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Anatomy of a Photo(s)

Anatomy of a Photo(s)

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Watching the Jensie set a “new” record was somehow not-that-interesting and riveting at the same time. One guy going around the track for an hour; only cycling aficionados could find it so compelling. The thing I can’t get out of my mind is Eddy Merckx still did 49.43 km/hr with toe clips, spoked, box section wheels and a hairnet helmet on a track bike. That is a Man.

Eddy recently said if he had Chris Boardman’s plastic helmet, shoe covers and clip-in pedals he would have gone over 50 km/hr. As much as I liked the UCI Hour Record, it was already corrupted by that difference. If you want to see how you stack up to Merckx, you better find a hairnet helmet and toe clip pedals. I’d watch that.

Chapeau to Jens for kicking off what we can only hope is a rebirth in this great event. It is doubtful his time will stand for too long but he had the heart to jump on the track and see what he was made of, like Eddy did before him.

// Anatomy of a Photo // The Hardmen

  1. “Eddy recently said if he had Chris Boardman’s plastic helmet, shoe covers and clip-in pedals he would have gone over 50 km/hr. As much as I liked the UCI Hour Record, it was already corrupted by that difference”

    I hear similar statements to this and I ponder why people feel this way. The Hour has always been at the height of the “technologial arms race” in cycling. Can you really sit there and tell me that Eddy’s hour bike wasn’t the pinnacle of technology at the time? Frank Dodds rode 26.508 in 1876. The first official hour record, how much farther could he have gone..with..toe clips, a frame that weighted what Eddy’s did, a better surface to ride on..? I take absolutely NOTHING away from the effort The Prophet put out during his hour, and for sure..if he were at the height of his powers now and on current technology, i have no doubt that he would put the Hour beyond reach again. But..the Hour has always been the home of improving technology of our machines. The Prophet’s Hour bike was the first to have a titanium stem. Hand filed no less. Technology at the time didn’t allow for it to be finished by machine. it hand to be painstakingly hand filed to shape. I have had the awesome pleasure of spending time examining his machine when it was on display here at the Il Vecchio shop for a couple of years. You can see the file marks still on the stem! Drilled out handlebars, chainring, etc..all advances the previous hour holders before The Prophet ( well I’m sure Ritter had some of these) probably did not have. Does that at all diminish his hour to the previous holders? No..it is the natural progression of the sport. At it’s base though..is the effort. Regardless of the technology employed, all the holders have one thing in common…the deep fire to drive themselves through searing pain for an hour and the light the way for us all to drive ourselves that little bit further when we are hurting in our own efforts!

  2. Jens openly admits that his record won’t stand for long when Wiggins / Cancellara / Martin rev up their engines, but kudos to him – he’s 43 and he judged it to perfection getting quicker in the last 20 minutes (his fastest lap was his last). Anyone who finishes in the top 20 of next weeks World TT could potentially beat it, bit do they have the balls to try? Bring it on! (I think Jens under cooked it and could have hit 52km, but I doubt he’ll have another crack at it).

  3. Considering the age of the engine on the modified speed concept, I have to tip my hat to JMFV.

    However, I would like to see someone do it twice. Merckx equipment vs modern equipment.

  4. @Haldy

    “Eddy recently said if he had Chris Boardman’s plastic helmet, shoe covers and clip-in pedals he would have gone over 50 km/hr. As much as I liked the UCI Hour Record, it was already corrupted by that difference”

    I hear similar statements to this and I ponder why people feel this way. The Hour has always been at the height of the “technologial arms race” in cycling. Can you really sit there and tell me that Eddy’s hour bike wasn’t the pinnacle of technology at the time? Frank Dodds rode 26.508 in 1876. The first official hour record, how much farther could he have gone..with..toe clips, a frame that weighted what Eddy’s did, a better surface to ride on..? I take absolutely NOTHING away from the effort The Prophet put out during his hour, and for sure..if he were at the height of his powers now and on current technology, i have no doubt that he would put the Hour beyond reach again. But..the Hour has always been the home of improving technology of our machines. The Prophet‘s Hour bike was the first to have a titanium stem. Hand filed no less. Technology at the time didn’t allow for it to be finished by machine. it hand to be painstakingly hand filed to shape. I have had the awesome pleasure of spending time examining his machine when it was on display here at the Il Vecchio shop for a couple of years. You can see the file marks still on the stem! Drilled out handlebars, chainring, etc..all advances the previous hour holders before The Prophet ( well I’m sure Ritter had some of these) probably did not have. Does that at all diminish his hour to the previous holders? No..it is the natural progression of the sport. At it’s base though..is the effort. Regardless of the technology employed, all the holders have one thing in common…the deep fire to drive themselves through searing pain for an hour and the light the way for us all to drive ourselves that little bit further when we are hurting in our own efforts!

