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South Australian Jack Bobridge has been unsuccessful in his attempt to beat the world hour record set by Matthias Brändle on October 30, 2014, clocking up 51.300km in Melbourne’s DISC Velodrome on Saturday evening.
Bobridge had required roughly 207.5 laps of the 250m DISC track to beat Brändle’s mark of 51.852km, set in the city of Aigle, Switzerland. At the halfway mark of his attempt Bobridge was on schedule to cover more than 52km but he faded in the last half hour to finish more than two laps short of Brändle’s record.
“I’m in a lot of pain,” Bobridge said, somewhat predictably, after his attempt. “I can’t even explain how much pain my glutes and quads are in. That’s by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done and will ever do.”
“You gotta take your hat off to Brändle and all those guys who have set the record. It’s something special.”
Despite missing the record, Bobridge’s 51.3km was enough to claim a new Australian record, a mark previously set at 50.052km in 1997 by Bradley McGee.
A capacity crowd of 1,300 fans packed out the DISC velodrome in Melbourne’s inner north east, cheering Bobridge as he entered the arena to begin his attempt. The temperature inside the velodrome had been set to 29 degrees Celsius, making it warm for spectators but favourable conditions for Bobridge’s attempt.
After rolling an easy lap of the track on his road bike to great support from the crowd, Bobridge mounted his track bike as the timer counted down to 7pm. There was silence inside the velodrome as the clock ticked towards zero, but as Bobridge began his attempt the crowd erupted.
Bobridge looked very comfortable in the opening laps but appeared to start out a little harder than planned.
“The first 20 minutes I was riding to what we wanted to do — now that I look at it it was a bit too quick,” Bobridge said. “Then I had to settle myself into a different schedule. I paid the price for … going out at that sort of pace. ”
He covered roughly 36 laps in the first 10 minutes, putting him on track to cover just shy of 54km. By the halfway mark Bobridge had settled and was on track for a more realistic distance of 52.25km.
But as the second half of the hour ticked away, Bobridge started to fall off the pace. His previously smooth action on the bike started to become slightly more ragged and it began to show on the timeboard.
“When you get to that 20 or 30 minute mark it really starts to set in what your body is going through,” Bobridge said after the attempt. “That’s when you realise you’re definitely going to hell.”
With 35 minutes completed Bobridge was still fractionally ahead but by the 40-minute mark he had slowed to be slightly behind schedule.
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Despite the best efforts of the vocal crowd, Bobridge continued to slip further behind.
“When the crowd was roaring it was motivating and gave me that lift,” Bobridge said. “Sometimes I think it pushed me over the edge a bit and I would pay the price for it for a few laps.”
With three-quarters of the hour complete Bobridge was more than a lap behind schedule and by 50 minutes he was roughly two laps off the pace.
With his head bobbing from side-to-side and his hips and shoulders rocking and rolling, Bobridge appeared to pick up the pace in the final 10 minutes. But by this stage it was clear he wasn’t going to be the new holder of the world hour record.
“I knew I was in trouble; I knew I was in pain,” Bobridge said. “I just really tried to control what I had control of, and that’s riding the black line, trying to ride smooth and just sitting on that fine line.”
“I was blown but I was trying not to stop.”
With five minutes remaining Bobridge was still a couple of laps behind schedule and that was the way it remained until the gun went off to signal the end of the hour. The final distance: 51.3km, some 552m short of Matthias Brändle’s mark.
Bobridge’s coach Tim Decker, who stood trackside for the hour giving the rider an indication of his progress, was philosophical about the outcome.
“[Bobridge] just told me that he can’t feel his legs at the moment – fully cramping,” Decker said. “He couldn’t even get off his bike so you know he’s give 100% and that’s all we can ask.”
“He’s come very very close to the record, and that’s why they’re world records because they’re hard to beat. Fantastic effort though.”
Decker flagged the potential for Bobridge to have another attempt at the record at a later date. Such plans were far from Bobridge’s mind however.
“I couldn’t think of anything worse. He’d have to do some serious convincing to make me do that again,” Bobridge said. “The thought of getting back on the bike makes me sick.”
The next scheduled attempt at the hour record will be by 2015 Santos Tour Down Under winner Rohan Dennis who will take to the track in Grenchen, Switzerland next Saturday, February 8. When asked whether he had any advice for Dennis, Bobridge said:
“I’d just say don’t do it to yourself!”