Showing posts tagged Interviews


The man who dreamed up the Boulder Valley Velodrome talks with Dave Towle about his plans for building a 250-meter outdoor wooden track in Eerie, Colorado. The project looks like it’s coming along and just need some support from the right places.

For more info, check out Boulder Valley Velodrome’s website.


Another video from today’s Track World Cup in Manchester — we get to chat with the legendary Chris Boardman as he reminisces over his long-standing Individual Pursuit world record which was recently broken by Jack Bobridge.


When I first heard about Chris Robin’s Obree Bike it was just a balsa wood core. Aside from the wheels, it didn’t look much like a bicycle at all — probably kinda like how Obree’s original bike appeared when he first introduced it to the international stage at the 1993 World Championships.

Chris Robin’s Paragon was built at home taking heed to the same innovative ideas that Obree had put into his Old Faithful (also a homebrew bike). So while most people I know would never have thought to construct a frame out of balsa wood, I’m sure that twenty years ago a lot of people would never have thought to turn a washing machine into a bottom bracket. Could this be the bike that Obree would have built if he were competing today?

I’ve recently had the pleasure of chatting with Chris Robin about his experience creating this bike…

RTBL: This bike has taken almost a year to build. We all know who inspired the design but what exactly motivated you to take on this project?

CHR: My Father showed me a picture of Obree when he broke The Hour Record in 1993. I was 14 years old and pretty much into BMX and MTB. at the time. When I saw that picture it just blew my mind. It wasn’t like anything I have ever seen before and ever since that day I have always wanted to ride a bike like Obree’s Old Faithful. And because you can’t buy one off the shelf I had to build one.

RTBL: Your bike looks pretty faithful to the concept of Old Faithful yet with some obvious differences. Granted it’s not a replica bike — but why did you make the choices you made (i.e. why balsa wood)?

CHR: No you’re right, It’s not a replica. I wanted to do my own version of an Obree bike but I also wanted to stay true to the original in some parts. Like the Specialized tri spoke wheels and the Rolls saddle and the super slim bottom bracket (40mm and a q-factor of 84mm). Otherwise I wanted to have a more slick aero feel to it, like the GT Super Bike. Not just for the looks but also to improve the aerodynamics compared to the original. Then the limitation of my small workshop and wallet did the rest. For example the balsa wood is pretty easy to come by and it comes in really nice flat board. And I could just use all my wood working tools to get the shape going. It was almost like building a wooden sculpture. Really fun and creative.

RTBL: What was the most difficult part of the construction?

CHR: Probably the fork with the integrated stem and handlebar. It was a nightmare getting all the angles right and then getting the glide bearings to work.

RTBL: What was the most rewarding?

CHR: Riding the bike along the black line at the track in 45km/h. Probably the biggest bicycle experience since I first learned to ride one.

RTBL: How does it ride? Are the results what you expected?

CHR: It rides really good. Really really good. The track I’m riding is a very short and steep one, 190m with 52° banking. I read in Obree’s book The Flying Scotsman about a race he did on a velodrome in Geneva which was 160m and 52° banking. He described that he had a good advantage against the other riders because his position let him go faster in the steep and narrow curves. He describes it like he could “hang on the gear” better than the other riders. I wanted to take that further by having a really steep steering angle (80.5°) to avoid the bike from wanting to “climb”. More or less everyone thought this was a bad idea. People calculated that it would wobble and so on. But the thing that happens is that when I get into position and lay the weight on the handlebar the bike just goes like a train. And when I’m in the bend the G-force pushes me harder against the handlebar witch makes it even more stead so instead of wanting to climb the bike flows round the black line amazingly natural.

RTBL: You dropped a teaser video from the Falun Velodrome a couple weeks ago. Have you attempted riding The Hour yet? Are we going to be able to see more of that soon?

CHR: I have not made an attempt on The Hour yet, but I can promise that you will be seeing more velodrome action very soon.

RTBL: After spending so much time and energy on this project, does everyone think you’re crazy now? Any regrets?

CHR: Most people think I’m nuts. But I have gotten so much support from so many people throughout the project and it is thanks to them the bike is finally ready. The only regret I have is that I should have done this earlier.


Frame: Carbon fibre with balsa wood core. Integrated saddle (San Marco Roll´s model) and seat post. 70mm spacing between dropouts
Fork/ Handlebar: Carbon fibre mono fork with integrated stem and handlebar.
Handlebar width 30cm (at the widest)
Headset: Nylon glide bearings 24mm wide
Front wheel: Specialized tri spoke with modified hub
Rear wheel: Specialized tri spoke with cassette tread, the cog is mounted backwards to get the chain line as narrow as possible. No lockring needed.
Bottom bracket: Shimano Tiagra customized to 40mm width
Crank arms: Shimano Tiagra 170mm reshaped for a narrower q-factor
Pedals: Integrated pedal axel on Shimano shoes
Chainring: Custom made alloy 50t
Chainring bolts: Dia comp alloy
Cog Shimano Dura ace 13t 1 1/8 (now I have a 12t)
Chain: Izumi NJS 1 1/8
Tires: Dugast pink silk latex pista

To stay tuned with updates on Chris Robin’s Paragon, follow this thread on Fixed Gear SE.

