Looking at my 20-year-old track bike hanging in the shed on the weekend I decided it was time we got reacquainted. I've only ridden it once - on New Town velodrome - since I've been in Hobart. Clearly time for another go.
When I rediscovered cycling four years ago, I did a series of rides on this bike on tracks in Victoria - Kyneton, Castlemaine, Coburg, Brunswick. Various distances and mainly for fun, but I also did a series of solo full-pelt 60 minute time trials.
I'm a bit tired of riding the same stretch of road every morning so today was time to see whether I'm still up to my old hour mark: of 30.14km set in March 2005 . Hey, I'm slow - no apologies. I know never going to touch Chris Boardman's 56.3km/h, but I would like to knock off Herni Desgrange's 35.3km/h set in 1893.
What I grandly call New Town velodrome really just a tarmac track around the football oval. I'm guessing it's about 400m long with a slight bank. Like many basic tracks of its type it has a definite hill in it. They're so common in old country tracks I wonder if they're not a perhaps a design feature: there always seems to be a drop through the corner before the finish line. Perhaps it's to speed up the sprints.
There was nobody else about when I rolled out around 8am. A three-lap warm up and a few minor seat adjustments and I was off. Five minutes in, my average was a respectable 32km, although my heart was telling me it wasn't going to be a pace I could hold for an hour. After about 15 minutes the first urges to quit set in and I was bargaining with myself to go on for until at least half way.
An hour alone going flat out on a track bike is a bloody long time. I was slightly undergeared so I was spinning like a bastard down the home straight but still had to jump out of the saddle on the line every lap to crank over the uphill part of the track. Thirty minutes in I was about 40 metres ahead of my old time, but I was still working far too hard to last. My heart rate was sitting around 170, which is way faster than it goes on road rides.
My rough plan was to keep it steady until about the 50 minute mark and lash out from there, so I concentrated on getting my heart rate down so I didn't blow up. I watched my computer as my average pace dropped a a tenth of a kilometre of an hour every few laps until it hit 29.9km/h. I was definitely flagging. I picked it up a bit. My plan became a five-minute final sprint. A couple of triathletes turned up and started doing some laps so I had a couple of marks to chase, although the five minute sprint wasn't going to happen. About three minutes before the end I was buggered, trying to reel in one of the riders, reaching for every last scrap I had.
As the hour rolled by I checked the computer: 30.07km. Damn, 70 metres short of my record. Heart and lungs screaming, legs not so bad. The record is intact for now, but today was still my second fastest ride ever. Not bad training this track riding, it might even speed me up a little. I think I'll slip a smaller cog on the back hub and have another go in a week or so.
(Top photo is an iPhone GPS track of the epic ride. Speaks volumes for the unit's accuracy!)
3,123km so far this year.