Almost as soon as there were bicycles, there were methods contrived to ride them in place, and as soon as there were ways to ride bikes in place, there were stationary races. The recorded history of roller racing appears to coalesce around two time periods: 1890-1915, and the postwar era of the 1950’s. Roller racing certainly happened after that, (and continues to happen) but the stories tend to be of dusty mechanical roller rigs on their last legs or of heroic restorations of that equipment. Goldsprints, under that name, came later, and we’ll get into that further on.
Roller racing had a bit of a resurgence after World War II, mostly in England, where exhibition races could be found in ballrooms and theaters around the country.
There have also been a couple of setups that were mechanically connected to little cyclists on a model track.
EARLY COMPUTERIZED RACING- 1992 TO PRESENT
Just as roller racing coincided with the invention of the bicycle, computerized methods of tracking racer time and distance emerged almost as soon as there were consumer-available computers that could support them. In the early 1990’s, Al Kreitler (of Kreitler Rollers fame) commissioned “Roller Fusion,” a DOS-based program that could be used to time racers. By 1993, the Century Road Club Association was using this program, along with Kreitler rollers, to hold races as part of their programming.
Why is it called Goldsprints?
The history of the term “goldsprints” began in 1997 or 1999 (depending on who you ask) in Zurich, Switzerland. According to Adrian Weber, owner of Turbinen Braeu in the city, founded a modern roller racing series and named it after Gold Sprint, one of the beers produced by the brewery. Here’s a video of a Gold Sprint race in Zurich in 1999:
Note that in this video, we are still seeing a mechanical setup, and oddly, the riders are facing away from the audience and toward the dials. But this is the first stuff that was called “Goldsprints.”
Many, many outfits offering goldsprints these days utilize a standard setup: purpose built Opensprints Kreiter rollers, hall effect sensors, an Arduino box and a software program called GoldsprintsFX.
While two-up racing using Opensprints rollers and sensors and the GoldsprintsFx visualization program is certainly the most common setup these days, there is certainly more that can be done with the stationary racing concept.
With a digital track and timing, this is a sweet setup that gets more racers going at once while presenting an engaging visual display for spectators.