Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The 1909 Tour de France

Route of the 1909 Tour de France

The 1909 Tour de France, the seventh edition, began on July 5th and ended on August 1, 1909. The favorite to win, Francois Faber, was the overall winner of the 1,737 mile race and also won 6 of the 14 stages. The winning average speed in 1909 was 17.81 miles per hour. The results were calculated using the point system, with the rider with the fewest points at the end of the race winning. 

Leon Georget climbing the Galibier in the 1909 Tour de France.

There were a few differences in this race when compared to the previous years race. Though the route of the 1909 Tour de France was very similar to the 1908 race. For the first time, cyclists could enter the race in teams, although technically they were still considered sponsored individuals. Bathrooms were installed at check points along the course to prevent cyclists from urinating in front of spectators. Tour-supplied bicycle frames were required to be used in the 1908 Tour de France. In 1909 riders used their own frames, but the frames were marked with a stamp to ensure that racers used one bicycle for the entire race. A record number of participants, 150, started the race. Because of the cold temperatures, the rain and snow, the 1909 Tour de France was considered the most difficult one so far.
Faber running for the finish line in the rain with his chain broken and missing at the conclusion of stage 4.
Francois Faber, freshly hired away from the Peugeot team by the Alcyon team, won the 1909 Tour de France in dominating style. He won a total of six stages and five stages in a row, 2,3,4,5, and 6. 
Two of the stages, stages 4 and 14 (the final stage), he won running across the finish line with his bicycle. The second stage saw Faber break away half way through to solo to a win in freezing rain. Francois won the third stage, crossing the Ballon d'Alsace in snow and ice, by a half hour ahead of second place Gustave Garrigou. He won the fifth stage, crossing the Col de Porte, in wind so strong that Faber was twice knocked off his bike. During stage five he also had a horse knock him down and kick his bike away.  In the sixth stage, 20,000 fans had come to see Faber win his fifth stage in a row, which he did. After his fifth win Tour organizers asked Faber to calm down, in order to keep the Tour exciting. 
Finish of the 1909 Tour de France
Final 1909 Tour de France General Classification:
1. Francois Faber 
2. Gustave Garrigou
3. Jean Alavoine
4. Paul Duboc
5. Cyrille Van Houwaert
6. Ernest Paul (Faber's half-brother)

                                                                               Francois Faber
Click here to learn more about Francois Faber.

Gustave Garrigou

Jean Alvoine
Click here to lean more about Jean Alvoine

Paul Duboc
Click here to learn more about Paul Duboc.

Cyrille Van Houwaert

Muppet Bikes

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Deloffre Jules - Tour de France, 1921

Deloffre Jules, born in 1885 in Caudry, participates in his 9 th Tour de France, throughout his career

The cyclist in question, as well as having an obvious talent for cycling combined with a unique physical, shows a marked spirit of entertainer of crowds during this Tour de France, you see it often becomes almost circus performances.

Not only that: this is astounding, but sometimes he could be seen holding court in the finals stages (and we know the stages as they were), and during his performance, after unimaginable hardships and sufferings, to accompany his personal "show," he was heard to say: "My legs are tired, yes, but arms no !  this proves it! ". 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Louis Heusghem

Louis Heusghem (December 26, 1882 –  August 26, 1939) was a Belgian professional road bicycle racer. He was the brother of cyclists Hector Heusghem andPierre-Joseph Heusghem. His best Tour de France finish was his fifth place in 1911. In 1912, he won a stage in the Tour de France and Paris–Tours.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Maurice Brocco

Maurice Brocco
Maurice Brocco (January 28, 1885 to June 26, 1965) was a French professional bicycle racer from 1906 to 1927. He won a stage in the Tour de France in 1911. Maurice participated six times in the Tour de France, but finished the race only once. In his later career he was successful in six day races. He lost some of his best racing years to World War I. Brocco did return to racing in 1919 as a 34 year old and found success in winning the Six Days of New York on three occasions; 1920, 1921 and 1924. He also won the Six Days of Chicago in 1923.

Maurice Brocco was the first cyclist to be called a domestique. The Tour de France organizer, Desgrange, used it in 1911 as an insult to Brocco. Not in a position to win the tour he offered his services to Francois Faber who was in danger of being eliminated for taking to long. Brocco waited for Faber and paced him to the finish. Desgrange wanted to disqualy him for breaking the rules, but he had no proof. The Tour organizer scorned Brocco in his newspaper, writing; "He is unworthy, He is no more than a domestique".

