Sunday, 24 May 2015

An Amazing 100 kilometre World Record!

Here's an amazing achievement that went virtually unmentioned (I am ashamed to say) here in the U.K.

In 2012 a gentleman aged 100 set a new 100 kilometre world record for a centenarian of 4 hours, 17 minutes and 27 seconds; and that was even a little better than he had hoped. He admitted it was hard towards the end, when his hands were hurting.

The man in question was the Frenchman Robert Marchand and here he is during his ride on the track in Lyon.
After working as a wine dealer, a market gardener and a shoe salesman, Robert took up cycling only at the age of 66 and became a very keen, regular cyclist.

Well done, Robert!

What an example and inspiration to us all!

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Olympic Cycling Road Race 1948

For no particular reason, let us recall the Cycling Road Race in the 1948 Olympic Games, which took place that year in my country - England.

The race was held on a circuit in Windsor Great Park and there were entrants from 31 countries.
As you will recall, the winner was José Beyaert of France, who completed the course in just under five hours and twenty minutes. Four seconds behind him, the Dutchman Gerardus Voorting took second place, just a centimetre or two ahead of Lode Wouters of Belgium.
Well done, gentlemen!

I lived in London at the time and I remember that my parents bought our first television that year, mainly to see something of the Games; but I can't recall whether an outside broadcast from Windsor Great Park was possible.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Hercules Kestrel 1957

Here's the bicycle my pal Richard bought when we were at university in 1957.
It was a Hercules Kestrel. This was a very good economical all-purpose mass-produced bicycle for a young man in those days. The three-speed Cyclo Benelux gear mechanism may not impress much today but it impressed us at that time.

The bicycle had fashionable wide-flange hubs, Dunlop white-wall tyres, Maes handlebars and side-pull brakes.

Its frame - typical of the time - had double 72 degree geometry, brazed-on gear fittings and attractive lugs.

The bicycle came complete with mudguards.

And all this for less than £22  (or £25 for three more gears)!

Monday, 4 May 2015

Holdsworth Whirlwind

I had the privilege of seeing and photographing a Holdsworth Whirlwind. This great classic bicycle is almost sixty years old, but it seems to have most of the original parts and even the finish with which it left the workshop.
Holdsworth produced bicycles from about 1933. The manufacture of Holdsworth bicycles was probably at its peak around 1952. In its early days, the company employed some of the finest frame builders from the London area. One of them was Charles Roberts who went on to produce the famous Roberts Cycles. Round about the 1970s, many of the big names in the car, motor-cycle and bicycle industries were involved in mergers and take-overs, and then allowed to wither and die. That seems to be what happened to Holdsworth.

Like Hetchins, Holdsworth developed a strain of bicycles with artistically elaborate lugs. These lugs were a feature of the Whirlwind (‘Sirocco’). The frame was constructed from Reynolds 531 double-butted tubing. Over the years, minor improvements were made, with even fancier lugs and a curved brake bridge.
The machine I photographed has a Williams chainwheel, Simplex gears (5-speed),  GB Coureur brakes and Solite hubs.
The bicycle has a 41.5 inch wheelbase.

What a fine machine!
The famous Holdsworth head-badge featured a prancing horse with crossed scimitars, and a crown on top.

And by the way, if you would like to look at a Holdsworth Monsoon of similar vintage, click here.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Little Girl on Tricycle

Here in the U.K., I'm pleased to report that Queen Elizabeth II is one of us. Here she is - a few years ago.