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Brian and Gui: Completely Out of the Ordinary

Talk of the T-Town Podcast Show Art

Episode 7

“What could go wrong? 56” wheels momentum. Go 15, 20 miles an hour? Good luck stopping.

– Brian Boger and Guillaume Nelessen

This week on Talk of the T-Town, Joan sits down with Gui Nelessen and Brian Boger and breakdown Penny-farthings and discuss what an hour record attempt would look like on one.

Visit the Doyles Town Bike Works Website.

Instagram: @bikeworkspa


Transcript

Joan Hanscom:

Welcome to the Talk of the T-Town podcast, where we discuss all things track cycling. Broadcasting from the Valley Preferred Cycling Center, I’m your host and Executive Director, Joan Hanscom, along with my co-host, Athletic Director, Andy Lakatosh.

Joan Hanscom:

Hello listeners, welcome to this week’s Talk of the T-Town podcast. I’m holding down the fort solo this week here in freezing cold Pennsylvania, while Andy’s enjoying some warm weather in southern California, and I’d just like to say, did I mention he owes me big? I’m super excited about this episode, because it’s a dose of optimistic wacky joy which, speaking solely for myself, is much needed right now. Our guests this week are a sort of two person comedy team, who are up to some absolutely awesome things in the coming season on an ordinary bike, which, more on that later, and they’re just generally great individuals who both give a lot to our sport.

Joan Hanscom:

So before that, a little housekeeping. If you’re enjoying the content we’ve been bringing you, please subscribe and leave us positive reviews. Nothing helps us grow the pod like subscriptions and positive reviews, and you can find us anywhere you consume your podcasts. Now, moving on to this week’s guests. Together we’re cooking up something super awesome for 2021, and I’m excited to have them joining me today to talk about it. Gui Nelessen and Brian Boger are here to talk about a sort of top secret project. Brian is a partner in Doylestown Bike Works, and Gui, among many things, captains their racing team.

Joan Hanscom:

To give you a little background, for those of you who don’t know Gui, he started racing more than 25 years ago at the age of 13. Several of those years were spent as a pro, traveling abroad. He has over 90 career wins, four Elite National Championships, one Masters Championship, 14 national medals, and five years on the national track team. But when you ride with Gui, he brings you joy. He does circus tricks, which I most enjoy being part of, and he’s also an incredible woodworker and craftsman. But, he might be most famous as the stuff of serious bike racers’ nightmares. Known for crushing souls, racing as The Shark in the industry race across Vegas. And with a last row start, I might add, I heard more than one very accomplished bike racer saying out loud, “Don’t get caught by The Shark. Don’t get caught by The Shark.” And they all got caught by The Shark.

Joan Hanscom:

So Gui, our famous shark friend, is here to join us. And we also have Brian Boger, who’s the partner at Doylestown Bike Works, and has served as a manager of their team since 2017. He’s expressed goals that are near and dear to my heart, which is to grow the women’s side of the team as well, and expand on their women’s racing program, and he wants their team to do epic things. He may or may not have other news he wants to share with us, but we’ll leave that up to him.

Joan Hanscom:

So, with no further delay, let’s get to it. Welcome, you guys, and thanks for joining me here on the pod.

Brian Boger:

Thanks for having me.

Joan Hanscom:

So, our viewers can’t see you, but behind you is a giant, giant wheel. A wheel that would go on a penny-farthing, or what you call an ordinary, and that’s, I think, foreshadowing of what we’re going to talk about. But first, I want to thank you, Brian, for supporting the track. You’ve been an excellent sponsor. You’ve sponsored us for the last several seasons, you’ve brought people out to race, you’ve encouraged people to race, you’ve brought folks out to spectate. So, tell us a little bit about Doylestown Bike Works, and why it’s special, what your goals are for the team, and then maybe tease up this special project we’ve got rolling with Gui.

Brian Boger:

All right, well, my involvement with the shop kind of started in 2011. My partner Fran Taloricco and I started the business, and since that time we’ve become an employee-owned business, so there’s six of us altogether that own the business. We’re really lucky to be in this amazing small town of Doylestown. The history of the Industrial Age and the Agricultural Age that’s here really lends itself to what we wanted to do with the bike shop. I have a lot of interest in the history of bicycling and where it all came from, and just across the street from our shop is an old Ag Works that manufactured bikes in the 1890s, and we’re lucky to have one of those bikes here in the shop.

