How To

Again a longer absence, explained by a lot of work at work, some health problems, not serious, luckily, but time-consuming to put right, and no progress at all in the Miele affair.

Fredy Budzinski (1879-1970) was a rather famous cycling journalist in the period 1900-1940 in Germany, writing a well received series of racers´ biographies, thousands of articles for Rad=Welt, the leading German cycling paper at the time, and numerous other publications, of which this

was one.

I can´t stand waiting rooms at doctors´ surgeries, so I usually take a good book to cheer me up. I broke my rule by taking a book by Fredy Budzinski earlier in the week – to get things clear from the beginning, Budzinski isn´t exactly my favourite writer. There is a very readable and informative German language biography on him, belated revenge, if I may say so, by Renate Franz: Fredy Budzinski, published by Sportverlag Strauß in 2007, ISBN 978-3-939390-43-5, so I won´t enlarge on his life and achievements, which were numerous.

What I like about Budzinski is his painstaking correctness. He left a huge archive, purchased by Cologne University a year after his death which is a mine of invaluable information on cycling. I used hundreds of his facts and figures when I wrote my own book on early motor pacing. What I can´t stand is his style; pompous, repetitive, militaristic, bourgeois, it unites all the bad qualities inherent in arrivé writing pre-WWI.

How to become a racing cyclist, 1919 edition, is all of that. In his unbearable foreword Budzinski expresses his longing for pre-war conditions, understandably, but somewhat futile, and forgetting that he favoured the policy which led to the war.

OTOH the book is a wonderful resource on the ways of cycle racing pre-WWI. Budzinski says that while the edition at hand was prepared, the war still was to be felt and that he thought it wisest to leave the last pre-war edition more or less unchanged. So all of the photos are from before 1914, like this marvellous and famous snap of Taddy Robl taken in 1903:

A cropped version of it also is in my book. The machine Robl rides is a great track bike, and although Robl was a famous motor paced racer, this is an unpaced track machine the fork rake of which is something to behold. I think Robl is wearing a black, white and red jersey as the Reich champion. No black, red and gold in those days, of course.

Budzinski explains all aspects of cycle racing important to a budding racer. How much does it cost to start a racing career? Here you go: The bicycle, 150 Marks; spare tyres, 13 Marks; pump etc, 10 Marks; clothing, 12 Marks; track training ticket, 10 Marks; track accomodation, 10 Marks; licence, 6 Marks and 40 Pfennigs; cyclists´union fee, 7 Marks and 50 Pfennigs, so all in all you need 218.90 Marks. This is typical of Budzinski who often tries to quantify the unquantifiable and who is precise to the point of absurdity.

Another example? How about a list of 28 racing cyclists and their favoured crank lengths? The range is from 165 to 177 mm. These four are in the list, so we know their crank lenghts, if nothing else.

What do you have to do to get a licence? What not to lose it again? How to train? And what about smoking? It´s a no-no, of course, but Budzinski assumes that it´s not the tobacco that is harmful, but the paper in which a cigarette is rolled.

Tactics are considered, too, and another super photo is used to illustrate the text:

Not sure if this is genuine or a photoshop snap avant la lettre, though.

Budzinski recycles a lot of illustrations and info from his articles, i.e. the line drawings showing hand movements to indicate position and time in a race. Also many photos appear in a number of articles and books. This is a classic, deservedly:

To be able to watch the two zooming around the track… Look at the rear chainwheel and the sprocket. Mayer´s moustache must have fluttered in the wind.

Lastly, this one:

Here we have an early paced machine, already showcasing a smaller dia front wheel but still with straight fork blades. Reversed curve blades were introduced a few years later. All about the development of stayer machines in my book (ISBN 978-3-931965-23-5).

There´s dozens more photographs in Budzinski´s tome; however my copy already is somewhat fragile, and I didn´t want to stress the binding any further by making still more scans, so these will have to do.

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