Rob Gilmour Breaks UCI Hour Record For Veterans.

Rob Gilmour Breaks UCI Hour Record For Veterans.


Rob Gilmour Breaks UCI Hour Record For Veterans.


Chris Lovibond


Rob Gilmour Breaks UCI Hour Record For Veterans.


Rob Gilmour (Hounslow & District Wheelers) is now the UCI Hour Record Holder for the 60-64 age group. He achieved this performance at the Newport Velodrome on the 30th September with a distance of 44.349 kilometres (27.56 mph). The old record was 44.228k.


Rob Gilmour on his way to breaking the UCI's 60-64 hour record
Rob Gilmour on his way to breaking the UCI’s 60-64 hour record


This is a world record, but even so some more knowledge is needed to appreciate fully the outstanding nature of this ride. As it’s an age related record some may suspect the former holder may have been a senile wreck, but this is not the case. Kenny Fuller, the previous record holder, is an American with a brilliant career record which includes (according to the USA publication ‘Cycling Illustrated’) seven world and forty-three national championships. He was a member of the 1972 and 76 Olympic teams and, about that time, a mentor to the young Greg Lemond. He got his hour record in 2009 (aged 61) but this was not the end of his career as he has won a number of significant vets’ races since then. So it is quite clear this was no ‘soft’ record.


Although most of us would have been intimidated at the thought of attacking such a man’s record, Rob was quietly confident. He had done some speed tests, ridden throughout the season to build up to this day, and bought the bike.


UCI scrutineers check that Rob's bike is 'legal'
UCI scrutineers check that Rob’s bike is ‘legal’


This machine was an off the peg modern track bike with the drop bars replaced by a time trial set up and geared 49 x 14, or 92.7” taking the wheel size to be 26.5”. Wheels were a trispoke front and a disc rear, fitted with track tubulars. The machine was rigorously checked by a UCI official to ensure that the rider’s position was legal, so the inspection involved a good deal of careful measurement. Apparently this is done to avoid anything approaching the so-called ‘superman’ position, used in the past by Obree and Boardman, and thereby gaining an unfair advantage.


Checks and warm up completed, we were ready for the off. The machine was fitted into the complex looking starting gate, and just after 12.30 pm Rob was under way. A helper (Jeff Marshall) was positioned just past the start point with a watch and a red and green marker, with the task of informing the rider whether he was up or down on his schedule. Inevitably the first standing start lap was below the required speed, but the red indicator was quickly replaced by the green and this remained showing for the rest of the hour.


Venue for the record attempt was the Newport Velodrome
Venue for the record attempt was the Newport Velodrome


Rob was lapping just fast enough to accrue constant small gains and by the half way point he was 18 seconds up on the old record, nearly a lap since each circuit was taking just over 20 seconds. From this point the rider eased off until his lead had reduced to just under 10 seconds. This caused consternation among the supporters at the track-side as we are all familiar with stories of riders suffering agonies in the closing stages of these attempts, so naturally we feared that our man was ‘blowing’ and would fail to make it.


We needn’t have worried; this slight variation from his metronomic progress was pre-planned. Rob had intended to start slightly fast in order to scoop up various intermediate records and then settle down to his main target, which had always been a modest improvement on the existing record – exactly the same technique he had used on his earlier club and VTTA records.


After finishing he commented: “You only ever know how fast you could have gone when you fail to get your record”. His point was that an unsuccessful rider would have been going flat-out to avoid failure, whereas the true recordman will have been riding to a schedule aimed at achieving the record, rather than going as fast as possible and risking blowing up. This is an insight into one successful record breaker’s mind, but I suspect most of us would just go flat-out and hope for the best.


It’s worth noting that Rob Gilmour’s racing career started with the Clarence Wheelers and so he was influenced by Alf Whiteway’s philosophy of training and racing on low fixed gears. Although Rob is keen to point out that he always took Alf’s advice with a pinch of salt he tells me that his first sub hour 25 (no tribars, remember) was 57.48 done on an 83” gear. The Clarence system developed many good riders and even now, decades after Alf’s departure, ex-Clarence riders are still appearing high up in time trial results. Alf’s most famous ‘foal’ is former World Champion and successful professional six-day rider Tony Doyle.


Next summer Rob will have moved up to the 65-69 age band and so we may well see him in action again at Newport. The new target (43.742 kilometres) looks relatively soft by his standards and bearing in mind that the air pressure for this ride was relatively high (1031 millibars, normal UK range 980-1050), we really hope to see just how fast Rob Gilmour can go in 2016!


Newport Velodrome


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Paul Horta-Hopkins

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