World Hour Record. 55-59, 49.121 km

After months and months of preparation yesterday was finally the big day.

I went to the velodrome in the morning to run splits for my team mate Dan Bryant as he attempted to break Kent Bostick’s 45-49 record of 49.361km. Unfortunately he fell short. I think that Dan has the power to break the record as he averaged over 380 watts at 6,200′ above sea level! He just needs I more time on a steep 250 meter track to prepare.

After that I took an Uber back to the hotel and basically spent the next 5-6 hours eating and sitting around resting. The velodrome temperatures indicated that a good start time would probably be between 8 and 8:30 pm. We headed over at about 7, checked the temperature and I started getting ready. I was kind of nervous… I spent about 10 minutes on the rollers we had set up in the tunnel to the velodrome (much cooler down there). After that I got up on the track and did maybe 3-5 km on the track with some race pace laps and pulled off. Time to get on with it!

I needed to beat 47.773km to break the record. I felt like I could do 49.5km and that is what I set my schedule to. That called for about a 24 second opening lap and then 18.1 second laps. BTW, on the live stream, the timing data was based on the old record, not the schedule I was working with.

I had a good first lap and then it took a while to settle into my goal pace. Probably about 2km worth of sub 18 second laps to finally get it right. Then I rode around in circles for a really long time… For the first half I think I did a good job of keeping on schedule. Lots of 18.1’s and a few 18.2’s. I also did a pretty good job of riding the best, shortest line to minimize riding extra distance that I got no credit for. I had a few oopsie moments where I went wide or tagged a sponge, but not too bad.

Through 30 minutes I was pretty much right on schedule at 49.5 kph.

Photo: Craig Huffman / Craig Huffman Photography

After 30 minutes it kind of started getting hard. I was seeing more than the occasional split in the 18.3, 18.4, 18.5 range. At first a few, and then more and more. I also had a few more oopsie moments. Basically no sponge was safe. 🙂 Every 5 minutes Dan would hold up a white board that told me how many minutes I had done and my average speed so far. At I believe 35 minutes my average speed on the board dipped down to 49.4 kph. Besides breaking my age group record I REALLY wanted to also beat Bostick’s mark to have the fastest hour record of any of the master’s age groups. One of my thoughts upon seeing the board at 35 minutes was, “are they rounding”. And if so, did they get to 49.4 by rounding down (okay) or rounding up (not good). I wanted to telepathically tell them to give me at least two decimal places next time so I’d know, but then I probably hit a sponge and figured I needed to concentrate more on the task at hand. I was either going to be able to hold on or not and knowing the exact speed so far wasn’t going to change that.

At about 40 minutes I started counting laps each time they put the board up. I figured it would probably be somewhere around 17 laps or so per 5 minutes. That helped me break what I had left down into bite sized chunks. Kind of like what I do with my 2×20′ workouts on the trainer. In 5 minutes my life would improve, not because I got a break, but because I’d see a board that told me I had 5 minutes less left to go.

During the last 15 minutes or so I had more trouble holding my most aero position. That position involves holding only the tip of my aero bars with just a couple of fingers so that I can stretch out. That was just getting too hard to do well and control so I choked up a bit for more control.

I don’t remember exactly which time check it was, but I finally saw 49.3 kph and figured that unless I could really dig in during the last 5 minutes I was not going to beat Bostick’s mark. I was bummed, but at that point you just do what you can do. One important tip I got from Rob Van Houweling is that it’s a bad idea to fight hard to hold on to a pace that you’re fading from. It’s one thing if you just have a slow lap to speed up and get back on pace. But if you’re slowing fading off of your goal you’re only going to cause more damage by trying to rally.

This looks like what the last 15 minutes felt like.

This is starting to hurt… Photo: Craig Huffman / Craig Huffman Photography

Another thing I did earlier in the hour was to work the corners and float the straights. With the steep 250 meter track your center of gravity takes a significantly shorter line through the corner than your wheels. The wheels want to accelerate. By putting in a bit of effort you can pick up some speed. Then when you hit the straight it’s harder to hold that so you just float it a bit. If you look at the enclosed power file you can see that every single lap has two cadence blips that represent the turns. My cadence generally fluctuated by about 4 or 5 rpm twice each lap. Towards the end of the ride though it was too much work and concentration to focus on doing that. I was just trying to hold on and ride a good line in the corners to minimize the distance over 250 meters that I actually traveled each lap. FYI, I’m told that the difference between riding exactly on the black line vs. riding in the middle of the sprinters lane is about .1 seconds per lap. That really adds up over 196 and change laps.

