Steve Bale, from Karori, Wellington, has set a new New Zealand track cycling Hour Record in the open and masters’ grade, battling to cover 47.697km.
The 38-year-old was disappointed to have missed the world masters’ mark, set by Australian Jayson Austin in 2009, by just two laps, but satisfied to have claimed two national records.
Setting off at 11am on Saturday August 22 at the Avantidrome in Cambridge, NZ, Bale was on world masters’ record pace for the first 30 minutes.
“I was right on target but could feel it getting harder and harder,” Bale, a cycling coach with Fitlab, said. “Then around the 30-40 minute period, I faded a bit and lost ground.”
“I got it back with 15 minutes to go and held target pace again but couldn’t make up the lost ground.”
Cheered on by about 70 spectators including family and friends, Bale also had a slightly unusual playlist on the Avantidrome sound system.
“They hooked up my iPod without me really knowing - the only stuff I had on there was Slayer and Taylor Swift!”
Bale was exhausted afterwards. “I feel drained now, both physically and emotionally. I haven’t had too much time to take it all in, but definitely thinking about another crack at the world masters’ record.”
His new 47.697km effort surpasses the long-standing record set by Jack Swart by over a kilometre. Lee Vertongen set a distance of 50.226km in 1997 in Wanganui, but used the now illegal ‘superman’ position.
Bale had some last-minute star assistance after his high performance front wheel effectively got lost in the mail.
“I explained my situation to Mike at the Avanti store here in Cambridge,” Bale explains. “They got hold of Alison Shanks who lent me her front disc wheel that she’d used at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi.”
The Hour Record is one of cycling’s most iconic events. First established in the 19th Century, riders have 60 minutes to notch up as many laps as possible on a velodrome. It’s notoriously hard to get the pacing right, and after his own effort in Mexico in 1972, five-time Tour de France winner Eddy Merckx said it was the “hardest ride I have ever done”. The current world Hour Record holder is Bradley Wiggins who rode 54.526km in June 2015.