    Agree completely. Hard to compare the records directly due to different equipment, but I see no reason why they can’t be celebrated for what they are.

  5. He also very likely secured himself a nice gig doing some TV commentary for any of the other guys hour record attempts in the next few years….

  6. @GogglesPizano

    He also very likely secured himself a nice gig doing some TV commentary for any of the other guys hour record attempts in the next few years….

    And Trek will likely sell a few extra Speed Concept 9 bikes over the next couple of months.

  7. Agreed. I doubt Jens will hold the record this time next year, but kudos on him for giving it a go and succeeding. We’re all chatting here about how many are theoretically able to beat him, and what equipment can/should/should not be used, the fact remains the Hour Record is one of the most physically demanding sporting achievements out there. Comparisons have been made to road TT times but they’re different – corners, uphills, downhills, gearing, the chance to freewheel even for a few moments etc. This is 60 minutes of pure unadulterated effort leading inexorably to massive pain. That requires physical and mental strength few of us (besides Frank) can muster.

    All sports have progressed and those developments should be taken into consideration. Personally, I’d like to see the NFL play in the uniforms of the 1920s. It won’t happen, but would be fun to watch.

  8. It is more than just different equipment though. And why draw the line for advancement with Eddie? It’s just misplaced nostalgia.

    Are we to make Jens go back to Eddies training style too? Have him on the same diet with the same ‘in-ride’ food/drink? He should have to wear woollen kit too. Actually the tyres make a difference. Anyone got some singles from Eddies era? What about the grease in the bearings or the style of hard facing? Where do you draw the line? You can’t so each record stand on its own, not as one supersedes another. Eddie was the fastest then, jens is now. Soon, someone will be faster.

  9. @Haldy absolutely spot on assessment! Doffing my cap to you

  10. @Haldy

    @Puffy

    Gents, I agree with you. Merckx’s bike was a technological wonder. The lightest baddest bike of it’s day. Was Ernesto Colnago the builders? He held his breath until Eddy was up to speed on the thing because if it was going to fail it was going to fail during “take-off”.

    My point, if I in fact had one, was that riders want to be able to compare themselves to Merckx and the UCI Record really is not the way to do that. Boardman’s setup was already too different.

    The other point was only that fucking Merckx was a damn animal to crank out that speed being that un-aerodynamic. His torso was catching all sorts of air in that photo.

  11. @Gianni

    Same with Moser..who I will point out…went farther than Jensie…

  12. 51.115 KM I think the mark Voigt set has hidden (or maybe not so hidden) meaning.

    Rule #5, Rule 1, Rule #11, Rule #5

    They all apply to Jens and his career as a cyclist.

  13. @Kevin

    51.115 KM I think the mark Voigt set has hidden (or maybe not so hidden) meaning.

    Rule #5, Rule #1, Rule #11, Rule #5

    They all apply to Jens and his career as a cyclist.

    Surely that is a +1 badge right there?

  14. He did it. He is the current record holder. And at 43 years of age. Well done him. Whether is record falls sooner or later is irrelevant, the effort is impressive.

  15. With those who don’t think it will last, but enjoyed it nevertheless. Kudos to Jens for going for it when he had no real compelling reason to do so. Not fighting for next years contract, not proving he’s the man the team should support. Great way to go out, IMHO

  16. Why would. Merckx even wear the hairnet?

  17. I don’t accept that the rule change has removed/reduced the capacity for riders to compare themselves to Merckx. If a big name pro wants to put a comparable bike to Merckx’s together and schedule some time on the track s/he can do so anytime. I accept that some riders have a part of them that likes that comparison idea, but I suspect when it comes to the record, there’s also a significant part that wants their name in the books. Not because of the comparison it represents, but because if the honour and achievement it represents. Moreover, the UCI isn’t the arbiter of cycling’s narrative and memory. They’re just a bit player. Eg. Just because they say Boardman’s 56.3 doesn’t count anymore doesn’t mean I’ll forget it. And if Spartacus really wants to compare himself to Merckx and proceeded to do so with an athlete’s hour bike, I’d take note and remember it, even if the UCI didn’t. Plus, he could always spend less time complaining and this free up time to take a crack on an athletes hour bike for his own eddyfication (boom!) as well having a crack in current UCI record spec bike for the books.

