I have always wanted a pair of these, I have never needed a pair of these. I have absolutely no use for a pair of these. I still want a pair of these.
A lot of you will have no idea what these actually are. These bits of metal are a bygone cycle accessory that went by the name of “Sprint Carriers”.
Back when people only had one bike (I know, imagine) and had no car (I know, imagine) many would ride to the start of races, do the race and then ride home at the end (I know, imagine). You didn’t want to ride there on your posh lightweight race wheels and risk damaging them or puncturing your Sunday best tyres so you’d head out on your tatty training wheels and take your racing wheels with you to swap on the start line. Strapping them to your back would be both heavy and cumbersome so you used a pair of these contrivances instead. Bolted to your front axle they enabled you to carry your spare wheels safely and securely either side of the front wheel, aided by a couple of toe-straps (some of you might want to ask what these are as well, another bike part that’s slowly making its way to the bin of history despite still being incredibly useful) round the bars to stop them bouncing around too much.
A quaint and forgotten product of a different age the whole set-up looks a little odd and whimsically charming now but cyclists did this back in the day as a matter of course, it was in no way special, it was just what you did.
I’ve often ridden to the start of races; there are quite a few within an easy distance of here so I’m quite lucky. I know friends that live a lot closer to the same races that have driven because they need their spare bike and spare wheels and their bag of kit, and their rollers to warm up on and a towel and their special recovery drink bottle for afterwards, and just ‘stuff’ that’s easy to fill a car with because you can. Here’s a thing, riding there is quite a good warm up, the pedal home can be quite a nice warm down too, and you can quickly stop somewhere for a recovery pint/hot chocolate/pie depending on the season/bike.
Whilst I might ride to the odd race I’ve never had the need to carry my racing wheels there because I’ve never owned any posh racing wheels, I’ve never been financially fluid or desperately serious enough, I just race the wheels I have on. I don’t possess special lightweight carbon race wheels, although I might have some carbon wheels that I clatter about the roads on, nor do I have cross-racing tubs, although I really should have some, I’d really like some actually. I race what I brung as some like to say.
None of this stops me wanting some of these simple antique bits of bent chromed metal. They’re an elegant solution to a problem that doesn’t really exist any more. Which makes it even odder that you can now buy a modern version of sprint carriers in the form of Race Caddies, a sturdier higher-tech version in machined aluminium. I quietly salute designer Peter Giddings for bringing these wonderfully anachronistic components into a world where most people don’t know they exist, or even require them.
I want some Sprint Carriers a little bit more now, but I should probably get some posh wheels first to justify them. Although needing some to take wheels that want mending to the bike shop is a good enough excuse for me.