World Records and Surpassing Greatness
Setting a world record is an accomplishment that surpasses greatness. It is a window of opportunity that is given to you and then you take it to the next level. You become a trailblazer in the relay of life, setting the mark for the next privileged one who will catch your baton and ascend to a new height. Let’s face it, records are set and meant to be broken. It is a moment in time that is fleeting, but that moment is one of life’s great honours. It makes you a part of the evolution of life.
Breaking a world record is a moment in time when the environment has to be absolutely perfect. In 1980, I broke the 200-metre, 500-metre and 1,000-metre world records in Mexico City. The 333-metre outdoor velodrome in Mexico City was chosen due to its high altitude and refined air pressure, making it the fastest track in the world. Today, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) has mandated that all indoor tracks are specifically 250 metres. We’ve learned to control the atmospheric pressure by raising the indoor temperature to 28°C.
My records were accomplished completely out of competition. There were no screaming fans, no electricity in the air – it was simply man and machine versus distance and time. On Sept. 24, 2017, the Milton Velodrome was the scene of World Hour Record attempts, and very much like the atmosphere in Mexico City, the velodrome only had a handful of spectators consisting mostly of family and friends of the participants. Self-motivation and courage were the order of the day and essential to endure the pain and suffering of sustaining a World Hour Record pace.
Like any great accomplishment in life, preparation is a prerequisite and it is the key that provides the confidence you need to overcome your demons when going into battle. It is important to assess a situation fully before you commit to venturing into the unknown. Preparation gives you the confidence to take a leap of faith. But you can’t just have faith; you must realistically assess your preparation. Preparation is completely different for each and every racer.
Giuseppe Marinoni began a couple of years prior. He called on the expertise of mentor Eric Van den Eynde for support, initially working hard to get his body back into condition to withstand the intense training. Ed Veal continued his racing and training regime, but focused on optimizing his performance for a 60-minute effort.
I was in a similar situation when for five years I was preparing for the 1980 Olympics. After the 1980 Olympic boycott was announced, I turned my focus toward a new goal. It was eight weeks of nothing but speed and power and aiming to do it all on one specific designated day and moment.
If we look back when cycling records were first established, many aspects have evolved. Velodromes have changed. Track surfaces have improved. We’ve moved entirely indoors. No more are there 500-metre or 333-metre outdoor velodromes. The UCI has regulations concerning bicycle geometry, and F1 research, technology and aerodynamics have become the norm. Budgets and financial support have taken training and equipment to an entirely different level then existed for those who attempted the feat in the grassroot stages of the sport.
Sir Bradley Wiggins of Great Britain, with an almost unlimited financial budget and no stone was left unturned, broke the Open World Hour Record in 2015, riding 54.526 kilometres in one hour. Team
Sky spent £6000 to perfect the efficiency of the bicycle chain alone. Marinoni used a bike he had personally handcrafted for the late great Jocelyn Lovell in 1978. Fitted with disc wheels and aero bars, he set off in pursuit, and 60 minutes later, a new mark was established in the 80+-age category – 39.004 kilometres.
Afterward, Marinoni said, ”I got hungry near the end, but I was too nervous to eat before the ride.” Ed Veal (40-44 age category) was very confident in his equipment selection and used the same bike as he had for his previous attempt back in 2015. He said, “The big difference was my knowledge of what to expect.”
At the end of the day, it takes an enormous amount of courage for an athlete to mentally arrive at this level of high performance. It takes a tremendous determination to remain focused during the record attempt and, even more importantly, earlier determination to remain focused during the preparation. Everything you strive for and attempt to do in life is influenced by doubt and belief.
Success is accomplished by never letting doubt win. Instead, belief pushes you toward your goal. When you wholeheartedly believe in yourself and have faith you have accomplished all mental and physical preparations, success happens without surprise.
Giuseppe Marinoni, 80 years old, achieved a milestone setting a World Hour Record again.
Giuseppe Marinoni: the man, the legend
Marinoni, the renowned frame builder