Next morning Brocco greeted Desgrange with: "Today, monsieur, we are going to settle our accounts." He won the day by 34 minutes. Desgrange followed him and the yellow jersey, Gustave Garrigou as they climbed the Tourmalet. "So, am I forbidden to ride with him?", Brocco shouted. On the following mountain, the Aubisque, he dropped Garrigou, passed Paul Duboc, who had been poisoned and was in agony beside the road, and took the lead with Émile Georget. Desgrange was still watching.
"Alors, quoi," Brocco shouted, "do I have the right to stay with him?" And then he rode off alone and won. He had made two points to Desgrange. The first was that he was a talented rider and not a servant. The second was that he had so much talent that his poor riding with Faber could only have been through a commercial arrangement. Desgrange said that any rider with such flair had clearly been selling the race.,
"He deserves his punishment," Desgrange wrote. "Immediate disqualification."
Maurice Brocco

valparaiso polc 2011

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Frans Slaats Takes the Hour Record

Vigorelli Track, Milano, 29th September 1937 - Dutchman Frans Slaats at the start of his new World Hour Record of 45.485 km, 160 meters further than Frenchman Maurice Richard's previous record of 45.325 km, set 14th October 1936. From "Match" No.594, 5 October 1937.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Time Trials 1940's/1950's Or - The Men in Black

Below is an excellent article by Peter Underwood on Time Trials in the UK during the 1940's and 1950.

Hope you enjoy it!
In the last few years of the nineteenth century the racing of bicycles on public roads was banned, due in no small part to the lobbying of horse riders and pedestrians. Races were being wilfully disrupted, often by the police themselves, and this resulted in the National Cyclists' Union banning racing on public roads for fear of all cycling being banned.

Independent-minded cyclists decided to organise events themselves designed to conceal the fact that they were actually racing from the general public.  Thus was spawned the ubiquitous time trial where cyclists individually ride a prescribed out-and-back route timed by an official timekeeper.  
Time Trials 11
Ralph Dougherty at speed in a 30's time trial dressed all in black including tights and alpaca jacket.
Rather daringly he has rolled his sleeves up to show some flesh whereas the norm would be
to have sleeves down and the hands in black mitts.

It was decided that events should start at the crack of dawn and all participants must dress in black from head to toe in order for them to be less conspicuous! This way the racing was often all done and dusted by about 8am.  They also decided to designate all the courses by a secret coding and to this day races are held on, for example, the 'E10-25'. If I told you where that was then they would have to kill me!  This coding system was devised to prevent any publicity for the event, possibly attracting spectators and creating the atmosphere of a race proper.  Some years (1952) later Eileen Sheriden had a successful Land's End-to-London record disallowed because a newspaper casually mentioned that it was being attempted.
Time trials 4
Basil Francis (Solihull CC) holder of the 25-mile competition record twice in 1946 - both under the hour. 58m 49s and later 58m 35s on his Joe Cooke Imperial Petrel 'Jughandle' dresses in black from head to toe but with shorts. (See note from Laurie Weeks re. Basil at bottom of this page)

I started time trialling just after world war two and the racing was still done dressed in black from head to toe, at the crack of dawn and on courses designated by numbers - the start sheets were declared to be secret and confidential although I must admit you weren't compelled to eat them after reading!  Pre-war it had been compulsory to wear a black alpaca jacket when competing but this was dropped for post-war racing, possibly as a recognition of the fact that clothing was only available in exchange for ration tickets.

The format of a time trial was as follows:  First, the event must be organised and approved by the governing body which results in the event being listed in the RTTC Handbook, the time triallists bible (now the CTT Handbook). 

On the day the organisers have to arrange for a pusher-off who holds the cyclist with both feet strapped in the pedals on the start line (probably a painted or chalked line about one inch wide from the kerb out into the road for about two to three feet). Standing next to the line is the timekeeper (with an assistant for bigger events) with his stopwatch who sends the riders off at one-minute intervals; he gives a five-four-three-two-one count down at which time the pusher-off releases the rider - years ago they gave quite a push! 
Time trials 12
Start of the Bournemouth Jubilee Wheelers 25. 1960 - Timekeeper Len Ryall.  Geoff Quinell (Farnham RC) is pushed off and T Stevenson (Verulam) sets his watch whilst waiting to go next. 

