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Colby Pearce – Chats about his Hour Record Experiences; “Everything Hurts!”


Colby Pearce
Colby Pearce.

It’s all very well for us at VeloVeritas to pontificate about The Jensie and Hour Records but what about the thoughts of a man who knows the pain of The Hour at first hand ?

Former United States hour record holder Colby Pearce – who last year attempted to take the record back and also set the standard for the US “Athlete’s Hour” – is a good man to talk to.

Pearce is a very experienced track rider having World Cup wins to his credit and has ridden on the Euro Six Day circuit.

He’s a highly respected coach – he was with Garmin on le Tour and at the Worlds TTT in Ponferrada, not to mention being an expert on bike fit.

What inspired you to go for the record last year – twice!

“I was trying to take back the US Hour record, which I obtained in 1995 (50.191km full aero, Lotus bike, rear disc, etc).

“Norm Alvis took it in 1997 (51.505KM on a GT superbike).

“The Athlete’s Record, I did that one just to set the distance for the USA Cycling record books, nobody had established it.

“That ride did not go very well, the bike was not right and it really impacted my ride, but I could have ridden 24km and I would have had the ‘record’.”

Colby Pearce
Colby sets off on his Hour of Pain last year. Photo©Colby Pearce

You must have learned a lot from your 1995 record ride?


“I did a lot of training for it and testing in Colorado Springs before that ride and Jonathan Vaughters and I both had SRM’s so we were looking at power data, cadence, HR and all that.

“JV helped me out a lot with that ride, he was there giving me splits for it.”

How do you train for The Hour?

“Lots of 20 and 30 min sub TT and TT pace efforts.

“5 min VO2’s.

“Lots of time in aero bars… and lots of left turns, ideally!

“You have to be technically proficient at staying low in the corners, in aero bars, while going flat out and not seeing straight.”

Colby Pearce
Colby in the tuck on the famous Lotus monocoque. Photo©Colby Pearce

What was that Lotus like to ride?

“It was not the lightest bike out there but even by today’s standards, it is quite aero, so it rolled very well.

“Back in ’95 it was light years ahead of most other bikes.

It had these cool road/ track interchangeable dropouts so I was using it for road TT’s as well.”

Tell us about the 2013 bikes.

“The aero bike: Felt TK-1 with Mavic comete/ 5 spoke, Vittoria pista CL 22 tires, SMP chrono saddle, 3T brezza nano bars (extremely narrow), custom carbon arm pads, Speedplay pedals and a 54×13 on a Friction Facts treated chain, Bont chrono shoes, Giro selector helmet, Panache Cyclewear speedsuit.

“Standard bike: Nobilette steel round tube frame, Wolber profil 20 rims (yeah Ebay!) with 16 spokes F/R, Vittoria gold CL 18mm tires, SMP Dynamic saddle, custom 30cm wide carbon drop bars, Speedplay pedals, Friction Facts chain, 52×13, Bont chrono shoes, Panache Cyclewear speedsuit.

What hurts first and what hurts most in The Hour?

“Everything hurts.

“The last 20 minutes you are on another planet.

“For the standard bike, my arms were killing me. I did not have time to test the bike enough before the attempt. Things were really chaotic after the Boulder floods, which came about two and a half weeks before the attempt.

“I almost bagged the whole project but I had already put months of work into it.”

Colby Pearce
Colby knows all about pain on the bike. Here, at the Copenhagen Six with Leon Van Bon, neck and neck.
Photo©Ed Hood

Can I ask you about wattages for the rides?

“I did not have a power meter on but my estimate for the aero ride is 315-330w average.

“For the athlete’s record I am sure it was quite a bit less than that.”

Some say that the Moser record should never have been ratified – primarily on the grounds of his riding disc wheels – what’s your opinion?

“No way, that bike was super-cool and pushed the envelope!

“Those pictures are still iconic to this day.”

Colby Pearce