  18. That is to say: nice article, I concur.

  19. The tech is irrelevant, The clock, the bike, the will to break the record. That’s what makes it fascinating. Props to Jensie for setting the mark. Hopefully the 3 or 4 truly sublime time trialists will take up the challenge. We could be looking at a new golden age for the hour. So so looking forward to it.

  20. I don’t get the whole comparison thing.

    I mean, I do understand it and I enjoy indulging in it, but what I don’t get is the idea that someone thinks they are actually comparing one to the other.

    It’s a wonderful source of speculation in many sports. Who wouldn’t wonder* how Don Bradman might have faced up to the great West Indian bowlers Marshall, Garner, Ambrose and Walsh forty years later. Was Puskas greater than Pele? Would Roger Maris have outscored Babe Ruth if they played in the same season?

    The beauty of sport is that we can all have opinions but we will never know. Which is why the UCI’s move to allow technological advancement is the right one – we should embrace the fact that it restores the element of doubt and debate.

    *Obviously apart from those benighted societies – although one hesitates to bestow the term upon them – who have never developed the mental faculties to appreciate cricket.

    Sport has facts, but it isn’t about them.

  21. @ChrisO

    I don’t get the whole comparison thing.

    I mean, I do understand it and I enjoy indulging in it, but what I don’t get is the idea that someone thinks they are actually comparing one to the other.

    It’s a wonderful source of speculation in many sports. Who wouldn’t wonder* how Don Bradman might have faced up to the great West Indian bowlers Marshall, Garner, Ambrose and Walsh forty years later. Was Puskas greater than Pele? Would Roger Maris have outscored Babe Ruth if they played in the same season?

    The beauty of sport is that we can all have opinions but we will never know. Which is why the UCI’s move to allow technological advancement is the right one – we should embrace the fact that it restores the element of doubt and debate.

    *Obviously apart from those benighted societies – although one hesitates to bestow the term upon them – who have never developed the mental faculties to appreciate cricket.

    Sport has facts, but it isn’t about them.

    Athletes should still be running on cinder tracks if it applied in Athletics.

  22. @Teocalli Indeed.

    And on the subject of comparisons… we did a Team TT today.

    In 1.04.57 four of us rode 2km less than Jens did in his hour record.

    And that was a new course record, beating the previous mark set by the UAE National Team. I know intellectually that the hour record is hard but doing something like that gives the comparison a personal context.

  23. I find this whole thing quite interesting. In regards to Jens’ bike, it’s a heavily modified road TT bike, running a heavily modified road group. For comparison, here’s what Sosenka was riding when he set the record in ’05:
    https://i.imgur.com/pvBDfii.jpg
    Great, so it’s a completely different bike. Radically different. Hell, it wasn’t even a track pursuit bike.
    But, why was Romminger’s effort removed from the record books?
    http://www.wolfgang-menn.de/pics/romhour1.jpg

    Or Obree’s superman?
    http://www.wolfgang-menn.de/pics/obree7.jpg

    Granted Obree’s superman is a pretty radical departure from the standard TT position, but Obree was riding a proper track bike with proper track gears. In ’94 he also went more than a Km further than Jens did.

    Now sure a lot of you are going on about how Merckx’s bike was so much better than the one that was from the 1800’s. Fair enough. But to be blunt, you can turn up on a beat up old steel track frame, box section wheels, drop bars, and still be competitive these days. How do I know this? I see guys on old steel Colnagos going toe to toe with guys on the Canadian National Team on their Looks, and beating them. Don’t believe me? Come to Burnaby’s Velodrome and take a look. We have beer.

    I think that the hour should be done on a standard track bike, spoked wheels, and drop bars. I couldn’t care less what the frame is made out of. Anything else, and the UCI is just conflating the hour record and its significance. You can’t hit a moving target.

    Lastly, Anquetil had one of the best Hour record of all time. Massive gear, gullet full of moules frites, and champagne coursing through his veins. But that’s another story.
    http://othersportsnews.gr/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Jacques-Anquetil-record-hora.jpg

  24. You know what’s interesting here is how the attempt all came down… recall earlier in the year all the news was Cancellara and Trek factory racing have a run at this thing. It was blah blah blah for months. And then on hold waiting clarification of rules. And then from nowhere, Jensie and Trek announce, and do it in a matter of what seemed like a couple of weeks. Jensie is one cool cat.

    As for the rules? If we have a run of athletes going at this effort, Fabian, Tony M, Wiggo and/or whoever else, in the coming year or so then was a good rule change (is change what it was? I don’t know).

    BTW: If this helps Trek sell some Speed Concepts that’s fine because it really is one cool bike. And I wouldn’t mind seeing ’em around. I don’t know that I’ll ever have a TT bike but I’ll admit to wanting to have a run on one some day just to see what it’s like.