The club has to provide marshalls at any junction deemed to need one for safety and to stop the rider going off course.  In the 40's/50's the 'turn' consisted of a turn marshall standing in the middle of the road and the rider had to spin round in the road behind him.  He also shouted out his number to the turn marshall who noted all the riders' numbers down for the timekeeper.  
Time trials 1
The turn, Roger Wilkins (No. 50) in the Bath Road Hundred, 1960 

The rider then sets off as fast as he can to the finish where the timekeeper will have crossed the road to a white line on the other side. Here he positions himself to click the stopwatch as the rider speeds by, again shouting out his number.  There are sometimes handicaps organised within the event as well as age-related adjustments. Quite often photographs taken in this era were of the rider manoevering around the turn, although this is not always obvious. The giveaway is the bike leaning over at about 15 - 25º and often the inside knee stuck out.

For events over fifty miles the organising club provides a feeding station where club members hand up drinks, food, and sometimes wet sponges to the passing riders. For longer rides competitors from the larger clubs would have their own feeding teams in addition to those provided by the organisers.  These took care of special diets, etc. and the feeders would also check other riders times in order to give their man information on his performance in relation to his competitors.
Time trials 7
Wally Lewis given drinks during the 1957 VTTA 12-hour time-trial
Early post-war virtually every competitor was riding fixed-wheel for these events.  In the winter riders used gears of about 64" for training and often the first events of the season were resticted to 72".  As the season progressed riders raised the gears to about 84" for the shorter events and 81" for the longer 100-mile, 12 and 24-hour events.

The road/path bike was very popular amongst time-triallists in the 40's/50's.  These would be based on a track bike of the era with short chainstays and wheelbase coupled with upright angles such as 74° head with 72° seat and track ends. People are sometimes puzzled to come across a 'track' frame from this era fitted with pump pegs, mudguard eyes, etc.  This would have been ordered by a keen rider of the period to use in time-trials.

Looking back from our relatively affluent living style it is hard to imagine the living conditions for the years in question.  Just about everything was rationed and though the war was over ration allowances were being cut even from the levels during the time of hostilities.  Materials, such as steel, were in short supply and most of what was available was earmarked for export. Adverts for cycle components often stated that there was a short supply due to most production being exported. 

Bearing this in mind it is surprising that such beautiful frames with elaborate lugwork and finishes were produced and even more amazing that they sold in such numbers. People were often living up to ten in a small house, which could well have no bathroom and an outside toilet.  On Fridays the tin bath would be taken down from its hook on the wall and the whole family would take it in turns to have their weekly scrub; the last one in probably came out dirtier than when they went in!

Most riders had just the one machine which acted as transport to work, and was used for weekend clubruns, touring, and racing on the road and track.  The mudguards were on and off like ... (insert your own simile here!) and the best wheels would be used for racing only with an inferior pair for general use.  At factory gates, hundreds, and in some cases, thousands of workers on bikes would pour out at knocking-off time, not all clubmen of course.

Women were not allowed to compete in the same races as men so clubs had to organise separate events for them.  A few clubs were formed for women only, such as the Rosslyn Ladies CC, and they organised some of the larger events.
Time Trials 2
Ruth Smith (North Lancs CC) passing a Lancia Lambda in the 1955 25-mile Womens' Championship in an era when women were still not allowed to enter men's events. She is riding fixed with one brake to the front wheel and the obligatory bell mounted on the stem.
Events were also organised for tandems.  Solo trikes would compete in normal time trials for solo machines.  There may be a prize for trikes (or barrows as they were known) but barrow-boys tended to pit themselves against each other in a sort of limited fraternity. Tandem trikes would compete in tandem events of course. In 1960 the 'Uni' 30-mile tandem event attracted 65 entries, small fry though compared with the same event in 1936 which had 135 entries for an event limited to 100 riders.

time trials 8

Time trials 9
Top: Ron Jowers and Alan Jacob, Clarence Wheelers on a Carpenter SWB tandem. Below: E March and J Lieper, Viking RC on tandem-trike

Time trials 14
To complete the set, a solo trike ridden by Jack Nunn in the 1957 VTTA 12-hour time trial

Time trials 13 Alf Engers
The ultimate 25-mile time triallist of his day,
Alf Engers at speed on his Alan Shorter

One final aspect of the time trial scene is the end of season hill climb when all the seven stone riders came into their own.  Early events were ridden mainly on single-speed track frames - some with brakes, some without.  Below is an image of Terry Harradine taken when several riders opted for gears.  Having said that, the hill climb season still sees its fair share of single-speed machines.
Time trials 16
Terry Harradine on his Planet Pintail with Nervex Professional lugs seen here
at the 1964 Welsh National Hill-Climb Championships on the Old Church Hill, Abertillery
 where Terry finished off a very successful season with a seventh place

