Roller-racing had all but ground to a halt in recent years but the guys at Rollapaluza have re-invigorated the almost lost art of pedalling furiously and going nowhere.
Caspar Hughes and Winston have taken their roller-racing rig on the road, hosting an impressive 55 races over the past 12 months, including events at the Tour de France prologue, the world MTB Championships and a 26-date university tour.
Live music and beer drinking are features of a Rollapaluza evening, reflecting the heyday of the sport in the 50s, when dancing girls and big bands would accompany the racing.
Winston explained the appeal of the format. “It is mostly members of the public who race, rather than traditional cyclists. It is a matter of good technique, rather than fitness, so you can wear jeans, have a beer and still do well. The spectators are watching gladiators on stage.”
Club cyclists can be reluctant to jump on the roller rig – perhaps fearing humiliation against a denim-clad courier. “When we set up the rig at Loughborough University, we were just a few yards away from where the road club met up,” said Winston, “but none of them would have a go. The mountain bike club members, however, all came over and tried it. We try hard to be inclusive – anybody can do it.”
Winston and Hughes have a busy year ahead with more developments planned: “We want to take roller-racing into schools,” said Winston. “Condor Cycles have supplied us with children’s track bikes. We are also working on staging regional heats towards a National Championship to be staged in London.”
This Friday (April 19) sees the rollers in action in a joint promotion with Rapha at Imbibe Bar in London, and April 25 at the I Bike MCR Festival in Manchester. All welcome, lycra optional.