What on Earth was I thinking?
I wouldn’t ride that thing if I was paid to. Hold on a minute … I did because
I was! Okay, so not a fortune but every little helps.
After three very successful years breaking RRA records with Raleigh they
decided to focus more on the MTB side of the sport and I was left with two
options: revert to amateur or find another sponsor. Fortunately (or
unfortunately ... depending on how you look at it) I was approached by
two ‘wide-boys’ who thought they were going to jump on Chris Boardman’s
Lotus bandwagon by making carbon monocoque framesets. They’d been
speaking to Patrick Schills (ex-pro and importer of cycling 'goodies') and
through him we managed to strike up some sort of deal which saw me
testing (supposedly) and riding Cyman frames during the 1993 season.
The frames were designed by a University undergraduate called Richard
Attleborough (or something similar) and funded by two Formula 1 drop-outs
who struck me as having more money than sense. Laurence Fagg was
the team’s front-man …. can’t remember the name of his pal who was
funding the ‘project’ but do recall he looked like a cross between
Fernando Alonso and Captain Pugwash. He’d made his money by renting
out containers and Porta-loos and wanted to throw some of it my way.
We were able to come to a 'mutually acceptable' agreement and another
professional contract was signed.
The 'launch' took place at a VERY plush hotel on a BIG Estate somewhere
in the Buckinghamshire area which was used quite frequently for the
filming of Cilla Black's TV programme at the time. All the press were
invited ... not many turned up! So there was lots to eat ... and even more to drink.
The ‘team’ operated from two locations … the Far East (Gt Yarmouth) and Bracknell, but we’d often meet in lay-bys to do deals and exchange this and that ;-) Goodness knows what any bystanders or passers-by would have thought if they’d clocked us!
Although one of the main ideas behind sponsoring me was to get feedback on the ride and quality of the products they were making, at the end of the day they knew more than me about cycling. I only had 40 years or so in the sport so what did I know?
The first Cyman's were bare black carbon with yellow logos. These were the ' Fibra' model. They creaked a bit!
After lots of feedback from me (not really!), the team produced a few red ones and then the white 'Evolution' ... which also creaked.
In fact all the Cyman bikes I rode creaked.
The Cymans were hardly aesthetically pleasing either were they? I don’t ever remember riding one that was in track. I’d ride through puddles leaving two wet tracks sometimes a couple of inches apart!
The bottom bracket axle had to be EXTRA long so that the cranks cleared the chain stays. Sometimes I’d get off the bike after a long ride only for some wise-guy to greet me with ‘get of your horse and drink your milk’.
And they always god-damned creaked!
Having said all that, I did manage to break the RRA 100 mile record on one with a time of 3hrs 11 mins and 11 seconds ... a record that’s still standing too. Goodness knows how much faster I’d have gone if I’d been on a PDQ tt rig! ;-)
As well as the frames, Cyman also experimented with hubs and handlebars. The hubs did in fact look quite nice ... similar to the gold flanged carbon barrelled Zipp ones. I only ever saw one pair though which was a shame. I also only ever saw one set of their handlebars which wasn't (a shame). They were a 'cleverly' designed heavyweight heap of junk that had a massive cog system which allowed the bars to 'morph' from a standard bar (for starting off in time trials) to a tri-bar (for the aero position). The idea disappeared without trace along with the possible claim which was raised by an unfortunate rider in Norfolk who had gone arse over tit when his set broke.
I didn't break much (well not as much as Spencer Wingrave ... apparently ... who was using them at the same time) but for each and every RRA record I did break ( I bet you thought I meant breaking components when I started there didn't you?), I'd had a clause written in to the contract whereby I'd be
'rewarded' with a Cyman of my choice ... as a sort of Brucie's bonus if you like! I even managed to sell one to a nice chap from Oakington in exchange for some money ie he paid me for it. Incredible eh?
Their money ran out … pretty quickly I reckon …either that or they decided that we cyclists didn’t know as much as they did about cycling, and they went their own way leaving me to revert to amateur again.
And so endeth Ian Cammish’s professional cycling career … not in quite the same glorious manner in which it started (with Raleigh) but with a few extra quid in my pocket if nothing else.
I've since received a few photos and even a 'potted history' of Gary Whitnell's experience with his Cyman HERE.
Me enjoying a bit of peace and quiet at the start of a 25 on the F2 ... before the bloody creaking started
The Cyman Evolution.
The latest and 'best' reincarnation ... honest!
Photo courtesy Frank Taylor
Yours truely being told how to build bikes and ride them fast by Fernando Pugwash and Laurence Fagg.
At the start of an RRA straight-out 100 attempt near Stamford.
Photo courtesy Frank Taylor