I get 'cross

My journal of cyclocross
Follow Me

Letter from the Vetran

By  CJ Boom     16:45    Labels: 
I don't really understand when Julian has time to write this but I like his wit.

I have been wondering if I should be so bold as to propose a "King Alf Day". It is obvious that one or two of you are a little younger than myself, and may be at pains to appreciate the majesty and single mindedness of the fastest Englishman ever on a proper bike. Most of my knowledge of the King has been learned from my father, snippets from "Cycling" magazine and people lucky and bad enuff to have raced with the great man. I think one of his most awe inspiring traits, was the way he "stuck it up" the jacksees of that biggoted bunch of feckless old farts who would have seen crown green bowling as a criminal activity, the R.T.T.C. suffered their bans and wingeing, and still performed heroically, week after week.
The King wasn't a big man, not in height or build anyway,( see the backround of the middle till) but he routinely pulled off astounding rides using his trademark astoundingly huge gears, by the way.....his total gear selection was 58x13-15. That made his "easiest" gear the equivelant of 50x13 ! even at his speeds, he was definately no spinner. In the late 60s, that's sometime last century, just after the great war, the King rode an awe inspiring 51 minutes dead for 25 miles. This time broke his own record set a few years before. He very rarely got beaten, and he very rarely competed at any other distance, but he dominated short distance time-trialling for one and a half decades. He would often be in a near unconcious state after a race, having the knack of going to his absolute limit, and bikey legend has it that he could often be spotted pulling on a reefer to help contain the pain, usually in a nearby field.
During his racing career, as opposed to his job as a night-time baker, he was to break both of his knees, a possibly awkward affliction for a big gear merchant, one would surmise. Not for the King, oh no, matron, Alf just had plastic knee-caps fitted, "simples". Apparently, these would make a loud Click with every pedal stroke, I suppose 3 times a minute on a downhill section !Alf's spikey relationship with the affore-mentioned Timetrials association, R.T.T.C. was routinely aggravated by jealous rivals "grassing him up" for mostly fictitious "drafting" with traffic. Race observers and marshalls alike would often mistake the King's ability to ride as fast as the traffic with drafting, I think he probably used traffic as much as the next rider, I know that I did it when I could, and I was still crap.
I know that most of you youngsters appreciate good equipment, and Alf's was absolute top draw, Columbus Pista tubing, strictly for the track, yeah, right! Everything either drilled, thinned of flattened, 3 ounce silk tubs, again, strictly for the track! No one could out pimp the King's bike, only the King himself, look at the photo, you could hardly get a gnat's pube between tubular and seat tube !.........Here's the rub,
There are three people who's skill, speed, determination, results and longevity can reduce me to tears of awe, Eddy Merckx, Beryl Burton and the King, Alfred Engers. The King is still rocking, Beryl , bless her is dead, and Eddy is fat.....Love them all, they helped make the sport that we make a living from.
Julian Cunnington


About CJ Boom


No comments:

Post a Comment