  25. I think that the UCI requiring a “standard” competition legal pursuit bike is one step towards reconciling the differences between riders moving forward, but at the expense of some techological gains. I would prefer to have some degree of the measure of the man rather than the machine, but that’s me. There are so many variables to consider that you can never have a true measure of one attempt versus another except for the distance covered at the final tick of the clock.

    I am glad that Jens manged to write his name into the record books. There are not many others who spent so much of their careers with their nose in the wind. So, well done, Jens.

  26. For me, the fun was in watching a 43-year-old hardman set himself a difficult goal and achieve it. Watching his lap times in the final minutes was a thrill.

  27. @TBONE

    I think that the hour should be done on a standard track bike, spoked wheels, and drop bars. I couldn’t care less what the frame is made out of. Anything else, and the UCI is just conflating the hour record and its significance. You can’t hit a moving target.

    Lastly, Anquetil had one of the best Hour record of all time. Massive gear, gullet full of moules frites, and champagne coursing through his veins. But that’s another story.
    http://othersportsnews.gr/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Jacques-Anquetil-record-hora.jpg

    Bless you, that’s what I have been saying too. But I’m ready to let go. I was disappointed when the UCI just threw out the old school method, as was Fabs, but I’m getting over it. What I don’t want to see is more of that half-assed superman bullshit. That is just rubbish.

    In regards to Anquetil. I’m a fan. I’m going to adopt his riding style, minus the winning results. A face full of frites and beer, then ride my heart out. What could happen that a good bike washing wouldn’t cure?

  28. We did a Team TT yesterday.

    In 1.04.57 four of us rode 49.1 km, or 2km less than Jens did in his hour record.

    And that was a new course record, beating the previous mark set by the UAE National Team.

    I know intellectually that the hour record is hard on any bike but doing something like that gives the comparison a personal context.

    Our average age was probably about the same as Jens though.

  29. @Oldnslowly

    The tech is irrelevant, The clock, the bike, the will to break the record. That’s what makes it fascinating.

    This is the whole question, answered. We use the best tech we have, and the difference is the mind that drives it.

    The Athlete’s Hour was backwards-focused, Golden Age thinking that doesn’t move us forward or enhance our sport. I’m glad it’s done with.

    @TBONE

    Lastly, Anquetil had one of the best Hour record of all time. Massive gear, gullet full of moules frites, and champagne coursing through his veins. But that’s another story.
    http://othersportsnews.gr/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Jacques-Anquetil-record-hora.jpg

    That’s my kind of cycling, the sort that says, “let’s see how much I can not give a flying fuck and still be a badass.”

  30. @Jay

    I think that the UCI requiring a “standard” competition legal pursuit bike is one step towards reconciling the differences between riders moving forward, but at the expense of some techological gains. I would prefer to have some degree of the measure of the man rather than the machine, but that’s me. There are so many variables to consider that you can never have a true measure of one attempt versus another except for the distance covered at the final tick of the clock.

    In seeming contradiction to my statement in the previous post, I couldn’t agree more with this. We have standards for many reasons, not least to ensure a minimum level of safety and to provide a baseline from which to measure. Setting the bar at a competition-legal pursuit bike makes all kinds of sense.

  31. @ChrisO

    We did a Team TT yesterday.

    In 1.04.57 four of us rode 49.1 km, or 2km less than Jens did in his hour record.

    Way to stick one to The Man With The Hammer, guy. Hell yes.

  32. @Gianni

    @TBONE

    I think that the hour should be done on a standard track bike, spoked wheels, and drop bars. I couldn’t care less what the frame is made out of. Anything else, and the UCI is just conflating the hour record and its significance. You can’t hit a moving target.

    Lastly, Anquetil had one of the best Hour record of all time. Massive gear, gullet full of moules frites, and champagne coursing through his veins. But that’s another story.
    http://othersportsnews.gr/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Jacques-Anquetil-record-hora.jpg

    Bless you, that’s what I have been saying too. But I’m ready to let go. I was disappointed when the UCI just threw out the old school method, as was Fabs, but I’m getting over it. What I don’t want to see is more of that half-assed superman bullshit. That is just rubbish.

    I’m not ready to let it go. The Japanese Keirin is all done on standard, very similar bikes as there’s betting involved.

    They also wear boy armour, as there’s contact involved, which makes it even more badassed.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFRahWnA4YM

  33. @ChrisO

    Sport has facts, but it isn’t about them.

    Nicely said, easily forgotten.

