How far could you pedal your bike in an hour? Fifteen miles? Twenty?
What about 34.23 miles? That’s the current hour record set by Victor Campenaerts in 2019 at the Aguascalientes Bicentenary Velodrome in Mexico.
Considered one of the most prestigious achievements in cycling, the hour record documents the longest distance traveled in one hour on a bicycle from a stationary start. It’s administered by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), and unless you’re a professional rider or have access to an indoor wooden cycling track, you’ve probably never had the chance to give it a shot.
STL Biking plans to change that. The local cycling organization is bringing the Missouri Hour Record event to Penrose Park Velodrome on April 24, providing area cyclists the opportunity to see how they stack up against the best cyclists in the world.
“The hour record has been catapulted to an almost celebrity-like status. It’s one of the hardest records to attempt in all of cycling,” said James Coudright, co-owner of STL Biking and manager at Swim Bike Run Chesterfield.
As he thought about the excitement surrounding the hour record, as well as the size and strength of the St. Louis cycling community, Coudright says he was inspired to create an event modeled on the UCI format. One change is that participants can use road and triathlon bikes rather than track bikes only, but the bikes will be limited to the use of one gear.
“I thought, let’s do this our way. Let’s take the hour record and make it our own. One rider, one gear, no power meter or computer data for assistance, riding as hard as they can for 60 minutes,” Coudright said. “That essence is all we need in order to have the hour record experience and create a showdown of the fastest riders in Missouri.”
Coudright says he expects six to eight contestants this year, with no big on-site function or spectator gallery at Penrose Park due to COVID, though he hopes this will change in subsequent years. Cyclists will attempt the record alone on the velodrome track and could ride more than 100 laps of the 322-meter (0.2-mile) oval depending on their pace.
“This year will be exciting, but the real fun will be to watch what happens after the first records are set and people try to break them in future years,” Coudright said.
But what if you’re an amateur cyclist or consider yourself to be on the downside of your best competitive years, yet you still want to see how you match up with Missouri’s fastest pedalers? Coudright has thought of you, too.
The TRIFECTA is a virtual time trial series leading up to the Missouri Hour Record on April 24 that consists of three 20-minute rides recorded over the span of six weeks, and anyone can participate. The distance ridden in each time trial is added together to equal a combined hour record distance.
“The TRIFECTA allows everyone to connect to what I think is a unique event [the Missouri Hour Record],” said Coudright. “It’s split into three sessions because an hour record is still difficult. With the TRIFECTA, participants get to simulate a race format they thought maybe they could never do, and they can still see how they match up with other hour record riders.”
The first TRIFECTA time trial must be completed between March 15 and 31, the second by April 15, and the third by April 30. Results will be posted the day after each time trial deadline, with a cumulative time posted at the completion of all three time trial sessions.
There is a fee to participate in the TRIFECTA, with all participants receiving a $10 gift card to Swim Bike Run Chesterfield and a custom T-shirt and medal. In addition, Billy Goat Bicycle Co., Wheelhouse Bicycle, Trailhead Mesa Cycles, Bike Surgeon, and The Hub Bicycle Company will be providing over $800 worth of gift cards to the top four participants in each TRIFECTA category.
Details on how to register and record your ride data for the TRIFECTA, as well as more information on the Missouri Hour Record and its riders, are available at stlouishourrecord.com.
Author: Brad Kovach is the editor/publisher of Terrain Magazine.
Photo: Eric Frazier of Eric Frazier Photography.