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Open 25, beating adult riders and finished the year with a personal best
10 time of 21.04 (no aero kit in 1983 remember…). (One of his classmates
at school at the time was Daniel Craig!) When talking about Obree’s early
years, it’s scary to hear that he understated the violence he suffered in
his autobiography “Flying Scotsman”.

In 1983, Obree came to public notice, aged 17, in the 18 mile Ayr-Girvan TT
where he beat the favourite, former Tour de France rider Bob Addy (who
rode for Holdsworth Cycles pro team I seem to recall) , riding a 1938 track
frame with wheels rescued from a friend’s rubbish bin. Oh, and a racing
jersey cinched in to fit with safety pins.

As well as charting both riders careers, the book provides information on
some of their rivals, such as Colin Sturgess (1989 World Pro Pursuit
Champion) and explains some of the tactics, mistakes and back-stories
behind their successes and failures, such as a rival’s soigneur telling
Sturgess at one Worlds that his rider was on EPO and he had no chance
of beating him. There is plenty of anecdotal comment – for example
Boardman’s rival Jens Lehman improved his 4,000 metre result by 14
seconds in one year, riding faster over the distance in the 1991 worlds than
the GB Team Pursuit Squad! It was interesting to learn how Peter Keen
took Lehman’s height, weight, 4,000 metre time, calculated his frontal area
then extrapolated his power output and worked out what Boardman would
have to do to beat him in 1992.

One part of that equation is the Lotus-built bike, and that gets plenty of
“air-time”. Surprisingly, early wind-tunnel tests showed that Boardman was
more aero on his own bike than Mike Burrows aero special – it turned out
that the aero bike was set up for someone taller. To get around this, they
gaffer-taped his arms to the underside of the ‘bars and closer to his usual
TT position, improving things. There is also some amusing description of how
BC avoided the UCI banning the bike, by sending out a heavy prototype
version to some World Cup events to be ridden by Bryan Steel – a good
rider but not in Boardman’s league, so not likely to get results that would
provoke the UCI into banning the design. And so it proved – the weight of

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