by crankpunk. this article originally appeared on The Roar.
“What there is is a bike, black line, a track, and a clock.” – Graeme Obree
“It’s incredibly risky, because there’s no second place. You either win – or you lose.” – Chris Boardman
Officially known as ‘The World Hour Record’, it’s better known among aficionados as the Hour.
Though the Hour is still one of the few hallowed benchmarks in professional cycling, there was once a time when this record was challenged at fairly regular intervals, by the big names of the sport, bringing to it a romance and stature that has been missing in recent years.
That the Hour was seen as a test to be taken on only by the true strong men of the peloton as they neared the end of their careers tells you something of the difficulty of the task of riding absolutely flat out for a full 60 minutes.
On the 25th of October, 1972, the legendary Eddy Merckx set constructed Colnago bike. Such was the importance awarded the effort that Ernest Colnago himself flew to Mexico City to be Merckx’s mechanic, overseeing the bike’s preparation.
Merckx’s record saw many a rider come and have a bash at it, but it stood almost 12 years, until Francesco Moser toppled it in 1984, by over 1.5km.
Moser though was using bullhorn handlebar, steel airfoil tubing, disk wheels and skinsuit, while Merckx, riding in an earlier era, didn’t have access to such technologically advanced materials.
It is partly these advances in equipment that have led to the Hour Record losing some of its appeal, as detractors of recent attempts have criticised the use of anything other than a traditional steel frame and drop bars, as used by Merckx.
The most famous of the innovators were both British, Graeme Obree from Scotland and Chris Boardman from England.
Obree looked to the bike for his advantages, building his own machine from scrap metal to take the record on the 17th of July, 1993.
Boardman, though he had a state of the art bike, was renowned for employing a full team of bike boffins and training gurus, proving to be a few years ahead of his time in his approach.
Incredibly, he then took the Hour record just one week later, by a mere 274 meters (52.270km).
The UCI redefined an hour record set on any kind of upright bike, irrespective of equipment, as the UCI Best Human Effort, but the UCI Hour Record remains the true benchmark, and disallows time trial helmets, disc or tri-spoke wheels, aerodynamic bars and monocoque frames.
This record, held originally by Merckx, lasted from that Mexico ride in 1972 until 2000, when Boardman rode it and beat it by a slender 70 meters – putting into real perspective just how fast Merckx was.
In 2005 Ondrej Sosenka bettered that effort at 49.700m, but as a result of two positive doping tests in his career, the result is tarnished.
And so we come to Cancellara. If anyone can have a real go at Boardman’s – and Sosenka’s – times, it is the big Swiss. And in having a go he is reigniting the romance that once existed between the Hour and cycling.
“It’s for sure, this year,” his general manager Luca Guercilena said. “He has the hour record in his legs.
“We have two windows where he’ll have a peak in form, the two weeks after Paris-Roubaix or after the Tour de France,” Guercilena added.
If Cancellara is in a form similar to last year at Roubaix then he will have a real chance of taking the Hour, adding this illustrious record to his already stunning palmares.
And with it, he could entice other hard men from the pro ranks to get their wheels on the track.
Cancellara’s team is already in preparation for the attempt.
Twenty-five people – 15 from Trek bicycles, engineers and biomechanics, and 10 from the team – are working on the record,” Guercilena said. “We are trying to make the bike and wheels faster while staying in the UCI’s rules. You need time for this.”
And so modern technology should still give Cancellara an advantage, but little in relation to what materials are available for road and time trial bikes these days.
It is still, essentially, man against the clock, in a thrilling, compelling and pulsating battle.
this made me laugh. and gasp.and then as i read more about the film it brought a tear to me eye.
“It’s very different to what I planned but I’m really starting to love it and care for it,” Ashton said about the film. “It’s a brilliant collection — you can lose the fact that we’re on a road bike as it just looks like a great piece of riding. The first Road Bike Party was all about it being a road bike but this one, the road bike doesn’t get a chance — the stuff that we do collectively is beyond what would be ‘normal’ for a trials bike. It’s exceptional.”
Ashton had a terrible accident whilst competing that left him paraplegic and in a wheelchair, something i didn’t know about until i saw this video this morning.
Martyn’s attitude to the accident is humbling.
“I just felt lucky, you know? ‘F–k, I nearly killed myself’. But I hadn’t, so I felt really chuffed to be honest.”
and the fil,? wow. incredible stuff. i’m out to buy me some Vision wheels after i post this…
all the best Martyn, crank on!
check out the amazing video here below…
after helping to get the word out about the new film about Graeme Obree’s attempt at the world land speed record that is currently in post-production – The Outsider: Graeme Obree’s Story – i decided to chance my arm at wrangling an interview with the legend himself in the hope of further pimping the film.
well, i say that, but the ulterior motive was, if i’m honest, simply to be able to chat to a man i have admired and respected from afar through the years, since i first became aware of him and his cycling around 1990.
i usually prefer to take excerpts from interviews and to mould them into an article, but such was the enthusiasm barreling down the phone line from Graeme – and indeed, such was the fun i was having – that i’ve decided to simply transcribe the entire interview.
it’s long. but you know what, i do believe that you have the attention span to get through this! inspired by Mr. Obree, it’s ‘go large or go home’ day here on cp & company…
and so, here you have it: Mr. Graeme Obree, in his own inimitable words…
cp: Hello! It’s Lee Rodgers, I’m calling for the interview.
GO: Ah yes hello! Listen, this line isn’t so good, would you mind calling my land line?
cp: I tried that but it didn’t work.
GO: What number did you try?
