My random meandering - stream of consciousness thoughts, ideas, and feelings

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Philippine Hour Record

It's been a long time since I've blogged so now I think would be a good time to re-start this after setting the Philippine Hour Record at the Velo Sports Center here in Carson last Sunday.

The Hour Record has been a long time goal for me.   4 years ago I first came to track here in LA, I had already been corresponding with my now good friend and proprietor of the Pinoy Fixie website Arden Arindaeng.  I first met Arden online before I came out to CA and told him of goal to set the Philippine hour record.  When I first came here in 2009 I was able to see this awesome facility and also a 100 mile world record attempt.  Unfortunately the athlete stopped after about 75 miles around the velodrome and I realized that riding circles can be much harder than riding outdoors.

Contemplating the Hour 2009

Brief History of the Hour

The History of riding a bicycle around a track/veldrome for 1 hour started way back in 1876 where Frank Dodds Cycled 26.5km on a penny farthing.  The complete history can be seen in wiki

  Then it was Ole Ritter and Eddy Merckx who brought it to the forefront in the modern cycling era cycling over 48 and 49km .  There was a great documentary made about them called the Impossible Hour.  You can actually watch the entire Documentary here! -

When I first heard of the hour, it was back in 1993/94 when I bought my first racing bike.   It was Graeme Obree who's "Obree Tuck" position really captured the imagination of the public because his innovative outside the box thinking about aerodynamics and biomechanics.   

Obree and Chris Boardman would then go back and forth re-setting the world record.  The UCI, the governing body of Cycling, also banned Obree's innovative position forcing him to invent the "superman" position which many cyclists copied in the 1996 Olympics. 


  Obree's now has an autobiography on Paperback and a movie made about him called The Flying Scotsman.  He also recently set the Human Powered Vehicle Land speed record and wrote a training manual called the Obree Way.   
My Previous Attempt
About 4 years ago, I researched if there was an existing hour record for the Philippines.  No one knew of one, so I decided I wanted to be the first person to set one.  The hardest and most technical aspect of the hour, other than the aero position, is the choice of gears.  Since the bike doesn't have brake or gear shifters, an athlete must choose 1 single gear for the entire duration of the ride.  I was training for long distance triathlon, and I had become accustomed to pushing heavy gears in outdoor time trials.  I even got the nickname 54x11.   I assumed those gears would be the same on the track.  I couldn't have been more wrong.  I did a test run and barely cycled 22 miles, as I was way over geared trying to spin a 54x12 gear.  In a previous out door road Time Trial I was able to average 25 mph on a 53x12 fixed gear so I assumed I would be faster on the track.  This attempt was done alone on the outdoor Kissena Velodrome with no spectators except for Twinkle and a USAC referee on a very windy day.  After that day I knew I wanted to do it again, indoors with a lighter gear and hopefully with spectators. 
This Attempt
So instead of focusing on the hour attempt this year, I just kept training for Ironman Long Distance Triathlon and hoped that fitness would cross over into the track.  In this past month leading up to last Sunday's event.  For intensity I came to Kissena velodrome only 1 time for some pack races, did a couple of practice crits at Rahway River Park and for endurance I did one 150 mile ride and one 107 mile - the NJ Gran Fondo last sunday where I was able to ride with George Hincapie. 

I arrived into LA on Tuesday, my first ride at the track was Wednesday night with Arden and boy it was a tough night!  I was completely intimidated by the banking of the track.  I was barely able to ride 5 minutes straight without going above lactate threshold.  I was really worried about sunday.  Kevin Philips my mentor for this event and National Record Holder for 35-39 told me to try to just average 23+ second laps.  Thursday, I rode again with Louie who was one of paceline group, and I started getting the hang of the track.  We stayed mostly above the blue line which made the banking feel less drastic.  On Friday, we did a few standing starts and I put in a few efforts on the black line.  I was starting to feel ready. 

9/15/13 The Philippine Hour
Saturday turned out to be a complete rest day.  Sunday am I tried to get in a short swim before heading to the track but the pool was closed due to a power outage.  We arrived to track pretty early to set up, and I had my final meal at Shakey's pizza.  When I got back to the track, Tony Zaldua had already started working on my bike transforming my standard track bike to Greased Lighting!  by lubricating all my bearings and my chain.  When I hopped on the track with an all Fil Am Paceline it really felt so easy as if there was no chain on my bike!

