Bridie O'Donnell hour record success
  • Andy Verdon

    Who was her barb aimed at in her post ride interview? Marve ? Or another CA team selector????

    • Simone Giuliani

      Your first guess was spot on.

  • Uncle Chainwhip

    It’s a beautiful thing Bridie, you’re a rocket.

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  • ummm…

    Is there a scientific reason as to why the womens record is slower than the mens? Or, does this have more to do with the progression of the womens side of the sport, and resources that they are given?

    • Mike

      Physiology rather than anything else, I guess. Look at almost any physically demanding sport and the blokes have got it nailed. Except netball of course, for some reason women are brilliant at netball.

    • Edvid

      The difference between men’s and women’s potential speed is usually about 10%, give or take – this rule of thumb also applies to some other sports (such as athletics and swimming) in which results are defined by time.

      • ummm…

        So has it been proven that elite women are physiologically incapable of performing to the level that elite men are?

        • Edvid

          A Google search suggests that may well be the case:

          https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=can+women+perform+to+same+physiological+level+as+men&oq=can+women+perform+to+same+physiological+level+as+men&aqs=chrome..69i57.12606j0j1&sourceid=chrome&es_sm=0&ie=UTF-8

        • Adam K

          ummm I am impressed with your devoutness to the potential of womens athletic performances, however I can’t believe you don’t yet know that elite males are simply stronger and faster, as you can see clearly if you have ever watched any sport played by both sexes. What female athletes are at least the equal of their male counterparts are in their guts, determination, ability to suffer, sacrifice, and often overcome more hurdles to achieve their dreams vs what the guys do. Did Bridie have the same level of resources and support that Bradley wiggins had?, absolutely not. Would that bridge the gap from 46.8kmh to 54.5kmh – not even remotely!!. It is hard to believe in 2016 that you are not aware of the physiological differences between males / females.

          • ummm…

            ummmm i am. i brought it up (and if you read my posts ud see this) in order to probe whether this informs the dialogue about “equality” of womens and mens sport; at least in terms of investment and the expectation of returns.

            • pete

              I guess an investment of time and money on the right talented athlete may eventually land a men’s world record or a women’s world record if that’s what you mean.
              In term’s of equality this might mean Brad Wiggins has the men’s one hour record and Bridie now has the women’s world hour record, and Bridie also believes (with some justification) that she can go faster, but without some extra support she might not get the chance to simply suspend her working life to try again as she is not a full time athlete.
              “Equality”?

    • Robert Merkel

      Just to add my 2c, physiology is the major part of the difference.

      But I’d also note that the current men’s record holder is:
      * a world TT champion on the road
      * a multiple world and Olympic champion on the track

      Bridie’s palmares before her hour record is not up with Wiggins, and she does not have anything like the years of practice at going round a track fast. As she herself noted, her lines on the track weren’t perfect and she thinks she can go faster. She also trained for this in her spare time while continuing to work in a highly demanding job!

      Then again, Wiggo had unfavourable conditions for his record attempt, with particularly high barometric pressure that day, which probably cost him several hundred metres.

      In summary, I think the gap in the records will narrow a little over the next few years, but there will still be a gap.

      Thee area of the sport where the gap is narrowest is probably climbing, where the top climbers can probably match it with World Tour domestiques. We’re unlikely to ever see women race the Tour because they would struggle in crosswinds and wouldn’t be big enough for the team leader to draft.

      None of this is to suggest that women’s cycling shouldn’t be better supported. It should for any number of reasons, not least because women’s racing is entertaining.

      • Tricky Dicky

        I think you are little off the mark about the contention about female climbers. I’m a mere 40+ Bernie B-grader and I have been able to hang in there with some of the best female pros when they’re all-in on a climb. Yet I also know that I can be dropped at will by any male WorldTour domestique on a climb.

        Certainly agree with your last paragraph though – womens racing is so much more chaotic (and the better for it).

        • Robert Merkel

          A few years ago no less than Andrew Coggan popped up on a thread discussing Tiff Cromwell’s power data from a win at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.

          He stated that there are female cyclists who can maintain >5.5W/kg for an hour (and proportionally more over shorter periods).

          I was a bit skeptical myself, but if he’s right that should be enough power on a steep enough climb to drop any club or even state open B grader and hang with the slower end of the men’s professional field on a climb.

          Unfortunately, we have very little data to go on, as the women do so few long climbs as part of their race season.

          • Chris Fisher

            In the week long Haute Route Alps amateur race/sportive in 2012 Emma Pooley, still a full time cyclist and arguably the best female climber at the time, won the women’s event. Stage 4 was a MTT on L’Alpe D’Huez. Emma recorded 49:46-it’s on Strava as the best female time by a mile if you want to look it up.

            Whilst I wouldn’t think that would enable her to quite keep pace with the slower male World Tour riders when it comes to going uphill, why does that really matter? Women’s cycling isn’t any less exciting to watch just because it’s a bit slower than the men.

            What is a shame however is the fact that women’s races rarely have the kind of parcours which has a lot of major climbs in it, giving riders like Emma and Mara Abbott (to name just two) fewer chances to shine than might otherwise be the case.

            • Robert Merkel

              Cheers. Interesting data point!

              As I’ve noted, I don’t think it matters one iota when it comes to whether women’s racing is worth watching.

              It’s interesting for a couple of reasons: It gives us another measure of what kind of power the best women cyclists can put out, and thus give another guess at the potential for the hour record to go up.

              Furthermore, in other endurance sports we have reasonably good data on the gap between men and women.

              It seems to me that the gap in cycling is a little wider than in some other sports.