Brian Boger:

As far as the team goes, it was interesting. I used to work at a different bike shop, and the owner of that shop always told me that you should never be involved with a bike team. He said that was a horrible thing to be involved in, and it would do nothing but bring disaster to the business. That stuck with me for a while, and I guess maybe three or four years ago, Chris Meacham and some of the west clients, some of the folks that you guys all know from the track, wore me down about starting a team, and it turned out to be a lot of fun. Turns out everything they told me beforehand was wrong. So, I’ve really enjoyed being involved with it.

Brian Boger:

My history of the track goes back to high school. I came up to see Nelson Vails race, when I was in high school as a cross-country racer, with my teammate and my current business party. And at the time it happened I didn’t know that anybody could race on the track. I thought it was some really exotic thing that Europeans did or something, I had no idea. So, all these years later, when I found out that pretty much anybody could race at the track, I wanted the team to be a thing to introduce kids to the sport, and let them find out that they could participate too. Dan Turner, one of my partners-

Dan Turner:

Oh, here we go.

Brian Boger:

…has been coming in and out of the picture. I’ll get back to Dan, but he’s largely to blame for this whole high wheel thing.

Dan Turner:

Leave me alone.

Joan Hanscom:

I wish that this was a video podcast, because it would be the funniest one we’ll ever do.

Brian Boger:

I stuck through that pretty well, didn’t I?

Guillaume Nelessen:

Yeah, you did.

Joan Hanscom:

You were amazing. So, for our listeners, there was everything from bunny rabbit ears to…

Brian Boger:

Penny-farthing wheels.

Joan Hanscom:

Penny-farthing wheels, some sort of obscene hand gestures?

Brian Boger:

I got a wet willy, all kinds of stuff happened.

Dan Turner:

He deserves it.

Joan Hanscom:

And Brian kept a straight face, and kept on talking, so that’s a sign of a true pro. So Gui, you’re the captain of this ragtag team of fast dudes, masters, elites, and juniors, and some women. Assuming we’re racing this year, you have a new baby on the way, are we going to see you out racing bikes next summer, if we’re back doing the bike racing thing?

Guillaume Nelessen:

Absolutely, with no hesitation. I’m a lifer. There aren’t very many of us lifers, but without bike racing, I’m not really sure what I would do with myself.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. Sad but true. I’m in the lifer category now myself, which is really weird. So Brian, you said to me once that you really wanted to grow the women’s side of participation on your team. Is that still a focus for 2021?

Brian Boger:

Yeah. When we sat down and wrote a mission statement for the team, the mission was to increase the diversity and representation of folks that were competing on bicycles, whether they were elite racers, or whether they were amateur racers. I come from a different sport. I was involved in other sports before all the bicycling stuff happened, and the sport that I was involved with, we were very successful in growing a grassroots program and that sport has done really well. A big part of it was growing a women’s side of that sport, and when I came into cycling I realized how much that was needed in this sport. So, certainly something that we’re committed to doing with the team.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, and that’s been a real commitment here at the track, so happily, one of the things that we discovered this summer when we were doing our data recap of the year, we’ve brought that number here at the track from not a whole lot of female participation to about 70-30, which is so much better than the national average is. I think USA Cycling, they go 88-12, 86-14, on percentages of women participation, and it’s really exciting that here we are ahead of that trendline. I think that you’ve got a lot to do with that.

Brian Boger:

I think the really exciting day is going to be when, as a team, we’re not recruiting racers from other teams, but we’re home-growing them here in Doylestown ourselves, and that’s the goal.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, that’s awesome. That’s super awesome. All right, so, here’s the question of the day. When I say ordinary, what do you guys think? Gui, go.

Guillaume Nelessen:

A long, long, long process. An ordinary process, with the creation of a really funky old bike.

Joan Hanscom:

So, for our listeners, an ordinary is another term for penny-farthing or high wheel bike. Last fall I was recovering from surgery, and I was awake in the middle of the night because I was uncomfortable, and I saw a video on GCN about somebody attempting the hour record on a high wheel bike. In the middle of the night, I texted Gui this story, and I was like, “You totally have to do this.” And that was probably one of the snowballs that started rolling down the hill. I don’t know if you guys had talked about it prior, but I feel guilty that I perhaps was an accelerant of this process. So what is the hour record on a high wheel bike, on an ordinary?

Guillaume Nelessen:

Brian?

