The Hour Record. The purest test of a rider and machine, the hardest ride of them all.
The story of The Hour is one of drama and intrigue disproportionate to the simplicity of the challenge. From the great Eddy Merckx’s shattering of the record in 1972 to Bradley Wiggins’s awesome fusion of fitness and technology in 2015. This series of prints illustrates the great and sometimes controversial record-breaking rides that defined their eras.
The Hour strips aside every outside influence on the rider. One rider, on the track. No wind, no hills, no drafting. Just the rider and the bike.
In the early ’90’s The Hour was swapped between two Britons - Graeme Obree and Chris Boardman. Echoing the middle-distance battles of Coe and Ovett on the running track, Obree and Boardman were easy to caricature. Both innovators, Obree was the maverick thinker who built his own bikes, Boardman the scientist backed by a crack laboratory team.
In 1993 Obree shocked the cycling world by smashing the hour record on a home-made bike, using a revolutionary tucked riding position. Boardman swiftly broke the record, on a ‘standard’ low-profile bike. But then, in 1994, Obree returned, setting a new record. The UCI, cycling’s governing body, swiftly intervened, and Obree’s new position was banned, and his record relegated to a footnote in history.
Not to be beaten, Obree designed a new, stretched out ‘superman’ position - but it was Boardman who would use this latest innovation to set the greatest Hour Record of them all.
Graeme Obree & his IHPVA (International Human Powered Vehicle Association) record attempt bike. Tons and tons of respect for this man who always seeks to push ahead and break boundaries in the face of everything we consider sensible! Best of luck to you, mr. Obree!
These amazing series of photos were taken by Paul Calver, more at his site!