There was a time before cutting-edge technology, highly-qualified advisers, experts and technicians, when cyclists had to make do on their own.
Some accepted their lot, and still made a decent go of it on the roads and tracks, but others pushed the boundaries through innovation and radical ideas.
Take Graeme Obree, smashing world records in the velodrome on his trusty steed ‘Old Faithful’, with his body bent at almost 90 degrees and his handlebars almost underneath him (below).
Made with the bearings of a washing machine, the Flying Scotsman’s home-made machine flew around Norway’s Vikingskipet velodrome, landing Obree into the record books with a new hour record.
The record stood for just a week before Chris Boardman, who became a fierce rival of Obree, broke it and so ensued one of British cycling’s great rivalries in the early 1990s.
Obree took his record back in 1994, and also became the 4000m pursuit champion in 1993 and 1995.
His career, which saw him battling not only Boardman but also the authorities and his own mental health, was intriguing enough to become a biopic.
But what of the man now? Well he is back, with a new book – The Obree Way, his guide to cycling training – and a new home-made bike.
The Flying Scotsman, riding ‘The Beastie’ and adopting the ‘Obree three-phase breathing technique’, hopes to break the world land speed record in the Nevada desert.
And the maverick genius will be revealing the motivation behind his innovation and his desire to keep improving himself even now, aged 47.
The Bloomsbury Institute will be hosting Obree for an evening with journalist and author Richard Moore on Tuesday, October 15.
Opening at 6pm for a 6.30pm start, tickets for the evening at 50 Bedford Square, London, WC1B 3DP cost £10, or £6 for students, including wine.
For more information, or to book tickets, visit www.bloomsburyinstitute.com.