GO: That’s not right. Try this one. +44XXX-XX-XXXX.
cp: OK will do.
GO: Ok then cheerio.
simple, beautiful and bucketloads of passion.
‘anything i can do to get people on their bikes more…’
as many of you may have noticed, i have always had enormous respect and admiration for Mr. Graeme Obree, for what he represents as a human being as much as what he does on two wheels. he and his mad bike caught my imagination in a way nothing else really has in the world of cycling ever since, as i watched on as a teenager as he and Chris Boardman battled on in their many duels.
you can guess who i was rooting for! it was the conservative, methodical Englishman against the eccentric and non-linear Scot. Boardman was a fantastic cyclist and is a noce fella – I met him once at a crit in the UK, where I was second and he was first, about three minutes ahead of the rest of us – but it was in Obree that i recognised genius, the kind that takes men over frozen wastes and into deep, impenetrable jungles.
here was someone special, someone uncontrollable, someone very much volatile but truly, it seemed to me, truly alive.
he walked away from doping too, making his own stand against the corruption in pro cycling at that time. he was crankpunking even before the term ever saw the light of day..!
so when i received an email from Zoe Lavoi-Gouin, Production Manager at Journey Pictures Ltd., asking me to spread the word about a kickstarter campaign that they started to help raise the last 20,000 GBP that will help them take the 200+ hours of material they compiled over two years of following Graeme as he attempted to break the Human Powerer Speed Record into a finished film, i agreed immediately.
“We have just completed the filming of a documentary covering two years in the life of twice world record holder and twice world champion, cyclist icon Graeme Obree,” wrote Zoe.
“It began in his kitchen in Saltcoats, Ayrshire in 2011 and just ended in September 2013 in the mountains of Nevada, USA. We filmed at least 200 hours of material but we now require help in raising the funds to finish the project! We have launched a KICKSTARTER campaign to raise £20,000 to cover the cost of a craft editor, and the editing suite he will use, the sound mix, the completion of the final big screen version, colour corrected with titles and graphics as well as the master for the streams, downloads and DVD’s.”
so click here to go to their Kickstarter link, and donate if you feel so inclined.
The project FB is here, please go ‘like’ and let’s raise them up a bit.
Here is their Twitter account.
so you know bodybuilding has a lot of small-penised men with inferiority complexes, buckets of creosote with which they like to paint with thick, stiff bristled paintbrushes into every nook and crannie, and speedos that ride up to where the sun don’t shine?
oh, and it has a mammoth roid culture?
well it’s so bad in fact that as well as the roid-pumped official bodybuilding championships that are held, another bunch of non-roid taking BB’ers have their own natural bodybuilding championships. they may as call the other one the ‘Drug Fueled BodyBuilding Champs’…
which got me to thinking.
how about a ‘Natural Tour de France’?
ok, let’s wait now for the guy who mails in to say ‘hey jeez man, no one was positive at the last Tour!’
uh huh. and Hincapie never tested positive did he. nor… you get my drift.
[read this for more info: http://cyclingtips.com.au/2013/04/oxygen-in-a-pill-the-next-big-thing-in-sports-doping/
"Current anti-doping is a total failure. Success rate is extremely poor. Perhaps the best proof of its failure is a statement by WADA’s director general David Howman, from 2011: “We are catching the dopey dopers, but not the sophisticated ones.”"]
anyway, just a thought…
interesting video here, Jay Cutler at the end says ‘you do what you do to win, if you wanna call that cheating, fine.’
Lance! take note!
heck, crankpunk has had some ridiculous ideas over the years and is lucky to not be in jail for having tried to bring some of them to fruition, but there were two that seemed great at the time and also still do, even years after having first germinated in the moist, fertile and abundant manure that lives in my cranium.
to re-trace the tire treads of the erstwhile Che Ernesto Guevara. you know, that guy from the Swatch watch, yeah, him.
Mr ‘yeah i can start a revolution by mySELF baby’ went on a grand tour of South America at 23, got politicised by the harsh conditions he encountered in various places, and then went to Cuba to smoke cigars – or something like that. anyway, having read the book, i had this idea – i’ll go and revisit all the places in the book and write about it!
then a week later I went into a bookstore and what the flip do i see on the shelf before me? no, next to the half-eaten banana… yes, that’s right, some little *unprintable* had beaten me to it! i was not impressed. of course, there is just about zero chance i’d have actually gotten my arse to South America without ending up taking part in some mad, drug-fueled adventure….
like the Tour of Columbia.
to film the journey, from birth to delivery and on to deliverance (that being its first ride), and, though it would take years to film, the eventual ‘shedding’ or even death, of a bike. or bikes even. any old bikes. an MTB, a roadie, a kids bike, a track bike, just to film the very first pieces of carbon or steel or whatever being made, then to see all the parts going on, then to see the guy or woman or kid who got on it and brought it to life.
great idea huh?
and guess what? i go on Vimeo today and see this wonderful thing: Life Cycles, by Stance Films…
and i have to don my crankhat to these fellas, looks amazing! they not only include the life cycle of a bike but also of the trails the bike gets ridden 0n.
there are, quite obviously, those who think and then there are those that think and then go do. these guys are the latter, and ain;t we lucky that that’s so?
brilliant. i’m downloading now, full review to follow!
‘this is the embodiment of everything i am – no rules, no regulations… this is a form of artistic expression… the remit is to go and enthuse people to go and have a go at something… don’t sit about, cos you’re going to die… i am inspired by the fact that we are dying…’
that’s a whole bucketload of crankpunk philosophy if i ever heard one…
he tried to leave this world more than once, but i am so glad that he is still in it…