Obree, Graeme - The world hour velodrome record
Type of Spiritual Experience
The bike shop that he ran failed and he decided the way out of his problems was to attack the world hour velodrome record. It had been held for nine years by Francesco Moser, at 51.151 kilometres.
A description of the experience
"The record had fascinated me since Moser broke it. It was the ultimate test – no traffic, one man in a velodrome against the clock. I didn't tell myself that I will attempt the record, I said I would break it. When your back is against the wall, you can say it's bad or you can say: 'I'll go for it.' I decided, that's it, I've as good as broken the record..........."
Obree attacked Moser's record, on 16 July 1993, at the Vikingskipet velodrome in Norway. He failed by nearly a kilometre. He had booked the track for 24 hours and decided to come back the next day. The writer Nicholas Roe said:
"To stop his aching body seizing up, Obree then took the unusual measure of drinking pint upon pint of water so that he had to wake up to go to the lavatory every couple of hours through the night. Each time he got up, he stretched his muscles. On the next weary day, he was up and out within minutes, at the deserted velodrome by 7:55 am and on the track ready to start just five minutes after that. He had barely slept. He had punished his body hugely the previous day. Surely this was a waste of time?"
I was Butch Cassidy in terms of swagger. I didn't want any negativity. This was blitzkrieg. I'm going in there. Let me do it. I'm not going to be the timorous guy from Scotland. That's what the difference was. Purely mental state. The day before, I had been a mouse. Now I was a lion.
On 17 July 1993, Obree set a new record of 51.596 kilometres, beating Moser's record of 51.151 kilometres by 445 metres.