Monday, 3 August 2015

Guinness World Record - We Did It!

Less than a fortnight ago I saw a post about a world record attempt which was going to take place at the velodrome in Manchester. Now there's something that doesn't happen very often so close to home, I thought. Reading on, it involved 120 women taking turns to cycle on 40 watt bikes for an hour - to see if they could generate over a certain amount of energy. Now that's something I could do, I thought, and sent an email putting myself forward.

A few days later I had a place confirmed. I giggled like a kid....I was going to be part of a record breaking attempt!!!

"Thank you for signing up to take part in our pedal powered hour – to raise the profile of women’s cycling and help British Cycling’s Breeze go down in the record books!"

"Breeze is the biggest national programme designed to inspire and support women to ride their bikes. Led by women, for women. The programme is supported by a network of trained volunteers, Breeze Champions, who organise local guided rides on a weekly basis, throughout the country."

The actual record we were going to attempt is a bit of a mouthful...

"the most mechanical energy produced by pedalling on static bicycles in one hour".

the Guinness World Record Adjudicator and me!
So, yesterday dawned and I got myself to the velodrome via train and a long walk down the side of a noisy dual carriageway. Along the way I was passed by hundreds of cyclists taking part in a Sky Ride. Something else I should add to my list to do. It was chaotic outside the velodrome with the Sky Ride cyclists milling around and eventually I found the right door to get myself on the inside of the track. I was early, maybe even the first woman taking part to arrive. I registered, signed a disclaimer, gave my height so I'd get allocated the right bike (no time to be adjusting seats during the attempt so they were all pre-adjusted) and then wandered around the central area of the velodrome. Over the next hour or so more and more women arrived. We all went from being strangers to being a group of like minded women all belonging to the red t-shirt wearing tribe. All a little nervous about the upcoming pedalling we'd be doing, all a little excited too.

the bikes before the attempt
I got chatting to a couple of women from York and before we knew it the compere guy was giving us a briefing. It was all very official - we were told exactly what to do, what not to do, where to stand, when to start pedalling etc. All the time we were being watched by the official from the Guinness World Record adjudicators office.

We'd been split into three groups - 40 women in each, one for each bike. Each group of 40 would pedal for 10 minutes then swap out, and each group got two turns pedalling so we'd be jointly spinning the wheels for an hour. And not a second longer or it could jeopardised the record attempt! I was in the first group so nervously and excitedly took my place on a bike. We had to keep our bikes spinning above 90 watts on average and it seemed no-one knew how hard that might be.

Ready. Steady. GOOOOOO!!! and we were off pedalling. The watts on my bike indicated well over 100 and it seemed like a good fast pace but one I could sustain. I've never used a watt bike in anger before, so it was interesting to see how much wattage I could get out of my legs. 200+ seemed really hard but sustainable for a minute or so, 150 or thereabouts then seemed fairly easy to keep up. Given that we needed to be 90+ on average I aimed to keep over 150 just to be safe.

the view from my bike just moments before we started 
The music pumped out loud frantic tunes, we kept pedalling and pedalling and I wondered just how high I could kick out the watts so in a furious effort I got stuck in and the display got to over 300 watts!!! I've no idea if any of these figures are good, bad or indifferent, but it was all I had and the sweat was properly dripping off my face, chin and nose!
almost at the end of my first 10mins
At the end of my first 10min slot I prepared to the left....after pressing the stop button....and on jumped another woman from the right. I now had 20mins to wait for the next time I'd be pedalling and generating as much wattage as possible. Time flew by with lots of cheering on the other ladies and soon enough I was lined up....behind the black line....waiting to jump back on the bike.

The second stint on the bike was harder. I'd gone out hard and fast in the first 10mins and I could instantly feel my legs weren't so fresh. I still managed to keep the watts over 150, nearing 200 for a good proportion of the time. Much sweating later and I'm apologising to the next woman getting on the bike for the puddles of sweat I'd left behind!

Now just 20mins until we finish. The time once again flew past and then we're all congregating around waiting for the official results. We waited and waited and checked out the t-shirts we'd spied that had "Record Breaker" on the front....we wondered what they'd do with them if we hadn't generated enough power! Not to worry.....We'd Done It!!!!

In total we had recorded "4821.40 total accumulative watt hours, equivalent to 646 miles, cycling more than equivalent slight line distance from Land's End to John o'Groats."

the announcement is made!
Group photos were taken, we all congratulated each other and swapped our sweaty t-shirts for the Record Breaker one which I proudly wore on the way home.

All 120 of us....I'm the highest person at the back right just under the 'N' in Manchester

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