Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

22 July 2019

The Only Way You Can Pin Down A World-Class Rider

A few cyclists who are even more dedicated (to what, I don’t know) than I am, or are simply more Retro-grouchy than one of my favorite bloggers, has a pair of wheels with wooden rims.

Once upon a time, such wheels were de rigueur.  After all, wood is light (at least compared to metal), strong and resilient.  All racers used them until Mavic developed alloy rims.  While road riders embraced this new development, track racers used wooden rims until they were banned for competition during the 1950s.

Why were wooden rims banished from the velodrome?

Well, when an metal wheel is crashed, it bends or crumples.  But a wood rim is likely to shatter. That is made all the more likely because on track wheels, the spokes are tuned to a higher tension, and the tires are pumped to higher pressures, than on road bikes.  

The result of an “exlpoding” wooden rim was often a cloud of wooden shards that could shush-kebab riders or spectators.

Decades after the ban on wooden rims, many velodromes have wood surfaces. Nobody anticipated such hazards from them—until now.

Lorenzo Gobbo suffered a previously unheard-of mishap.  Apparently, when he went down, his pedal scraped up a half-meter length of the track that ended up in his back—and pierced  his  lung

He is expected to make a full recovery.  But  you have to wonder: how many other cyclists  have come out of a race looking as if they’d  been attacked by an  by an archer?


  1. Actually, injuries from splinters were fairly common- mostly from the track itself after a pedal tore into it. Chicago's old Humboldt Park velodrome- an outdoor wood track- was notorious for it. Most injuries were confined to the buttocks & hips... although Mr. Gobbo's impalement is probably one of if not the most horrific ever seen!


  2. The old time board track motorcycle racers dressed in thick leather for just this reason. Imagine hitting the boards at 100 mph! Yikes!