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sturmey Archer S2C Kick Shift 2 Speed Hub with Coaster Brake

Click on the photos to enlarge them
Sturmey Archer S2C

S2C stands for 2 speed with coaster brake.
 The temperature was in the 70s this afternoon and perfect for a bike ride. I went out to give the Sturmey Archer S2C a bit of a test ride. This hub is a two speed with a coaster brake. (you brake by back pedaling) To change gears you pedal backwards just a little, but not enough to put on the brake. If you pull up to stop in high gear you will change to low when you are applying the brake. The bike had a 165mm Crank with a 50 tooth chainring. The sprocket on the hub is a 22 tooth. First gear is a direct drive and second gear increases the drive by 38%. This gearing worked fine for me. It's been 38 years since I spent much time on a bike with a coaster brake. I'm sure I wasn't going as fast or far as I did on today's ride. It took a little experimentation to get used to stopping and starting with clipless pedals and a coaster brake. It wasn't a problem and after a couple of times I had it all figured out. A coaster brake is definitely better when riding in regular shoes and on flat pedals. This hub had a bit of an issue when in first gear. I will have to call Sturmey Archer tomorrow and see if there is a way to adjust the shifting. Part of the time when the hub was in first gear it had a bit of a skip in it. This hub would be great on a cruiser or city bike. (what it really is intended for) I had it on a Path Racer or Track Bike. It was fun to ride with real track bars and no controls on the handlebars. All the while I was still able to change gears and use the brakes. Hopefully I will be able to figure out the issue with the first gear and have more fun rides using the 2 speed kickback.

The Mill on Lasiter Lake outside of Clemmons, NC. Now a private home.
I headed out to ride the "Mill Loop". This is an old traditional riding route that every cyclist in town used to ride. In the last twenty years it has lost a little bit of it country charm with the addition of many new neighborhoods. There are still pastures and many areas that look the same. More cars but still a good place to ride. As I was riding I came upon some friends of mine; Louis, Alan and Wanda. I turned around and caught up with them to have a little company on the ride. Just like the weather it turned out to be a great day to ride a bike.

Stayer Tomy Hall and his pacer Cissac

Tomy Hall (1880-?) Professional: 1900-1914. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Gunnar Sport - A Sunday Afternoon Ride

Click on the photos to enlarge them.

Joe guarding my Gunnar Sport.
It was an exceptionally warm and windy day today. I left from my house to ride part of the up- coming Polar Bear Ride. My ride was a right at fifty miles in length. The traditional Polar Bear Route is a metric century, sixty five miles, but I took a few miles off by leaving from my house and also taking a short cut at the Advance, NC portion of my ride. This is a fun ride with beautiful scenery. The smooth ride of the Gunnar Sport made the ride even more enjoyable. 
The River Trail Mechantile is just outside of Advance, NC and is an enjoyable rest stop.
This wagon is under the front porch of the River Trail Mercantile.
A pasture with Cow's scattered across it in Davie County, NC.
Music: Nothin But Blue by The Jimmy Warren Band

Friday, November 18, 2011

Surly Pugsley....(9min edit)

Surly Pugsley's are cool bikes. I would like to ride one sometime to see how they perform with their super wide tires. This is a cool video of a great rider.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Newbaum's Rim Tape: Made in the USA !

Newbaum's Rim Tape

The material is a cotton-synthetic blend. Edges are reinforced. The adhesive they are using is slightly tackier than the leading rim tape maker. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

A fun adventure ride to Tanglewood Park

Click on the photos to enlarge them.
My Waterford X-22 bike beside the Yadkin River at Tanglewood Park.
It was an unusually warm day for November today. It would have been a perfect day to go on a ride of epic pa-portions, but I just wanted to have fun on my bike. On days like this I take my cyclo-cross bike. I call this my adventure bike since it has tires that are more suited to road and hard packed dirt riding than they are for cyclo-cross racing. The wheels that are presently on this bike have 700X28c "Ruffy Tuffy" tires. These are road tires that are larger than average and have a lot of puncture resistance built into them. They roll smooth on the pavement, and hold up well to off road riding. There isn't a deep enough tread pattern to work well in mud, but I just don't ride them off road unless the conditions are pretty much dry.

Today I rode over to Tanglewood Park, about a five mile ride, and made a few laps around on a route inside the park that I regularly take on this bike that incorporates many different types of surfaces. I always seem to have  the most fun and get a good work out when I do this type of ride. Having fun is what riding a bike is all about for me. I look forward to my next adventure ride and am thinking of possibilities right now. Tanglewood Park is always a good destination. Hope your next adventure ride is a good one.
A long fast section of double track across a grass field.

