Cycling Monologues No 18 – Better in the old days

“So anyway I was looking through these old photos and I found one from 1972 I did a 10 mile event on the old G11 course I remember that I had my Roberts with the down tube shifters of course Campag obviously and a Brooks saddle things were better then you didn’t have all this Di2 crap and carbon frames steel was the thing, more comfortable and durable it is it’s all crap now we didn’t wear helmets you didn’t need one we were hard then of course you had a lot of head injuries and cracked skulls but that was just bad luck you want my honest opinion I did a short 22 I remember it and Charlie Farnsbarns now there was a rider him and Alf Engers I saw them do a 2up they did a time then still hasn’t been beaten that was on the old G12 course it’s different now it starts in the lay-by and ends at the junction with the A22 you must have heard of Alf Engers he set some records still hasn’t been beaten he was like Beryl Burton only not a woman obviously if you know what I mean I was wearing toe clips not those poncey Speedplay pedals, I wore my normal work shoes and wool shorts they sagged like a bastard when it was damp which was all the time ha ha but if it was good enough for Alf Engers and Eddy Merckx and Tom Simpson and it was I saw him back in the day did I tell you that he did Paris Brest Paris his lowest gear was 39/23 can you imagine that half the riders today wouldn’t get up Star Hill if they didn’t have a compact and a 28 on the back they don’t know they’ve been born I tell you we were a different breed back then it’s not about the bike though you look at the club evening 10, Colin Smith did the fastest time ever wearing hob nailed boots and a 3 piece suit and a monocle no straight up and the club record Brighton and back from Croydon is under 4 and a half hours you can hardly credit that now but it’s true average 25 mile an hour you don’t see that now, course the roads were quieter then with hardly any cars the club was a lot bigger in those days we used to get 40 or 50 on a club run we used to take over the cafe the club run on a Saturday used to do 70 or 80 miles and we didn’t bother with a cafe stop I mean you didn’t have coffee then we just made do with fish paste sandwiches and a flask of tea there’d be all the Old Ports bombing along I tell you it was better in the old days you should have been there.”

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