Friday, September 12, 2008

The Flying Scotsman

I was watching Cinemax a few days back and I was glued to the monitor watching The Flying Scotsman, a movie based on the book of the same title, an autobiography of Graeme Obree.

Who is Graeme Obree?

I personally have not heard of him until I saw the movie. I didn't even know the title of the movie when I saw it. I just felt that it would be interesting and so I stay tuned and watched it 'til the end. I was just so impress with his ingenuity and perseverance.

When we talk of cycling, we normally would associate it with the name Lance Armstrong. Now, I can say that I know one other name and that is Graeme Obree.

Graeme Obree is a Scottish racing cyclist who did not have major sponsorships and development support. And yet this didn't stop him from developing his own unique riding position, called the "crouch" or "tuck" position, and developing his own bicycle design as shown in the picture above. He actually used some parts of a washing machine to construct this bike! With this innovation, he was able to break the hour record, the longest distance cycled in one hour, with a distance of 51.596km back in July 1993. He also became the individual pursuit world champion in the same year. However, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) changed the rules for bike layout in 1994 which disqualified his bike and riding position. Nevertheless, he persevered and went on to develop another riding position called the "superman" style, where in his arms are fully extended in front while riding and he went on to win the World pursuit championship again in 1995.

A really great and inspiring story. However, he has no luck at all with the UCI as they banned the "superman" style again on grounds that human effort and skill are more significant than technological advancement.

He still races occassionaly and there are talks of him coming back to beat the hour record again. I hope to hear about him in the news one of these days.

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