Monday, 11 February 2013

London Rollers Racing: Part 2 - Marginal gains of the rear triangle ‘The Bike’

I recently got chatting about the old roller racing scene with George, my 91 year old Eltham Paragon club mate. His razor sharp memory is packed with fascinating facts and one of the things that came up in the conversation was the special bike he once borrowed…

‘The Bike’ belonged to Eddie Wingrave who I’m told by George used it before World War II when riding in professional roller events. As far as I remember the bike had a longer than usual rear triangle with the sole purpose of making it extremely stable. This would enable the rider to produce a full on sprint with the added bonus of remaining upright. Considering most sprint roller events had two holders, one each side to keep the rider stable, it seems like a small detail, but to be able to ‘spin’ freely with relaxed legs is essential. Technique and style is all important... those marginal gains are not such a new phenomenon!

Flying start 440 yard time trial. Love Yellow.

George told me that at this particular event (using ‘the bike’) he was an early leader in the 440-yard flying start… until I borrowed it. I got the feeling that to this day he regrets letting me use his secret weapon.

Scratch race - 1957. Love Yellow.

Still, I was to get my comeuppance when in later life I rode a few interclub events, one of them being held by the San Fairy Ann C C. Half way through I was put up against a relative novice, and as I had already beaten several others I decided to Showboat by starting slow and roaring through to win from behind (all in the name of thrilling the spectators of course!). In the event I was soundly beaten and only learned afterwards that my opponent, despite his inexperience, had beaten most of his own club riders on his first attempt at riding rollers.