    • To put things into perspective, amateur cyclist Nick Bensley averaged 382 watts and covered 48.275 kilometers. https://cyclingtips.com/2015/02/putting-the-hour-record-in-perspective-how-does-an-amateur-compare/

      • ummm…

        thx ill read it.

      • Alex Simmons

        And in 2011 Jayson Austin did 48.411km on 285W

        • Dave

          Different power meter, different bike/rider aero profile, different rider weight – plenty of room to move with the power numbers.

          • Alex Simmons

            Yes, but primarily because aerodynamics varies so much from rider to rider. I’m confident of the power data since I calibrated Austin’s SRM personally and I do not consider Bridie’s data (which I have the raw ANT+ data for) to be inaccurate either. My point was the primary consideration is not power, but rather the ratio of power to Coefficient of drag x Frontal Area (CdA). Calculate that ratio and you’ll find it closely correlated to hour record speed once environmental differences are accounted for.

    • Alex Simmons

      It’s a combination of physiology and physics.

      The threshold power output of the best elite women is 10-15% less in *W/kg* terms than that of the best elite men. Combine that with women, in general, being lighter means they simply have fewer watts at their disposal. While the gross efficiency and fractional utilisation of VO2max is not significantly different on average between the sexes for well trained cyclists (although I’d need to recheck on the GE), men on average have significantly higher relative VO2max. In general women carry proportionally more body fat and have less muscle, and also have less hemoglobin in their blood to transport oxygen as well as hearts with lower cardiac output (less blood moved per unit time). All on average of course as naturally there will be individual women with better outputs than individual men. But at world elite level, no.

      In an event like this, speed is primarily a function of the ratio of power to coefficient of aerodynamic drag. While women are lighter, their aerodynamic drag does not reduce in direct proportion with weight but is a function of other factors being frontal area and the shape they create on the bike. While frontal area tends to be less due to being smaller, women don’t necessarily get any advantage of the shape, and the bike ends up being a larger component of the overall package.

      So you have less absolute power available, and aerodynamic drag that, while generally less, is not reduced by an amount anywhere near enough for them to ride at the same speed as the best male track and TT riders.

  • Edvid

    What chance of the women’s hour record eventually reaching, say, 50km/h?

    • Alex Simmons

      It’s within the realms of physiological and physical plausibility considering the power output and aerodynamics of elite women TT riders combined with suitable environmental characteristics. Biggest challenge would be athlete desire, logistical and financial. It’s very costly to do elite hour records now days and typically other challenges take precedence for top riders. End of the day, you have to commit to putting yourself on the line, treat the record with respect and get out and actually do it. It’s not anywhere near as easy as anything thinks. I’ve worked on assisting with 5 successful hour records, each is different and I have great respect for each rider that gives it a crack, successful or not.

    • Michele

      Not sure … but this might put things into some perspective:

      “Aussie Anna Wilson set a world record of 43.5km in 2000 but under the old regulations.

      I assume old regulations means superman[woman] position.

      Regardless, Bridie went 3.3 km further in the hour.

      So I’ll never say never.

      Wasn’t that long ago when everyone wondered if a 4,000 m Team Pursuit would ever break the magical 4 minute marker. I think it’s round the 3’50” mark now. Heck Jack B holds the 4,000m Ind Pursuit with a time of 4’10”.

      Well done Bridie. Truly inspiring stuff!!

      • Dave

        Old regulations = ‘Merckx bike’ rules. Anna Millward rode that 43.501km (and Leontien van Moorsel rode 46.065km) using bikes with drop handlebars, steel/CroMo tubular frames, box section wheel rims and wire spokes.

        The new ‘track bike’ rules are far closer to the previous ‘Best Effort’ rules (i.e. track bikes) which saw Chris Boardman set the Best Effort at 56.375km, and Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli set the Women’s Best Effort at 48.159km.

        Those two riders were also the only two to then successfully set the Hour Record on the Merckx-style in addition to having a successful Best Effort attempt. Boardman’s Hour Record was 49.441km, while JLC’s second Women’s Hour Record (she held it twice, before being beaten by Leontien van Moorsel) was 45.094. These performances can be used to generate a conversion factor, showing there is an increase of 10.4% for switching from the Merckx bike to a track bike.

        Using that conversion factor, if they were able to ride on track racing bikes Anna Millward would still be the best Australian at 48.030km and Leontien Zijlaard-van Moorsel would still hold the Women’s Hour Record at a whopping 50.861km.

        It’s a great effort by Bridie, but let’s make sure there is still the appropriate level of respect for the greats of the past. Those records will always stand, while Bridie’s (and Wiggo’s) will be subject to retrospective downgrading by rules committees.

    • Dave

      Only if the track bike rules change significantly.

      Even the Best Effort set by Jeannie Longo with a track bike and a dubious history with pharmaceutical assistance could only get her up to 48.159km.

  • Mark Blackwell

    Aside from the gender angle on this, I think it’s wonderful that the world record has fallen to a 41 year old. I’m 44 and I sometimes wonder if the remainder of my cycling life will be focused on preventing an inevitable decline… it probably will be, but at least Bridie has given me some hope that the slope of the decline will be gentle (take note Strava: more and more of us will want to reset our PRs at some point).

    • Dave

      I’m also pleased that such a young rider has beaten the hour record, after the exploits of Jens Voigt at the age of 43…

      :-)

      • Mark Blackwell

        Good point Dave… I guess the hour record is a bit of an older cyclist thing. Apart from Rohan Dennis I can’t think of many that were < 30 yo

    • jules

      go and watch some state level Masters 6+ racing if you want to see old folks going fast.

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