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Ellen smashed the six-hour world record.
This is her story.
The Dekra track is not next door which is why we spent most of Friday travelling to Klettwitz, not far from Dresden. On arrival at the track there was a riders meeting and the bike was inspected.
That all went fine and when the track was free, we got the bike stored and then went to the hotel for a good meal and a good night’s rest. It was going to be an exhausting weekend, so we needed both.
The first record attempt on the programme was the one-hour and at seven o’clock we were on our way to the track. After warming up, I climbed into the bike which had been set up for me, only to discover I had forgotten the shoulder rests. That wasn’t handy, but we were able to sort out an alternative. The top could then be put on and my hour began.
After half a lap I felt I wasn’t going fast enough but I heard through the intercom that it wasn’t too bad, so I just carried on as I was. Quarter of an hour later, however, it became clear I was doing 1km/h under the record and at 30 minutes I was still doing that speed. Then the intercom connection also failed and I realised I wasn’t going to manage an hour record. I reduced my input to 90% so I would have some energy left for the six-hour attempt.
In the end it turned out I’d ridden 80,5km. It’s not a world record, but I’m now part of the select group who have passed the 80km threshold.
After having rested and had something to eat, I got ready for the six-hour attempt. We could start at 15:00, after the 24-hour attempt had started. The first to leave was Jan van Steeg and my attempt began a lap later.
The first one and a half hours went smoothly. Jan lapped me twice, but trying to keep up with him was not an option. Then the real hard work started: my feet began to burn, which was not great, but I could still handle it at that point. The sun also didn’t help: according to the forecasts it was supposed to stay behind the clouds, but it didn’t work out like that. The last two hours lasted an eternity. My feet were on fire and I kept getting cramp in my legs. Exhaustion hit. Music was the only thing that got me through. Luckily the sun also began to set and there was more shade on the track.
With only two laps to go, I could barely make it. There was the finish. Finally. Everyone was waving flags and I jammed on my brakes: I wanted to get out, get some fresh air and give my body a rest! But there was no one to catch me because the 24-hour attempt was still on. I let the bike role and cycled slowly until I had completed the circuit. Then the top could finally be removed and I could get some coolness and fresh air.
I kept getting cramp in my legs and it took ages for Hans to be able to take off my shoes and socks. I cycled 404,4 kilometres! It was significantly faster than my own record, but also 33 kilometres more than the men’s record. I don’t know how long it took before I could walk again. It may have been half an hour, or an hour.
I took a shower and then we sped off to a restaurant where we arrived just before the kitchen closed.
I had a long lie in after this incredibly strenuous day. We went to the track to watch the last part of the 24-hour attempt. The team from Delft were busy trying to get their VeloX back on the track; the cable connecting the camera to the screen was broken so Hans lent them a hand. While part of the team were trying to re-solder the cable, other members were looking for a new one over the Czech border. The soldering didn’t go well and it turned out that the first new cable was faulty also, but the second one worked.
The 200 meter with a flying start, which the team from Delft were aiming for, was planned later in the afternoon. The wind didn’t drop, unfortunately, and it also started raining. I didn’t take part in that record attempt.
We drove home at a leisurely pace on Monday while the congratulations poured in from all sides. Thank you all so much for those.
Ellen van Vugt