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Rollapaluza X - Friday 25th January
17.12.07 by Buffalo Bill

The first ever London messenger roller race was held at the Horseshoe pub, in November 2000. Greg Tipper had been inspired by seeing the Goldsprints at CMWC 1999, and decided that he wanted to bring it to the London messenger masses.

Zurich Goldsprint poster

The Zurich roller races were well-established and featured purpose built rigs hooked up to visual display screens that projected the progress of the race above the heads of the crowd, automatic rankings update, organised betting and were sponsored by local brewery, who produced a special beer for the event, called Goldsprint.

another exciting night in South London pic:Badbean

Tipper had participated in the South London Roller Race league, on the type of Freddie Grubb manufactured set-up that would have been used by Eddie Wingrave, back in the 50s, when he toured dance-halls with Harry Mill’s Celebration Revue. Roller sets connected by worm gear to large hands on a clock face marked out in increments of a metre. The South London Roller Race League did not resemble a spectacle in the slightest. It took place in sports halls and club-rooms on week-nights, attended by a handful of cyclists in track-suits, nursing cups of tea, under neon lights.

The Goldsprints were a totally different kettle of fish. Raucous, unruly and dramatic, they were in the continental tradition of six-day racing, wreathed in smoke, soaked in beer and conducted at ear-splitting volumes. Greg enlisted my help, and roped in Big Al from Creative and arranged to borrow the Bec Cycling Club rollers, which were training rollers with a fork-stand, but connected to the magic clock.

Greg approached the Horseshoe because the place served decent beer, and had an upstairs room. Despite having doubts about the nature of the event, the landlord agreed to host.

flier for the London Goldsprint

Held on a Friday, the event drew a large field of messengers, and a larger crowd of spectators. Porno Steve had flown in specially from Zurich to participate, and add some international lustre, bringing with him, as he did, a pair of white leather cycling shoes equipped with quill cleats. After qualifying rounds and numerous knock-outs, the final came down to Porno against Elliott, the local messenger star, virtually unbeatable in alleycats. We knew it would be a tight race, and me and Greg feared that the out-of-towner would triumph. Which was not the result we wanted. The crowd went absolutely beserk, screaming at Elliott, and pandemonium ensued upon his victory.

Bring Me My Fix, Roller Hero! pic: JamesT

For those of you that were there, it was rather like Scarlett beating the big fish’n‘chipper at last weekend’s Rollapaluza IX.

Afterwards Greg claimed that he had had a hand, or should I say foot, in Elliott’s win. Specifically, that he had used it on Steve’s roller. I know that he didn’t like Steve (too cocky! talk about the pot calling the kettle!), but I doubt that he really did sabotage the big guy.

The event was an overwhelming success, and the landlord told us that we were welcome back anytime. No doubt the quantities of beer that were passed over the bar that night had a lot to do with his enthusiasm.

The next roller race was in the winter of 2002, once again Tipper was pulling the strings. But this time the event was part of a fund and consciousness raiser for 2003 European Cycle Messenger Championships. Once again, Steve came over for the event, and once again he was beaten by the home town boy.

Therese Bjorn at the first Rollapaluza pic: E Blanchet

After the ECMC, the London Bicycle Messenger Association was looking for a big social event, that would also serve as a fund-raiser. We decided that we would organise a night of bands, bikes and beer. The name ‘Rollapaluza’ was invented for the event.

Area 10, a squatted warehouse in Peckham, was hired, and we organised our own bar. 3 bands played and the event went on til the early hours. For the first time, an out-of-towner won, and for the first time Crissima Pearce failed to win the female event.

Since then Rollapaluza has been all over London, and gotten bigger and better, even taking over Shoreditch Town Hall. But although Rollapaluza is becoming the next big thing in cycling, it has remained a messenger thing. It was invented by London messengers, and is currently operated by ex-messengers. Rollapaluza X returns the rock’n‘roller race to its roots. It will be at the Horseshoe, Clerkenwell Close, Friday 25th January and entry will be £4. Messengers race for free. The organisers tell me that only messengers will be allowed to race.

Watch Zack Speedfast’s London Goldsprint 2000 video (check out Caspar, Winston, Marco, Elliott, Sarah looking very young).

