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Bryan Taylor’s Stayers bike :
Bryan Taylor (VC Londres) rode the BPA Stayers race at the 2005 Good Friday
Track meeting, an event that saw riders paced by Triumph Thunderbirds. We go
back in time and post the story we published then, hopefully it will put you
in the mood for the 2007
edition on April 6.
Bryan on the edge – click to see bigga
Bryan Taylor Writes; It’s a different frame from the one I used when I was
National Motor Pace Champion in the early 90’s. I ‘met’ it for the first time
the week before at Herne Hill where I did 30mins or so behind the motor bike
to try and set it up to fit me as comfortably as possible before dashing to
Eastway for the afternoon race.
I changed the saddle to a gel one to give my backside a chance of surviving
intact (last time I rode Motor Pace in 1993 I think, it was nearly a hospital
visit for stitches in that region afterwards!). I also changed the bar tape
and put some gel pads underneath – when I last rode, stayers either used 2 rolls
of bar tape, or often pipe lagging under the bar tape to try and help with
I still had a lot of trouble with my hands going numb and pins and needles
in the race even though I took a hand off the bars every now and then to stretch.
It’s much harder to stretch your body behind the big motors than it is on a
normal track bike, mainly because the bike handles very differently – very unstable
feeling out of the saddle due to the 24inch front wheel and forks turned towards
you (the idea of this being that the stayer gets closer to the pacer and out
of the wind more). Ideally I would have used a disc, but we didn’t have a lot
of time to get things together for the race.
Often the bikes have a metal rod connecting the stem with the fork, and another
from the tip of the saddle to the seat tube. This makes the components stiffer
and more stable and able to withstand any bumps and vibrations from the pacer
sitting pushed forward over the front wheel and perched on the tip of the saddle.
Triumph Thunderbird – click to see bigga
The hardest thing for me was to try and adopt the stayer position as I was subconsciously
trying to assume my normal track bike position, which is fine for attacks, but
no good for breathing normally – you sit upright to help get the fresh air from
over the pacer’s shoulder rather than a scrunched up position.
It can be really hard mentally doing motor pace when your legs have gone and
its not even half distance, your mind wanders and you want to give up, but one
thing that can amuse you when your head’s gone, is if you clear your throat,
it’ll often go forwards and cover the pacer’s leathers rather than cover you
or the person behind, because of the vacuum effect.
The gear I was using was 115 inches which is about average for motor pace (normal
gearing for track league events is 88-90). Sometimes a gear of over 120 inches
is used for motor pace, depending on tactics, track dimensions and surface quality,
and how windy the conditions are.
A massive gear is all well and good when you’re on the front or on your own,
but it’s very hard to sprint on it for any sustained length of time or repeatedly
sprint – the pacer has to time an attack right so the stayer isn’t held up high
on the track trying to get over the other rider for very long or else he’ll
blow up. And that’s when the trouble really starts – when you start to blow
in a road race for example, you go slower to give your legs a rest and maybe
put it in an easier gear. But on a gear that big, it’s even harder to turn it
slowly, so you’ve no choice but to keep going, and shout ‘tempo’ at the pacer
so he knows not to try and overtake anyone else.
And if you blow completely you shout ‘ho’ at the pacer, preferably before you’ve
lost the bike completely and he can’t hear you, so he knows to slow down and
try and get you back on the bike again and back up to speed
The other thing to note about the bike is the tape on the side of the tyres
and probably the messy looking glue sticking them on, and both are connected
to each other. Shellac is used to glue the tyres on rather than normal tub glue
– you have to make it up from crystals if I remember rightly, and it takes
ages to do as you build up layers of it on the rim.
Simon Cope’s bike – click to see bigga
Tape is ‘bandaged’ around the rim and onto the tyres to ensure that in the
event of a puncture, the tyre will stay on the rim. Tubular tyres are better
than clinchers in this respect anyway, but at the speeds you hit behind the
big motors, a puncture would result in a really serious accident without the
bandage enabling you to keep riding on the tyre without it coming off, which
at that speed and angle, it almost certainly would. To give an idea of the
speeds and forces on the bike, normally trackies have problems with wheels
slipping down the track if it’s damp or riding to slowly – I had a couple of
a heart stopping moments when I felt my back wheel skip up the banking very
A big difference with the pacer’s bikes a derny apart from the obvious one of
engine size is the upright position of the pacer to give more wind protection
– there is a rule limiting the number of layers of clothes that pacer’s can
wear to stop someone padding themselves out to give the rider more wind protection.
Also, the back of the bike has a roller which spins if you hit it – I did this
more than I’d have liked on Friday as my pacer seemed to misunderstand me shouting
‘tempo’ a few times and slammed his brakes on, meaning I had a few hairy moments
hitting the roller at speed and bouncing off, which then made it harder still
because I had to sprint back on again…..
I hated nearly every moment of that race, it’s demoralizing, incredibly hard
work physically and mentally, you worry about your safety more so than in
a bunch of 50 riders, it hurts just about everywhere, my hamstrings are still
hurting 3 days later, but if I could do it again tomorrow, I’d jump at the chance,
there’s nothing quite like the feeling of flying round a track at that speed
behind the big motors.
Good Friday Track International Meeting – Bradley
Wiggins leads the entry April 6
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