We recently ran an interview with Italy’s Vittoria Bussi, the women’s world hour record holder – best make that ‘former’ holder of the women’s world hour record…
When we spoke to Britain’s Joss Lowden back in July she told us about her intention of attacking the world hour record. She’d already exceeded Bussi’s 48.007 kilometres in a ‘test’ ride with 48.160 kilometres, but ‘tests’ are one thing, the pressure of an official UCI attempt is another.
However, she turned intent into action on the boards of the Grenchen Velodrome in Switzerland with 48.405 kilometres on 30th September, well in excess of her own ‘test’ ride distance and Bussi’s record.
The next day her partner, Dan Bigham broke Bradley Wiggins’ British hour record on the same boards, sealing an exciting couple of days for the pair.
We caught up with Joss after the British Championships where she had a successful campaign with silver in the Time Trial and bronze in the Road Race.
Congratulations, Joss – stating your intention to go for the record, that’s ‘head on the chopping block’ stuff?
“It was so much pressure and I didn’t really enjoy it.
“I prefer to just go and do it then talk about it after; it was a big claim to make and a risky proposition, coming as it did after the Worlds.”
Tell us about your preparation for the record please.
“I had a bit of a break with injury over May and June which I think helped me avoid burn out.
“At the end of August I was training at altitude in Sierra Nevada and from there I tapered into the Worlds.
“If I was doing it again I’d do more volume but it’s hard to fit it all in – training, rest, racing…
“And going from the Worlds straight to Switzerland and the record attempt was a bit nutty!”
“An Argon 18, an ex-HUUB team bike, Dan selected the equipment: Wattshop ‘Anemoi’ aero bars and extension, Izumi chain, Speedplay pedals, FFWD wheels shod with Vittoria tubs.
“I wore a McLaren Le Col speedsuit and a POC helmet.”
What gear did you ride and how did you chose the ratio?
“It rather choses itself – you work out the target distance, the cadence which suits you and that gives you the gear.
“I come from a road background so I’m not used to that high cadence track stuff – I chose 90/91 rpm and that meant a 64 x 15 ratio, that’s a pretty low cadence in the track world but it suited me.”
What was your pace strategy?
“I wanted to go out just above record pace then pick it up at half distance, it went to plan except that I began to feel sick in the last 10 minutes of the ride.”
From speaking to previous hour record riders, I believe it’s easy to ‘over cook’ it early because the pace seems to feel ‘easy?’
“Having done the test ride was helpful but you do feel like you want to go harder early because it does feel ‘easy’ at first, Dan was shouting, ‘relax!’ to me from track side.
“But I have to tell you, the last 10 minutes seem longer than the first 50 minutes!”
Aches and pains?
“With 25 minutes to go I started to get pins and needles in my right foot and leg, that was a bit of a worry but it passed.
“And, as I said, I was feeling sick during the last 10 minutes – and my mouth and throat were very dry, not a nice feeling.”
“I didn’t sleep very well, perhaps the caffeine gels played a part in that but I suppose the best way to describe it was that I felt like a had a bit of a hangover.
“Dehydration would play its part too, it took me two hours to be able to provide a sample for the doping control.”
And if you went again?
“The day itself went pretty smoothly but I’d chose not to ride the World Championships on the run in, I’d travel less too, and have my more volume in my training.
“There were also bits and pieces of equipment which might have been beneficial but we didn’t have time to test them prior to the ride.”
Has the previous record holder, Vittoria Bussi been in touch?
“Not since the ride but she did post a ‘good luck’ message to me on Instagram before I rode.”
Changing the subject, you were eighth in the World Time Trial Championship, were you happy with that?
“I was quite happy but didn’t think it was my best ride, there were so many places I could have made time in that ride but all in all I was happy with it.”
The British Road Championships went well for you with silver in the Time Trial and bronze in the Road Race.
“I was disappointed not to do a better time trial but I was lucky to get silver; I’m not making excuses but I was a little sick coming out of the Tour of Britain. Then again, I think half the peloton came out of that race a bit under the weather.
“And Anna Henderson did a great ride to win.
“The road race was wet but I really enjoyed it, I didn’t think that it the race winning split would happen on the first lap but it made things safer on the wet roads and technical sections.”
Some time off now then Uno-X Pro Cycling Team for 2022?
“That’s it, chill for a bit then think about next year.
“I was going to stay with Drops Le Col; I had a couple of offers but I’ve been aware that the men’s Uno-X set up is a good one and when they contacted me after the Tokyo Olympics and made me an offer I could see that it was a great opportunity.
“They have such good back up in terms of management, coaches, nutritionists – and a great programme.”
“I’ve always worked throughout my cycling career, on analytics with NTT, they’ve been great allowing me to work flexible hours but next year I’ll be a full time athlete.
“I’ll have more time for training and rest.
“And next year is exciting with the Ladies’ Tour de France and Commonwealth Games – and Dan and I are going to move to Andorra to live and train for 2022, so a lot to look forward to.”
With thanks again for her time and best wishes for the future to Joss Lowden, Women’s World Hour Record Holder.