The Ultimate Guide to the Hour Record

 Eddy Merckx’s Hour Record: In 1972, in Mexico City, 49.431 km

The hour record is an event that requires both physical and mental strength, endurance, strategy and a carefully planned preparation. Among the many disciplines in track cycling, the Hour Record UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) stands out as one of the most prestigious and challenging. In this article, we will delve into the history, challenges, and what it takes to break the Hour Record.

The History of the Hour Record

The Hour Record UCI has a rich and storied history, with some of the greatest cyclists in the world having attempted to break it. The Hour Record UCI is the distance a cyclist can cover in one hour on a track, also called Velodrome. The record has been held by some of the biggest names in cycling, including Eddy Merckx, Francesco Moser, Graeme Obree, Bradley Wiggins. In 2014, the UCI changed the Hour Record rules and introduced the Unified Hour Record, which requires all participants to use bikes that comply with the current equipment usage rules. 

It has recently seen an increase of attempts and succession of records being beaten by professional cyclists of this era. Namely Victor Campenaerts, Alex Dowsett, Daniel Bigham and the actual record holder Filippo Ganna (as of feb.2023).

The Challenges of Breaking the UCI Hour Record

Breaking the Hour Record UCI is not just about physical strength and endurance. It requires a combination of factors, including the right equipment, strategy, and mental fortitude. Cyclists must carefully plan their effort, pace themselves, and maintain a high level of focus for the entire hour.

One of the biggest challenges in breaking the Hour Record UCI is the equipment. Cyclists must use a specially designed track bike that meets UCI regulations. These bikes are designed to be as aerodynamic as possible, allowing the cyclist to reach higher speeds and maintain their pace for longer period of time. Then all the drivetrain components are carefully selected to reduce the amount of drivetrain drag, or power consomption. Finally, the equipment the rider wears is also tailored to be the most efficient aerodynamically.

Philippo Ganna's Pinarello Bolide bike is a modern Track bike used for the Hour record

What it Takes to Break the Hour Record

Breaking the Hour Record UCI takes an immense amount of physical and mental preparation. Cyclists must train specifically for months to reach the level of fitness required to break the record. 

Data collection is also a huge part of the preparation. Power, power efficiency, drag, aerodynamics, gearing, equipment; all these factors are considered and weighted into the preparation of the Hour record attempt. 

Defining moments in the history of the hour record

In the 90's, a fierce competition opposed two rivals from the UK, Chris Boardman, who was a professional cyclist and Graeme O'bree, who was an amateur riding a custom build bike. In a short period of time, the hour record was broken many times by both cyclists, always trying to beat the record and each other. It was also marked by the huge difference in the technology used by both riders, one being fully sponsored and having huge companies behind him like Lotus (Chris Boardman) and the other riding a bike he designed and assembled himself, partly with old bearings coming from a washing machine. Graeme O'bree named the  bike the ''Old Faithful''. It has a very distinct style and was eventually banned by the UCI. It is still one of the most aerodynamic bike design ever made.

 The Old Faithfull Bike used by O'bree for his hour record on the Velodrome.

To celebrate this moment in the history of the Hour Record, and cycling in general, we created the Yer aff yer heid! T-Shirt , that you can find in our merch store. 

Kyle wearing our ''Graeme your off yer head'' T-shirt, available in our merch store

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