A Night with Graham Obree

The Building Centre, home to the Engineering Club held a ‘cycling night’ on Thursday 22nd September 2011. There were three fascinating speakers; Mike Taylor of Hopkins Architects, Klaus Bode of BDSP and the Olympian and hour record breaker, Graham Obree.

Mike Taylor spoke about the considerable thought and choices that had gone into the design of the track. Many of us have ridden on a variety of velodromes in the UK, both outdoor like Welwyn or indoor like Manchester, but very few of us would imagine that a slight change in the shape of the track can make it a pursuiter’s delight but a sprinter’s nightmare. This is one of the many choices that have gone into the Ron Webb track that will be raced on in London next year.

Next Klaus Bode spoke about the building and in particular the optimum environment for racing at international level and in particular to break records in an olympic setting. It was impressive the amount of thought that has gone into not only creating the perfect environment for the Olympic track racing (hot and humid) but in providing a good, ecologically sound environment for when the track is used post-Olympics for both training and competition.

If Mike and Klaus were concerned about talking before Graham Obree, who I guess the majority of the audience of 300 had come to see, they shouldn’t have been. Both held the audience spellbound and set the scene in a way very few other speakers could have done for Graham Obree to come and speak about the rider’s interaction with the track.

If you get the chance to hear Graham Obree speak, don’t miss it. He is a great speaker, giving you an entertaining mixture of insight, humour, passion and pathos in describing his journey as a bike rider who went on to be an Olympian and hour record breaker. For any level of cyclist, whether racing, randonneuring or just out to enjoy their bike, Graham Obree dispenses nuggets of knowledge and insights almost every minute he is talking. He’s not just a guy who rides a bike incredibly quickly, he is also an obsessive thinker who goes the extra kilometre to get things as perfect as he can. It is therefore no wonder that he has achieved what he has and done it in incredibly inventive style with ground breaking bikes and positions like ‘superman’. He also understands the way the track, bike and athlete interact, so pulling all three talks into a great denouement.

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