Just a brief mention for one of the great British Time triallists of the post war period – Ray Booty, who sadly passed away recently.
Ray Booty was most famous for riding the first 100 miles in under 4 hours in 1956 A considerable achievement in the days before tribars and aero equipment (most of Ray’s rides were done on a fixed gear too). The record breaking ride was set on the A4 Bath road, running through Pangbourne, Shillingford and Abingdon. His time for 100 miles was 3hr 58min 28sec, more than 11 minutes ahead of the second-placed finisher, Stan Brittain. In those days, there was considerable interest in amateur time trialling.His record breaking ride reached national headlines, The Daily Record saying:
“Booty the incomparable, the incredible, the indomitable”
Ray Booty said of his record breaking ride:
It was one of those lovely sunny summer mornings you crave for when you are time-trialling. It was calm, as I remember, and eventually it became very hot. And I was really having to hang on in the last half hour. I remember it was a real struggle. I knew I was on to a good ride if I could hang on. The thing I remember about that particular event was at the finish, and I was absolutely shattered at the finish. And I sat down. And, of course, when I finished I realised just how hot it was. I was desperate for some drink and somebody came with all they’d got, which was a bottle of milk. And it was sour. And he said it was sour. It was all he’d got. It was really sour. But I drank it all. That was the thing I remember mainly about that event.
The first sub 4 hour 100 mile record was often thought of as cycling’s’ equivalent of Roger Bannister’s four minute mile.
A few weeks later, he broke the 100 mile straight out (i.e. with tailwind) setting a time of 3hr 28min 40sec. A record which stood for 34 years.
Always considered a great gentleman of the sport, he was always modest with his achievements. His wife Shelagh, of Allestree, said of Ray Booty:
“He was the most marvellous man you could ever meet. He was lovely. He did not shoot his mouth off about his achievements at all. He always praised other riders and would always say what a great ride they had.”
Many felt Ray had the potential to make a professional road rider, but he choose to stay as an amateur and didn’t pursue a career on the continent. His greatest road racing success was in the 1958 Commonwealth Games in Cardiff, where he won the gold medal.
His sister, Susan said:
“He loved going out on his bike. He enjoyed it so much. He didn’t want to become a professional, even though he was given the opportunity. I think this was because he didn’t want to spoil his enjoyment of the sport.
Booty won the season-long British Best All-Rounder competition three times from 1955 to 1957. The BBAR is based on averaged speeds over 50 and 100 miles and for 12 hours. He was 100-mile champion from 1955 to 1959 and 12-hour champion from 1954 to 1958.
- Ray Booty Obituary Guardian