>A new departure for us last night… Pat and I went to take part in the Hewer Street Annual Pancake Race. This is a fiercely fought affair with a magnificent trophy at stake. I’d heard about the rough and tumble and dark practices that characterise the event, but I thought a background of circuit racing and over-competitive Boggle might serve me well.
The lashing rain and tricky underfoot conditions meant that Pat opted out. A wise decision.
I had underestimated how hard people would fight to win. I had overestimated my ability to toss at speed. I finished nowhere – a bitter but wiser man.
The controversy, however, was all at the sharp end. At the last possible moment before that start, last year’s winner, Big Simon, unveiled his secret weapon. It was massive, it was deep, it was a bloody wok. Science has taught us that a pancake cannot be spilled from a wok never mind how enthusiastic and inept the tossing. The wok’s aerodynamic shape creates ground effect which help keeps the tosseur close to the ground and to make up time at the turn. But is it legal?
Despite all of this technological help Big Simon was running second to Little Simon (no relation) as the line drew closer. Suddenly there was uproar – Little Simon had spilled his battered confection and was scrambling in the road to re-house his crepe. There was (unproven) talk of a laser pointer being used to blind him mid-toss. Big Simon let out a roar of triumph, accelerated and dipped to take the tape first.
The crowd went wild. There were protests – there always are – but no rule had been broken. This is a hard man and woman’s sport. Big Simon is the champion and takes the cup. His write up of the event is here and here.
I have already started work on my racing wok for next year. This is the wok I will be training with…
It doesn’t quite have the elegance of Big Simon’s machine, but I will improve it. I will get better.
My other project is a track bike (below), but that doesn’t seem so important now.