The Hounslow Hour Record
The Hounslow Hour by Chris Lovibond
It may seem either presumptuous or pointless that a local amateur club should have on its books a record which is traditionally seen as something for the highest level of professional rider; in fact, the past three seasons have seen two successful attempts which have created drama and brought attention to the club.
As with all records, some knowledge of the background is necessary to appreciate the significance of any attempt.
Rather surprisingly this record had gone unchallenged between 1969 and 2011, so when Nic Stagg announced his intention to update it there were no recent precedents to guide us. The original intention was to use a modern bike, but after some discussion a decision was made that if the old record were to be attempted, an old style ‘athlete’s hour’ machine should be used. A record set with modern aero kit would be valid, but it would constitute a new record and leave the old one on the books. Our would be recordman chose, rather bravely I think, to attack the old record, and this year we have had another attempt on this same record by Rob Gilmour.
At the time Nic started this enterprise the old record looked fairly easy to break. It had been set long ago at Paddington by the then sixteen year old Bob Garlinge and stood at 24.723 miles – a great deal slower than Nic would expect to do on the road in a 25. However, on the day it turned out that the old record was a much tougher proposition that anyone had expected and it was only by a great effort that Nic managed to improve the distance to 24.775 miles, about 90 yards.
When Rob Gilmour announced his intention to go for this record, those of us who were present at the 2011 attempt and had seen how hard it was to do twenty five miles in an hour under these circumstances did not feel optimistic that the task was possible. Certainly Rob is a redoubtable time triallist, who can often record surprisingly fast times and who has won many vets’ awards in recent years, but in a straight competition between our two men on the road there can be no doubt that in recent years Nic would have been very disappointed not to come out on top. So the natural question was: if Nic rode himself to exhaustion for his record, and he would normally expect to win on the road, how can Rob expect to go further on the track?
As we assembled for the new attempt on the 8th July at Palmer Park it was clear that Rob had chosen a reasonable day; the temperature was good and the wind only slight. By contrast Nic had had more wind and too much heat. With much the same personnel as last time we had an experienced team and after a modest warm up on a road bike our man was ready to go.