Yes, it’s true*
I’m making an attempt on the UCI Women’s Hour Record.
This has been a pretty scary and invigorating mission to embark on – not least of all because when one puts herself on the line by setting a date for when preparation, logistics, form and equipment need to be at their very best, well…. it becomes very real.
Despite many successful (and unsuccessful) attempts on the men’s Hour Record in quick succession, with new distances set by Voigt, Dennis, Dowsett and finally Wiggins, the women’s Hour Record was a distance untouched for 12 years.
In 2003, Dutchwoman and 4-time Olympic Gold Medalist, Leontien van Moorsel rode 46.065km in Mexico City (thanks Robert Chung for catching my mistake!).
7 weeks ago on September 12, Berkeley Law Professor, Molly Schaffer van Houweling rode nearly a full lap further past that at Aguascalientes, Mexico, finally breaking the 12 year old record, notching up 46.273km which was also a Masters WR and a US Record.
41yo van Houweling is an amateur like me, and by amateur, I mean she doesn’t make a living riding her bike.
But, she and her husband, Rob are incredibly professional in all the things they do.
You can listen to them talk about the process of her attempts here on the Cycling Time Trial podcast, and read her blog where she describes the hurdles, logistics, challenges and successes she had in her development from National level road time trialist to World Hour Record holder.
The Aguascalientes velodrome is at an altitude of ~1887m above sea level, which means increased speed due to thinner air, but greater physiological demand due to a lower partial pressure of oxygen.
As Olympic and World Track Champion Anna Meares has said about the racing there,
“it’s a double-edged sword, it can really bring some great speed because of the lower resistance in the air that you’re pushing but then it can also really burn up your lungs and wreck your system because you’re not getting the amount of oxygen that you’re used to getting into your body to operate it at that level.”
I started thinking about making an attempt on the Hour Record early this year, many months after the UCI changed the regulations to allow modern track bikes.
Once I had made my decision to embark on this, the enquiries I made, the long list of requests, permissions, endorsements and paperwork necessary to make an official UCI endorsed attempt took a few months.
Then there was the enormous financial cost of getting put back into the Registered Testing Pool to establish a biological passport and prove to the UCI that I’m a normal human woman and not a machine….(for disclosure in another blog post, perhaps!)
As I established when I first got on the boards at the DISC velodrome in Melbourne a few months ago, there were a lot of things I had to learn.
Fortunately, I would be working with motivated and excellent sport scientists, dedicated technical partners and equipment sponsors with experience and Hour-record know how.
I met with HPTek and immediately we knew we had to implement appropriate, specific and targeted training methodology as well as develop intervention strategies that would allow me to cope with performing in adverse conditions.
Importantly, though, it was clear to me from the start that I would make my Hour attempt here in Australia, and therefore at sea level (hey, if it was good enough for Alex Dowsett and Sir Bradley Wiggins…!) so this meant I would need all the help I could get.
It meant wrangling a crowd, building some atmosphere and hopefully creating a great event for spectators and promoting women’s cycling in the process.
What better a way to have all out hard work, preparation, data collection, and learnings and capitalize on the number of fans that attend the biggest, best cycling event in Australia, than hold it on the Friday night of the Tour Down Under.
This is a truly a year-long team mission and we have less than 3 months to go.
To the many people who have generously provided their time, support, belief, knowledge, equipment and expertise to get this off the ground, I really want to acknowledge and thank them:
Rod and Barbara Dux of Dux Dreams Foundation
Ben Young at Frank Green
Sport Scientists Dr Stephen Lane PhD and Ken Ballhause B.Sc at HPTek
Alex Simmons of AeroCoach
Sam Layzell at Power2Max
Jim McFarlane #drag2zero Endura Sport
Jamie Reidy of Fetha Custom Components
Stacy Sims of OsmoNutrition
Max Stevens at Cycling Events National & Cycling Australia
Craig Eastwood and the Cycling Victoria staff at DISC
Santos Tour Down Under
Tracey Gaudry, UCI Vice President & President of the Oceania Cycling Federation
Johnny Wurtz, massage therapist at Pure Physio
So, if you’re in #Radelaide, come along and cheer for some (or all!) of the long, painful 60 minutes, please do!
Only 81 days to go! #BridiesHour
*oh yeah, thanks to some cycling media hombres who don’t believe in respecting press release embargoes, the cat was out of the bag on Friday arvo, but out of respect to all the wonderful people who have helped me get this thing going, and to keep it under wraps as per UCI protocol, I waited until this morning to tell you.
Hey, I’ve been called some nasty names in my day, but I am not a ‘full time Orthopaedic Surgeon‘ …. #factcheck