People Like I Like Alf

Dennis says:

“Book arrived a few days ago.  Looks and reads great.  Nice to see the photos of Alf.  I spotted the large-flange hubs — or “Mozzi Record Strada Flange Grandi” as it said on the Campagnolo boxes — which you rarely see now.

I used to really like those hubs.  So to celebrate I dug out and polished an old pair and then reverently placed them back in their box.”

Steve says:

“Loved the Alf book. Just a joy to read your prose and experience Alf’s story. I could have quite happily devoured another 170 pages! It was also fabulous to see Alan Lear’s name mentioned. At the time of the Alf sub-50 project, Alan might have been with Lampard RC. A few years before that though, Alan was with the Watford Roads CC. Largely moribund at the time, the club was however my ‘home’ one and I joined it as a 14 year old schoolboy racer.

Alan was recently back from France, where he’d been for several seasons with the ACBB in Paris, I think. A team British lads sometimes were invited to join to try and ‘make it’ abroad. Alan was generous with his time and introduced me to long rides into the Chiltern hills. On one such, we went to watch the Chiltern GP (or it might have have been the Archer GP in the Chilterns!). A former ACBB team mate of Alan’s was racing – none other than Regis Ovion, Amateur World Road Race Champion, resplendent in the world champs jersey. Cue starry eyed kid attempting a bit of schoolboy French. Alan was of course fluent and chatted away with the world champ.

Happy days! Thanks again. Can’t wait for your next book.”

The King

“I look at the sky, expecting a heavenly chorus. Instead, somewhere a dog barks.”

alf 1975Alfrecord

alfengerscatterick_1000

Alf Engers rang me up out of the blue the other day. He introduced himself over the phone by counting down from 5 to 0, like a timekeeper at the push. He’d read my book and we met very briefly at the Pedal Club when I gave a talk. Apparently he liked my sense of humour and attitude. He’s quite the raconteur and I’m optimistic that this is the start of a new project. Three phone calls in and I’m already overwhelmed by writeable stories.

He also asked me if I was still racing. Alf Engers. Asked me about my bike riding.

We want the finest drillium available to humanity, we want it here and we want it now.

There are two mythical materials used in the construction of high-end bike frames, both of which are million miles away from the current crabon hegemony. The first of these is known simply as ‘unobtainium‘. A longstanding member of the london bicycle community and early guiding light of the LFGSS forum, known only as Cornelius, or Corny to his chums, rode a bike made of purest unobtainum. It was reputed that it had been built using materials left over from the construction of the space shuttle. It was shiny and silver and shimmered delicately in the smog.

Even rarer than unobtanium is the delicate filigree finish of a piece of finest drillium. The high-water mark for drillium was the 1960s and 70s, a time when weight was seen as the definitive measure, prior to the relentless focus on slipperiness cemented by Lemond’s Tour victory. Drillium is a startling frame material, two parts emmental to three parts solid silver. Occasionally an example comes up on fleabay or via Hilary Stone. Several minutes can be spent gazing at the delicate curlicues and intense fragility of the wonder material. Alf Engers is seen in some quarters of the King of Drillium. Some of his Shorter frames and components defined the aesthetic and practical limitations of the material.

For some time i’ve been exchanging pictures of drillium with Elliot Davis, with each trying to outdo the other with a new and outrageous example. I sent him the images of the Aende, the bicycling equivalent of mint aero. He linked to the campag seatpost. I thought it only right and proper that i share some of these meisterwerks with you. Feel free to add your drillium tales to the comments thread.

Chainset , brake levers, seat post of purest drillium
holy drillium, batman
drillium fork steerer
beautiful high-end drillium
not dissimilar to the airlite hub, but much more extreme
Molteni Merckx Drillium

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