At 5 minutes to go I went pretty much all in. That doesn’t mean my speed went up, just that it stopped dropping. 🙂 I saw lap 195 and was hoping to see 196 before I got the bell. (They ring the bell when you’ve got less than your average lap time left to go. So if I saw 196 before the bell, that meant I’d get at least 197 and change. Alas, they rang the bell at 196 and then blew the whistle which signified the end of my ride. You need to continue on at full speed to complete the lap as your final distance is calculated as a ratio of the time from the start of that lap to the bell divided by the total lap time. i.e. if you hit the line at 59:51 and rode an 18 second lap you’d get credit for 125 meters. (9/18 * 250). But if you hit the line at 59:51 and they blew the whistle when you were half way around and you sat up and cruised in for a 27 second lap you’d only get credit for (9/27 * 250) meters. Even though you were at 125 meters when it blew.

I was very happy when it ended. Happy because I had broken the record by a lot. But also happy because it stopped hurting! So much at least.

The official distance was calculated as 49.121 km, breaking the old mark by 1.348 kilometers.

After that was the looong wait to pee for the Mexican Anti Doping Agency. After probably about 6 bottles of water and close to two hours I was able to produce my sample and got back to the hotel at close to midnight.

I feel very thankful for the support I’ve received from my team mate Chris Ott and his company Creative Blue for organizing this whole thing and the tremendous support from GU, BMC, Pearl Izumi and Inside Tracker to get us to this point and help me fulfill this long time goal.

Next up, a crack at the 2km IP record for my age group this afternoon. Because… Why not, I’m already here, right?

World Hour Record Power File

Timing data and splits from the electronic timing system.



Filed under Hour Record

14 Responses to World Hour Record. 55-59, 49.121 km

  1. Paul Swinney

    Awsome job Kevin !! You make this nor-cal geezers proud, you continue to be an inspiration., hoser 🙂
    Regards – Paul Swinney

  2. Robert Chung

    Did the air density change during the attempt?

  3. Kevin Metcalfe

    Thanks everybody. Robert, I believe the air density held pretty well during my ride.

  4. Jim Kirstein

    Congrats, Kevin! Still, after all these years, you continue to do awesome things on a bicycle.

  5. Christian

    Hey Kevin, that was an incredible ride! I was curious about your watts during the ride, strava is showing them around 285 for one hour, and if I am not mistaken your FTP is around 370. Is it just the altitude that is affecting your output, or is it very different from riding on the road? Thanks!

    • Saddlesore

      I’m curious about the power as well…Congrats though!! That’s straight beast mode!

    • Kevin Metcalfe

      Christian. Part is altitude. About 10% probably. Part is that I ride rotor rings on the road. They inflate crank based power numbers by 3-4% or so. I guess the rest of it is track. I thought it would be around 305 or so and was quite surprised to see how low it was. On the other hand Dan’s power was 389 for his hour. Hard for me to tell. Perhaps slightly dinner entrees numbers from different power meters?

      The track IS different though. MUCH more variable than a flat road TT.

  6. Jim Frink

    Congratulations Kevin! You do know how to suffer….

  7. Cliff Grant

    Great stuff Kevin. Thanks for detailing the whole process for the rest of us.

  8. Larry Purtill

    Congrats and great ride. As a master, age 62 who just got in to track racing last two years, I continue to be impressed with level of commitment and competition and while long way to go, articles like this are great motivation. In addition, the people involved are great and never a bad moment at the track. Your comments about center of gravity and picking it up in the corners really make sense and a great point to focus on. Thanks for that and again, congratulations, real inspiration.

  9. Jim Turner

    Great result Kevin and well written interesting report too. Based on what I saw you do in test rides at Hellyer I expected you to do a great ride at Aguascalientes.

    I could only laugh at your post event drug test. I had a nearly identical experience when I did my age 75-79 Hour record there in 2014. I think I had at least six water bottles. The officials planned to head back to Mexico City after my event and I was really cutting into their margin to make their flight!

  10. Steven Olechny

    Congratulations. Very happy for you and very much appreciate being able to follow the whole journey here. Again, congrats on an amazing effort!

  11. Gavin Chilcott

    Congratulations Kevin! Bold project and a fantastic ride.

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