Festum Prophetae: The Impossible Hour

Frank on the track in Gent. 2 minutes sucked enough. Why an Hour? Photo: @brettok
Frank on the track in Gent. 2 minutes sucked enough, why an Hour? Photo: @brettok

Update: You can watch the live stream (assuming it works from the velodrome) on the Velominati channel at USTREAM. When you log in, you’ll first see my little test video of my puppy eating grass. Please disregard me yelling at it. That never happened.

I have always considered myself to have a good imagination, something I attribute half to my genetics, half to my upbringing, and half to Lego. Despite this supposed creativity of mine, I am utterly incapable of conceiving how much I will suffer on Festum Prophetae. It might be that I’m too much of an optimist, but more likely is the explanation my darling VMH gives: I’m an idiot.

An example that comes to mind prominently would be my trilogy of efforts up Haleakala. I too easily forget the suffering, despite the videos and photos that speak quite plainly on the subject. And that actually happened. I experienced it. Still, the pain fades quickly and right now I feel like having another go.

I also rode a one kilometer Pursuit on the track in Gent on Keepers Tour (twice). Just the kind of good, non-competitive fun that lets you go so hard you suffer minor convulsions afterwards. Granted, a one-kilometer effort is about the worst event you can imagine for an old diesel like me, who doesn’t start heaping coals on the fire until I’ve been in the saddle for a good number of hours. Two minutes nearly killed me, so I should try doing the same thing for three orders of magnitude longer. (Pedant alert: The times were well under two minutes but that makes the math much more complicated and the suffering no less significant.)

The Hour Record has fascinated me more than any other event. I read about the records set by Coppi, Merckx, and Moser, but missed experiencing them in real time (Steep Hill.tv didn’t exist yet, and also I wasn’t alive for two of those.) I was, however, lucky enough to live through the Hour Record’s Golden Age in the 90’s when the widespread use of EPO and the wholesale negligence of the UCI meant frame builders were at liberty to design whatever speedy abomination they wished, and riders were willing to saddle up and lay the hammer down ad infinitum. Lets see who’s blood vessels pop first!

The doping is exaggerated; Boardman might have been clean and was probably just stupid. Obree was definitely clean and certainly stupid. Indurain was definitely doped, definitely not stupid. Rominger was dirty as a Wall Street Mortgage Broker, and a semi-genius. The game was afoot, and back and forth they went: New record! Record falls…New record! Record falls…It was fantastic. In my memory, I was much more enamored with the Hour than I was with the Tour. 

I had the ambition to honor last year’s Festum with an Hour Ride (I won’t call it a Record), but factors outside my control (last minute panic to organize time on a track after leaving it too late) conspired against the effort. This year, I planned ahead a bit more.

In honor of what I consider to be the standard-setting Hour Record by The Prophet on what amounted to little more than standard track equipment at the time – not to mention, without the aid of genetics-altering drugs – I will be flogging my guts out for 60 minutes on the Alpenrose Track at 3pm on Saturday, June 15. Mark at Veloforma will be loaning me a Pista Pro for the ride, seeing as I have no track bike (or experience to speak of).

Anyone who wishes to come see a tall fat guy ride a bike badly for 60 minutes is welcome to come down and watch. I understand @scaler911 will be documenting the event. There is even a rumored appearance of my VMH who is a bit of a Snuffleupagus around these parts. If she attends, I will have her fill the role of Ole Ritter’s wife in The Impossible Hour and step forward for every lap I’m ahead of schedule and step backward for every lap that I’m behind schedule. She’s a strong woman not accustomed to walking backwards, but I’m sure she’ll do fine.

Merry Festum Prophetae, one and all. Vive la Vie Velominatus.

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514 Replies to “Festum Prophetae: The Impossible Hour”

  1. @harminator


    One of these riders has been raised by a Velominatus…

    A perfect example of the importance of learning from the right people.

    So distinct is she, from the others, she looks Photoshopped, albeit by an expert!

  2. @Bespoke



    One of these riders has been raised by a Velominatus…

    A perfect example of the importance of learning from the right people.

    So distinct is she, from the others, she looks Photoshopped, albeit by an expert!

    To be fair to the others, the session was open to anyone under the age of 16 and to kids passing with a bike. The photographer was lying down which plays down just how small the lead out rider was.

    It was a bit tough on some of the older/more experienced kids who effectively had to ride up and down the high street at walking pace until it was their lap.

  3. @Chris

    That explains it.

    Otherwise…She looks mighty peeved at the quality of the sprint train the team provided..

  4. Late comment here, but chapeau to Frank on a sterling effort at Alpenrose. A tough challenge made tougher by letting everyone on this site know he was doing it too.

    Seriously though, would it have killed you to do a measly extra 6000 meters?

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