>The Hour

>This isn’t about the hour record. If you’re interested in that Michael Hutchinson has written a good book about it. No, this post is about breaking the hour for what used to be the blue riband distance for British time trialling – 25 miles.

The first person to go under the hour for a 25 mile time trial was Alo Donegan in 1934 (from the CyclingInfo blog). For many years ‘breaking the hour’ was a real badge of achievement for the club cyclist. Even when Alf Engers took the competition record under 50 minutes in 1978, the majority of riders still struggled to beat 60 minutes.

Only with the advent of aerodynamic equipment (tri bars, daft helmets, disc wheels etc.) has a sub-hour time become the norm. In some events nowadays nearly every rider goes under. This year the competition record was reduced to an impressive 45:54 by Irishman David McCann. But there’s still a glimmer of magic about the old barrier, especially for older bikies.

I would love to under the hour again. I’ve come close this season (1:00:00 exactly), but no cigar. I know my personal best of 59:07 set in 1980 is probably equivalent to a 56:30 to 56:40 on my new kit, but at the moment I’d settle for a 59:59.

That 59:07 was a good ride. In the weeks leading up to it I had PB’ed at 10 miles (23:50) and 50 (2:04:36), but my best 25 time of the year was only 1:00:42 (I’d done a 1:00:21 two years earlier).

On the Saturday I rode a two man 25 mile team time trial with my dad on the Usk-Monmouth-Usk course. It was a stunning float day. We went through 10 miles in about 22 minutes but blew up in the last few miles (as was the fashion then) and hung on for a 57:37. We were shattered, but delighted to go under for the first time.

As it turned out Dad really was shattered. He decided not to ride the Sunday event on the same course, which meant an early rise for me to ride the 25 miles to the start. I was not best pleased!

I started fast and caught my seeded minute man, Colin Rumsey, at the turn. There was a surprise supporter there to shout me on – dad had driven down to see me through. So far, so good. The last 10 miles were pretty rough though. The Saturday ride was in my legs and my numbskull pacing ‘strategy’ meant that Colin re-caught and dropped me with a couple of miles to go. I dragged myself across the line at what felt like touring pace. It wasn’t until I got back to the headquarters that I realised that I’d done it – broken the hour.

The strain of the ride dulled some of the immediate joy. In retrospect (and knowing now that I’d never get ‘under’ again) it was a big achievement. I’d like to think that I’d savour the moment more if I ever did it again.