Cycling Weekly - - FEATURE -

“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

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