Brian Boger:

The current record is just over 23 miles an hour. The team that you referenced in Manchester, England, managed to break that record last year. It was the first time that record had been broken since an American named Ben Rowe did it in 1883. At the time Ben Rowe broke that record, 22 miles an hour was the fastest any human being had ever propelled themselves, in any fashion, in the world. It was kind of the four minute mile of 1883. Right after he did it, the bicycle improved quite a bit. The modern diamond framed bicycle is called a safety bicycle, as an homage to the bike that preceded it, which was the penny-farthing, which was this incredibly dangerous bicycle, so people stopped riding them. So for a combination of reasons, that record stuck for a long time.

Joan Hanscom:

Now Gui, you are going to attempt the hour record. The hardest event on the track, you’re going to attempt the hour record on a high wheel bike.

Guillaume Nelessen:

That’s the plan. We’re going to fabricate them, and I think the plan is to do the original event, which is a three person hour record, and then also try to break the Guinness Book record that’s current, that is the hour record, like our traditional hour record is.

Brian Boger:

Yeah, the video that you saw on GCN, those guys had an unfortunate experience in that they assumed that the hour record was as we would know it today, an individual record. Bike racing at that time was always a paced effort. Individual attempts didn’t come around until later. So they went out and established what they thought was a record, only to be told, “No, no, no, you did this wrong. You needed to do it with teammates.”

Joan Hanscom:

Oh, can you imagine? That’s awful.

Guillaume Nelessen:

I mean, they still got the Guinness Book record for it.

Brian Boger:

Yeah, well the real problem is coming up with more than one penny-farthing. I mean, that’s really the problem, right? There’s two of them sitting behind me, but they’re not something you just trip across all over the place. And we were sort of confronted with the problem of like, do we have Gui exercise and stretch and hydrate for a year, or do we just build a better bike? And that’s what we landed on.

Joan Hanscom:

So Gui, talk about your bike.

Guillaume Nelessen:

Okay, so, at this point we kind of mooched off of a couple different designs. We took primarily one from Standard Highwheels, which is a guy in Finland? Brian? Denmark?

Brian Boger:

He’s in Sweden, I believe.

Guillaume Nelessen:

There we go. Somewhere not here. He’s kind of given us some pointers and some parts. He gave us a crown race, he gave us some fork blades. He hooked us up with a few little odds and ends that we kind of needed to put the puzzle together. But beyond that, it’s really just been going from a wheel size, guessing a frame radius, and kind of just playing Legos for grownups in my garage. I’m not going to lie, it’s a little bit like that.

Joan Hanscom:

So, everybody should follow along on Gui’s social media, @lostinstudio on Instagram, because periodically you will see the bike in process. You will see bits and bobs of this bike being assembled.

Guillaume Nelessen:

Right now, the bikes are built. As far as we know, we haven’t actually test-ridden one yet. They’re built, they’re being heat treated, we’re going to paint them, then we’re going to put parts on them, and then we’re going to test ride them. So we should be fine.

Joan Hanscom:

What could go wrong?

Guillaume Nelessen:

What could go wrong.

Brian Boger:

Guys in 1883 built these things, I mean, they didn’t even know not to pee in the water they were drinking in. I think we got it. I think we can handle this, you know?

Guillaume Nelessen:

We should be fine. We’re really worried about the paint color, let’s be realistic here. Because paint’s expensive.

Joan Hanscom:

Oh man.

Guillaume Nelessen:

And probably the most disappointing part of this process was Dan Turner, who was our wheel builder, and really the guy who sort of introduced us all to penny-farthing racing, for whatever that’s worth. The day that the skid showed up from Velocity Wheels with, I don’t know, five or ten [inaudible 00:14:58] 52″ wheels.

Dan Turner:

Don’t blame me!

Guillaume Nelessen:

That was an incredibly… This isn’t my day, is it.

Joan Hanscom:

Oh my god. We all think about, “Oh, it’s new bike day!”, and your new bike day is very, very different.

Guillaume Nelessen:

Just so we can give you a sense of perspective, Brian… Joan, you sent me that message last fall. Over a year ago. Brian had been talking to me probably six months prior to that with these subtle ideas, and vice versa. They’d lent me a bike to play with and ride around town, because I thought it’d be a great town bike. But then, we actually started the process, like “Okay fine, let’s build these things, let’s see what we got to do, let’s put the pieces together.” This was over a year ago, and our original deadline was March. Right now, we have like three wheels built, all the frames are built, but we still don’t have a bike, so.

