One of the biggest events of the cycling year in 2015 came in June when Sir Bradley Wiggins rode to a new Hour Record at London’s Olympic velodrome in front of a packed, and very noisy, crowd.

Now six months on from breaking that gruelling record, in conjunction with William Fotheringham, Sir Bradley Wiggins has sat down and written his account of the attempt, which is published later this week.

Read on to find the review of My Hour, and don’t forget to check out recent review’s of Cycling Anthology Volume Six and The Racer by David Millar.  You can find a full list of our reviews from the past 24-months here.

My Hour by Bradley Wiggins with William Fortheringham
Out 19 November, Published by Yellow Jersey Press, £20
Review by Brendan Gallagher
Available from all good bookshops and online from Amazon here.

  
One way or another Brad Wiggins is beginning to amass a very decent literary Palmares with My Hour, the inside track look at his successful attempt on the mythical record in June, the latest addition. His has been a staggering career and is nothing if not well chronicled.
 
""It all started with In Pursuit of Glory, a revealing warts and all look at the early and mid-stages of his career, which was updated twice to take in his breakthrough Tour de France in 2009 and then again his annus mirablis of 2012. He celebrated the latter with a second autobiography My Time which gave all the inside track on his Tour de France win and Olympic Time Trial Gold while there was also an interesting experiment in 2010 when he collaborated with photographer chum Scott Mitchell to produce the fly on the wall On Tour.  The latter was a quasi fly-on-the-wall experiment at the 2010 Tour de France which turned out to be one of his personal nadir's although out of the ashes the phoenix rose spectacularly for the two seasons that followed. 
  
My Hour is another interesting hybrid mixing a minute-by-minute account of his successful ride with reflections on those who have held the record before him while there are a number of particularly good reader friendly graphics which help to bring the event – much more complex on close inspection that you would first think – alive.  Brad being Brad he also heads off on a number of tangents and in the final chapter he indulges in a little blue sky thinking which had Team WIGGINS somehow securing a wildcard invite to the Tour de France and lighting up the event with some swashbuckling riding while reverting to old style traditions like arriving at the starts early and mixing with the fans rather than sitting in huge team busses until the last possible moment. 
 
""For those who like such things there are also plenty of moody ‘submariner’ photos of a cool looking Wiggins with that luxuriant beard of earlier this year although of course he famously decided to get the barber to shave it off on the morning of his attempt while the previous week he had already opted for a number four head shave  
  
Wiggins might outwardly be all rock and roll, crafty fags when the photographers aren't looking and necking Belgian beers by the score in his youth but in his own sweet way he has also been the high priest of marginal gains. When he knuckles down he goes for it bigtime. In terms of fitness and condition and if he thought he would gain even a fraction of a second per kilometre by getting rid of the beard and helmet hair it was a no brainer. It all adds up when you are intending to ride in excess of 54-kilometres in an hour which is about the same distance from central London to Horsham or Haywards Heath, although obviously he didn’t have to cross the North Downs in the Lee Valley Velodrome. 
 
In his pomp Wiggins was/is one of the most disciplined, precise and calculating riders we have seen and as an observer I've found it endlessly fascinating, in contrast, watching him freestyle his way through the rest of his sometime chaotic life. You don’t need to be a professional psychologist to realise there is a big connection between the two. Are they part of the same? Does one compensate for the other or is it more of a Jekyll and Hyde scenario.

Some of the best aspects of the book are the mental games he plays with himself during the 60-minutes, to keep that eclectic brain of his wandering from the very precise task in hand.  Unlike a time trial on the road, there are no climbs or descents and Hour attempt, no cross winds and rain, sharp corners or roundabout and riders to pass. There is very little to keep the brain alert and fresh yet the level of concentration need to judge the pace perfectly, banging out 250-metre laps metronomically at about 16.4secs per lap is considerable. 
 
He also seemed to relish playing little mind games as the clock counts down. For example 23-minutes to go gets reduced to another 13-minutes and then there are just ten minutes to go which sounds less daunting.  In many ways his approach feels rather like an opening batsman compiling a big score when batting out the final day to force a draw. You advance by setting yourself little milestones which you tick off in your mind as you reach and then pass them.  
 
There was also the pain management side of things. Mentally Wiggins had told himself that he wasn't allow to feel any fatigue and pain until after 30-minutes. Before that it was just too early to be suffering in such a long ride so no matter how he was feeling in the first half of his attempt he had given himself permission to suffer only in the second half of proceedings.
 
""In an erudite forward former World Hour record holder Chris Boardman (pictured) sums it all up very nicely: "People think an hour record is just a matter of riding around in circles until you are told to stop but although it might look like a closed road time trial many have found to their cost that it’s not. Against the clock on the road you have the opportunity for micro rests, fractions of a second when you are changing gear or getting out of the saddle when it is possible to ease off the pressure for a moment. Similarly in a TT if you overextend and push your body into the red, descents and corners offer an opportunity to recover, to reset. 
 
“In the Hour you carry any mistakes with you until the end so pacing is everything for this most deceivingly delicate of events. It is at once a complex and wonderful simple challenge. Spectators emphasise with what the athlete is going through and appreciate the risk they take; in the Hour you don’t do a good ride – you either succeed or you fail with the world watching.”

 
""Nobody would deny that Wiggins wide ranging ability – Olympic Golds as a Pursuiter on the track, World and Olympic time trial champion on the road and former Tour de France winner – provided the ideal background for a serious assault on the Hour record but strangely there really wasn't much of a template to go on. Record attempts, because of the various row and controversies over the positions adopted and type of bike, had rather fallen into abeyance. In terms of basic training in the seven weeks after his Paris Roubaix ride it was an old interview with Miguel Indurain in a 1994 edition of Cycle Sport magazine that put him on the right track and confirmed in his mind that blocks of 12-minute efforts, repeated four of five times a day, should be the core of his training. As June 7 drew ever close he also staged a 30-minute hit out but come the day itself the final half of the race was still pretty much unknown territory
 
There is a huge sense of achievement in My Hour but Wiggins also leaves you in no doubt that he believes, on another day, that he could have gone quite a bit further than the 54.526km, which is quite a scary thought. Firstly the air pressure on the day at Lee Valley – June 7 – was unusually high at 1035mb in fact one of the highest readings of the year for London. Such high pressure adversely affects track riding to quite a degree, making it much harder work pushing your bike through heavier air and Boardman calculates that probably coast Wiggins a kilometre in distance. 
 
Then there was the decision to ride on the London track which most riders consider slower than Manchester. This was made mainly for commercial reasons – to attract the biggest crowd and for ease of TV coverage. Turning to the world of marginal gains once more the temperature – they had wanted a steady 27C – crept up to an uncomfortable 30C for most of the ride on account of the 6,000 capacity crowd, which resulted in dehydration problems towards the end of the race.  
 
And if we are really going to take things to the nth degree – and these guys do – that packed house also reduced the oxygen available for breathing in the arena.  In a hypothetically ideal scenario – low pressure at say 955mb an empty Manchester Velodrome and a constant 27C – Wiggins clearly feels that something in excess of 56km is possible. At various stages in the book he seems to hover between a ‘never again’ attitude and ‘never say never’ when considering another pop. Having heard him, on at least two occasions long before he won the damn thing, swear that he would never ride the Tour again I wouldn’t entirely rule out another attempt post Rio 2016.

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