Record Breakers

With the news that Fabian Cancellara is eyeing an attempt at the prestigious hour record next year, here at CWCC we decided to take a look at a few of the more obscure attempts at cycling records by the amateur likes of you and me. 

Sticking with hour record for a minute, it isn’t always the pros that give it a shot. Earlier this month, former footballer and now amateur rider Jarno Sala from Italy attempted to break the hour. With some famous names falling short of the mark in the past, it would have been a somewhat fairy-tale story for Sala to go out and break the record. Sadly the Italian managed just 39.985km, falling almost 10km short of the record. As Dr.Hutch pointed out, William Hamilton finished the hour with over 40km completed, and that was in 1898. 

If the hour record is difficult in itself, imagine trying to do it no hands. That’s exactly what Erik Skramstad of the USA did in 2009, riding to an impressive 37.417km at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Skramstad, who is a teacher by day, completed 62 laps of the speedway on a Specialized mountain bike equipped with smooth tyres, telling the Las Vegas Review Journal afterwards: "It's all aluminium. I'm a teacher; I can't afford that wazzoo stuff." 

There is, to much surprise, an occupation known as a ‘professional record breaker’. Ashrita Furman is such and is seemingly pretty good at it. The American holds 148 records in total, including the farthest distance cycling underwater. It’s hardly likely to take off as a new form of resistance training, but Furman managed 3.04km in just over 3.5 hours in a swimming pool in Portugal in 2011, pedalling excruciatingly slowly around a 46 metre course 66 times. 

Now, from the bottom of a swimming pool to the top of Muztag Ata Mountain in China, where at the fifth attempt, Latvian mountain biker Bruno Sulcs rode his bike at the 7,546 metre summit in 2008. This altitude would have been a world record, but Sulcs made the effort alone and so it wasn’t officially recognised by Guiness. Bad luck Bruno.  That left the door open for Gil Bretschneider & Peer Schepanski of Germany though, who subsequently set the record at 7,211 metres, which still makes the Galibier look like a molehill.  

Attempting a record or challenge on your bike? Even if it’s not a world record, log on to CW.CC and let us know what you’re attempting. You may not beat the hour record, but it’s still the amateur that rules record world.

This article originally appeared in Cycling Weekly 28/11/2013.

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