Alf Engers set his first cycling record in 1959 when he was just 19 years old. His 25-mile time trial record stood at 55 minutes and 11 seconds.
Nineteen years later, Alf did it again, establishing a British 25-mile (40km) record of 49 minutes and 24 seconds in 1978. In doing so, he became the first rider to beat 50 minutes and the first to average more than 30mph (48km/h). The record stood until the 1990s.
Alf started club cycling in 1952, but it was not until 1961 that he was offered an independent contract with Ted Gerrard Cycles. However, work commitments restricted Alf to just two races in two years, so he applied to be reinstated as an amateur. His application to be reinstated to an amateur status was rejected for five consecutive years!
Alf was finally reinstated as an amateur in 1968 and a year later he won the national kilometre time trial. What further records Alf may have won during that period of isolation we’ll never know.
His career in cycling was never plain sailing. Alf never completely saw eye to eye with either The British Cycling Federation or Road Time Trials Council.
He frequently clashed with both bodies because of his attitudes towards cycling and bike building. His style of cycling – near the centre of the road – when the roads being used were open to the public and not closed annoyed the authorities (how dare he!).
Similarly, Alf and bike builder Alan Shorter were among the first to experiment in creating lightweight bikes, drilling holes into brakes, frames and chain wheels – all at a time when challenging the status quo was frowned upon.
© 2017 Jan Enkelmann. All rights reserved.