing it may become necessary in future years to x-ray competitors’ machines to be sure nobody is cheating with a small disguised diesel engine. We should add that the Sunbeam bottom bracket gear is epicyclic, so though not strictly speaking a ‘hub’ gear, it is nevertheless quite admissible (broad church, see?)

After a week of warm and sunny summer weather throughout most of the country, it was too much to hope that we would enjoy a glorious sunny day for the 11th and Golden Jubilee year Tin Can Ten. Ominously, the local radio news had reported that Sutton Bonington, on the edge of the course, had had over an inch of rain the previous night, and indeed there were several heavy showers during the morning.  However, the epicyclic gods were smiling on us a little, and everyone got round before a torrential rain burst delayed the results and prize giving by half an hour. Prizes were awarded finally in a nearby stable (empty of horses), although by then everyone was thoroughly soaked! In hot pursuit of the historic examples of Anquetil, Merkx, Indurain and Armstrong, Tony Page collected the Sturmey-Archer Simon Antill Trophy (aka the Tin Can Man) for the third time; Graham Lansdell and Chris Thompson (aka the usual suspects) received Tin Can T-Shirts, as did Cathy Melia for her first ever time trial and the Loughborough Sock went to David Westwood to compensate for his four minute late start. As always we were very grateful to the timekeepers, marshals and helpers of the Loughborough Phoenix CC without whom and in spite of the weather none of this would be at all possible.”