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Vic Haines – “I was pissed off with Obree, but I’m not now”

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Vic Haines
Vic Haines.

Vic Haines – does the name ring a bell?

If you’re into time trialling you’ll know him as a long-term sponsor in English cycling and a multiple tandem time trial record holder.

Closer to home you’ll recognise him as the man who organised Graeme Obree’s successful Hour Record attempt in Hamar, Norway.

But his controversial ‘split’ with Obree came not long after the Scottish phenomenon had eclipsed Italian legend, Francesco Moser’s record – with, according to Haines, the new Ayrshire Hour Record holder due him a lot of money.

We thought a chat with the man might be worthwhile…

You were a cycle speedway rider originally, Vic?

“That’s a long story but yeah, me and my mates started messing about at a local track, some of the officials got wind, came to see us and I started racing in the local league.

“My dad managed me, took me to races in his van and I won the British Junior Championship.

“I got more serious, joined a big team – Tottenham, and as the only sponsored cycle speedway rider on the circuit won 39 Grand Prixs.

“But my friends started taking the pee; ‘you’re OK goin’ round in little circles but what about real races?’

“In those days you road everything, road, time trials, the lot.

“I entered an inter-club ’25’ on the Saturday and did a 1:06 – I was so shattered I feel asleep after it.

“My wife liked the idea of time trialling; it was a lot safer than speedway – that was like rugby on wheels and often ended up in a punch up – but she wasn’t keen on me coming home and going to sleep in the chair!

“The next day I rode an open ’25’ and recorded a 56:20 on a road bike – and that was the start.”

Vic Haines
Vic showing great style on the inside line at the Nationals. Photo©supplied
Vic Haines
Vic and Les Howell head towards National 10 Mile Tandem Competition Record. Photo©supplied

What about the tandem obsession?

“Because I’d gone OK in that race I got invited to join a club which had a couple of good tandem crews as members.

“I’d never ridden a tandem before but one of the guys, Les Howell said to me; ‘my mate is sick, do you fancy riding the tandem with me?’

“I said I’d give it a go – that was in 1979 – we did a 19:26 on a pre-war Claud Butler to establish comp. record.

“Eventually I started my own team and got into this tandem business – we did 20 rides in the 18 minute bracket, breaking the record twice, with John Pritchard in 18:17 in ’88 and 18:11 in ’89 and I knew a 17 minute ride was on the cards.

“We promoted a ’10’ on the A12 – that’s a big, fast road – and Chris Worsfold and I did 17:58.

“Cycling Weekly heard and rang me to say that we’d only managed it because the course was so fast – so Anthony Stapleton and I went down to the Hungerford course and did a 17:54 on horrible roads – Cycling Weekly didn’t report that one.”

Vic Haines
Sean Yates and Vic at speed, heading for another record. Photo©supplied

And you had the tandem ’30’ record with Sean Yates.

“Yeah, he asked to join my club; ‘Team Clean – Fresh Start’ – he won the National ’50’ for us and we rode tandem and two-ups together for ten years.

“We did 56:48 for the ’30’ with the first 10 miles straight out in 14:08.”

Vic Haines
Vic and Sean enjoy another record. Photo©Vic Haines

Who makes the best tandems, these days?

“I’ve ridden Chaz Roberts, and Cliff Shrubbs, but currently it’s a titanium Reilly.

“Mark Reilly used to be with Omega but builds under his own name now, it’s a nice machine.”

Vic Haines
Vic encouraged Francesco Moser to get into tandems too. Photo©supplied

I heard that you and Moser were going to go for the world tandem hour record?

“I was riding Masters races for the Jewsons team and the Tour of Britain organis