Bless the BFI. The nation’s repository for vintage films has done a fine job with the inclusion of these two pieces of cycling history. ‘Holiday cycling at Herne Hill’ (pictured above), is from the annual Good Friday event in 1924, which often saw crowds of over 10,000 cycling fans packed into the velodrome. What is particularly interesting – for a cycle nerd like me – is the good technique on show. Watch the first two riders spin efficiently whilst minimising their upper body movement. Remember – no clipless pedals back then.
The second film – Cyclists Special – is all about travelling around Britiain by bicycle with the aid of our formally great – to those of us with romantic notions and memories – British Rail. An excursion train equipped with cycle vans – take note rail operators! – takes a party of cyclists and their machines from Willesden and Watford to Rugby, where they split up into separate parties and tour the countryside of Warwickshire, Leicestershire and Northamptonshire. They visit, among other places, Kenilworth Castle, a country pub (naturally), the church at Stanford on Avon and the site of the Battle of Naseby, before returning home by train in the evening. What with my new (old) Carlton, and a fondness for slightly quieter times, I found it rather spiffing viewing.
If you’re on a time schedule, watch the Herne Hill video first (a mere 1min 24 seconds), then take some time to make a fitting cup of tea, flop in a favourite armchair and get whisked back to the ’50s.
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