ENGERS: ‘RTTC STOPPED ME GOING FASTER’
“Very interesting,” declared Alf Engers, now 78, when we showed him the calculation suggesting he would have gone four or five minutes faster using modern technology on the R25/3H in South Wales.
“The only thing I would have with that is there’s quite a bit of difference in the courses. If you want me to put the cat among the pigeons, I would say that course in Wales is one or two minutes quicker than the E72.
“The calculations, yeah, well we knew that wind drag was a major factor. Obviously we didn’t have wind tunnels etc. We were just guessing what would make a difference. A lot of the time we were quite wrong.
“We knew about clothing. I actually had a jersey made from a silver space blanket. I rode it at the Skol Six. The pros were coming out of their cabins and just touching it. The only thing was it wasn’t tight and it blew up like a barrage balloon so it was a disadvantage rather than an advantage.
“We tried to look at everything. When the comp record was 52.28 I equalled it but that doesn’t mean you’re a comp holder. So the next time I thought, well for Christ’s sake take the hoods off the brakes and I only had them half-taped. Tape the shoelaces up. And the ultimate thing — take the earring out, just in case.
“And I think the next time, 51.59, then the next time 51 dead. Well, if only I’d have done what? [To get inside 51 minutes.] Yes, we were always looking round for a gain without any extra effort. Why wouldn’t you? But we didn’t always know where to look.
“But everything you tried to do with the bike, the Road Time Trials Council stood in the way. We tried to put brakes behind the bars, I got a letter: ‘Brakes have to be in an accessible position.’ I had the first skinsuit made. Within a week I got a letter: ‘Jersey and shorts have to be separate.’
“All those types of things we thought about. But the RTTC automatically condemned anything they didn’t think of first. They stood in the way of progress.”
Does Engers blame the RTTC that he wasn’t able to go even faster than 49.24? “Yes,” he says. “We need the technology and thank heavens we haven’t got the Road Time Trials Council any more. And hopefully the new organisation won’t [stand in the way].”
Engers’s attempts at aero gains were often outlawed by the RTTC
Alf Engers in 2015
The King in his pomp