Joan Hanscom:

And when did you say you were going to do this hour record attempt?

Guillaume Nelessen:

Next summer. We should be fine. It’s all in Dan’s lap, now. Dan’s just got to build all the wheels and assemble them.

Brian Boger:

It’s like taking a final in high school, honestly. The more the deadline’s there, the more pressure is on you. We would have had it done if the pressure was on us.

Guillaume Nelessen:

Yeah honestly, if Dan wasn’t just standing behind Brian, working, we’d be done sooner.

Dan Turner:

All right, listen up.

Brian Boger:

Should be dishing a wheel right now or something.

Guillaume Nelessen:

Correct.

Joan Hanscom:

So Gui, how do you train for the hour record on a high wheel bike?

Guillaume Nelessen:

So, that’s been a conversation that I’ve had with Bill Elliston and Bobby Lee, and I think we’re kind of just going to train the same way you’d train for an hour record normally, and we’re just going to kind of treat the bike like any other bike. It’s going to have a lap split, and we’ll figure out how much power I need to put out to hold whatever the split that needs to be over a period of time. We’re just going to have to dope it out bit by bit. It’s a little bit like starting from scratch. It’s the same way you’d start from scratch at any track with any bike on any gear. It’s going to take a couple attempts, it’s going to take some definitely early mornings at the track with a lot of people staring at me like I’m an idiot.

Brian Boger:

Well one of the things that I think the team in Manchester, I think they did the record at Herne Hill. The reason why penny-farthings persisted as long as they did… They were dumb bikes, it was a dumb idea. The pneumatic tire hadn’t been invented yet, the bicycle chain hadn’t been invented yet. And the large wheel was just simply a way to try to overcome mud and ruts in the roads. But the only reason they persisted as long as they did was because they were faster track bikes, for a long time, than the safety bicycle was. So there was this period of time where people were racing penny-farthings and racing safety bikes at the same time, but Herne Hill, and those tracks they were racing on, does not have even the bank that T-Town does.

Brian Boger:

So when Dan and I first… Actually, and if you remember, the first time that Shirley came up. Joan, it was before you were at the track. I started bomb-tweeting the velodrome, saying that we wanted to do a penny-farthing race there, which they summarily ignored for quite a while. And then finally someone reached back to me and said, “All right, what is this about?” And I pitched this idea. But Dan and I went up one winter and had him ride around the track. We didn’t even know if you could ride one on the track. We had no idea.

Brian Boger:

And I remember riding behind Dan on a track bike as he sort of tried to get off the apron and onto the track, and I remember saying to him, “You have to go faster,” and I kind of remember him being like, “Screw you.” And I’m like, “I’m not trying to be critical, I’m just saying.” We didn’t know if it would highside the pedal, we had no idea. And then last summer, or two summers ago, you relented and let us stage a race at the track with Gui and Dan. I think it was well received. I also thought it was a good idea.

Joan Hanscom:

The crowd loved it. Like, the crowd was nuts for that event. But I will say, because there were three guys in the race, and coming out of turn four, everybody was neck and neck. It was all lined up straight in a row coming through turn four, and I have never laughed so hard in my entire life at a sprint, because you can’t stand up on those things, and everybody’s head was bobbling back and forth like a weeble wobble, and it was the funniest sprint I’ve ever seen in my life.

Guillaume Nelessen:

Well thank you for laughing, because I was scared.

Brian Boger:

Scared shitless.

Joan Hanscom:

Well I was also terrified, because whoever was up high…

Brian Boger:

Dan.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, that looked…

Guillaume Nelessen:

It was the speed, yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, that was terrifying. I was like, “Whoa, I would not want to be that high up on the track on that bike.” But then you came into the home straight, it flattened out, and it was a brilliant three-up sprint.

Brian Boger:

Fortunately they’re pros, so.

Joan Hanscom:

But it was awesome, and the crowd was going nuts, and I thought that was one of the highlights of what was actually a summer of really good racing, but that night was really pretty awesome.

Brian Boger:

So another dumb thing that Gui got me involved in is one day Gui says to me, “You know what we ought to do? There hasn’t been a high wheel Nationals since…” I don’t know, I’m making up a year. 1896, I have no idea. Gui says, “We could do high wheel Nationals at the park across the street.” I said, “Oh, okay,” and he said, “Call USA Cycling and ask for Joan Hanscom.” You had just left.

