Watching the Paralympics was exciting for all sorts of reasons, but primarily because it provided the rare sight of some hardcore tandem track action. Watching tandem crews on the boards is a nerve-shredding experience, especially when they are involved in a team sprint.
Back in the day (and i mean a long long time back in the day, prior to motor bikes being sufficiently rapid to perform pacing duties) they would use up to or beyond 5 man crews to pace the stayer bikes.
One of my favourite clips is from the Worlds in 1982 at Leicester. The track at Saffron Lane was top-notch and held several national and international events. Eventually it fell into disrepair, before being demolished to sell off for the filthy lucre and short-term gain of the ‘developers’. I can’t help but feel that Leicester missed the boat by not renovating, the current bike boom would surely see any velodrome within the city as an asset.
In this clip there is some serious jiggery pokery out on the wood. The front wheel wobbles like a spinning plate and the pilot somehow – lord only knows how – manages to steer the wounded machine into the infield and across the grass before bringing it to a halt, remaining upright. Steve compared it to a hollywood film where someone ‘somehow lands a crippled airliner with an undercarriage malfunction, brings it home to the applause and relief of the onlookers’. the bike handling is awe-inspiring, as is the trackstand performed by the Czech crew at the outset.
Alternatively, here’s a quick way to reduce the circumference of a front disc wheel from 700c to a Bromptonesque and slightly irregular 349mm in about 8 seconds…