Sunday, 25 January 2009

The Hour Record:

50km in one hour is to cycling perhaps what the four minute mile was to Track & Field.

50km in one hour. On a standard bike with no gears or any fancy aerodynamic gear. Few ever even try it and even fewer ever beat the mark no one's gone past 50km by the standard UCI rules. In fact it's barely improved since Eddie Merkx rode 49431m way back in 1972¹. It stands at 49700m at the moment. And it's held by Ondrej Sosenka. Incidentally, Sosenka was recently caught on amphetamines at his National Time Trial Championships².

To break this record:

-The best technology possible; Eddie Merckx had a titanium bike weighing 5.5kgs³.

-The most phenomenal engine humanly possible. Some idea of the power required would be somewhere in the region of 450watts for an hour. Some estimate lower, 425watts. But I believe the true figure to lie closer to 460 or higher. In non cycling terms; an ordinary person would probably manage about 120w, so imagine the power of three or four people in one.

-A very good velodrome. Things to consider here are altitude, the running surface, the ambient temperature. It was rumoured that Armstrong wanted to build a velodrome at high altitude, break the record and subsequently demolish the velodrome so as no one may gain said advantage easily.

Moser suggested Lance Armstrong might want to make an attempt. Without a doubt Armstrong has the three above sorted.

Th process of breaking this record would start by proving potential, first on the road in long time trials, followed by testing in the lab and finally testing on the track. Second step would be team backing. Third, private backing would be required to pay for the attempt, right through training, technology, assessment to completion. Fourth, a very good engineer to optimize and complement the work of the athlete, the coach and the team, with the fast bike possible.

I recommend reading "The Hour" by Micheal Hutchinson. This book is very informative, while being quite amusing at the same time.

I would love to give the Hour record a try.


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