Monday, November 7, 2011

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.

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