On 29th July 2017, Ryan Davies set a new age group world record for the UCI Masters World Hour event. An ordinary guy with a full-time job, riding a second-hand bike frame sourced on Gumtree, Ryan rode 48.234 kilometers (29.971miles) in one hour.
The principle behind the Hour is very simple; ride around a velodrome, as fast as you can, for an hour, and see how far you get. The event itself is the same as that which Sir Bradley Wiggins holds the record for amongst professionals, yet Ryan’s record is that for amateurs aged between 30 and 34.
the race of truth
Ryan’s sporting career started at Oxford Brookes University rowing team, where his massive engine led to him going on to row at the Junior and Under-23 World Championships. On leaving University, Ryan took to the bike, and was immediately bitten by a love for two wheels, and he soon started riding more, and riding harder, and his passion led to him undertaking an epic 18-month ride from the UK to New Zealand in 2010.
On returning from New Zealand, Ryan came to find his true calling in ‘the race of truth’ – the time trial. Initially just dipping a toe into the scene via his local club’s evening races, it soon became clear that this pure test of strength and pacing suited Ryan’s rowing background and powerful 6’4” frame. When he attempted the Hour Record in 2017, he was still relatively new to the discipline, having only started racing competitively three years prior.
the record attempt became more irresistible
Ryan’s interest in the Hour Record was borne after a handful of sessions testing his aerodynamic position at the local velodrome. He found the unblemished surface and pan-flat riding to his liking, as it allowed a total focus on technique and strength, without the distraction of wind, hills and potholes. As Ryan thought about it more and more, the record attempt became more irresistible. And so began the lengthy and time-consuming process of booking the velodrome and commissaires, informing the governing body that is the UCI, and ensuring that his kit would adhere to their stringent criteria.
The story behind Ryan’s bike is almost as remarkable as that of the ride itself. Track bikes large enough to suit someone as large as Ryan are hard to come by, and when they do, they cost a small fortune. A lucky find lead Ryan to discover the perfectly sized frame in the most innocuous of places – the online marketplace that is Gumtree. The battered seven-year old Cervelo P3 frame was up for sale at a mere £300. Knowing that the relic could be brought back to life, Ryan jumped on the bargain. After a good clean-up and re-build, the bike, which was largely composed of road bike components but with a fixed gear drivetrain, was ready to go.
Ryan took it back to basics
As a married man with a 9-5 job, Ryan’s training had to be effective and efficient. Like a metronome, almost every morning he was on his turbo trainer at exactly 6am, building his power and adapting to his aero position with only podcasts and early 90’s heavy metal to keep him company. Routine was key to making these sessions happen. With the coffee machine programmed to turn on and be warm before he woke, and the LeMond turbo trainer set up and ready to go the night before, the sessions weren’t necessarily relished, but completed through necessity and commitment. As the event approached, Ryan felt confident. He’d prepared as best he could, and was as strong and as aerodynamically efficient as he possibly could be. Sure, he was full of apprehension and performance anxiety, but he knew the hard work was done. Now all that remained was to execute.
Ryan took it back to basics in the hours prior to the race. Fuelling up on the trusted combination of porridge and coffee, and carrying out a time-proven warm up on his rollers, confidence was high. For the first 35 minutes or so of the hour, all signs were positive. With constant feedback every lap with regards to his pace, Ryan hit his targets and held form. However, as the fatigue inevitably set in and lactic acid filled his legs, Ryan started deviating from the line marking the fastest and most efficient path around the velodrome. Having only ridden the track five times previously, holding the meticulous form required to follow a line a few inches wide at an exact power output proved a massive test.
Ryan did it
Nonetheless, Ryan did it. One hour later, the record was broken by 470 meters. The previous record of 47.764 kilometers, set in 2004, was surpassed, and stands to this day.
Whilst Ryan has no immediate plans to attempt to break his own record, he is certainly not ruling it out. In the meantime, he is going to continue focussing his efforts on racing road time trials with the Athlete Service Test Team, where he consistently achieves podium placings in races of varying length.