    @TBONE

    @Gianni

    @TBONE

    I think that the hour should be done on a standard track bike, spoked wheels, and drop bars. I couldn’t care less what the frame is made out of. Anything else, and the UCI is just conflating the hour record and its significance. You can’t hit a moving target.

    Lastly, Anquetil had one of the best Hour record of all time. Massive gear, gullet full of moules frites, and champagne coursing through his veins. But that’s another story.
    http://othersportsnews.gr/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Jacques-Anquetil-record-hora.jpg

    Bless you, that’s what I have been saying too. But I’m ready to let go. I was disappointed when the UCI just threw out the old school method, as was Fabs, but I’m getting over it. What I don’t want to see is more of that half-assed superman bullshit. That is just rubbish.

    I’m not ready to let it go. The Japanese Keirin is all done on standard, very similar bikes as there’s betting involved.

    They also wear boy armour, as there’s contact involved, which makes it even more badassed.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFRahWnA4YM

    Awesome. More of this please. Full speed contact cycling. Hella bad ass.

  34. All I can say is having biked these 30 odd years, there is astonishing difference between the high-end bikes I started on and the carbon aero rocket I ride today. On some days I think I’m just as fast with my bladed wheels as I was then, despite the much younger engine. It’s simply incredible what Eddie achieved on that bike.

  35. OMG I’ve only just seen the video of the Rabo-Liv crash in the women’s world TTT.

    Looks horrific, although I think Van Vleuten who crashed first got off lightly and it was van der Breggen in third position who fractured her pelvis.

    People are blaming the barrier legs but I’m not sure it would have made any difference – van Vleuten misjudged the corner and was going down whatever happened. With van der Breggen it was just the way she hit the ground.

    Hope she recovers OK – I guess if you’re going to get a nasty injury now is the best time, if there is such a thing.

  36. Put Jens, then Sparticus and Martin on Eddy’s old bike. Problem solved.

  37. I’m staying well out of this.

  38. @brett oh c’mon…. you know you want to.

  39. @Barracuda

    Put Jens, then Sparticus and Martin on Eddy’s old bike. Problem solved.

    Well, not really. It’s kind of like saying to Federer et all, you’ve got to use wooden raquets or to Usain Bolt, here’s your trowel, dig your starting holes on a cinder track, or asking a pole vaulter to use bamboo instead of fibreglass. The progress in bike technology has been profound since the 70s (and Merckx pushed the technology of his day to the limit in his HR ride). I think coming up with a rule that says the bike to be used must meet UCI standards for a track/pursuit bike is the way to go.

  40. @ChrisO

    OMG I’ve only just seen the video of the Rabo-Liv crash in the women’s world TTT.

    Looks horrific, although I think Van Vleuten who crashed first got off lightly and it was van der Breggen in third position who fractured her pelvis.

    People are blaming the barrier legs but I’m not sure it would have made any difference – van Vleuten misjudged the corner and was going down whatever happened. With van der Breggen it was just the way she hit the ground.

    Hope she recovers OK – I guess if you’re going to get a nasty injury now is the best time, if there is such a thing.

    Agreed, they were going full gas and rider #1 took a line too close to the barriers. With such a tight formation at that speed there’s no way to take avoiding action.

  41. @wiscot

    @Barracuda

    Put Jens, then Sparticus and Martin on Eddy’s old bike. Problem solved.

    Well, not really. It’s kind of like saying to Federer et all, you’ve got to use wooden raquets or to Usain Bolt, here’s your trowel, dig your starting holes on a cinder track, or asking a pole vaulter to use bamboo instead of fibreglass. The progress in bike technology has been profound since the 70s (and Merckx pushed the technology of his day to the limit in his HR ride). I think coming up with a rule that says the bike to be used must meet UCI standards for a track/pursuit bike is the way to go.

    Just put them on a standard track bike. This isn’t about technology as much as it’s about position. Said track bike can be made out of whatever the hell they want. Drop bars, spoked wheels. Simple. None of this modified road TT bike BS.

  42. @wiscot

    @Barracuda

    Put Jens, then Sparticus and Martin on Eddy’s old bike. Problem solved.

    Well, not really. It’s kind of like saying to Federer et all, you’ve got to use wooden raquets or to Usain Bolt, here’s your trowel, dig your starting holes on a cinder track, or asking a pole vaulter to use bamboo instead of fibreglass. The progress in bike technology has been profound since the 70s (and Merckx pushed the technology of his day to the limit in his HR ride). I think coming up with a rule that says the bike to be used must meet UCI standards for a track/pursuit bike is the way to go.

    Damn, the sarcasm font did not work again.

    I agree, track bike is the way to go!

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