The latest issue of BRAIN, otherwise known as Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, just sent out its latest issue recently with a feature article on roller racing. If you have not ever seen such a thing, or heard of it, here is a brief description of what it is.
Several cyclists pit themselves against the clock and each other by riding timed "two mile" time trials on Kreitler rollers. The rollers are timed and the distance is recorded by a special computer program set up for the job. typically you have two sets of rollers set next to each other "drag racing" style, but this isn't always the set up at all roller races.
On one hand, it is cool that roller racing is getting its due, but I also had to laugh. I mean, this has been going on in the winter time in Iowa for at least 25 years or more. Anyway, It's cool that somebody noticed it.......finally!
I did this once. Once! Way back when I was seriously racing on this team, I gave it a go. I guess I did okay for a big guy that was really a mountain biker. At any rate, the year before I did the event in the shop I worked at, we held the event there when I wasn't so silly to think I could actually be one of these roadie dudes. I was basically the only employee on duty that cold winter day playing host to about 40-50 sweaty cyclists raging on rollers all around the shop.
Well, in the midst of all this madness a fellow comes in to "check things out". He didn't look much like a cyclist. More like an old skool farmer than anything. He was about my height, balding, bearded, and had a round pot belly stuffed into faded blue overalls. Not only that, but he had a tiny furball of a dog stuffed into the front of his bibs like some humanoid marsupial carrying around an alien spawn with brown beady eyes.
I spoke with him for a bit. He seemed all curious about the roller races, asking about the turn out, and some particular cyclists. Hmm......okay, he seemed to have some knowledge of the event and folks here, so I allowed him to stroll around the back, figuring the cyclists would get a kick out of this rustic dude and his strange way of carrying around his pet. He didn't stay long. He claimed he had a long drive ahead of him, and that he just happened to be passing through. Hrumpf! Whatever! I said goodbye and off he and his dog went.
Not long afterwards the shop owner popped in to see how things were going. When someone tipped him off that the stranger had been in, he excitedly came over and asked, "So, you got to meet Al? What'd he say?"
"Al who?!!", I exclaimed with a bewildered look.
"Al Kreitler! You know......Kreitler Rollers?!!!"
Oh! ...........yeah, ummm.........
Well, needless to say, I felt pretty dumb as my boss explained to me the whole Kreitler story and that the little "rat" dog was his famous "Killer" that was featured in all the promotional materials for the company.
I got a chance to redeem myself a couple of years later when I met Al again, recounting the story to him. He chuckled with a sparkle in his eye, and a note of sadness. Seems that "Killer" had died and he had another dog, still stuffed into the front of his overalls, named "Killer II", but he really missed the first one. We shared a few anecdotes, and then I went my way.
That was 13 years ago now, and now Al is gone too. I bet he would've chuckled at the BRAIN story too, had he seen it.