Joan Hanscom:

Oh, funny.

Brian Boger:

“And pitch this idea.” So I call USA Cycling and I ask for you, and they say, “Oh no, she just left for this new job, but we’ll patch you on to this other fellow.” And I talked to this other fellow, and I could hear him essentially just being like, “All right buddy, whatever.” And like three days later it was April the 1st, and the April Fools tweet from USA Cycling was about the resumption of high wheel Nationals.

Joan Hanscom:

No way, oh that’s awesome.

Brian Boger:

Yeah, that really happened. And I’ll get them. I’ll get each and every one of them, at some point.

Joan Hanscom:

That’s amazing.

Guillaume Nelessen:

Well it would be a pretty cool thing to bring back.

Joan Hanscom:

I think so. I think we should totally do it. I’m down. I’ll help. I’m in. I like the wacky. I like the wacky. So everybody who’s listening knows, the velodrome is committed to hosting this hour record attempt, and we want to make it a party, so there will be… Assuming, again, Covid, but beers on the track for people to come out and cheer. We want people to come out and watch the insanity and make it a party, because we want it to be raucous and mayhem for Gui as he tries to not highside the high wheel bike on the track.

Brian Boger:

Bring the hour record back on this side of the Atlantic where it belongs.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, there you go. So yeah, everybody needs to plan on being at T-Town when we announce the actual hour record date, because I think it’s going to be a good fun day.

Guillaume Nelessen:

I agree.

Joan Hanscom:

So Gui, what’s your excitement with this? What’s the…

Guillaume Nelessen:

I don’t know. There’s so many things… I guess, for a lot of people who don’t really know what a high wheel bike is, it’s a 56″ giant wheel. So everything that you take about bike racing, that gets you exciting, you think about on a bike. Or relationships you depend on on a bike, are gone. The relationship you have with your front end. Your stem, your bars, your handlebars, your control. On a high wheel bike it’s gone, because the bike has so much flex, and the wheel has so much flex, that your bars are moving like 30 degrees, and your legs are going, and everything looks like it’s falling apart. It’s the most exciting thing in the world to ride, because it constantly feels like it’s going to fall apart.

Joan Hanscom:

Exciting, terrifying, you know.

Guillaume Nelessen:

Both? But it’s also, you ride into town or you ride these things anywhere, and you’re eye to eye with semi trucks. My head is 8’6″ off the ground.

Joan Hanscom:

That’s amazing.

Guillaume Nelessen:

So freaking cool.

Brian Boger:

Dan and I were asked to go down to WMMR in Philadelphia one morning and show Preston, from Preston and Elliot, how to ride a penny-farthing, and Dan had rigged up his bike rack to carry two penny-farthings down the Schuylkill Expressway to the radio station-

Joan Hanscom:

Tell me you took pictures of that.

Brian Boger:

Just the looks on people’s faces in traffic that morning. They’re trying to get to work and are like, “You clowns. Get out of my way with whatever you’re doing.” [crosstalk 00:24:07]. Yeah, it was amazing. We decided to stop for gas at one point. Dan’s in knickers and a bow tie, and the people getting gas are just like, “All right buddy. Get a job or do something.”

Joan Hanscom:

Well I think I told you, I was riding on River Road down in New Jersey, and I passed three guys that were in full period gear on their high wheel bikes on a Sunday morning, and I was just like, “Where did you come from?”

Brian Boger:

I want to give those guys props. There’s an organization called the Wheelmen, they’re a national organization devoted to preserving the heritage of cycling, especially vintage cycling. We are very fortunate that David and Sue Gray, who have been lifetime members of our organization, lived here in Doylestown, and they’ve been incredibly generous. They have an amazing collection of vintage bikes, and they have assembled penny-farthings themselves, so they’ve been quite a resource to us through all of this.

Guillaume Nelessen:

Bill Soloway.

Brian Boger:

And Bill Soloway, who is one of the gentlemen you saw on the canal path that day, is another guy who has been really generous with his knowledge. So we are fortunate to have that resource in our community.

Joan Hanscom:

So, going back to the team effort that has to go into setting the official hour record. We got Gui, we got Dan, who’s the third?

Guillaume Nelessen:

Well Dan… Sorry Dan, I know you can hear me. Dan probably would omit himself, because Dan is a bike mechanic. He would never put himself in the place of a bike racer, probably because he knows better.

