Monday, August 28, 2006

Cardiff to London Tandem TT Record

The chap with the stylish sideburns is a much younger Richard Oddy, enroute to breaking the London to Cardiff tandem record on 21st October 1973.
The bike is a Mercian, which Richard still owns.
Gearing was 5 speed, 57 t chain ring, with a 13-22 cluster for a short 20% on the course.

DB: Was this a specific record attempt, or a time trial event?
RO: It was a specific record attempt.
There are many place to place records: London – Edinburgh, London – York, London – Brighton, etc. In addition our club had its own place to place records, such as High Wycombe to Cheltenham and back, 142 mi (229kms).

For National Records it was necessary to notify the Road Records Association; they have observers enroute to make sure you don’t cheat (take a train, draft behind a truck) – you are also followed by the time keeper who overtakes just before the finish.

Only one bike or tandem can make an attempt on a record on any one day.

DB: Who is the stoker?
RO: The stoker (guy on the back) is Gordon Wright, my club mate in the High Wycombe C C. He was the club coach.
A week or so before the record attempt we rode over the course on solos, having taken the train from High Wycombe to Cardiff.
The biggest problem with city to city record attempts is the traffic – you can start early to avoid traffic in say Cardiff, but it then becomes a problem in London, which counters the improvement in road surfaces and better bikes

DB: What was the time?
RO: We took 6 hrs 13 min 26 sec for the 163 miles (263kms) and beat the old record by about 10 minutes – can’t recall exactly, but could look it up in the copy of the RRA handbook.
I died badly towards the end as I was really a short distance rider, 10 miles being my forte. (I have a collection of certificates from such events)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Richard Oddy's 1969 Ron Cooper

One of the most gratifying things about organising the Retro Ride is the bikes that have been brought out of retirement to bring along.

Richard Oddy, Chief Spoke of Pedaltours and the only person I know with a helmet exemption certificate, got this Ron Cooper out of the basement for the first Retro Ride back in late 2002. I was immediately smitten with lust, only partially requited by finding my own Cooper-built Gillott last year.

At the Okoroire Ride I took a few photos, and subsequently interrogated Richard by email:

DB: Why a Ron Cooper? Were there other builders that you considered?
RO: At that time, and at least until the mid ‘70’s, if you were English then you would only consider an English frame – very few people in those days rode Continental frames.
There were many builders then, one man businesses in addition to the slightly larger ones such as Holdsworth, Jack Taylor, Bob Jackson etc.
It was usual to buy from a local builder. I lived in High Wyecombe at the time – Ron Cooper was not strictly local but he was ‘Southern’ vs say Harry Quinn. (There was and still is, a certain rivalry between the North and South of England).
Ron Cooper had a good reputation and someone else in my club already had one.

DB: How did Ron Cooper design the frame?
Did he take your measurements, or measure your existing bike?
How much input did you have?
Did you specify the lugs or other frame fittings?
RO: I phoned, then visited, said I wanted a general purpose road and TT bike, therefore no lugs for mudguards, (mudguards were usual then when training) and clearance for tubulars, not hp (clinchers) which were then only available in large section.
I looked at the bikes he had in stock and he measured my leg, torso, arm length.
I wanted plain, not fancy, lugs and said I would build it up all Campag

DB:How long did it take from order to delivery?
RO: 6 weeks

DB: How much did the frame cost?
RO: ₤37-1/2 with a Campag seatpost – I supplied the Campag headset – which was considered a lot of money then.
DB: Incidentally, the average wage in 1969 was ₤24.16s.5d, according to this highly reliable source

DB: Did you initially build it up 'tutto Campagnolo'?
RO: Yes, including the brakes, which at 27 guineas (1 guinea =₤1-1s) was a real extravagance.
Not too many people then had an all Campag bike.
I had two pairs of wheels, 36’s for road racing and training, although most training was on my hack bike, a Bob Jackson, and a pair of 28’s for TT’s
It was 5 speed, 13 – 17, later converted to six. Rings, 44 / 54

DB: Have any braze-ons been added subsequently?
RO: The bottle cages and also the top tube cable guides.
Fashions come and go re brazeons. In those days it was not done.

DB: What bike were you riding previously?
RO: A Bob Jackson.
My first real bike was a Chris Brasher (Walthamstow, London).
Another London builder was Frank Lipscombe – he had a better shop.

DB: What type of racing were you mostly doing?
RO: Mostly time trials. I was better at 10 miles. I once did a 20min 40 10 mile in ’69.
I also rode tandem place to place records. Cardiff to London, 165 miles, and briefly the 25 mi tandem record on a Mercian 5 speed, with a 57 ring, which I still have.
All good fun.

Stephen Sheffield's Ron Cooper site
A Nervex lugged Cooper recently on ebay

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Framebuilding Master class

After the ride on Sunday, Daniel Rosser and I were talking about ways to learn about framebuilding.
While I pretend to know what I'm talking about, I am but an unworthy semi-retired amateur framebuilder.
Fortunately, the internet nowadays hosts a plethora of resources for the wannabe framebuilder.

Richard Sachs has just posted some photos of the lug filing process, as it was in the days before investment cast frame fittings.
Take a look if you have ever wondered how a steel bike frame can cost more than US$2500, and take 18 months to deliver.

Sachs himself provides some background in this email to the Framebuilders email list.
Someone with less rigorously retro sensibilities could just order a 'standard' Sachs with oversize steel tubing and Richie-issimo lugs, but, naaah, it wouldn't be the same.

August Retro Ride report

Wet blustery weather failed to deter the ten hardy souls, plus Bunny the stray dog, who fronted for this month's ride.
While some opted to keep their retro bikes warm and dry at home, Daniel Rosser brought his immaculate modern Hetchins, fitted with 8-speed Campagnolo Record.

In deference to the waves of foul weather coming in from the south west, we looped around Mangere Bridge and Ihumatao, returning to Otahuhu via the Airport.
Unlike last month's Bianchi ride, when we were dogged by punctures, we were unhampered by mechanicals, but had a few stops to don or divest rainjackets.

From the slight moral high ground afforded by riding my Gillott instead of the high performance option, I pontificated that a gentleman should own at least one bike with mudguards, until Rick Woodward told me to shut up. Apparently, that's what friends are for...

Returning to my place, Daniel, Rick, Tom Parrish and I rummaged the shed, unearthing a few vintage framebuilding parts and other junque, while Peat Alexander (below, red helmet) entertained the masses with an impromptu exposition on carbon fibre construction techniques.

The next Retro Ride will be on September 10th.