The Hour Record and Marginal Gains, Part 1

The Hour Record is unlike any other race in cycling. Almost unimaginably difficult to do, but elegantly simple in concept: Ride your bike, as hard as you can, for an hour.

When you look underneath this simplicity, however, the subtlety, beauty, cruelty, and sophistication of this race become totally gripping. And then you find out there's way, WAY too much to talk about in just one hour. So this is just part 1 of a three-episode series about the Hour Record, covering the origins of the race, early history...and doping.

Got a question you’d like to ask? Text or leave a voicemail at the Marginal Gains Hotline: +1-317-343-4506 or just leave a comment in this post!

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  • Meble

    A comfortable old age is the reward of a well-spent youth. Instead of its bringing sad and melancholy prospects of decay, it would give us hopes of eternal youth in a better world.

  • girlfriend

    In part 3 of our Hour Record trilogy, we talk about the rules of the modern Hour Record, how marginal gains start really coming into play, the theoretical upper limit for the hour record and how close we are to it, and the future for the hour record. We give extra focus to Bradley Wiggins hour record, in part because it comes as close to a perfect attempt — apart from uncontrollable factors — as we ve ever seen, and in part because Josh has some fascinating inside knowledge of Wiggins incredible feat.

  • Allan Hovda

    1X or 2X? – I am a pro triathlete who just change from a 2X (53/39 w 11-28 cassette setup) to 1X (50t front and 12-speed 10-33 cassette). The 1X setup worked well enough in the hilly Norseman in regards to having easy enough and heavy enough gearing with 3,7 % higher speed at the highest and 8,7 % higher speed at the lowest.

    Still, I felt it looked odd with the chain on the 33-tooth with the crossing and the sound it made. Also, I learned from another episode in marginal gains that the 10-tooth (and the other small as well) give bigger resistance. I wanted to go 1X for better aerodynamics, less weight and fewer components that could screw up. Now I am not sure it that is faster.

    What should I do if I want to go as fast as possible? I can consider having a 2x for hilly races and a 1x for flat races.

  • John

    I have seen the odd data comparing aero frames/wheels no non-aero frames/wheels, but what is the difference between an aero road bike and a non aero road bike? Did (non-aero) carbon frames slow bikes down from an aero prospective (wide bottom brackets and downtubes) vs say slim steel?

  • Michael Brooks

    Josh is it better to wrap cables together when possible or leave them separately, I am sure your answer will be it depends. Mike

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