Graeme Obree, who famously incorporated part of an old washing machine into the ‘Old Faithful’ the bike he used to break the Hour record, has turned to his kitchen for inspiration for his latest endeavour, with a burnt saucepan featuring in the machine he hopes will take him to a new world record for a human-powered vehicle.
Never afraid to turn conventional thinking on its head, the Flying Scotsman will be doing that quite literally when he attempts to set a new benchmark of up to 100mph in the World Human Powered Speed Challenge in Nevada this September.
While the likes of current record holder Sam Whittingham of Canada base their machines around a recumbent design, Obree – appropriately for the man who pioneered the subsequently banned ‘Superman’ position – will be flying along the road headfirst.
The 46-year-old is currently working on the bike at his Ayrshire home and posted photographs to his Facebook page.
“New bike coming on well all build in the kitchen even using some traditional kitchen stuff…. like a pot - Recycling!,” he said.
Explaining how his schedule had let to him undertaking “a hectic round of speaking engagements in the UK, Holland & Italy,” he added: “Back into the build for the Land Speed record now. Time consuming as many of the components are hand fabricated.”
He has been working on the bike since February and told the Daily Record: “I used an old pot that I had burned so I won’t miss it – it was ideal for what I needed.
“I wanted a light, flat surface for my shoulder supports and it was just sitting under my sink.”
Obree, whose struggles with depression and attempted suicide were charted in his autobiography Flying Scotsman, turned into a film starring Johnny Lee Miller, remains a hugely popular figure among the UK cycling community.
Having kept a low public profile for several years, he has moved back into the spotlight more recently, and last year revealed he was gay, his decision to go public a reflection of his new-found inner peace.
“My life is great now,” he told the Daily Record. “I haven’t let my fitness go in the past few years so the record is well within my capabilities.”
The new bike is jokingly nicknamed Pie In The Sky, but it’s one that’s likely to stick every bit as much as the burnt food that rendered that saucepan redundant.
He hopes that the machine, which will be enclosed in a bullet-shaped, Kevlar fairing, will not only take him beyond Whittingham’s current IHPVA record of 82.819mph, but also beyond 100mph.
“I’ll be lying almost flat, about the height of Chris Hoy’s knees, so it should be fast,” he explained.
“I’m in good shape. I’m doing daily road training of about 40 miles but I’ll be cutting that back to shorter sprints on the new bike to prepare for the record.”
If you’re out and about in North Ayrshire in the coming weeks, it might be worth keeping an eye out for Obree as he puts Pie In The Sky through its paces – it will be an unmistakable site.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.