Dan Turner:

Correct. I will build the bikes, I will help you out mechanic-wise. I am not on the level of you, Gui, as a racer. So you got to talk to your friends and get some real bike racers.

Guillaume Nelessen:

So we have some ideas, we have some plans. We have a couple people who have expressed interest. Chris Meacham will probably get thrown under the bus for this one.

Joan Hanscom:

Okay.

Guillaume Nelessen:

But right now, I think we’re waiting to make sure we actually have bikes that are ride-able. We got to get through phase one. Phase one is build the bikes. We’ll Field of Dreams this shit. Build it and they will come. We’ll start there, how’s that sound?

Joan Hanscom:

All right, all right. The teaser who the mystery teammates are going to be, I like it, I like it. That’s interesting though, I wonder.

Guillaume Nelessen:

[crosstalk 00:26:43], Joan Hanscom.

Joan Hanscom:

No. No, nope, not going to be me. I’m terrified of those things, those bikes look scary.

Guillaume Nelessen:

They are, they’re so fast.

Brian Boger:

Yeah, they’re terrifying.

Guillaume Nelessen:

So cool. Well, we do have a couple small ones.

Brian Boger:

There’s a really good reason why every bicycle that came after that bicycle was called the safety bicycle. There’s no shortage of newspaper articles from that time talking about people doing… The term endo came from that bike, and being killed and paralyzed on those bikes. So, they’re not a good idea, at all.

Guillaume Nelessen:

All right, that’s enough. Don’t say any of that to my wife.

Joan Hanscom:

Okay, shh, Brian, pipe down. Now I forgot what I was going to say, because you made me laugh.

Guillaume Nelessen:

I’d also expect it’s from people hitting cars, and people hitting people, because when you’re out on the road, I will say, those things do not stop.

Joan Hanscom:

Oh, yeah. You don’t have actual disc brakes or anything, so…

Guillaume Nelessen:

56″ wheels momentum. Go 15, 20 miles an hour? Good luck stopping.

Joan Hanscom:

How do they stop?

Guillaume Nelessen:

And 50″ cranks, or 150 cranks.

Brian Boger:

Your original fixie, it’s your original direct drive bike. You have to control your pedaling to stop the bike.

Guillaume Nelessen:

You have a garden hose of a tire with no grip, all of your weight’s on top of the front end, you’re attached to the thing via the cranks that are also the front wheel. You’re on a glorified giant unicycle with no exit strategy. If someone pulls in front of you, a deer, a Toyota Tacoma, anything, it dies or you die.

Brian Boger:

One of the original ways of stopping the bike, I always enjoyed reading about this, was guys would put on a big leather glove and grab the front wheel to stop the bike, because they were real men back then. That’s a terrible idea. [inaudible 00:28:34] cut their fingers off.

Guillaume Nelessen:

Actually if you go racing [inaudible 00:28:36] right now you’ll see the same thing.

Brian Boger:

That’s true.

Guillaume Nelessen:

You’ll see guys race on a rag, where they can’t afford brake pads, so they grab a rag and throw it on their rear wheel.

Joan Hanscom:

Wow. Okay. Alrighty. So this has got to be the new X Games discipline, right? Because it’s dangerous and fast and crazy.

Brian Boger:

Except it’s not really that fast and [crosstalk 00:28:58]. I think that one of things that the guys in England encountered, one of the things that they discovered, and I heard them talk about, is just how much respect for the guys that raced in that time. Because I don’t remember the gentleman’s name, but one of the gentlemen in England that was on that team was some kind of ultra rider endurance… Probably drinks coconut water and eats granola and stuff. But he talked about when he tried to do the record he fell short, and he was like, “I just assumed that modern training would mean this would be easy.” He didn’t come anywhere close the first time he did it.

Joan Hanscom:

So I’ve made no secret that I’m a Bradley Wiggins fan. I think I’m the only person in America who watched him do the hour record attempt when he did the hour record on the track, and I was glued to my TV. I was like, “Wow.” And honestly, he didn’t move for like 56 minutes, he just was perfectly still, and 56 minutes in or something like that, he kind of looked down a little bit, and that was the first time you saw his body move. He has really sort of famously said that he never did the full hour in training, because if you did the full hour in training you’d never, ever do it again because it’s so awful. So he said that his method of getting through it was 15 minute chunks, so he knew the first 15 was going to be awesome. He knew the second 15 was going to be getting harder. He knew the third 15 was going to be awful, and then the last 15, it was the great unknown, but he knew it was going to really suck. So, what are you going to do, Gui?

