Watch Jens Voigt, probably the most-popular professional cyclist in years, attempt one of cycling’s most-prestigious accomplishments- The Hour Record
Sorry for the late notice, but it wasn’t until Wednesday night that we confirmed a live video feed that can be viewed in the US. Just click on the image above. Programming starts at 9:30am, the main event from 10am-11am, and probably another half hour post-ride show.
The hour record has been a big deal in cycling since the beginning of time. How many miles/kilometers can you ride, on a track, in an hour. It’s supposed to be the toughest thing imaginable, because there are no hills, no headwinds, no tailwinds, no chance to take a rest or change your rhythm. It’s just you telling your body to endure a bit more than it should have to, for a full hour.
It’s probably fun for the first couple of minutes, as you watch the kilometers click on by, but I’m guessing around 10 minutes in it ceases to be fun and becomes a mentally-deathly contest to keep on pace, to not get too excited, to be so sure of yourself that what you’re putting out right now, at any given moment, is what you’ll be able to put out 40 minutes from now. And what if it hurts, really really bad, right now? How does that make you feel about another 40 or 50 minutes of that “right now” effort?
Velonews provided an excellent piece that explains what’s involved and puts Jens’ ride in historical perspective. It’s been years since anyone’s attempted it, but you’re still thinking, what’s so hard about riding for an hour, on an oval, perfectly-smooth track? Eddy Merckx, perhaps the most-accomplished cyclist of all time, described his 1972 hour record this way-
“Here it’s not possible to ease up, to change gears or the rhythm. The hour record demands a total effort, permanent and intense, one that’s not possible to compare to any other. I will never try it again.”
What chance does a 43 year old recently-retired professional cyclist have at beating the current record of 49.7 kilometers (about 30 miles)? With improved equipment and Jens well-known ability to suffer (famous for his saying “Shut up, legs!”), his chances are very good! It’s not likely any record he might set will last though, as many see this ride as opening the flood gates for others who specialize in such things. Jens is not a specialist in what are called “time trials” (one rider against the clock) but an all-rounder.
OK, so why do we care that on Thursday, September 18th, a 43 year old guy is going to ride a bike in circles around a track in Switzerland? Because it’s Jens Voigt, that’s why. The ultimate “tough guy” cyclist, the one who coined the term “Shut up, legs!” when his body was trying to tell him enough is enough. The Jens Voigt who officially retired from cycling last month, but is coming back for one last big thing.