Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Why the Hour?

For someone who hasn't raced in years, never raced above a cat 5 level, doesn't much care for time trialing, and has never ridden in a velodrome, describing the decision to make an attempt at the Hour Record as "a stretch" would be an understatement.

To be clear, I don't harbor any illusions that I can go out and automatically put my name next to the likes of Eddy Merckx (the namesake for this project). But I still want to try. Unfortunately, in the words of Yoda, "Do or do not, there is no try." So then why even bother?

Really, the answer is a two-parter. The first part of the answer is "to why do it at all?" Quite simply, everyone needs a challenge. Many of you probably know someone who has challenged themselves to become better at something, to go on a diet, to learn a new skill or take up a new hobby. A few years ago my wife challenged herself to run a half marathon. After completing it, she challenged herself to do it again and took over thirty minutes off of her finishing time. But thirty-five thousand people challenge themselves to run that particular half-marathon and hundreds of thousands more run in other half-marathons, or even full marathons every year. Many others, including some of my college friends, have gone beyond that to compete in triathlons. Triathlons that ranged from sprint distance to full Ironman.

It is probably a little self-centered, but for me the challenge is to experience something that so few other have. I wanted to do something relatively unique, that few in the world have attempted, and that certainly even fewer in my social networks could claim.

Which brings me to the second part of the why answer: "Why the Hour?" After accepting that I wanted to seek out a way to challenge myself, the bicycle seemed like a natural avenue. Most of the things I could do with or on a bicycle either weren't that unique or didn't, to me at least, seem that spectacular. It was then that I happened to catch "The Flying Scotsman" on television, and was reminded of the hour. I became intrigued by Graeme Obree's story, the story surrounding the hour, and had my general interest in the history of cycling reignited. I followed this up by watching documentaries like "A Sunday in Hell," a mid-1970's documentary about the Paris-Roubaix bicycle race. All of this piqued and further fueled my interest in committing to do something as bold as taking on the hour and possibly writing myself into the history books.

I know it won't be easy to manage my life around doing something ambitious like this project. That is part of the challenge that is motivating me to do the hour record. I have a tendency to give up or lose interest in something. Even more so if the outcome looks futile. I don't want to start this process and give up over the winter before my attempt. I don't want to get on the velodrome when I finally make my attempt and quit riding after only 30 minutes.

So in response to that, I want to get myself so deeply involved into this project that my only acceptable outcomes are to "do" or "do not." There will be no "try."