Guillaume Nelessen:

Well it depends. We’ve talked about this for both of them. For the three-person we even talked about doing it like an Italian Pursuit, because there aren’t really any rules written. It doesn’t have to be a pace line, it doesn’t have to be a team pursuit style. So we’ve had some discussion as to maybe we’d do it like a glorified Italian Pursuit. 20 minutes for the first guy, 20 for the second guy, 20 minutes for the sucker that’s got to finish. And I think, yeah, breaking it up into three chunks is really the only way you can go about it and keep your sanity, but honestly the speed is not going to be the same, and honestly I feel like the effort isn’t going to be… Not that it’s not going to be that bad, I just feel like it’s going to be different. It’s not the same as a bicycle, it’s not that fast, and I don’t think the speed is because the rider can’t go that fast. I think the bike has a speed limit.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, I would-

Guillaume Nelessen:

So I think the only thing that’s going to change is the fact that the bike is manufactured with modern day technology. The spokes are not 1/8th gauge or 1/8th” thick. The rims are not solid steel. I think there’s a lot of things that are going to come into play that are going to make a really big difference, and I’m not sure it’s going to take every… Well sure, it’s going to be really, really, really hard, but at the same time, I think I can only make that bike go as fast as that bike can physically go.

Joan Hanscom:

Right.

Guillaume Nelessen:

I’m not sure that bike will go any faster.

Joan Hanscom:

Right. Physics is a thing, right?

Brian Boger:

Gui, did you read that article… So I created on our team page, I created a blog post about Ben Rowe’s 1883 record, and it was the first time I’d really read that article carefully. That bike that he raced it on, and set that 1883 record, weighed 21 pounds. It’s called a Columbia Light Racer. They specially built it for that attempt. And I was like, “Ooh. Man. That’s daunting.” I didn’t realize they had that… I don’t know why I wouldn’t realize that, but that’s a light bike. The bikes we’re making are way lighter than the ones that the English guys were messing around on, but they weren’t screwing around with that bike back then.

Guillaume Nelessen:

[crosstalk 00:33:03] to our bike yet. I’m actually curious now.

Brian Boger:

And actually the guy that Ben Rowe, the American that set that record, his pacer in that attempt was George Hendee, who was the guy who went on to invent Indian Motorcycles, and was kind of like the champion of his day. So yeah, he had some legit pacers with him.

Joan Hanscom:

That’s super interesting, actually. That’s sort of like, I don’t know, I don’t want to say Formula One of the day, but-

Brian Boger:

The people who witnessed him do the record said, “Yeah, Ben Rowe’s a piker and George Hendee was the real deal.

Joan Hanscom:

Oh that’s super interesting.

Guillaume Nelessen:

So we’re screwed, is what you’re saying.

Brian Boger:

We’re screwed. No, you’ll be fine! You’ll be fine.

Joan Hanscom:

It’ll all work out. It’s all fine.

Brian Boger:

So I would start hydrating, maybe stretch every day-

Dan Turner:

Don’t let me down!

Brian Boger:

Yeah. Ride your bike, periodically, that kind of thing.

Guillaume Nelessen:

I love the “don’t let me down” in the background.

Joan Hanscom:

So, when we first talked, Brian, there was going to be a whole project built up around this, with some documentary and some preparation footage of the bikes getting built, and Gui’s training, and early morning rides here at the track. Is that still in the works?

Brian Boger:

Yeah, we have a young man in our employ named Ryan Canney from Riverbank Creative, does a lot of our video stuff, and we’ve been dragging him out Saturday mornings and Sunday mornings to Gui’s garage and here to the shop. He has no idea what’s going on, but he’s been dutifully videoing all of this, so, yeah. He’s kind of confused by it all, but yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

That’s cool.

Guillaume Nelessen:

I think we’re going to have this thing in, again, phases. We’re going to have the bike building phase, which we’re still working on, and hopefully come springtime, barring the end of this crisis, we can start really thinking about the training aspect. And it’s honestly not something I’ve put a ton of thought into. Only because I can only take one step at a time, and right now I still don’t have a bike, so there’s no point in me freaking out about borrowing someone’s SRM pedals to see how much power I actually put out on a high wheel bike right now. I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.

Joan Hanscom:

I was going to ask if there was going to be power measurement on this bike.

Guillaume Nelessen:

[crosstalk 00:35:26] so curious, right?

