On 14 January 2019 Eddie Adkins turned 70.
70 for Christ’s sake! It doesn’t seem two minutes since he was knocking spots off all comers up and down dual carriageways all over the country. Eddie won several 25 mile championships, broke National Records, rode for his country … and was a team mate of mine.
In all the years I’ve known him, I’ve honestly never heard him say a bad word about anyone. Eddie was, and still is, one of the nicest people in British time trialling. His good wife Jan is the same. Two very nice people.
Another friend of mine, Nobby (he who heralds from the land of sand and camels), was drawn to the same conclusion when he first met him back in the 80s. As a consequence, nearly 40 years later, the good Nob has decided to pay homage to him and his incredible career by building another of his ‘tribute bikes’.
This one is jaw-droppingly mega-gorgeous!
Over to you Nobby …
ARISE EMPEROR ED ... (I had to read that twice too! Perhaps 'arise' wasn't a good choice of word) ;-)
In 1977, I was a fifteen year old riding to school on a second hand five-speed Raleigh Europa. I was already regularly reading copies of 'Cycling' and was in awe and admiration of the riders of the day. With the help of that excellent feat of journalism (which remains to be unsurpassed to this day), I was able to follow the exploits of all the country’s top time triallists.
One of June’s editions holds special memories in the minds of many, as this was the month that the national 25 championships were being run. It was very much the blue ribbon event of the calendar and was considered to be the ultimate of all the championships of the era. King Alf (Engers) was unable to ride on that occasion due to a suspension so the throne was up for grabs. Alf's successor was the man that I had been following every week in the “Comic” ... Eddie Adkins. As the racing scene already had its 'King' (in Alf), Ed very quickly became known as the Emperor and it was fitting that he should become the new 25 Champion with a powerful consistent ride in windy conditions. He went on to win a hat-trick of 25 Mile Championship titles and his legendary status grew as he continued to win many events around the country as well as representing his country at the World Championships in 1981.
But the one thing that shone through was how much of a gentleman he was and how very humble he always appeared to be whenever called upon to chat with anyone ... not just those at the fast end of the field but also the slowest of the slow and spectators alike. He was always respectful and well-mannered in answering any questions he was asked.
I got to race against him on a couple of occasions and the nearest I could get to him over a 25 mile event was just under 4 minutes (on the Newbury Hungerford course when it was still safe to use in the early 1980s). I got to meet the Emperor in 1984 on the Botley course where he had just finished on a cold breezy morning, yet he still had time to have a quick chat whilst in his skinsuit and obviously getting cold and tired after his effort.
Emperor Ed 1984 at Botley
Sadly after 1984 I moved away to begin my life on many an oil rig, then onto foreign pastures to Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines and finally to the land of sand and camels, Saudi Arabia.
But I have never forgotten the impact Eddie had made on me and with that in mind I embarked on a tribute bike based on his 1978 25 mile championship winning bike. The fact he also went on to ride it when he beat King Alf makes it even more special.
But where does one start as the great Jack Hearne (frame-builder for Ed) had passed away several years ago? Initially I contacted Mr McCammish, a former team-mate of Ed's at GS Strada and Manchester Wheelers, and consequently, with his assistance, managed to get in contact with Ed himself. I was met with a very positive response and being the gentleman he is, he actually offered his national 25 winning frame set to us so that we could make an exact replica. What a magnificent gesture!
I then made contact with Gary Needham who had built my Roger Queen project bike frame-set and discussed my latest ideas with him. He was quite excited to be able to help based on the fact that he would be receiving the actual championship winning frame set to base the new build on.
The frame arrived at his Bristol workshop and was in a pretty ropy condition….
With the frame-set from Sir Ed, Gary quickly built a perfect replica, worthy of a tribute bike.
With the frame-set built it was shipped onward to Melbourne where I have now hold up to begin the journey of piecing this bike together with some very special twists worthy of a champion.
FIRST UP ... A SPECIAL WHEEL-SET FIT FOR AN EMPEROR ...
To ensure this bike gets the full respect it deserves it had to be unique in every way and had to be prepared and presented in a way that had not been done before.
The wheels were Campagnolo Record Large Flange Hubs 24/24 hole on what Eddie had told me were Super Champion Medaille d'Or rims. They were championship winning wheels so the end product had to reflect the rider's achievements. Argos kindly cleaned them and trued them up but it was immediately clear when it came to unbox them that they were not going to cut the mustard ... not as far as I was concerned anyway. I needed something far more striking.
I started with the freewheel which was to be a 6 speed 12-17 set up which Eddie told me he used on his original championship winning machine. An Everest alloy 12-17 was sourced ... well not just one, but two of these rare items. The twist comes in the form of colours ... as Eddie rode the 100km TTT at the world championships in 1981 it’s only fitting that the world championship bands be used. As I had two of these I experimented ... one with hard coat paint and the other anodized. These were not going to be ridden so I could afford to be frivolous! . First I went with the hard coat paint which was done by an associate who specializes in retro renovations and custom work.
Above painted in the Rainbow Colours of the world champion rainbow bands.
The next option was Anodizing. However as this type of alloy was tough for anodizing I wasn't too sure how it would come out.
Above the anodized version which although not the result I was looking for is clean.
So it was decided that the painted freewheel would be chosen.
Next up were the spokes which were stainless steel standard double butted spokes. These were tied in a golden layer of solder. The spoke nipples were gold plated in 18k Gold.
Next was the Campagnolo Nuovo Record Large Flange Hubs that were in a very poor state. These underwent some polishing and customization.
As befits an Emperor, diamond accents in gold and black were chosen to match the overall contracts of this build. Hub axle displays the wording 25 Record and 30 Record holder respectively as these records were also achieved by Eddie.
With the hubs done, attention focused to the rims which were going to undergo a special transformation that had not been done before. First they would be polished and then the whole area of the rim would undergo special pantograph and engraving work. Not only that!, but were to tell a story of certain things that Eddie liked or did.
Again, working with my Associate who is based in Bentleigh East, Melbourne we sat down to design what was to go on the rims and below are a couple of drafts.
This was going to be a very arduous task to do all this work on not one but two rims and to get it right first time as there is no chance of correcting any mistakes once the pantographing is underway.
As it so happened these rims came out beautiful and the following will show the items added and a statement of which section means.
Ed’s favorite film was The Terminator (Original) so we added this to the rim.
Ed had a cat which he loved named “Theunisse” so again we added this onto the rim.
Ed held the records for both 25 and 30 miles so it was added with an Emperor’s knighted helmet.
English Coat of Arms being a true blooded Englishman.
The Adkins Coat of Arms – Shield.
.Eddie signature added to the rim.
"For Char” is a special poignant gesture as I was unsure if Ed and Jan (his wife) would approve as it’s their beloved daughter whom they lost not too long ago. Thankfully they approved the design hence it now on the rim. The crowns with 77 and 79 represent his championship wins at the National 25 from 77 through to 79.
Ed won the High Wycombe CC Wilkinson Sword trophy on many occasions, so this appears on the rim.
Says it all.
Emperor emblazed on the rim
In part two we shall discuss the other components & what they went through for this build.