In 1987 British track cyclist Dave le Grys (aka “Legro”) smashed the previous world roller race record with a time of 126.6mph on the BBC “Record Breakers” show.
The previous record of 102 mph had been set in 1982. Dave chose a gear of 232 inches for his attempt with a custom made TA / Ron Kitching chainring (which Dave still owns). Dave was in the final year of an amazing “senior” career, he had amassed over 40 National medals, 20 of which were gold and he’d also represented Britain at the Olympics, Commonwealth games, World championships and numerous European Grand Prix. He had managed to race at top level despite breaking his back in a high-speed crash in the tandem sprint at the ’78 Commonwealth games. Added to this amazing pedigree was his training regime of four hours daily for three months specifically to tackle this record….needless to say Dave was successful as you can see from the video below.
In the same year Dave also set the British and Commonwealth land speed record with 110mph on the M42 paced behind a motor car, check the video here.
But although 1987 was his last year as a senior racing cyclist his sporting career was far from over, throughout his biking career Dave was one of a rare breed of athlete who could mix road endurance and sprint events winning National titles in both and amazingly made a successful switch to marathon running and duathlons eventually becoming fourth best in the UK for his age group.
Dave spent many years coaching and has worked with some of the UK’s finest cycling talents including world champions Rob Hayles and Bradley Wiggins. In 1997 Dave decided to return to cycling competition himself and upon his return won Gold in the World Master’s sprint championship, he has since gone on to win 18 World Master gold medals.
Despite Dave’s now-busy schedule as a coach, he still takes time out to compete in modern day Goldsprint / roller race events, see the gallery below with images of Dave roller-racing in the UK between 2008 and 2010.
Cliff Nicholson and Rod Scott, members of the record breaking team share their memories of the attempt.
Harlow Cycling Club was lucky, in having amongst its members an engineer.
During 1961, Ken Wall beavered away (completely unknown to the majority of the Club Members until he formally presented them to the Club at its Annual Dinner) making the world’s fastest set of Racing Rollers. A complete set of 4 rollers with the very latest in gearing were the envy of riders everywhere. Whereas conventional roller drums were made of sheet steel, Ken made his from wooden slats. These were turned in a lathe to be perfectly round and, as even the thickness of the paint had not missed Ken’s eye for perfection, were accurate to within a fraction of an inch per mile. Fifty years on, these rollers are still the bench mark for any one who wants to build “Competition Rollers”.
Above: Ken Wall, Eric Beachamp, Bob Clifton, Cliff Nicholson, Bob Aucherlonie, and Rod Scott.
This meant that Roller Racing was very popular at the club, winter months saw regular indoor competitions and attracted a good number of youngsters to cycling. The other attraction were some cycling stars and boasted ex continental professional team mate of Jacques Anquetil and Raphael Geminani, Vin Denson and top international track rider, Dave le Grys as members.
Roller racing was highly popular and in 1967 Ken Wall rode the rollers on BBC’s Blue Peter. Ken claims still to have his “Blue Peter Badge” presented by John Noakes and Peter Purves the shows presenters.
In 1968 the club felt they were strong enough on Roller racing to make an attempt on the Team 12 Hour World Record. The team of 6 club members went for the record on 20th July 1968 in Harlow Town Centre. On a Saturday it attracted huge crowds of shoppers and the atmosphere was not just electric but full of embrocation!
Above: That 112 chainring!
Each rider rode for 10 minutes and the changeover was as the needles of the dial reached the top. Starting at 5.00am in the morning the ride was easy to begin with but as the day wore on so cramp and lack of oxygen in the legs made the attempt daunting. The team were successful with a Record of 554 miles and 1595 yards. This equates to 46¼ miles per hour or just under 7¾ miles per rider every 10 minutes! The record was scrutinised by Dick Taylor, who officiated at the Commonwealth Games in Cardiff in 1958 and registered the record with the Guinness Records. The gearing could be no higher than 134 inches, which some riders found too low; but that’s the rules! This was especially true when you see the chain ring on the club’s adapted Hetchins. With 112 teeth it provided a gearing of 297 inches! This equated to the bike moving almost 78 feet with every crank revolution! This was used to attempt the 100 mph Roller record! From a distant memory it was pretty scary, riding with no one supporting you and slowly winding that gear up!
Barry Hodson, a club member in 1976 set a new figure for the World Hour Roller Record. This distance of 53 miles 1240 yards stood until Ron Hewes, also a club member who had trained with Hodson back in the 70’s, made a determined effort in 1988 and set the unchallenged distance of 61 miles 540 yards. This achievement was recognised by the Guinness Book of Records as a World’s Best Distance. Sir Jimmy Saville was an active rider of the club’s rollers and in 1968 he set a new Individual Hour Roller Record; sadly we don’t have details of the distance he covered.
Below: Cliff and Rod take to the rollers again in 2009!
Manfred has held seven Guinness world records for roller racing related cycling. He has won over 80 roller races most of these between 1983 and 1990, in June1984 he won six events (and six bikes) in one month! The records Manfred has set are pretty mind-blowing, will he come out of retirement to take on younger riders in the growing goldsprints scene?
