How I won one of the most lucrative bike races in the world on 16 inch wheels

We caught up with Alec Briggs, the man who won £10,048 in the World Cycling Revival Brompton race - Briggs is planning to buy a shed in London with his winnings

(Image credit: Picasa)

It had greater winning prize money than the UCI World Cup. There can’t be many bike races which provide such a yield for the distance travelled. Anticipation was high as 48 riders from around the world raced for a £10,048 cash prize, provided by Brompton, at the recent World Cycling Revival.

Invented by Andrew Ritchie in his bedroom in 1975, Brompton bikes are best known as the tool of the commuter. But the iconic brand has a passion for having fun, too, and in addition to the Brompton World Championships held again this year, the “48 Invitational” race pitched seasoned Brompton racers with former and current pro cyclists. With £10,048 on the line, or around £4,500 per mile, the stakes couldn’t be higher.

>>> Best folding bikes: a buyer's guide

For those that follow the London cycling scene, it might not have been so surprising to see 25-year-old Alec Briggs, who has raced at Herne Hill since he was eight, take the top spot. It was a field that included riders such as UCI WorldTour rider Marc De Maar, Lotto-Soudal U23’s Jacob Vaughan, elite rider Justin Hoy and ex-professional cyclist David Millar, all of them riding the special edition CHPT3 Brompton bike which was designed in collaboration with Millar.

We caught up with Briggs to find out just how he won one of the most lucrative prizes in bike racing - and what he plans to do with the money...

Alec nestled third from the font, on the inside
(Image credit: Picasa)

What did you make of the Brompton 48 Invitational?

I thought it was wicked. It's good fun, hairy, gave the crowd something to shout at. I think when there's ten grand on the line, everyone suddenly gets interested, whether you're a spectator or racing it. I think it meant a lot more to the racers. There were some big guys in there; pro riders, all sorts, and it was hard. I was one of the hardest races I've done this year. But it was also hilarious. I kind of liked it.

Did you know what you were doing with the Brompton? Given that you hadn't ridden one properly before?

I tried unfolding it for the first time the day before the race, and that was apparently a vital part to the race; some of those Brompton ringers can do it it in like five seconds and I can do it in about twenty.

That's a long way to chase back on. Especially at that speed. And when the last two riders wanted to go out every lap, yeah you haven't got much time to mess around and get it wrong, which is what some people did. And I think all in all, the Brompton added a whole new dynamic to the race, because you had the gears on the track and little twitchy wheels and little tight bars, you could fit through small gaps.

What tips would you give for winning a race full of Brompton's?

On the run over you need to be breaking down what you're going to do, because I'd just learned how to do it. I couldn't remember what I had to do first. I was going ‘Alright. Seat first, then under bars and frame, the back row spiny thing’ and just get that down in your head, and I think you're good. And watch out for the ringers, the Brompton racers, don't underestimate them.

Competitors had to run to their bikes and unfold them before racing
(Image credit: Picasa)

Is it like a normal track race? In terms of tactics in an elimination race?

So the first part where you have to run and fold your bike, that throws a whole new element into it. Because all of sudden, you've got to chase on and blow half your matches just catching back up to the field, because some guy can do his unfolding bike magic real quick.

So then, you think ‘we're going damage limitation then,’ so, in a normal elimination, I'd sit in the back and then try to just pick people off. But I was so screwed just from chasing back on, I just got near the front and just tried to stay there. I would just be wary of how hard you have to drive to catch up to them Brompton dudes, because they are strong. I think they could be strong with any bike, but on a Brompton, with the ninja folding stuff, they're a force to be reckoned with.

What was the field like?

It was like good, with really good riders; people that have got a future in cycling. Ex- champions and current champions. I did get told a story, that last year there was a pro who trained for the Brompton World Champs, maybe it was his last year as a pro, or just finished, and he came second to a Brompton dude. That's how quick these guys are. Pro training for a race, knows how to do it, came second. Brompton World Champs, I'm scared of that, I don't think you could get me to that.

And what are you going to do with the money?

So living in London, ten grand probably doesn’t go as far as it would outside of London. So I'm planning on buying a shed and sticking it on top of someone's house, and then living there for the rest of my life. Failing that, I'm going to try and maybe give my Dad some money back for rent, and yeah, see if I can ever afford a house in this crazy day and age.”

Brompton Racing returns at Prudential RideLondon for the Brompton World Championship Final race, now in its fourth year, on Saturday 28 July 2018:

There's still time to get practising your Brompton unfolding!

Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1