Simon’s Cycle Shorts are now available to buy in both paperback (£8.39) and Kindle (£2.99) editions from Amazon. HERE

 

“So what’s the deal then love?”

“What do you mean?”

“Come on – you’re not exactly like the rest of us, are you.” I was being a bit harsh but the machine hung next to me in the shed did look particularly odd – even though there was something about her that was purposeful and strong. She’d seemed to me to be sulking when they first brought her in – as if she wasn’t expecting to be put away.

“No I’m not like you all – I’m from Scotland.” She wasn’t exactly warming up but at least she was talking.

“I don’t mean that – we know where you’re from – I mean, well, you’re just made differently to everyone else here.” There was a short silence. I guess she was looking around at the rest of us track bikes hung by our saddles in the darkened store room under the track.

“Yes – I was made in the kitchen.” Now I knew some bike builders were a bit odd but I didn’t know of any that made bikes in the kitchen. “Graeme, my rider, made me all by himself – and he told me that I have got a soul – he said I was his Old Faithful.” There was a wistfulness in her voice. I didn’t know what soul was any more than I knew any bikes that could name of the actual person that had built them. I was made by some young apprendista at a frame builders shop in Torino, Italy. I might have got the frame builders name put on my tubes but it was the scruffy lad with poor workshop skills that did all the work. He was the reason my lugs are so uneven…and why I ended up at this crappy club bike track in Norway.

“So why did he make you look like that?”

“Like what?”

“Like you’re missing a crossbar and most of your handlebars?”

“I Dunno – but it makes us go fast.”

“And what about your bottom bracket – is that some new Shimano unit?” Where I came from everyone had Campagnolo parts.

“No, he made it from the bearings of an old Hotpoint washing machine.”

By this point, as you can imagine, I was really starting to wonder what was going on. The bike next to me had been rushed into the store that afternoon before her rider had attempted and subsequently failed to break the world hour record on the track above us. And he’d done it on another slightly less funny-looking bike – well, what was he thinking? You don’t just turn up virtually unannounced and beat a world record.

“OK, so why, Old Faithful, have you been put down in here with us?”

“Well, Graeme and me are going to break the hour record tomorrow morning.”

“Really? Tomorrow? Do you know what that means? That record has stood since ’84 – it is held by the legendary Francesco Moser – you know, Lo sceriffo?” The sad-looking bike with its odd white frame was seeming slightly deluded to me; perhaps she was only as mad as her rider – nobody had ever been crazy enough to attempt the hour record two days running.

“So? Graeme says that records are all meant to be broken – he said that he’s as good as broken it already.”

“But didn’t ‘Graeme’ just fail in his attempt on the record this evening?”

“Yes, but he was on that other bike – the one that ‘they’ made him ride. Me and him broke the Scottish 10 mile record together recently after he’d been drunk the night before – so now he’s going to do the hour, tomorrow morning, with me – and not with that other bike!”

“Really.”

 

[Scot, Graeme Obree, set about Francesco Moser’s long standing world record on 16 July 1993, at the Vikingskipet Velodrome in Norway. He missed the record by nearly a kilometre but decided to go back again the next day to try again on his favourite bike; he duly beat the record by 445 metres. ]

 

Simon’s Cycle Shorts are now available to buy in both paperback (£8.39) and Kindle (£2.99) versions from Amazon. HERE

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