The Hour

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OK, it’s all done now. 4 months of training and preparation.  9 lots of 16 hour round trips to Cambridge. A brand new bike and gear. Lots of last minute running around and help from 20+ people. Like a lot of things in life, it didn’t end up in the planned awesome tsunami of relief and joy I’d hoped for, but it didn’t suck either. I rode 47.696KM, and that’s a new NZ Hour Record. That’s also a new Master 1 NZ record, obviously.

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Photos: Michel Bland

I missed my big goal – the World Master 1 Record – by just over 2 laps.

Oh, and also let’s clear up the whole NZ Record thing here. Lee Vertongen rode 50.2KM, in 1997 at the Wanganui Velodrome. The thing about that record is that he did it using the ‘superman’ Obree position. That record, and others done using that position now come under a category of ‘best human effort’. To be a UCI ratified record now, it has to be done with some stricter controls about the position and bike, something I’ve had to research and get sorted to comply with. Lee’s record is incredible. He wouldn’t know me from a bar of soap – I don’t think I’ve ever met him but his achievement is very inspirational to me. It was considered an excellent record, even in world terms – it was right up there. So, my record’s a little bit different, but is considered the NZ Outright Record now.

Jack Swart also held the NZ Hour Record in 17 Nov 1978, doing 45.949KM, and I gather that before that it was Tino Tabak, but I don’t know what he set at that time.

There’s a list here of all the UCI ratified hour records and attempts including all the different positions. Most of the top 20 are ‘absolute’ records i.e. superman or egg position, or are the latest crop i.e. Dowsett, Brandle etc. Mine slots in at 52nd. I won’t be a jerk and figure out how many of those have been busted for doping etc…I’m just some random from NZ, and I’ve never doped in my life so I’m pretty happy with that…

Here’s a rundown about the positions and the history if you are interested…

That superman (and Obree ‘egg’ position), and maybe some of the things about the shape of the bike, are now banned by the governing body of cycling (the UCI). It was the position that ended up being used by guys like Rominger, Obree, Boardman and Vertongen to set the Hour Record during the 90’s because it reduced your aerodynamic drag to around .185cda.

Heres a photo of what it looks like…Pretty aero huh?

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In 1997 the UCI changed the rule so that you had to do the Hour on what was essentially the same as what Eddy Merckx used in 1972 to set the Hour in Mexico. It looks like this – retro huh?: The idea was standardisation.

Foto Daniele Badolato / Lapresse 15/03/2012 Milano Eddy Merckx incontra la stampa Nella foto Eddy Merckx Photo Daniele Badolato / Lapresse 15/03/2012 Milan Eddy Merckx meets the press In the picture Eddy Merckx

This was agreed by everyone in the universe to be a completely retrograde idea, and the only 2 guys who had a shot at it on this kind of old school gear was Chris Boardman and Ondrej Sosenka.

Anyway, in 2014 the UCI decided that it needed to change the rules again about what gear you could use, or the Hour would just die. They changed it so that you could use what amounted to the same as the bikes you would use in a track endurance event like a pursuit. Like my one:

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OK, and that brings us to what happened with the Hour Record over the last 18 months or so – with lots of attempts and the current Wiggins record.

Here’s a link to a site that discusses the drag of the different positions:

http://www.cyclingpowerlab.com/CyclingAerodynamics.aspx

I figured out my cda in the UCI legal position and its about .215. I put out about 315-320 watts average for my hour.  I was interested to plug in the numbers, and I found that with that power, in the ‘superman’ position, it comes out to – you guessed it – almost exactly 50.2KM. I just write that for interests sake – I’m not saying that I would or wouldn’t be able to beat Lee’s record in the same position – not at all. I have no idea. I have no idea if I could even ride that position. It’s just interesting that’s all.

I was a little bit unlucky, in that the atmospheric pressure on the day was 1032. That’s pretty high, and I expected more like 1015-1020. That on it’s own is worth about 270 metres.

As far as the ride goes, it was pretty much exactly as hard as expected. I could go on about the suffering, but frankly, all you want to know is there was a lot of it. In a nutshell, it went like this:

First 15 Mins: On WR pace. Felt great. 15-30 Min: Still on pace – getting harder and harder. 30-45 Mins – started to die. Suffering becoming unbearable. Had to stand about 2 or 3 times. Lost most of the time here. 45min – 1hr: Gritted teeth, went into deeper suffering than ever before, back to on pace or just under.

People:

There’s so much about a thing like this that is down to the good will of the people that all play a part to help me. That’s one thing that bummed me out – I wanted the World Record because I wanted more for those people too. I’m so grateful. Thank you. My wife Rachel and my kids for supporting me at home. My wife’s family and my mum and dad for being there for me. Mark Drew from Tailwind, David Lovegrove from Biomaxa, Paul Davies and the Team at Capital Cycles, my colleague and friend at Fitlab, Andrew Jamieson. Mike and Rochelle from the Avanti Shop in Avantidrome – organising me a wheel at the last minute and prepping my bike, and coming to watch and cheer me on. Kate Collins at Bike NZ for answering all my endless questions. Commissaires John McDonnell, Graeme Bell, Mark Ireland, Guy Halewood. Vicky Ward. My brother from another mumma – Nick Blair – just the best guy to have to help with everything on the day and did my pacing. Frith his wife. Alison Shanks for lending me her beautiful wheel. Michael Bland for his great photos. Hannah Ward for tweeting and photos. Nick Warren – the guy who set the original Wellington Hour and started this madness – did all my comms and press releases amongst other things. Legend! The spectators who cheered for me.  Oh, and the other 50 people or so I’m forgetting. I’ll update this post if I remember. You helped make this a success for me thank you thank you thank you.

Some info about what I used: Gear: 53 x 14T; Suit: Castelli Body Paint 3 Long Sleeve; Bike: Hongfu FM126; Wheels: Rear Disc cheapy no name from Aliexpress; Front: Zen; Helmet: Giro Selector

Tailwind Nutrition Raspberry Blast 750ml 2hrs and 30min before the attempt

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Biomaxa chamois cream and chain lube

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My bike is serviced by Capital Cycles

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Lactate Testing and Coaching is done by Fitlab

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I’ll post again about this experience and I’m kind of already thinking about how I can get that WR next time. I just wanted to get this post out there now. Thank you. Steve

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