Joan Hanscom:

Because you said you had to put out a certain amount of watts to make a certain amount of speed, so-

Guillaume Nelessen:

We’re going to have to figure out what my lap splits need to be to make the time, and then we’re going to have to figure out how much power I need to put out to hold those laps, and then we’re going to need to figure out how that all balances itself out with me as a person. And we’re totally going to get someone to walk the line for me like it’s 19- whatever, ’94.

Brian Boger:

1883.

Guillaume Nelessen:

Oh no, 1994 was the last time I had someone walk the line for me.

Brian Boger:

Oh.

Guillaume Nelessen:

Team pursuit, or pursuit, when you have someone literally sit there and tell you where you are without yelling, just stand near the start line.

Joan Hanscom:

We’ll have Gary Sutton come in.

Guillaume Nelessen:

Sold.

Joan Hanscom:

“Gary, come in for this!”

Guillaume Nelessen:

Exactly. Someone who understands this crap!

Joan Hanscom:

That’s amazing. That’s amazing. I can’t wait, I’m so excited about this and I’m so excited that you guys were willing to come on and talk to us about it, and tease it up for our audience, because like I said in the beginning, this is some wacky joy, and I think we all need a little bit of wacky joy right now. While Gui may not be experiencing the wacky joy himself while he’s on the bike, the rest of us most certainly will, so I’m really excited about it, and I can’t wait to see the documentary, and I’m following along on your social channels. So Brian, where can we follow along with you on social to watch the progress?

Brian Boger:

We’ve been posting the progress on our Instagram account for the bike shop, Doylestown Bike Works, and also on our Facebook page. On our website, at doylestownbikeworks.com there’s a team blog and we’ve been updating it there as well. One thing I wanted to mention to you, Joan, we’re doing an event in December to fundraise for the team a little bit. We were going to do Bicycle Film Festival from New York City here in Doylestown this winter, but Covid, so we’re going to do it as a streaming virtual event December 4th through 6th, so if people are interested.

Joan Hanscom:

Make sure you give us that information, we’ll put it in the show notes.

Brian Boger:

Sure.

Joan Hanscom:

Cool. And Gui, people can follow along with you on both the Twitters and the Instagram, on @lostinstudio?

Guillaume Nelessen:

Just the Instagram, and I don’t even remember what my Instagram is. It might be-

Brian Boger:

It’s @lostinstudio, she said it exactly, she nailed it. I can’t believe you actually managed to log into Zoom today. That was shocking enough. And you beat me to it!

Guillaume Nelessen:

I had help.

Dan Turner:

Gui, I will follow you anywhere.

Guillaume Nelessen:

[crosstalk 00:37:58] half hour early, because I was worried about figuring it out. I don’t understand technology.

Joan Hanscom:

You did great though, Gui. And you had the best beer delivery service I’ve ever seen in my life.

Brian Boger:

And he looks great too, doesn’t he? Look at him.

Joan Hanscom:

Gui’s looking fit, man. He’s looking ready. We’re not worried about Gui in the hour record. We know. We’ve seen him race in the shark suit, we know what’s coming. On that note, you guys, thank you so much. It’s been a super pleasure. We’ll have you back anytime to talk about where this project is in progress. Maybe we should get back on after Gui gets to ride his bike for the first time, and we’ll put up some photos and we’ll let people get a sneak peek of what’s coming, and we’ll start growing the audience for you right now, Gui.

Guillaume Nelessen:

I like it. I like it. Nothing like having a lot of people there when you fail.

Joan Hanscom:

I don’t think you’re going to fail. I have faith.

Guillaume Nelessen:

I appreciate it.

Brian Boger:

I don’t even feel like you have to stop smoking or drinking. I think you’ll be fine.

Guillaume Nelessen:

Oh, perfect!

Joan Hanscom:

It’ll all be fine! All right. Well thanks you guys, we really appreciate it. Have a good night, have a good holiday, and we’ll talk more.

Brian Boger:

Stay safe, guys.

Joan Hanscom:

Thanks! Bye.

Guillaume Nelessen:

Bye.

Joan Hanscom:

This has been the Talk of the T-Town podcast with hosts Joan Hanscom and Andy Lakatosh. Thanks for joining us for this week’s episode, brought to you by B. Braun Medical, Inc. Head on over to our website, thevelodrome.com, where you can check out the show notes and subscribe, so you’ll never miss an episode.