Then It was Showtime.  I was able to convince my good friend and former Child Star JR Calanoc to MC the event.  I also made a playlist for the event with mostly modern pop songs for the crowd and some OPM Filipino music also ;)  I also made sure to put in Empire State of Mind and California Girls to cover both Coasts.  We had the great privilege of having fellow Pinay Track racer Christina Ricofort sing the Philippine National Anthem (the first time ever sang at the Velo Sports Center) and American Idol Finalist Clint Gamboa sing the American National Anthem.  I must admit I did get a little teary eyed listening to both of them. 

The "Artistas": Christina, JR, and Clint

The Arden Show

The opening act to my 1 hour attempt was Arden's attempt at a flying 250 - 1 lap around the track from a flying start as fast as possible.  Arden needed a 14.6 for the record, he was about a second off.  but a real big hats off to him.  It is so hard to be the host of the party and also put on a best effort also.  And I've never seen anyone have as much joy in helping someone else out as this guy - the best domestique anyone could ask for and true friend.

Bike Issues
So even before I flew out here to CA, I knew there were a bunch of UCI regulations about my bike.  from triathlon I had been accustomed to riding with more forward seat angles so I put on a straight seat post for this event but when UCI examined my bike they told me my seat angle had to be more level.  The ISM seat I use is meant to be ridden slightly angled down.  So in a quick minute tony lowered and leveled my seat. 

Tony working his magic on my bike

I was then in the starting block and ready to go!

The Ride
The first few minutes were pretty good, the adrenaline and cheers from the crowd got me off the great start.  The goal of the ride was to average 40kph 24.8 mph or 22.5 second laps.  I was occasionally hearding the splits from Kevin and Arden I was holding 22 low and sometime 21 high so I knew it was a good pace so I tried to keep calm and settle down. 
The hardest thing about the hour ride is staying as close to black line as possible with out going over into the blue.  They set up very light blocks to prevent this and it is a good thing I was a able to do a practice run with them in place.  I was still perhaps a bit conservative with my lines.  I would try to hit the banked turns a bit high and then "fall" back down to the black line

 The Philippine Flag Flying High
About halfway, I saw I was at 81 laps so I knew I was ahead of schedule.  By this time the legs started to feel the burn.  My training leading up to this had just been mostly long rides where I push I bigger gear and pedal about 70rpm going 20mph.  Now I was trying to hold 90+rpm and go 25mph - a completely different animal.  Because of training with powercranks, I was on 154mm cranks and using as much upforce I could and my 49t Rotor q ring allowed me to also get the most out of the downstroke push also.  I would try to "mash" a little more on the straights when I could.  by 45 minutes, holding focus was starting to get very difficult.  There were also periods where the music would stop and I would let my thoughts get the best of me.  But having my friends at every corner of the track really helped.  Even simple thoughts like "remember to breathe" helped. 

Arden giving me lap times

162 Laps

The last half of the ride, seemed twice as hard as the first.  the fatigue finally was starting to set in and the initial adrenaline rush started to wear off.  Coach Kevin Philips, Arden, Mo Banats, Greg Uy and the rest of the Fil Am Triathletes and Adobo Velos in the crowd got me through those final difficult laps as well as thinking about my friend Joash who I had dedicated this ride to.  Finally the bell rang to signify the last lap and and history was made: 162 laps, 40.5km, 25+miles in one hour - a new Philippine Record


Once again I cannot stress enough about how this event was such a collaborative effort and would have never taken place had it not been for Arden Arindaeng who coordinated the entire event from start to finish, Noriel Simsuangco and Brian Masayon who also coordinated the velodrome and program of events.  John Landino from DRV who donated my skinsuit.  Coach Kevin Philips who donated his coaching services, Daniel Achondo from Claremont Designs who helped sponsor the event, as well as Joe Matias from a Runner's Circle.  And Most of all to all my friends from filamtri and adobo velo.  You guys have become my west coast family.  This was definitely the best birthday party anyone could have asked for an for sure the highlight of 2013.  

I stole a lot of the photos from Arden's blog about the event which you can read here -

And so, I shall end with a quote from the Great Vince Lombardi

"“….I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour – his greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear – is that moment when he has worked his heart out in good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious.”

Thanks for reading everyone! Go fast and turn left!