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Cycling’s Hour Record: Can Ollie Beat Eddy Merckx?

Cycling’s Hour Record: Can Ollie Beat Eddy Merckx?


– Eddy Merckx, widely regarded as the greatest cyclist of all time. He won everything. His victories include sprints,
time trials, summit finishes, an unequaled 11 grand
tours, all five monuments, three World Championships, pretty much every major one day race and extensive victories on the track. I on the other hand, I once won a raffle and I still have my 50 meters
swimming badge, as well. And while I can ride a bike, I can’t ride one anywhere
near as well as Eddy. Truth be told, I’m not even
the fastest in my family. Merckx’s list of achievements
don’t end there though. In 1972, he took on the hour record. A beautifully simple challenge. How far can a human
travel around a velodrome in just one hour? I mean, it was Eddy Merckx, so naturally, he set a new world record
49 kilometers 431 meters. However, what makes Merckx
record all the more impressive, is that he did it on this. This is the very bike
that he used around tubes, steel, frame, with drop bars and no real arrow features to speak of. It’s a custom made Colnago that was designed by
Ernesto Colnago himself. And back in 72, this was cutting edge. It took 200 hours to make and it weighed, just 5.75 kilograms. I mean, it’s amazing, but since 72, by technology and equipment,
has advanced insurmountably, so much so that the record now stands at 55 kilometers and 89 meters set by Victor Campenaerts in 2019. They’ve got me thinking, if I
use the latest and most modern aero tech, Sports Science, expert coaches, latest recovery methods
and training, could, a genetically unremarkable
individual, (coughs), me, beat the greatest of all time, Merckx? (upbeat music) I’m going to find out. On the 17th of February, I’m
going to put myself on the line and have a go at the hour record and see, if I can beat Eddy Merckx. While the prospect of
riding around in circles as fast as you can for an
hour is fiendishly simple, once you actually break it down, it’s deceptively hard. If a regular guy like me is going to ride 49 and a half kilometers in an hour, I’m going to need all the help I can get. So my logic, is to identify the challenge, and then identify the
challenges within it, and surround myself with the
experts and the best people and the best equipment possible, in order to overcome those challenges. So step one, I’m going to need
a coach, a blooming good one. I decided to reach out to Neal Henderson. For those of you who are
unfamiliar, he’s a sports scientist and world class coach to
professional athletes. Neal is the head of the
Sufferfest Sports Science Division and founder of Apex
coaching and consulting, in Boulder, Colorado. And he also happens to coach
some bloke called Rohan Dennis. In all seriousness, he
actually coached Rohan Dennis and Bradley Wiggins,
two hour record success. Neal also suggested we
recruit the expertise of his fellow coach Mac
Cassin, who as a physiologist, would be able to provide
invaluable insight into how we can adapt my physiology best, to the demands of riding
in a circle for an hour. Before we went any further, Neal asked me to perform a fitness test. This was to assess
where I currently I’m at in terms of my fitness, but also, determine if there was
any realistic chance of me challenging the countable. (techno upbeat music) The test is the Sufferfest
4DP Full Frontal. This is a much more comprehensive
and sophisticated test and a standard 20 minute FTP
balls to the wall effort. And you may remember Lloyd actually undertaking this same test when he did, his how fit he could get, on 4-Hours A Week series. It will tell Neal and Mac
much more about my physiology as it comprises of a couple of all our seven second max sprints, followed by, a five minute max
effort, five minutes rest and then it’s straight in, to a 20 minute full gas FTP effort, with a tasty, one minute
max effort for dessert. Yum yum. The rationale behind this,
is to find out my anaerobic, neuro muscular, maximal aerobic, my functional threshold powers. And armed with this
information, Neal and Mac, will be able to assess
if I have what’s required and also tailor my
training going forwards. In addition, the all at
maximum of five minute effort that comes just five minutes
before the 20 minute effort should drain my legs anaerobically giving a much more realistic FTP value. (techno upbeat music) It’s 20 minutes, it’s
going to be hard now, after that five, so no sprints. (techno upbeat music) That was horrible. I feel like I’m much younger. (techno upbeat music) I’m so glad that’s over. I messed up the minute effort
at the end, my pedal came out, he changed the fleets. I was going too hard. So make sure Neal, knows that, because I don’t fancy doing
the whole test again right now. But Neal is going to have
a look at the results and then, he will use that to determine how we set up the power and
the training going forward. So I’ll have a call with him later on. That’s bloody hard. Now, if you just enjoyed my deposits into the bank of pain faces, please give this video, a thumbs up. My results for the test, were as follows. So my sprint was, abysmal, 760 watts five second power, but in truth, I’ve done
no sprinting all year, so it’s kind of to be expected. My five minute power that was better, that was 376 although that is lower than what I’d expect on the road but I kind of, that’s kind
of normal Turbo trainers as to be expected. My 20 minutes was all right, 288 and my one minute power
was messed up, because I, as you just saw accidentally unclipped during that, sorry. Now with all this, the
results classify me, as a pursuiter, which is interesting. I mean, Rohan Dennis and
Bradley Wiggins were pursuiters. Perhaps there’s hope yet, but, I’m going to go chat to Neal and Mac now and see what they can
assess from these results and also my previous training files from the last few years as well. Mac, Neal, good to see you both. Thanks for having the video call with me. So I’ve done my 4DP test. Give me the good news and the bad news. (both laughing) What does it mean? – Like we wanted to see where you’re at because we know with
obviously with our record, the goal was to get, right, your power, basically as high as it can go. The training you’re going to do for that really depends on where
your starting point is and that’s what’s really great about starting with this more complete profile. – Something that didn’t jump out to us, as we look through
these values is cadence. So if you think about the hour record, and what happens on the track, well, you’re going to be
on a fixed gear bicycle and there isn’t going to be no shifting. There’s going to be no coasting and so, cadence is actually a
pretty critical factor. In your peak neuromuscular power, you did exceed one horsepower,
so you did 760 watts, which you know, one horsepower
is 746, so good on you. Your average cadence for
