By Jonny Long
Cycling is a passion for some, an obsession for others, but what exactly drives a rider to complete 100 miles around and around the inner circle of London's Regent's Park is something quite unexplainable.
"I realised it was a crap idea when I was cycling on my own at just after 4am trying to hold 40km/h in the cold," says Rafael Hackenbroch, a category two racer who aspires to turn pro one day.
"I train with Regent's Park Rouleurs very early in the morning all year round," Hackenbrouch tells Cycling Weekly. "I am out of my house before 5am on a regular basis in order to fit my training around my studying commitments. One of our club's sessions that we do on a regular basis is called the 'HoP', the Hour of Power, essentially a chain gang for an hour around Regent's Park. A benchmark is to average over 40km/h for the hour."
Having just graduated from school after studying maths, physics and chemistry, next year he relocates from London to Gateshead and will participate in the big national races.
This year he found some good form and so decided to challenge the club to see how long they could hold 40km/h for.
"We decided to do it on the Inner Circle of the park as it is safer and doesn't have traffic lights," he explained. "I woke up at 2:58am and started the first hour solo at 4am."
After about 20 minutes, Justin McKey (the chairman of RPR - who also had four shots of espresso before joining) turned up and rode two-up with Hackenbroch for an hour and a half. At 5.45am, the rest of the squad came out.
"We picked up the pace with over five RPR riders swapping turns. The last hour was difficult with only Ashley Towey left to help me," Hackenbroch said. "But we finished the challenge strong having done 100 miles in 3 hours 55 minutes."
Hackenbroch's average speed was 41.1km/h over the four hours, at one point reaching a maximum of 52.2km/h, his Strava detailing a weighted average power of 243W, with Giro d'Italia winner Tao Geoghegan Hart expressing his shock at the effort.
This isn't just a one-off challenge, however.
"This ride has set the cogs turning and there may be future plans to see if we could hold the speed for a few more hours over 4!" he says.
Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.
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