Rollapaluza Roller Racing
Rollapaluza is the group responsible for reviving roller racing in London and the rest of the UK. After experiencing the first modern “Goldsprints” at the 1999 Cycle Messenger World Championships it was determined that the once popular event had to make a comeback. Since 2000 Caspar and Winston, along with the help of countless friends, have managed to put on a number of events – 75+ in the past year alone – effectively bringing the sport back into the cycling lexicon.
The primary difference between the Rollapaluza racing setup and that of most other goldsprint events at the moment is that rather than a laptop and projector timing system Rollapaluza utilizes a fully mechanical kit from a bygone era. Flexible driveshafts convey racing distance via a large clock-face with actual timing handled the old fashioned way as well, via a stopwatch and a precisely calibrated thumb.
After touching down in London this past week and assembling my bicycle the first order of business was to make it to a “low-key” Wednesday night Rollapaluza event. While I managed to get lost enough to need someone to point me back in the direction of London, as evidenced by the photos I did actually manage to find the event. Even though I was assured that it was much smaller than many of their other events I was thoroughly impressed with the turnout and event as a whole, and can see why they are experiencing success in running races across the UK and beyond.
The aforementioned mechanical roller setups are true to their original form, with parts sourced throughout Europe to the point that Rollapaluza boasts four complete racing setups, a pair each of 2-up and 4-up versions driving similar dial mechanisms. Beyond simply finding such mechanisms in the first place, getting them to function is no easy feat as I was informed that a number of the components had to be fixed, reinforced or fabricated new to complete each kit. With the success Rollapaluza has found so far they’ve taken it to the next step, into schools encouraging students in physical education classes to take part in the entire experience complete with the music and PA system of the usually rowdy events ensuring that roller racing does not fade into obscurity once again.