four and five second effort was 105 RPM, which is okay. Not super fast, you’re going
to have to be averaging pretty close to that for the full hour, so instead of for five seconds,
you’re going to have to do that for 3600 seconds at a,
you know, a little less, well, less than half an hour. So, keep in mind that sprint power, in most humans, you know, hit peak power between 100 and 130 RPM, so you’re on the lower
side of cadence now. So, we’re definitely got
some work ahead of us in terms of being able to
produce power at a little bit higher cadence for you and
your anaerobic capacity final minute or so or
the 47 seconds of it, you did average 87 RPM, so a little bit of a bounce back on that. So your training and timings,
I think we want to you know, kind of utilize, you know, you’re heading into the winter months here and so we’re going to be doing a good bit of your during the week,
training Monday through Friday, a bit more in the indoor on the kicker, and doing these kind of specific efforts on the TT bike in that position. And so comparatively during the week, your volume may be a
little bit lower, though, we’re going to introduce some
two days sessions for you, which will also be, you know, there’s some potential adaptations that we can gain from those
and in how we play those out and implement them and then the weekends will be a little bit longer
in general, you know, you’re not going to be doing
six or eight hour rides, no. Don’t worry, not epic, but you know, you’re going to be doing some longer rides and we’ll have you get
out there with the group that the with the chain gang
that you have on Saturdays, not every week, but
it’ll be part of things. Let’s see, we mentioned a
little bit come to the strength, how about yoga and mental training? Have you kind of delved into those areas with your training in the
past with any specificity or just kind of? – No, not with any specificity at all. I’ve just sort of doubled in a bit of yoga and again when I felt a bit stiff. But I’m, yeah just to stretch
out and things like that. But yeah, I’m open to it, I feel like I need a bit of a stretch, especially if I’m going
to be getting into that position for a fair amount. – It’s great to be able
to get scrunched up and hold a very nice air position on a trainer for three seconds, but as soon as you need
to do that for a full hour with the stability component of actually riding outside of the console. Quite a different task. – Well, at this point, if we’re looking at about 12 weeks out, we are just over 5000 hours
away from your one hour attempt. So, we got to little bit
of time to work with, but not much time to waste. So we’re really looking
forward to getting you going towards a scene if you
can exceed the great Eddy. – Cool, right. So, I guess I’ll check in
with you guys next week. – Yes. – We’ll crack on with
the training, from here. Right. Thanks, guys. I’ll see you later. Good talking to you. Bye bye. – Bye. – So, the good news is that Neal and Mac have done some math and they reckon that based on my results,
if I can get fitter, more aerodynamic, improve my flexibility, so that I can get the power
out in that TT position, with a higher cadence, there
is a chance that I can do this. Now, they also say that
Merckx is estimated to have averaged around 400 watts which is remarkable in itself
but even more remarkable when you consider he did it at altitude, which makes that feat much harder. I won’t be at altitude,
however Mac and Neal calculated that if I can get
sufficiently aerodynamic, I’ll have to average around 310 watts. Now that is not much for a pro cyclist, it might not sound much
to you, but trust me, for me, that’s a lot. Performing this initial testing and chatting to Neal
and Mac has highlighted the mountain that is ahead of me. Even with all the best help in the world, this is likely to be the
hardest physical endeavor I’ve ever undertaken. So the first step from here is for me to crack on with training and get used to riding a higher cadence
and putting the power out in an aerodynamic TT position. I’ll also be doing some arrow testing to get my position optimized
so that my drag coefficient can be as low as possible, as that, is going to be really important. My training going forward,
is going to be a mixture of outdoor and indoor
and through Neal and Mac, Sufferfest have kindly
integrated their workout into my training. This is ideal for me,
because like many of you, I work during the week nine to five and need to be time efficient and so, indoor workouts are ideal
for that, as, well my job believe it or not, is mostly office based, in GCN Megabase HQ,
that’s its official name. Just in my pain cave at the moment and literally a lot of time here. And if you’d like to
follow my training plan, then you can do, but I
will be doing quite a bit as much as 16 hours a
week and I appreciate not everyone wants to
commit that amount of time. But don’t worry,
regardless of how much time you want to commit, you
can still do your own, Hour of Power challenge. Simply go on the Sufferfest and do the 4DP Full Frontal test. And then set yourself a
target, can be anything, just to improve your FTP, maybe target a specific time trial or race or maybe you just want to do
a PB on a particular forum. Doesn’t matter, just
do it and get involved and use the #SuffHourofPower. There’s also a really good
10 week Time Trial prep plan built into the sufferfest as well. And the great thing about the sufferfest, is that it tailors the plans to your individual power profile. It’s not just a fitness test. So to put this in
perspective, what this means, is that if I did a standard FTP test and had a plan built around that, then as we’ve established in this video, my sprint prowess, is well below average. (laughs quietly) It means that on a standard FTP test, the sprint intervals and
the neuromuscular intervals that it would set me, would
be far too hard for me. I wouldn’t be able to complete them. Just out doing some
training in the morning. I’m under no illusions believe me when I say how hard a challenge I think they say is in. How hard it’s going to be for me. Every person I’ve spoken to
start an hour record before they all say the same thing. Don’t do it. It sounds savage, even Eddy hurt himself. He reckoned he took
three years of his life. Ridiculous, but, you know I’m nervous, but nothing worth achieving is easy and I’m going to give this my best shot. I’m going to throw myself into it. So, I’m going to crack on with my training and get a bit more
arrow, my favorite thing. In the meantime, if you’d
like to follow my progress, and all of my workouts, including
the strength and yoga work that I’ll be doing flexibility, they’re going to be posted on my Strava and there’ll be updates on Instagram too. So there’ll be links to those
in the description below. We’re also going to do weekly
vlog updates in the GCN Show. So, subscribe, hit the bell. Hopefully, I’ll see you soon. Wish me luck, I’m going to need it. Bye.