Manfred’s Amazing Records:
Sustained power of 1020 watts average over one minute to power 100 electric razors (13 May 1991)
Maximum peak power 2378 watts for 3 seconds to power 200 energy saving light bulbs (22 March 1995)
14.36 seconds for 500 metres, average speed 126kph / 78mph, maximum speed 133 kmh /83mph
on the CYCLUS 2 Recordtrainer Gear ratio 54×12 / 121.5″ (15 August 1997)
32.48 seconds for 1000m average speed 111kph / 69mph, maximum speed 119 kmh /74mph
on the CYCLUS 2 Recordtrainer Gear ratio 54×12 / 121.5″ (8 August 1997)
Cadence record 271 RPM on 170mm cranks (9 March 1990)
Absolute speed record on a standard bike164.1 kmh / 102 mph 54 x 11 gear (16 September 2000)
Acceleration 0-100kmh in 1.7 seconds 52 x 13 gear (28 March 1990)
Manfred Nuescheler 1020 watts 100 razors
Manfred remains a keen supporter and follower of the modern roller-racing scene and claims he has retired from roller-racing… a pity.
Note: Manfred’s records are unbelievable and he has achieved even more Manfred’s absolute speed record was set on a standard bike, a commercially available Moser frame with Campagnolo gears on standard Minoura rollers. Other faster roller records have been set, however these have been on special non-standard bikes with custom gears made specifically for the attempt, we’ll be bringing you these other record breakers soon.
In the early days of “Goldsprints”, a London female Cycle courier dominated them all, winning the women’s event in the first three, the now famous Zurich 1999 (CMWC) Goldsprints, New York Metroploco 2000 and London Goldsprints 2000. Crissi went on to win multiple Goldsprints and Rollapaluzas remaining unbeaten until 2004. However Crissi wasn’t just a roller-race star, she was pretty much the face of the London courier scene for many years and partcipated in all forms of cycling, competing in the British track and grass-track National championships (earning a bronze medal to Victoria Pendleton) as well as pretty much every courier event going.
Crissi’s Palmares (roller racing in bold)
7th Bavarian MTB Champs ’95
1st ECMC Hamburg ’96
1st Sprint CMWC SF ’96
1st Human Powered Velodrome Vancouver Oct ’96
1st Uxbridge Ice Braker,Ontario (MTB)
1st Paris-Roubaix ’97 (Toronto Zoo-Lake Simcoe)
2nd ECMC Amsterdam ’97
2nd Human Powered Velodrome PR Vancouver Oct ’97
2nd Paris-Roubaix ’98
1st Points race Quebec Track Champs,Bromont ’98
1st Human Powered Velodrome Toronto Apr ’98
1st Sprint ECMC Graz ’98
3rd Sprint CMWC D.C. ’98
1st Human Powered Velodrome Toronto Oct ’98
1st Goldsprint Zurich ’99
2nd Sprint CMWC Zurich ’99
1st Human Powered Velodrome Toronto Oct ’99
2nd Paris-Roubaix Dec ’99 (Toronto Zoo-Lake Simcoe) 1st Goldsprint Metropoloco NYC ’00 1st Goldsprints London 2000
1st Sprint ECMC Rotterdam ’01
1st Fixed Woman 500m NYC Science Centre Mar ’02
1st Women Trackstand CMWC Budapest ‘01
1st London Courier Track Champs (Speed Skill and Sausages) ‘04
This list isn’t exhaustive, apparently the Rollapaluza archives are incomplete, it’s widely agreed that she was unbeaten until 2004 when Charlene got the better of her, plus her track nationals performances aren’t here, if you have further info on Crissi’s wins please let us know.
This classic image taken in 1901 shows American cycling pioneer Charles “Mile a Minute” Murphy competing in a roller race aginst Tom Butler. Though more famous for his one mile in one minute speed record behind a train (see links below) this image and a near identical one of him with Frank Albert show that Roller-Racing was popular, as was bike-racing in general, in late 19th early 20th century America. This photo has in recent times made Murphy (real name Charles) a roller-racing / goldsprints icon.
Murphy held many cycling records and medals and also performed in a touring roller-race Vaudeville act between October 1900 and January 1901 alongside another cycling legend Marshall “Major” Taylor, the first black world champion in any sport.
Why I wanted to put on the first London Goldsprint at the Horseshoe Inn in Clerkenwell Close
Firstly I wanna point out that at that time messengers started becoming much more of a community than had ever been before, but My reason was purely selfish. Let me elaborate. I had been racing track for a few years and as many know, the warm up for track races are done on rollers.
Having practiced for a few years doing ridiculous (and sometimes out of control) rev outs, now came the ideal opportunity. My team captain at Brixton Cycles, the great Robert Jeffries, invited me to partake in an ‘old school’ exhibition roller race at the Catford Club house. This was my first time to race on rollers, and frankly I was dreading the idea of making a complete twat of myself on stage in-front of a whole hall of spectators. During the warm-up, Rob ordered me to do a rev-out at which he told me my target was 100kmh………oh shit………I hit 99! We went on to win the comp, that’s when I was hooked.The following year I entered the South London roller league, finishing in 2nd place, beaten to (conned out of) the gold by one of the ‘home team’ riders in a dead heat finish in the final and sketchy points count back conducted…..hmmmm
From this experience I gained a lot more knowledge of the purist technique of the race.
