Australian Jack Bobridge fell agonisingly short of breaking Matthias Brändle’s Hour Record on Saturday, proving it was a better mark than many people thought. Here’s a few things we learnt from that hour in Melbourne.
Information is pretty important
I’ll admit, I’m not the most seasoned of Hour Record aficionados but I know I wasn’t the only one left a little confused about the complete lack of information given to viewers about Jacky Bob’s progress.
Bobridge announced before his attempt that he was aiming to complete 208 laps of the DISC Arena, but nowhere on the television coverage did it show either a clock (quite important in this kind of event) or a lap counter. Every now and again we were treated to progress updates by two blokes shouting on the tannoy, but in general I was pretty clueless.
Having extracted myself from my warm bed at 8.00am to watch a man cycle round a track 200-odd times I wasn’t in the best state to calculate his average speed by counting his pedal strokes per minute and dividing them by a wattage figure that I plucked out the air (n.b. this is not guaranteed to be an accurate measurement), so rely on the loud Aussie blokes I had to do.
We hope that future record attempts, starting with Rohan Dennis’ try this coming weekend, will be accompanied by a little more graphical information. Or at the very least a man with a chalk board in the corner of the screen doing a tally chart of completed laps.
A decent soundtrack is essential
One of the most exciting things about an Hour Record attempt is finding out what songs are on the athlete’s playlist.
Jens Voigt went for the typically German mix of classic rock when he set the record in September, with Metallica, AC/DC and Black Sabbath all blaring out as Jens told his legs to stop hurting.
Bobridge, however, proved his choice in music is somewhat..errr..varied, with Lana del Rey’s Summertime Sadness featuring alongside Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger.
Fortunately for Bobridge, and everyone else, he didn’t actually have to choose an hour’s worth of his favourite songs because the velodrome announcers regularly interrupted to talk loudly about the man himself and how much of a ‘mongrel’ he was.
At one point towards the end, one of the ‘commentators’ resorted to repeatedly shouting “JACK’S HOUR” as Bobridge struggled through his final laps.
Rohan, if you need any tips for what to listen to, I recommend the entire soundtrack from Rocky IV. You’re welcome.
It’s ruddy hard
In the run up to the attempt I was convinced that Bobridge, a track specialist, would eclipse Brändle’s mark with ease. His pedigree on the track was obvious from the start, lapping at a pace that suggested he was on for a record that even Sir Bradley Wiggins might struggle to come close to.
The spread of Bobridge’s lap times was almost as erratic as his music choices, starting off with two sub-16.5 second laps, before rising to above 17s for laps three and four. This theme would continue throughout the attempt. Every time he tried to get back on track he would manage a couple of quicker laps before feeling the burn and slowing down a touch.
As the tweets below show, Bobridge simply set off too fast, unable to keep up the pace for the whole sixty minutes and struggling badly towards the end.
The above graphic shows Bobridge’s scattergun approach to pacing towards the end – declining right from the start. Voigt and Brandle, however, managed to pace themselves well through the hour, with the German even speeding up in the second half.
It hurts. A lot.
One of the hardest things to watch on Saturday was the pain that Bobridge was in at the end. Everyone says that the Hour is painful, but it’s certainly a lot more painful if you don’t break the record.
Jens Voigt had the strength to hoist his bike above his head in celebration, but poor Jacky B didn’t even have enough left in the tank to lift his leg over his top tube. Then came the ordeal of sitting down on a rickety plastic chair on trackside, with Bobridge having to be physically held up to stop him falling flat on his face.
The trouble with doing your attempt in the middle of the national track championships is that other people need the track, so rather than simply being left on trackside to recover, Bobridge was forced into a corridor under the track to recover in private (except for all the photographers and Cycling Weekly reporters).
“I can’t even describe how much pain my glutes and quads are in,” he said. “It’s by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and the hardest thing I’ll ever do.”
You’ve got to do it in Switzerland
Bobridge should really have looked at the (recent) history books before choosing Melbourne’s DISC Arena as the location for his record attempt.
Voigt and Brandle, the most recent holders of the record, both made their attempts in Switzerland, both breaking the record first time. If that’s not a precedent then I don’t know what is.
Melbourne may be in the middle of its summer at the moment, but Switzerland seems to have proven to be both politically and climactically neutral in its past two attempts – perfect conditions for an Hour Record.
Moreover, the track in Melbourne looked as if it had seen better days, with parts of the wooden surface looking as though someone had gotten loose with a shotgun. Granted, Voigt and Brandle had the significant backing of Trek and IAM Cycling respectively, while I can’t imagine Bobridge’s Budget Forklifts had enough capital to fly the whole operation across to Europe.
So, if history repeats itself, Dennis will break Brandle’s record at the Grenchen velodrome on Sunday. You heard it here first.