Sheree’s been out and about soaking up the racing at the Santos Tour Down Under but she headed inside to the velodrome for Bridie O’Donnell‘s Hour Record attempt!
Bridie O’Donnell secured her place in cycling history in the Adelaide Velodrome when the 41-year-old became the new Elite Women’s UCI World Hour Record holder. I felt privileged to be there and see it unfold.
Bridie broke the previous record of 46.273km set at altitude by American Molly Shaffer Van Houweling in September 2015 in Aguascalientes, Mexico. This is only the third time in fifteen years that the record has been broken – and it’s a first for Adelaide and O’Donnell.
It was my maiden visit to a velodrome and I was shocked to see how steeply it banks at each end and how difficult it must be to ride within the black and red lines around the track. Stray outside and you end up riding further for no gain or disqualification.
Bridie looked calmer than I felt as she mounted her trusty steed and quickly settled into her rhythm. She looked rock solid on the bike – only her legs moved with metronomic regularity. The crowd cheered her on as the laps ticked by.
Twenty minutes gone, 62 laps ridden, she was on target and we got a thumbs up! Her two-man support team on the apron were wearing her t-shirts bearing the motto Every Domestique Has Their Day. UCI President Brian Cookson and Tracey Gaudry, UCI VP and Head of Women’s Cycling, were in the velodrome, watching and willing her to break the record, just like the rest of us.
Bridie broke the Australian national record, which had stood for 16 years as she headed into the last few painful minutes. She was still on target, as the lactic acid flooded into her legs. The crowd was on its feet cheering her on – but she didn’t need us, she smashed the record by almost 600 metres. Bridie is triumphant!
Glowing with happiness, Bridie addressed the crowd. The key to the event is “trying not to think about what you’re feeling, you just have to have confidence in the plan. It’s really important to be smart about it, have belief in your training and ability to be consistent.”
Bridie hints that the motivation for this endeavour – over a year in planning and preparation – was motivated by rejection. While Bridie is jubilant, I hope there’s someone, somewhere, eating a large slice of humble pie.
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