British Best All-Rounder

British Best All-Rounder

The British Best All-Rounder (BBAR) competition, organised by Cycling Time Trials, is an annual British cycle-racing competition. It ranks riders by their average speeds in individual time trials, over 50 and convert|100|mi|km|-1 and 12 hours for men, and over 25, 50 and convert|100|mi|km|-1 for women. There are similar competitions for under-18s and teams of three. Qualifying races have to be ridden between April and September.

Certificates are awarded to men better with 22 mph (35.5 km/h) or faster and women averaging 20 mph (32.25 km/h) or more. The junior speeds are convert|23|mi/h|km/h|0|abbr=on and 21 mph (37 and 33.9 km/h). Competitions modelled on the BBAR are organised within UK regions, and for over- 40s.


The BBAR was announced by the magazine "Cycling" on 4 April 1930. It offered an annual trophy valued at £26 and a shield to be held for a year by the winning team.

Time-trialling had been the staple of British cycling since the National Cyclists' Union (NCU) had banned massed racing on the road in 1888 as a reaction to police objections it feared would threaten all cyclists.cite book| last=Messenger| first=Chas| authorlink=Chas Messenger| title=Ride and be Damned| publisher=Pedal Publishing| location=Harpenden| year=1998| pages=151| isbn=9780953409600] The NCU wanted clubs to promote races only on tracks, or velodromes, but they were too distant and local groups began organising not the massed races that the NCU banned but individual competitions against the clock: time trials.

British cyclists came to see time-trialling as the purest form of competition, free as it was of the tactics of massed racing. But there was no reliable way of seeing who was the best all-rounder, over all distances and across a season, because difficulties with travel meant not all riders could take part. The BBAR overcame the problems by allowing riders to compete where they chose and then register their performances. According to time-trialling historian, Bernard Thompson: "It was probably the best thing that has ever happened to British time-trial sport, even to this day.""Alpaca to Skinsuit", Bernard Thompson, Geerings of Ashford]

The first winner

The first winner was the south Londoner, Frank Southall, riding for the Norwood Paragon club. He averaged convert|21.141|mi/h|km/h|3|abbr=on and won again the following three years. After his fourth consecutive win, 7,000 cyclists watched at the Royal Albert Hall in London as Southall signed the "Golden Book of Cycling" during the BBAR prize-giving concert.

Change of ownership

The BBAR competition was suspended during the war. It restarted in 1944, promoted not by "Cycling" but by the time-trial administrative body, the Road Time Trials Council (RTTC), today known as Cycling Time Trials.

British cycling was by then in a civil war, with the NCU's ban on massed racing having been thwarted by a new organisation, the British League of Racing Cyclists (BLRC). Both the RTTC and "Cycling" had campaigned against the BLRC, still convinced massed racing threatened the sport as a whole. But the editor of "Cycling", H. H. "Harry" England was so upset that the RTTC had taken over the BBAR that he changed sides and began reporting BLRC races.

After the war

The 1944 BBAR recognised that few riders had been able to train as they had and averaged speeds over 25, 50 and convert|100|mi|km|-1. Twelve-hour races would also have been hard to organise because, said Bernard Thompson: "Signposts had been taken down during the war and it is doubtful that a sufficient number of marshals and feeders could have been mustered in those austere times." This shortened BBAR was won by Albert Derbyshire with convert|23.549|mi/h|km/h|3|abbr=on. In 1945 the competition returned to its full distance.

Tom Barlow

Calculations of riders' averages were made from 1945 to 1976 by a Manchester enthusiast, Tom Barlow. Bernard Thompson related: "All Tom's calculations were done the hard way; there were no pocket calculators in his lifetime and it is doubtful that he would have changed his tried and trusted methods, his tables of average speeds combined with his outsized slide-rule... about three feet long." Barlow died aged 90 in 1982.


The men's competition has been eleven times by Kevin Dawson, two ahead of Ian Cammish (nine). The women's competition was for many years dominated by Beryl Burton, who won 25 times from 1959 to 1983 inclusive. The only other woman to have won the competition more than twice is June Pitchford, who won three times in a row from 1984.

ee also

* Individual time trial
* Time trialist

External links

* [ Cycling Time Trials]


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