Mary Corbett delivers another brilliant treat in the New Forest

Finally, I got to see Mary Corbett’s Tandem Tart 10-mile time trial spectacular. It was everything I could have imagined and so much more.

At the weekend, I drove down to Lyndhurst in Hampshire, a town with its own Ferrari dealership and just outside the New Forest, to see this eight-year-old event for myself. I was invited by Mary to be part of everything that went on; I was made to feel like a VIP.

First of all, the basic reckonings: 

  • The event has raised more than £18,000 for the ME Association over the years; that doesn’t count the ‘test run’ put on by Mary in 2015
  • Mary, whose zany stunts must make her one of Lyndhurst's most well-known residents, is the supreme event organiser. She dots the ‘i’s and crosses the ‘t’s on every little facet of what’s going on. She’s the boss. The crowd knows it. They love her for it!
  • She runs the event for the Sotonia CC, one of England’s busiest cycling clubs.  
  • Despite a gradual falling off in interest in time trials by England’s cycling fraternity, cyclists continue to register enthusiastically in every class for the Tandem Tart Ten. 103 cyclists registered this year.
  • Mary is a long-time ME-er and knows the risks involved in being extremely active. She plans her routine carefully and takes plenty of time out to recover from each year’s event.

I turned up at event HQ in Lyndhurst’s superbly appointed community centre at the unearthly hour of 7am on Sunday morning. Mary and her team had beaten me to it by at least an hour – the place was already kitted out with refreshments and trophies, and buzzing with anticipation.

This could be the last year of the Tandem Tart Ten. Mary was talked out of ‘retirement’ to run it again this year and is saying she doesn’t want to organise another one. That would be very sad indeed.

Pictured, from the left: Mary competing in Sunday's Tandem Tart time trial with partner No 81, Paul Burnage; it's a wrap and hasn't it gone well? – 91-year-old Norman Hunter (who's still raring to get on his bike), Sotonia Cycle Club secretary Julian Gee and Mary can start to relax; Mary, pictured on another occasion, posing as the Mad Hatter outside Lyndhurst's most famous tea room.

I was introduced to Brian Hancock, my companion for the event and guide to the New Forest where the time trial actually takes place. Like Mary, he’s a retired accountant. He’s also a forest volunteer litter-picker and proudly starts telling me its story as soon as his car rumbles over the entrance grid.

Almost as soon as we get in, we meet the ponies who live in the forest – lovely, lithe animals in many colours who canter all over the place, literally. There’s a foal that has obviously arrived in only the last hour or two. There’s a little herd of some very large cattle contentedly munching the grass. They look in superb shape.

If the animals are in the road, as they are likely to be, well it’s their road and motorists – and racing cyclists – must give way!

We stop for a while at the setting-off point for the time trial and then it’s off and over the railway bridge on the Southampton line to The Montagu Arms Hotel at Beaulieu. But no time to pop in – for we must head back to the prize-giving at Lyndhurst Community Centre, where everybody’s a winner and I get to shake all of their hands.

I’ve never received that sort of welcome before.  Thank you for arranging everything Mary and special thanks to Brian for putting up with several hours of my chat. He's got the patience of a saint!

Mary raises funds for the ME Association's Ramsay Research Fund on her JustGiving page at

If you like her style and commitment to the cause, and we certainly do, please consider making a donation. Thank you very much.

ME Association fundraiser Tony Britton presents the Tandem Tart Ten trophy to Newbury Velo riders Rachael Elliott and Ian Greenstreet.

Riders queue up at the start – keeping well clear of some of the more regular inhabitants of the New Forest.

Tony Britton
Senior Fundraising Consultant, The ME Association Mob: 07393 805566

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