The Harvard University Cycling Club is known to only a select few in Cambridge, but in April, millions of ABC television viewers will have the opportunity to see two of its members.
Coach John C. Allis and team member Adrian Sheldon '83 will be featured in the television pilot "Spraggue," which is based on characters from the book of the same name by a Brookline author.
The 90-minute mystery centers on a Tufts marine biologist whose main hobbies are cycling and fighting crime.
Allis and Sheldon will be shown in a bike race scene filmed yesterday at the Hatch Shell on the Esplanade in Boston. They were paid minimum wage as extras.
"It was really fun and interesting to see how a movie is made. Everyone knew each other from previous races and we all had a good time," Sheldon said.
Allis, who raced in the 1964, 1968 and 1972 Olympics, served as the movie's technical adviser and was in charge of both recruiting cyclists from the area for the fake race, and for making it appear authentic.
Arthur Seidel, unit production manager for Lorimar Productions, said Allis's advice was very important adding. "He made the show more authentic. Now when professional bikers see the show they won't laugh at us."
If the pilot is picked up as a series, Lorimar might use the Harvard bikers on a regular basis, Seidel said. It would depend, however, on how the network would want to develop the show. If it were an adventure mystery it would be filmed in the Boston area. If it becomes a sitcom, it will go to Hollywood.
Hard to Film
Allis, who appeared in the movie "Race for the Yellow Jersey" in the early 1970s said yesterday that cycling is a hard sport to film, adding. "The bikers go faster than the camera truck so it is difficult to catch the action on film."
In addition to Sheldon, Allis hired racers from other local cycling clubs, including the Boston Road Club. Northeast Bike Club, Bacchus Club and Fitchburg Cycling Club.
The television crew also filmed scenes in Milton, Brookline, Boston, Tufts and South Station.
During the filming, Robin Petgrave, an extra from Watertown, was hit by the camera truck and suffered a leg laceration but no broken bones. An ambulance bought him to Massachusetts General Hospital.