FRED KREBS was busy writing when THE BICYCLE approached him. “Can you hold on, just a moment," he asked politely; "I must finish this."
As he wrote, we rudely looked over his shoulder. And we saw this interesting information being inked into the book :
Framesize: 22 in. box, Angles: 72 deg. parallel; Fork rake: 2 1/8 in.; Rear triangle : 17 3/4 in.; Bottom bracket. 10 1/2 in.; Cranks : 6 11/16 in.
All very interesting. Krebs was writing out the details for his new boss - Frank Southall. The information will be passed to the firm's craftsmen, and, in they near future, Britain's latest 5-ft. 10-in. professional will be the owner of a new Hercules bicycle - a machine on which he hopes to travel a good deal further along the road to stardom in the years to come.
One of the first jobs this young R.A.F. man did after signing, apart from contacting his mother and father, was to let Bob Ward, of the University C.C. know.
"I owe an awful lot to Bob," said Krebs, "for right from the earliest days he has nursed me along. Another member I am grateful to is Bill Sillitoe, who, like Bob, did a lot for me."
His meteoric rise to stardom in amateur ranks is possibly due to a combination of two things: (a) The fact that he had his National Service deferred; and (b) the entry of the N.C.U. into open road racing.
Up to October 1952, the month he entered the R.A.F., Fred Krebs had done enough in the time trialling world and the mass start sphere to have his name "noted" in cycling circles.
In 1950, he was riding in many local Fenland events, and distinguishing himself with 1-0 25s. In the same season he clocked 2-6-18 to win the Wisbech C.C. 50.
The following year he did not take part in a great many cycling events - his time being divided between studying for his National Certificate of Engineering examination (which he eventually passed) and rowing, in which sport he claimed a runners-up prize in a local event.
He took part in, and again won for the second successive year, the Wisbech event with a 2-7. Towards the latter end of the year, he tried a 100, the Westerley R.C. event, and three weeks later the Middlesex R.C. 12-hours.
The Westerley R.C. 100 was held on a hard day; considerable wind buffeted the field all around the Bath Road course, but Krebs turned in a 4-34-55 (eight minutes down on winner Alf Hill). At about the same time he was ending his ride, the great mass start adventure of all time in Britain's history was about to begin - the first "Daily Express" Tour of Britain.
The Cambridge rider at that time had no ambition to go careering around Britain at racing speed.
If he wanted to see the delights of the country to which he came at the age of six from Vienna, Austria, his Y.H.A. membership pass was his "Open Sesame." He toured a lot when a youngster of 14, the year when he first joined the Cambridge C.T.C. section and Y.H.A. group.
A series of three 25-mile rides early in the 1952 season captured the attention of club-folk. Krebs got under the hour in each of them, improving from 59-55 to 59-40, which he pulled off in the National Championship 25, to earn fifteenth place. A 2-0-10 ride in a Norwich 50, which he won by six minutes, really saw his enthusiasm being whipped up.
" About this time I thought about training for longer rides," he said, " and I started to think about mass start racing for the first time."
Krebs did not only think about it. He travelled to Dunmow and took part in a couple of events and suffered a defeat from Arthur Ilsley in one of them. In the East Anglian Centre championship mass start he again finished second.
About this time the first open road race under N.C.U. rules was promoted. Krebs liked the mass start game. He decided to enter the "national," held at Birkenhead Park, but a puncture eliminated him after 50 miles.
Over to the Isle of Man, and in his first taste of "big" stuff he finished eighteenth, some seven minutes down on the Frenchman Andre Papillon. His other venture in the mass start field was the London-Southampton and back, in which he was second to Joe Dunkel, Metro.
"I rode by my watch in that race," he laughed.
A 4-21 100, in the Bath Road event, and a 2-2 ride in the national championship 50, were his other accomplishments before the time came to go into the R.A.F.
For most of this season time trialing has taken a back seat.
In the Cheshire R.C. Peaks road race promotion hewas equal fifth, and says he was " overgeared." Because of this he lowered his range of gears and started training over the Peaks District.
It found him his fitness. In a Woolwich C.C. promotion, organised and won by Graham Hayward, he was not found to be wanting in speed. At Whitsun his 4-21-5 gained him event record in the University C.C. promotion. His efforts were "recognised" and he went to Belgium with Ted Gerrard, Bernard Pusey, Graham Vines and A. Walker. This was his debut at stage racing. and he finished eighteenth. He learned a lot on that Continental trip and allowed his position to be changed drastically by the team's Belgian manager.
In selection races this season he again showed promise and was duly chosen for Lugano, where, as is now history, he was going, well at 80 miles but forced to retire because someone's musette tangled around his rear sprocket, causing Krebs to crash.
Back in this country he won the Tour of Chobham, promoted by Twickenham C.C., and then he startled the time trial world again by his 4-11-25 in the Bournemouth Jubilee 100. He cycled to Bournemouth the day before, as he had not the money to pay for his fare!
Then came his all-important Tour of the Chilterns victory. A controversy raged over this event - and possibly still does in many circles. Krebs handled his bicycle superbly that day, and checked in a 24 m.p.h.-plus winning speed over the 160 miles.
An all-round sportsman, Krebs still plays badminton for Cambridge, and in his schooldays took a couple of titles for boxing.
He believes in training hard - every day if possible. This year he has ridden more than 14,000 training miles. He is quick to learn. He firmly believes in racing against higher-class opposition. And he is really happy to have had the stroke of good luck to sign for Hercules and to be riding with Dave Bedwell - a rider whose career Fred Krebs has followed with extreme interest.