Great interview with Dick Lane about the history of Atlanta’s Dick Lane Velodrome.

« Constructed in 1974, the Dick Lane Velodrome was inspired by a group of residents and City officials that visited the Munich Olympics. Located eight miles south of downtown Atlanta, the Dick Lane Velodrome is a 1/5 of a mile and 36° banked concrete track for bicycle racing, set in Sumner park in a residential part of beautiful historic East Point. Dick Lane is the only velodrome in the world with a green space that contains a large oak tree and a creek running through the in-field. The City of East Point owns the velodrome and has a long-term partnership with the EPVA to manage the Dick Lane Velodrome, and continue its use as one of the premier facilities of its kind. »

Track Stars Face Off In Melbourne

The UCI World Cup Classics season kicks off tomorrow in Melbourne and all eyes are on Australia and Great Britain.

The Aussies are determined to put on an impressive show for their home court audience, fresh off a dominating medal haul at the Commonwealth Games. The Brits are eager to rebuild their reputation as the fastest country in the world after a decent performance at the European Championships.

The stakes are even higher with much-needed Olympic qualification points on the line. Let’s take a look at a few of the stars of this dramatic rivalry…

Britain’s Chris Hoy ducked out of the Commonwealths to focus on the European Champs for the Olympic qualification points. But he made an embarrassing miscalculation in the first round of Match Sprints against 18-year old Felix English which cost him the tournament. Now Hoy is fiending for retribution like a crack fiend to get those qualification points that he missed out on. See a video interview at BBC Sports.

Australian Shane Perkins is eager to be the next kid to take down Hoy. He recently came down with a bad stomach bug and there was a scare that he might not be able to compete. But the latest news is that Perkins is feeling well enough to compete. The 23-year old rising star won Gold in the Sprint at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi and now he’s excited to kick some ass on his home turf. Read about it at Cycling News.

Great Britain’s Victoria Pendleton will be trying to outrun her demons on the track. The current Olympic Match Sprint champion knows what’s at stake and the pressure is on. With the 2012 Olympics taking place in London, Pendleton needs to make her country proud and she’s been training hard. Maybe a little too hard? Pendleton recently complained of a training-related back pain but she will compete anyway. Read about it at Cycling Central.

In the women’s sprint events, Anna Meares could be Australia’s biggest hope for some World Cup medals. She’s taking on the Keirin, 500m TT and Match Sprints and constantly looking for weaknesses in what could be some very stiff competition. At the 2008 Olympics, Meares was beaten by Victoria Pendleton in the Match Sprint finals and since then, she’s been looking to turn the table around. Read more at Velodrome Shop.

The World Cup Classic in Melbourne starts tomorrow and will continue until Saturday. I’m really excited about this competition and hopefully I’ll be able to find a live feed to share. For more event information, event schedule, news and results as they develop check this website and of course I’ll be bringing you the coolest news and video I can find right here at Ride The Black Line!

Quinn Hatfield!

This came out last week while I was away so some of you have probably already seen it…

LA’s own Quinn Hatfield was featured on The Wall Street Journal website talking about juggling his track training and running a restaurant (Hatfield’s on Melrose — I hear it’s delish so I’m gonna have to check it out) in a cool video and web article.

See it here!
Quinn Hatfield!

This came out last week while I was away so some of you have probably already seen it…

LA’s own Quinn Hatfield was featured on The Wall Street Journal website talking about juggling his track training and running a restaurant (Hatfield’s on Melrose — I hear it’s delish so I’m gonna have to check it out) in a cool video and web article.

See it here!

Quinn Hatfield!

This came out last week while I was away so some of you have probably already seen it…

LA’s own Quinn Hatfield was featured on The Wall Street Journal website talking about juggling his track training and running a restaurant (Hatfield’s on Melrose — I hear it’s delish so I’m gonna have to check it out) in a cool video and web article.

See it here!

London Velodrome Architect Ron Webb

The London Olympic Velodrome is now complete!

Click here to see a quick video interview with track architect Ron Webb about the precision and care that went into its design.

You have to be harder, tougher, develop a thicker skin and emotions have to be pushed to one side — you can’t cry.

— British Champ Victoria Pendleton on the difficulties of working in such a male-oriented environment.

Read the full article on Cycling News.

A Few Interviews To Read

Aussie sprinter Shane Perkins won the Gold Medal in the Sprint but faced a controversial disqualification in the Keirinat the Commonwealth Games last month. Now he’s looking towards 2012 for the Olympics. Check out the interview on VeloNation.

Dirk Dekeyser has been a pro mechanic on the Six Day Racing circuit for over ten years. He chats about the joys and pains of working the Six Days over the years. Read the interview on PezCycling.

With his suspension for doping temporarily lifted by the Belgian Court of Appeals, Iljo Keisse will be able to race in the Ghent Six Day. Read about how excited he is to be back on the bike over at CyclingNews.

A website dedicated to the support and growth of grassroots track cycling, the comradery and heritage of the worldwide velodrome circuit and the roots and culture of fixed gear bicycle racing.

If you have any news, stories, photos, videos, questions or comments to share I would love to hear from you so please contact me.