Here are a few things I picked up:
Always jump straight into your race, the quicker you get up to full speed the easier it is to rev the gear and get your balance.
At about 10 seconds your heart-rate should be at top out levels, then you hit the “evils at 20’s”, the place that no-one ever wants to stay for long.
Around the 20 second marker is the point of highest lactic acid build up. The pain can be excruciating, bringing on the ‘cum face”, the legs turn to granite and you become completely oblivious to any sound apart from the screaming pain of every inch of muscle from the waist down. Everyone has a tactic to overcome this feeling and that alone can be what separates the men from the boys, or the dead from the brain dead.
The following season I went to Switzerland for the WCMC with the intention to compete in the Goldsprint home trainer race, but unfortunately couldn’t get to Zurich in time for the race. I got to Zurich the day after the Goldsprint and one day before the WCMC started, there was a buzz of the event still in the air about how one of the Londoners (A ‘the dark horse’ J) had his spun his way into the finals. At that moment I was ‘Right that’s fucking it, its coming to London!’
On arrival back on home turf and after a consultation with a ton of ‘blah blah blah’ from Buffalo Bill and a lot of help and advice from a few others it was on the cards.
The venue was an easy choice, we had the perfect place in mind.
In previous Alleycat days, we were ordered not to start the races from The Duke, for fear of having a premature termination by the filth. This led us to seek out other watering holes to kick off or finish at. Halfway between the west end and the city nestled into the corner of a Victorian housing estate was located the most characteristic but unassuming Horseshoe Inn.
Over the years we had become regular patrons of such boozer, very friendly landlord and staff, the interior was a little on the thread bare side, but the beer was good and cheap, a function room upstairs and Richard (the landlord) was up for ‘us types’.
Getting the machines for the night was also a mission. The only machines I knew of to hire were from BEC CC. The chair of that club was the late (and very great) Mr. Ron Beckett a very nice man with a very serious attitude to bike racing “No messing about on these Tipper, records have been set on these, so I don’t want no prats taking the piss on them”, as I was thinking: couriers-booze-pub…….hmmm.”ok, trust me, Ron, they will be fine”
It all came together on the legendary night of the 10th of November 2000. It was the first time this was tried in London and nobody was sure if anyone was gonna even turn up
A few of the original Swiss crew arrived, one being the infamous ‘Porno Steve’ with a cleated pair of white leather Duigi keirin shoes, drawling with a glory look in his eyes ready to kick London’s arse.
Registration was form 7pm, ample time for a quick beer and ‘sarnie’ before signing up.
We were all worried that there would be a no show or no interest but all worries were quashed when at 7.15, Bill checked me that we already had 50 entries (some of whom seemed to be on performance enhancers/inhibiters).
Needless to say, the self appointed master of ceremonies for the night was, of course, the mouth piece of the London courier circuit, the one and (thank god) only Buffalo Bill, who managed to drone so much useless crap that it seemed to divert the spectators attention away and transfixed them to the racing that ensued, just to avoid having to listen to him. Even the music supplied by DJ Burrell of the system TI2TB wasn’t enough to drown out Bill’s somewhat irritating and over-amplified voice.
After the qualifiers in which I was unable to take part for a few different dutiful reasons and a sick note from my mum, it all turned very serious when it came down to the ‘kill or be killed’ final rounds
There were some devastating times and surprising knockouts
At the final there was an eruption of excitement when the home-towner ‘Elliott’ stepped up to the out of towner ‘Porno Steve’ for a no bolds barred, head to head, dog eat dog, man off and the key to the courier city.
And as the story goes Elliott gracefully spun and won in style, to the pleasure of all of the frenzied onlookers, a ton of beer was drunk and a fucking huge thing was started for the courier community to be proud of.
I want to say for the record, there was absolutely no rigging in the final, honest guv.
For months after, I received thanks by so many people for a great and original night out by all of the courier community and other spectators introduced to this amazing spectacle.
Ok so, it was my idea but so many people pulled together to make it such an epic event.
I would like to thank. Buffalo Bill, Stringer, Steevo, Barnsey, Alistair, Don, Burrell, Caspar, Dave, The Horseshoe, Brixton Cycles, Sonic Cycles and many others for their input, advice, prizes, support and help.
Entering a roller race a few weeks ago bought back a host of memories. Having hung up my cycling wheels for 3 years and my racing legs for 6 years, I felt a certain amount reminiscence and pride taking part 8 years after the London Goldsprint of 2000, but this time it was a whole different story. I finished 18th and very nearly reversed my guts back out all over the stage.
Goldsprints and / or “roller-racing” are social, usually indoor, static cycling events. Equipment varies but is based on genuine track bikes on rollers, with riders going head to head over a set distance.
Goldsprint.com is about videos, stories, images and history of roller-racing and goldsprints.