Three months and 17,000 miles into his attempt to break the longest-standing record in cycling, Steve Abraham suffered a road crash with a moped, leaving him with two broken bones in his ankle. We hear from some of his many well-wishers and Steve explains how he came to the extraordinary decision to keep on riding, on a specially adapted tricycle.
Bike sales are up, cycling is suddenly all over our newspapers and magazines. We in Britain are in the middle of a bonafide bike boom. So says veteran cycling journalist Carlton Reid, who’s writing a book about the bike boom, that’s called, imaginatively, “Bike Boom“. But fellow long-in-the-tooth cycling journalist John Stevenson of Road.CC disagrees. Cycling in Britain is far from booming, it’s flat-lining. The pair lock horns on air, joining host Jack Thurston to debate the bike boom.
As described in this week’s podcast, the Listener’s Hour is a cycling challenge open to all listeners to The Bike Show.
And the challenge is this: to ride your bike for one hour and in that time, to travel further than 35.325km.
Why 35.325km? This is the distance of the first ever hour record, set on the Buffalo Velodrome in Paris by Henri Desgrange in 1893. By riding further than this you’ll not only know what it’s was like to have been the fastest cyclist in the world in 1893 but you’ll have beaten the man who dreamed up the Tour de France and ran the race during its most brutal, punishing era.
How it works:
Record your hour attempt using the Strava app on a smartphone or a GPS device. Post your rides to the Listeners’ Hour club page. You can have as many attempts as you like.
Attempts shall be on a road course of your choice. Any pedal-powered machine is OK. Recumbents and trikes are more than welcome. You may find it less of a challenge on a super aerodynamic laid back machine, but the choice is entirely up to you.
The start and end points of the course should be within 3km of each other. So no sailing away to glory on a brisk tailwind.
The altitude of the end point of the course must be within 20 vertical metres of altitude of the start point. i.e. no going to the top of a mountain and riding down to the bottom.
No drafting. As this is impossible to police, we’ll rely on your honour here.
There are no prizes (as yet). Even if there are prizes the principal reward will be your own sense of achievement at succeeding at something that will be challenging for all but the fittest, strongest cyclists. Everyone who succeeds in the challenge will be honoured by name on The Bike Show and I’ll figure out a way of celebrating the challenge together later in the year. Maybe someone in the bike industry will donate us some prizes. If you can help with that, please get in touch.
The challenge is open to men and women. Women are also eligible to attempt the Listeners Hour (Women Only edition), which observes exactly the same rules, except that the distance is slightly less. The distance for the Women Only challenge will be determined following Dame Sarah Storey’s attempt on the Hour Record by taking her time as a percentage of the current men’s Hour Record and applying that percentage to Desgrange’s Hour Record distance of 35.325km. It’ll likely be around the 30km mark.
Please do share your experiences of trying to go faster. I’m going to be trying to break 35.325km myself. Let’s try to do this together!
Any other questions or clarifications, just holler. We may well need to make things up as we go along.
Good luck and ride fast!
With the recent reawakening of interest in the Hour Record, host Jack Thurston is joined by Michael Hutchinson (pictured, above), a professional bike racer who has dominated the UK time trialling scene for more than a decade, setting British national records for distances from 10 miles to 100 miles and winning 56 national time trial championships. He’s also an accomplished writer and his latest book Faster: The Obsession, Science and Luck Behind the World’s Fastest Cyclists documents with forensic detail and wry humour his career-long quest to ride his bicycle very, very fast. He looks back on the flurry of hour records over the past six months and sizes up the chance that Bradley Wiggins will put the record out of reach for a generation.
Jack and Michael also reveal a new hour record challenge for listeners to The Bike Show. For more details on The Listeners’ Hour, see the discussion section of The Bike Show’s Strava club page.
Historians often regard the defining events of the 1930s as the Great Depression and the march towards the second world war. Yet the decade also saw something of a consumer boom, at least among well-to-do inhabiting the suburbs of London and the south east. Historian Dr John Law of the University of Westminster joins Jack Thurston to share his research into the a new suburban lifestyles of the interwar years, including the dramatic increase in private, personal mobility though the use of cars, motorcycles and bicycles. They discuss how these new transport technologies shaped London and Londoners and how drivers and cyclists fought for the right to the road.
John Law is the author of a The Experience of Suburban Modernity: How Private Transport Changed Interwar London. Manchester University Press, 2014.
It’s the toughest and longest standing record in cycling. Only a handful of people have attempted to break the record Tommy Godwin set in 1939 for the greatest distance ridden on a bike in one year. But this year two extraordinary cyclists are having a crack at it. In an in-depth interview with British long distance legend Steve Abraham (pictured, above), who is already almost six weeks into his record attempt, Jack Thurston finds out what kind of person takes on the challenge of riding an average of 205 miles for 365 days in a row. Author Dave Barter is on hand to put the year record in historical and sporting context.
Photo (C) Jack Thurston
Jack Thurston’s guest this week is self-confessed angry young man, Julian Sayarer (pictured, above), who, five years ago, set a new record for cycling around the world. Having taken a strong dislike to Mark Beaumont, the previous record-holder, whose record attempt was backed by big business and, thought Sayarer, represented everything that was wrong with the world. He wanted to beat Beaumont and take the record back ‘for the people’.
They meet on on the banks of the River Wye a few miles downstream from the city of Hereford. Julian Sayarer’s book Life Cycles is published by John Blake and available in paperback and on the Kindle.