This section of single track trail is beside the BMX Track at Tanglewood.

Conditions were perfect for cranking out some speed in the big chainring on  this long flat  gravel road.

Tanglewood Park was willed to the people of Forsyth County by Will Reynolds, the brother of  RJ Reynolds, in 1951. "Mr. Will" raised and raced thoroughbred harness horses and established Tanglewood Farm as a home to some of the country's finest pacers.

This is part of a multiple use paved trail that is almost complete at the park. Click here for
information on this exciting  new addition to Tanlglewood Park.

Below is a short video of a section of trail along the Yadkin River.
Music: Arctic Stomp by Terry Devine-King  & Tom Jenkins

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Cat 8 Racing Group Ride 11-13-11

                                             Click on the photos to enlarge them.

At the Lewisville Town Square before the ride began.
I rode this afternoon with the "Cat 8 Racing" group. The ride started at 2:00 from the Lewisville, NC town square. We did the traditional "Rocket Ride",  which isn't named for the speed of the ride, but because one of the roads on the route is Rocket Road. From Lewisville, NC and back is a total of around 38 miles. I rode to and from my house to get in a few extra miles and save some money on driving expenses and ended up with just under 60 miles for the day. Riding with the "Cat 8 Racing" group is always fun. We ended up with seven riders. Staying together and working as a group made overcoming the windy conditions much easier and a lot more fun.  Another fun day riding my bike.
Riders waiting to begin.

Below is a short video of the ride just leaving Lewisville, NC on Conrad Road.
Music: Ida Mae by Lightin' Hopkins

How to use a torque wrench

Monty Python - Bicycle Repair Man

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Cyrille Van Hauwaert

Cyrille Van Hauwaert was a Belgian professional road bicycle racer who was born on December 16, 1883. He won Bordeaux-Paris in 1907 and again in 1909. In 1908 he won both Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix. In 1909 he won the first stage of the Tour de France and led the general classification for one day.

Monday, November 7, 2011


(Grand Rapids, MI) Brothers and partners, Tom and John Black will begin manufacturing rims in Jacksonville, Florida in February 2012.  Currently, all Velocity rims are made in Australia, and production will cease in Brisbane by the end of November.

Tom Black, the founder of Velocity, will be relocating from Australia to Florida where he will continue to oversee rim production at Velocity’s new manufacturing factory.  Velocity’s distribution center will continue to operate out of Grand Rapids, Michigan as it has since 1992 and become their worldwide headquarters; with the Australian facility remaining as a distribution center for the Asian and Australian markets.

Velocity will be the only U.S. produced aluminum rim in the cycling industry.  John Black, president of Velocity Worldwide, Inc., anticipates this to further propel the company as a leader in quality, ingenuity and customization customers have come to love and expect from Velocity.

More information to follow at

Alf Engers - "The King" of Time Trialing

Alf Engers
Alf Engers,nick named "The King" because of his time trialing ability, was born on June 1, 1940. He was an English racing cyclist who won many national championships from 1959 to the late 1970s. He also set many national records. In 1978 he set a British 25-mile (40 km) record of 49 minutes and 24 seconds at an average speed of 30.364 miles per hour (49.190 km/h). Engers said that he had been in a state of grace that day, and that he had an out-of-body experience during the last part of the ride. The record stood until 1990.
One of Alf Engers' Handlebars that has been drilled to shave weight.
 The bicycles he rode to time trial on were quite different from the machines used in today's time trials. There were no disc wheels, skin-suits, aero bars, or aerodynamic helmets during Engers' era. 

He was a trend setter in cycling. Many cyclists of the time were influenced to use large gearing when time trialing as they observed Alf doing this. Engers is also largely responsible for the late 1970s craze of drilling holes in components to reduce weight, known as "Drillium". His bikes were built by Alec Bird and Alan Shorter. 

Engers turned "independent" briefly in the early 1960s. "Independent" was a semi-professional class at the time, where riders could ride in both amateur and pro events. However, when Engers re-applied for amateur status in 1963 he was denied, again and again, and was not allowed to compete until 1968.

The governing body at the time, Road Time Trials Council, was constantly at odds with him. He was  reprimanded many times for riding in the middle of the lane. In 1976 he was stopped by the police during a time trial event for "riding dangerously", and the RTTC suspended him for the rest of the season.
Alf Engers during a Time Trial. Note the drilled chainring and how close the tires are to the frame.