Sunday, October 17, 2021
HomeInterviewsPaul Hart - British 50 Mile Time Trial Competition Record Breaker

Paul Hart – British 50 Mile Time Trial Competition Record Breaker

"I'm just starting this time trialling journey; I'm no way near my potential yet."


Now that Cycling Weekly isn’t the ‘weekly bible’ of the sport it once was for most of us, it may have passed you by that British competition record for 50 miles has fallen to Paul Hart (Southend Wheelers) with a stunning 1:34:37 earlier in May on the e2 50 c course in Cambridgeshire.

Hart eclipsed Matt Bottrill‘s 2014 time of 1:34:43 by six seconds.

Paul Hart
Paul in action during his record-breaking ride. Photo©Davey Jones

When I began to get interested in cycling back in late 1970/early 1971 the record stood at 1:43:46, recorded John Watson in 1970.

It was 13 years before ‘Lloydy’ took that down to 1:40:52.

But only another year before BBAR King, Ian Cammish broke the mythical 1:40 barrier with 1:39:51.

It was a decade before Scotland’s maverick genius, Graeme Obree took that down to 1:39:01 to win the national title at the distance and destroy a field containing Britain’s finest roadmen/testers – and he’d broken the ’10’ record the day before on a tough course.

A remarkable man.

Kevin Dawson recorded 1:38:34 three years later but the redoutable Andy Wilkinson took that down to 1:37:26 later in the year.

Dawson clawed it back the next year with 1:37:21 and it took a decade for ‘Doctor’ Michael Hutchinson to stop the watch on 1:35:27 in 2008.

Flying postman Matt Bottrill recorded 1:34:43 in 2014 which stood until Mr. Hart came along with his 1:34:37.

VeloVeritas thought we’d best have a word with this new flyer on the block…

Great ride, Paul; tell us a little about yourself please – age? family? profession? how long have you been racing?

“I’m 38 years-old, married with two girls (two years and one year).

“I’m director of a steel company.

“I raced bikes from aged four through to 15. (BMX/mountain bikes initially then crit racing and TT’s)

“I quit to be an average football player! ( which is a big regret).

“I stopped playing football in my early thirties.

“I spent three years being a triathlete, and the last two years concentrated on cycling.

I have road raced a fair bit, and done a few TT,s.

“”Last year I decided to concentrate on time trialling.”

Paul Hart
Paul won the Hainault Hilly TT in March this year, taking the course record on the way. Photo©supplied

You have a 48:17 ’25’ so your 1:34:37 ’50’ is faster than your ’25’!

“It’s also faster than my 10 mile personal best!

“I’m stronger than last year, I’m still improving, but most of that difference is aerodynamics (and better weather conditions).

“I’m racing the ECCA 25 champs this Sunday so I hope to update my pb!”

What was your previous best for a ’50’?

“1:43:11. It was my first attempt at a ‘fast’ 50 after stopping triathlon and I didn’t have a clue what I was doing.

“I didn’t even take any nutrition and died a million deaths towards the end.”

What’s the e2 50 c course like – and how was the weather?

“The E2 is a very fast dual carriageway but its very weather dependent.

“Driving to the event it was heavy rain and I was questioning why I was even bothering spending an afternoon away from my family to do this.

“Even during the warm up it was raining, but there was zero wind.

“I literally didn’t feel any wind the whole race.”

What was your expectation going in to the race – and when did you realise the record was ‘on’?

“I wanted to win the event (it was the ECCA 50 champs) and I wanted a decent start time for the National 50 (I guessed a 1:36/1:37 would achieve that).

“I was confident I could achieve those times.

“I knew it was a fast day very early.

“The weather forecast was for a five mph wind.

“The first four miles were into this five mph headwind, so in theory this would be the slowest I would ride.

“I averaged 31.8mph to this roundabout at my target power.

“The average speed soon went over 32 mph.

“I had no idea what the comp record was though, I just knew I was going faster than my 1:36 target.”

Paul Hart
Although Paul concentrates on his time trialling, he’s no stranger to the road. Photo©supplied

How did you judge your pace?

“I rode to power.

“I’ve hit 340w for 90mins on the turbo, so the plan was to ride at 338 for the first hour and see how I felt.

“I reduced this to 333 during the ride because the average speed was so high I didn’t want to ruin the chance of a fast ride and blow up.”

Is a faster ride possible for you?

“For sure.

“My power ended up at 331ap/333np which is fairly standard.

“I also have an Aerocoach session booked for next week so hoping to improve.

“I’m also just starting this time trialling journey; I’m no way near my potential yet.”

Prior to this one, which ride gave you most satisfaction?

“My best rides have been road races.

“I achieved my 1st cat very quickly.

“I don’t have any TTs that I feel I have raced that well.

“The National 25 last year was a fairly decent TT for me.

“I only came 29th, but my daughter was two months old, I’d had no sleep and consequently training was poor leading into it.

“I was just proud how I executed my race and delivered a half decent power.”

You don’t actually seem to race that often?

“My family is my priority. I race a couple of times a month, some of those are club events, I just prefer the atmosphere of club events.”

Do you have a coach – what’s your training philosophy?

“Yes I have a brilliant coach, David Butler at Next Level Cycle Coaching.

“I’m your typical time crunched athlete, so my training is high intensity.

“I also love the turbo.”

I believe you spent the winter working on your position, getting more ‘aero’ and getting your clothing ‘sorted’ too – tell us about the improvements please.

“I hadn’t given aerodynamics any real thought before the Nat 25 last year.

“Yes I had a skinsuit, overshoes etc, but my position was all about delivering power.

“I had my eyes opened by just how much time I was beaten by.

“I therefore starting looking into aerodynamics. It’s a huge world I was blissfully unaware of.

“I started from scratch.

“New TT frame, new front wheel, new skinsuit, new position.

“I’m still making changes now. I guess you never stop wanting to be faster.”

Paul Hart
Paul enjoying the London Nocturn 2017. Photo©supplied

Tell us about your bike – frame, wheels, tyres, gearing – are you into over size jockey wheels, ceramic bearing and waxed chain territory yet?

“I have the Trek Speed Concept.

“The Trek has the lowest bottom bracket drop which is why I bought it.

“I run Hed jet 9 front wheel which is much faster than my Zipp 808.

“Corsa speed tubs (I now glue and don’t tape).

“58 tooth single ring.

“Yes, oversized jockey wheels, ceramic speed bb, waxed chain. The bike is amazing.”

Is a ‘100’ on the cards ? or a ’12’? – you’ve made a great start to a BBAR bid…

“Yes I want to do a 100.

“The comp record of 3:16 is amazing, but it’s possible if all the stars align.

“The ’10’ and ’25’ are only available to superstar full timers, and as soon as Bialoblocki attempts a fast ’50’ that will be the same.

“Let’s hope he doesn’t go for the ‘100’ and leaves that record for us weekend warriors to dream of.

“My Dad who was a cyclist used to love the BBAR, so one day I would love to go for it, but with two young children, I’m currently not prepared to do regular five hour training rides away from them, so that will have to wait.”

We believe Marcin Bialoblocki will be riding ’50’ soon – Paul will be hoping for gale force winds and a DNS that day.

Ed Hood
Ed's been involved in cycling for over 45 years. In that time he's been a successful time triallist, team manager, and sponsor of several teams and clubs. He's also a respected and successful coach, and during the winter months can often be found working in the cabins at the Six Days. Ed remains a massive fan of the sport and couples his extensive contacts with an inexhaustable enthusiasm for the minutiae and the history of our sport.

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