45 comments on “Cycling’s Hour Record: Can Ollie Beat Eddy Merckx?

  1. Ollie, this is fantastic and I wish you all the best of luck 👍👍 The cannibal is legendary of course and will be a massive challenge to get anywhere close to his performance! 😀

  2. What sort of bike are you planning on riding? A TT bike, a track bike, a tri bike or a road bike. If you put disk wheels under a tri bike you could just about go out today and knock out 50kmh and save yourself months of training on slower bikes. Grab a decent bike off the GTN guys and do some laps and see how the numbers stack up.

  3. yo no offense, but you look like you could use some strength and conditioning on your body. It certainly cannot hurt having a bit of extra muscle on you. And unless you're at a super low bodyfat%, I don't think you'll gain weight if you also burn fat. Muscle burns fat and increases TDEE

  4. Having watched and very much enjoyed your Project 49 piece a few years back I think you have a pretty good chance! Are you involving coach Ken with any of this? As I recall he was the only one that gave you a shot at that PR! 40K in under 50min. 49.08ish with in a few sec. of that number! Anyhow good luck Ollie!

  5. Suggestion: make sure you get used to riding a track. Two reasons: be able to hold the line, get used to the compression on the turns. Also you might want to find a 333 meter track – that's what Eddie used I think.

  6. Chunder! Mate, you take me back a long way with that word.
    The Barry MacKenzie movie introduced that into Britain back in the 1960s. I'm surprised it's hung around that long. 😁
    Barry McKenzie was the brainchild of Barry Humphries, better known as Dame Edna Everidge. For all you young guys like Ollie, here's a page of the cartoon that formed the foundation for the movie. We Aussies grew up on this kind of stuff.
    https://theshoeman647325124.files.wordpress.com/2018/11/00bcd-6a00d83451da9669e20162fbcadbe2970d.jpg

  7. HUUUGE thumbs up for GCN not keeping their people in the drawer. We understand there’s promotion of wahoo and Sufferfest etc but these challenges are definitely VERY HARD.

  8. How do you think this challenge will compare to your Project 49?
    Is there a calendar to download to show workouts, like the Do the Plan with Dan?

  9. The only real website that has worked for me and gives away instagram free followers is SMM EMPIRE – Trust me, I tried other websites as well however none of those have worked like SMM EMPIRE hehe

  10. The record stands at 49.7 km by Ondrej Sosenka in 2005. That was just before the biological passport. Aero-positions disqualifies one from The Real Record. No one at Bicycling Magazine is cool enough to attempt this – at the Trexletown velodrome

  11. Pfff, you need to be Ollie to fail the fitness test in the very end… C'mon dude, train hard and don't forget the discipline!

  12. Annoying how yous milk it out. Nothing happens… What 🙁 Ride your bike , then post a video. I can only handle Ollies whining so much., sorry.

  13. That 4DP Test is really cool. I did one and got vastly different results:

    5 Second: 1170
    1 Minute: 381
    5 Minute: 201
    FTP: 154.

    Making me a sprinter. But the fact that your FTP is significantly greater then my 5 Minute is absolutely mental. (I should mention that im about your height, 30 kg heavier and it isnt muscle, but still)

    Gives me some lofty goals, well played Ollie!

  14. i was nervous watching this. the sheer pressure on ollie is crushing especially in public. Kudos Ollie, you're brave doing this. You only know your limits when you attempt to break them.

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