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Nelson Vails inducted into US Bicycling Hall of Fame
7.11.09 by Buffalo Bill

a young Nelson Vails

The first ‘proper’ bicycle shop I ever frequented was Yellow Jersey on Drayton Park. It was there that I met Andy Dickson, a Moving Target co-founder, who sold me my first hand-built wheel (MA 40 laced to a Maillard hub, since you ask). Trvia fans will be delighted to know that Dave Scott, Yellow Jersey’s owner, played guitar on Spizz Energy’s pop/punk hit ‘Where’s Captain Kirk’.

Anyway, it was in Yellow Jersey that I saw my first fixed wheel bike. Hanging on the wall of the shop was a large poster of a huge looking guy thundering down the straight of the velodrome, apparently intent on flattening the photographer. I was struck by the image, and asked Dave who the rider was.

‘Nelson Vails, Olympic silver medallist’, I was told.

It was only later that I discovered he had been a bicycle messenger in New York. He is, in my view, the best messenger that ever lived, if one measures these things by competitive results. So it is with great pleasure that I learn that he has been inducted into this Hall of Fame thing.

  1. NELSON VAILS:
    “…the best messenger that ever lived, if one measures these things by competitive results. So it is with great pleasure that I learn that he has been inducted into this Hall of Fame thing.”

    The former six-day rider Maurice Burton, also worked as a courier in London.
    He now runs De Ver Cycles. (http://www.devercycles.co.uk/)
    Maurice was a British track champion, and was more than just a sprinter.


    — FasterThanYou    22 January 2010, 17:06    #
  2. For what it’s worth, when I first started working, Maurice was on the road at Vanguard. I vividly remember him laughing at me for wearing shorts in January. A good guy.

    The story of his racing career (including how it was blighted by the racism in British Cycling) was covered in Cycling Weekly, and there’s a reprint of the article here.


    — Bill    26 January 2010, 16:31    #
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