Sunday, 27 January 2013

London Roller Racing in 1050's: Part 1

Roller equipment for club contests was hired from Dunlop and most contests were a 660 yard sprint, where with a standing jump-start you were held for the first 220 yards and then released to ride free for the last quarter of a mile. This was the more skillful event as tiring riders tended to lose control and often came off the rollers and out of the race. The 440 yard race was a flying start. You were held for the duration of the ride, which was a pure test of speed.

My one claim to fame was that I could do this event in 15 seconds dead (average speed 60 miles per hour) never faster and rarely slower. My maths is not good enough but I am sure that there is somebody out there that could calculate how many revolutions per minute had to be maintained to record that time, all I know from memory is that at that rate it felt as though my whole body was about to explode.

Years ago there were no Roller Leagues but several of the local clubs ran contests in their club rooms in addition to the open contests that took place at local venues like cinemas and Town Halls. The open events were more or less a closed shop to us lesser mortals so we transferred our attention to the local club events that were run on a level playing field.

There were a few specialist riders that used to travel to the bigger events and usually won all the prizes. Whilst these were all amateur events with the usual non cash prizes I did see cash change hands at a couple of the bigger events.

It was an event at  Greenwich Town Hall that I realised why the same few riders were successful. Whilst the bikes were all checked to ensure that the gearing did not exceed 101 inches once the bike had a pass sticker put on the top tube, chain rings and wheels were secretly changed and by the time you got onto the stage to ride you found your opponent had a chain ring the size of a dustbin lid and travelled at twice your speed whilst pedalling slower than your own gut wrenching rate.