Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Can-do Girls! - Women's World Hour Record Breakers

Bridie O'Donnell - record breaker!
In the current issue of Cycling Weekly is my feature on the women's World Hour Record. I'm not mentioning this purely as a shameless plug, but I guess there's no harm in spreading the word!

The main reason why I give a call-out to this piece I wrote is because I was genuinely really impressed at the efforts that the different women made in their preparation for the event.

Of course, in history many women have attempted this feat, some of them, including current record holder, Evelyn Stevens had the backing of their professional team.

However, I wanted to give particular mention to the two women who broke the hour record in this recently - Molly Shaffer Van Houweling and Bridie O'Donnell.

Molly, a Dean and Senior law lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley broke the record in September of last year, and the record stayed until it was broken by Bridie O'Donnell, a doctor from Melbourne, in January during the Tour Down Under.

Although they are both very strong athletes at masters level in their respective countries, they are amateur athletes who had to juggle full time jobs, training for their regular local competitions, go round knocking on doors to obtain funding for the challenge, as well as live a home-life with their families.

Molly Van Houweling and husband Rob, set up a Kickstarter crowd-funding scheme to raise funds to carry out the project, which involved several trips to their temporary mountain base to acclimatise, and a few trips to the velodrome in Aguascalientes to do dry runs and attempt the pan-American record along the way. Even with financial help from friends and family they still had to use a large chunk of their own funds.

As for Bridie O'Donnell, she didn't do crowd funding but went round knocking on doors of local businesses and her bank to help with the cost to register with the biological passport scheme. As well as that, she spent valuable training time chasing up equipment suppliers around the world for the various components she needed - something that you would never imagine Bradley Wiggins doing in the run-up to his preparation to break the record last year. As for going up to a mountain base? Travelling from Australia up to a mountain base in the US or in Mexico was completely out of the question. So her attempt was done at sea level in a more local setting of Adelaide where she let the crowd, enthused already by the Tour Down Under, be her performance enhancer! She had to hope for the best as there had been no dry run, and her own coach had initially thought the odds were stacked against her.

Molly Van Houweling with Rob




There is always so much pressure on any athlete when they are attempting such a feat - particularly with the eyes of the world on them. But knowing that you got there by the good grace of friends and family and many other generous people who have given their free time to help you along the way, that must give an extra sense of motivation, but an even greater onus not to fail.

So I admire the fact that these two women were able to break the World Hour Record and get their name into the history books.

It just goes to show, it can be done even if you are not Bradley Wiggins or Jens Voigt!
  







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