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Roller racers rock record crowd
Then and now
Zack Speedfast 'cheats death' - again!
Zak Speedfast chickens out of Courier Nocturne!
Lost in the Crowd Alleycat: An In-depth Analysis
Confessions of a Rock 'n' Roller Racer
Rollapaluza IV: A New Skool Rules

  1. Nice b/w picture of Adam being beaten by Jos. We’ve got the same haircut, hence the mistaken identity probably :p

    — BringMeMyFix    17 December 2007, 22:14    #
  2. That better?

    — Bill    17 December 2007, 22:28    #
  3. I stayed at Stevie’s place last year for the X days in Zürich. His collection of Goldsprint posters is truly awesome. I love their designer.

    — Jos    17 December 2007, 22:36    #
  4. That’s my footage. If you want i can send you the final between elliot and porno steve, the crowd noise is mental?? Oh and surprise surprise i knocked farmerboy caspar out of that race.

    — Zack Speedfast    17 December 2007, 22:53    #
  5. Wanna race Mike?

    — Caspar    17 December 2007, 23:03    #
  6. Send it to Jono, and he can put it up on Vimeo. I would love to see that final.

    — Bill    18 December 2007, 07:04    #
  7. Adam’s younger and better looking anyway. Should’ve kept quiet – I am a librarian afterall.

    — BringMeMyFix    18 December 2007, 08:01    #
  8. Mike is like Mario Cipolinni. Retired but still with a big mouth.

    — Jos    18 December 2007, 09:43    #
  9. Let’s try and get Tipper over for this one.

    — overdrive    18 December 2007, 09:59    #
  10. Caspar leave me out of this. It’s between you and Zack. I saw him earlier tearing up the bitumen on clerkenwell road with his trademark iron wheels shouting about how he was going to castrate you on the rollers.

    — mike    18 December 2007, 10:32    #
  11. Jos is like Worzel Gummidge on crack on a fixed wheel bicycle.

    — mike    18 December 2007, 11:24    #
  12. Well, seeing as Caspar and Winston are only to let ‘real’ messengers race, that rules out all you metro muppets, anyway.

    (Where’s that shit-stirring smiley button gone, _targetbot?)

    — Bill    18 December 2007, 12:47    #
  13. Arf arf……

    — overdrive    18 December 2007, 13:30    #
  14. Tipper V Zack, Me V Mike, Tipper V Mike or Me V Zack.

    Which ever way you like it Mike, I ain’t fussed.

    The difference between you and Cippo is that he can beat someone nearly 10 years older than him innit.

    eta smiley’s on this bit of the your website?

    — Caspar    18 December 2007, 15:27    #
  15. Zack just read me the rules on the official roller race website. It says only current working messengers, no exengers or fakengers. As you fit both those categories i’m afraid you will have to watch from the sidelines. :)

    — mike    18 December 2007, 15:38    #
  16. You don’t think I have a hand in writing the official rules Zack Boyd?

    — caspar    18 December 2007, 15:50    #
  17. What about an alleycat?
    No I thought not, Jaspar…..

    — overdrive    18 December 2007, 16:12    #
  18. Well write this new category in your rule book. Current or ex-CUNTrollers

    — zack speedfast    18 December 2007, 17:36    #
  19. Alley cat, me. I was never any good at them.

    — Caspar    18 December 2007, 18:30    #
  20. I doubt that there will be a Metro by the time January comes around. None of you will be able to race.

    — Caspar    18 December 2007, 22:26    #
  21. ooh get her….

    — overdrive    19 December 2007, 09:12    #
  22. Overrated, you should win the Vet’s category by default.

    — Caspar    19 December 2007, 10:27    #
  23. Yes,I should!

    — overdrive    19 December 2007, 11:07    #
  24. Cnut!

    — serena    19 December 2007, 11:32    #
  25. `Jos is like Worzel Gummidge on crack on a fixed wheel bicycle.` mike

    that worzel got better teeth though!!

    — tomkov    19 December 2007, 12:42    #
  26. Actually, seeing as there was only one person older than me at Fixiepaluza, and I beat him, I think I should be awarded the veteran’s bib by default.

    — Buffalo 'you old c***' Bill    19 December 2007, 18:11    #
  27. Due respect to my elders,take it away B*ll.

    — overdrive    19 December 2007, 18:21    #
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