#MyHour AND Wiggins' Hour Record Attempt
For those that don't follow cycling, describing how I spent part of my Sunday morning would probably raise a few eyebrows and result in one liners like, "so, you watched someone ride their bike around an oval for an hour?" Yes. that's exactly what I did. And I enjoyed every single kilometer, all 54.526 of them.
The appeal/enjoyment wasn't as much about the hour record itself (I can't think of a single prognosticator that said he/she didn't think Wiggins would beat the prior mark) as it was about the intrigue of watching human performance at its best (and most stylish). As part of the build up to Wiggins' hour record attempt, Rapha called on people around the world to ride their own hour, using the hashtag, #MyHour. They even set up a challenge on Strava and by last count, more than 99,000 people had signed up. I tackled #MyHour on Saturday with a group of my friends.
#MyHour started at 5.23a but thankfully, the sun starts making its grand entrance early at this time of the year. I met up with my ride companions, Jose, Nathaniel, Bryan, and Jack in West Seattle. Maybe it was the sunshine or the weather, or both, but everyone was in high spirits. A longer than normal exchange of laughter and morning banter preceded our eventual roll out.
We set out at a brisk, but conversational pace and headed south on a route lovingly referred to as The Jose Special. Each of us have routes we love to do and this one was one of Jose's favorites. The route takes us south through an industrial part of Seattle to Des Moines. This part of the loop also includes a section that passes next to Sea-Tac Airport and on this morning, a couple of planes arriving in Seattle pass directly overhead as we ride by. A Top Gun reference may have been made. The miles tick by under our pace but we're all smiles. It's hard NOT to be happy when you're in good company and the sun is shining.
Before we know it, we're in Des Moines and our route redirects us north for the return leg, which features a series of hills through the 'burbs of South Seattle neighborhoods like Normandy Park and Gregory Heights. The hills start to bite at the legs but knowing there is an espresso stop coming helps me turn the pedals over. We grind up the last hill to our refueling station, which ironically looks like it was erected on what had to have been a gas station. As we refuel with espressos and americanos, laughter and stories continue to fill the air; they've been a constant soundtrack this morning. We eventually roll out and soft pedal, letting a slight downhill section carry us forward. Jose leads us onto a busy road and then makes an executive decision to take us to some quieter roads. I love the idea but standing in our way is a wall of a hill. Jose smiles at us and says, "it's good for you," but the collective chatter of changing gears tries to drown him out.
As we make our way back into West Seattle, the fatigue starts to set in. Gaps start to form among our group and I'm beginning to notice the lactic acid on the remaining rollers. As we regroup at a stop sign, one member of our group announces that he's going to stop to get something to eat and soft pedal home by himself. We've been riding long enough to know that's code for, "now entering the city of Bonktown, population one," and as if on cue, bars and gels emerge from jersey pockets. We slow the pace, make sure food is consumed, and we take turns offering him our wheel. No one is getting left behind. Not today and not ever. As the remaining miles tick by, one by one our group gets smaller as friends peel off for their respective routes home. Luckily, the hills are over for the day, and the remaining members of our group pedal easily ensuring everyone gets home safe together.
While we may not have exhibited the superhuman performance Wiggins displayed, I like to think we rose up to the #myhour challenge in our own way. After the ride, we received this confirmation from our friend who visited Bonktown:
A substantial part of our #myhour ride narrative was about a group of friends sharing miles and trading stories, but the key part was about how we performed when it mattered. In similar fashion, Wiggins had an entire team around him to set him up for success, but in the end, he had to do it when it mattered, and boy did he do it. He rode his bike around that oval for an hour like it REALLY mattered.