CARL Ruebotham, aged 40, has the staying power to be one of the best in the country, writes John Buckley.

The racing cyclist, in his 26th year of competition, is on the verge of a top-10 place, probably fourth or fifth, in the British All Rounder series.

The competition is a season long contest to find the best time trialist over 50 and 100 miles and a continuous 12-hour stint.

It's exhausting stuff, especially as the third discipline is non-stop riding over about 280 miles, a bit like getting the bike out after breakfast and pedalling to Plymouth in time for evening dinner on The Ho.

Quick as you can, of course. Ruebotham was brought up in Runcorn - living in Weston Point and spending more than 20 years working at ICI - before moving to live in Northwich in 1989. He rides for Weaver Valley CC.

He is fresh from setting a new personal 50-mile best of one hour 49mins 52secs at the Otley CC-organised event.

He was aiming to improve his time by 18 seconds and to move up from sixth to fifth, but exceeded his own expectation, lowered the mark by 50 seconds and is now fourth.

He said: 'I have done trialing, but really I'm a road racer who swapped events for this competition.

'Originally I only wanted to break the club records, but because my 100 was good I went for the BAR. It demands a special discipline and a lot of hard work, as well as different and more intense training.

'It is a solitary activity and you have to remain focused for hours on end.

'Two of the competitors are soldiers who have been given four years off just to do this competition, so they are full-time riders. It is a tough competition.

'With two 50s left I should stay in the top 10 now and may even get as high as fourth.

'The BAR is the most prestigious event in the country and it has certainly fired me with ambition. I just like winning and have won four of the events.'

Ruebotham clocked his best 100 at Stoke-on-Trent, in a time of three hours 44mins 39secs.

He completed his 12-hour stint in Yorkshire, riding 278.5miles, a puncture giving him a few minutes' respite but also costing him a mile or two.

But a fast 50 is the key and Ruebotham was delighted with his performance.

His wife Beverley also rode competitively for Weaver Valley.

Vitamin C and the occasional Guinness are the performance enhancers to which Ruebotham confesses. Rather, says the plant operator at British Salt, Middlewich, his success in a solo sport is due to teamwork.

'I am grateful to my work-mates. Without them swapping shifts I couldn't have competed. It's my best achievement so far.'

Sponsored by Dave Hinde Cycles of Northwich, Ruebotham has won plenty of races, trials and road, in his career, but mainly at club level and Weaver Valley club titles have come his way.

In 1991 he rode in the top-class Premier Calendar series of road races finishing second in one of the events.