The Hour Record and Marginal Gains, Part 2

In part 2 of our Hour Record series, Josh, Hottie and Fatty talk about why you can go faster at altitude, even with less oxygen in your lungs…up to a point.

We chat about the magnificently weird (but mostly magnificent) Merckx hour record, and how much further he might have gone if he knew then what we know now.

Finally, we discuss the cyclists (Moser, Obree, Boardman, Indurain, Rominger and more) and bikes that, a dozen years later, broke the Merckx record and launched an hour-record arms race.

Got a question you’d like to ask? Text or leave a voicemail at the Marginal Gains Hotline: +1-317-343-4506 or just leave a comment in this post!

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4 thoughts on “The Hour Record and Marginal Gains, Part 2

  1. Hi Guys,

    Loving the podcast and learning a lot!

    How does the “best human effort” record relate to a record for a fully faired recumbent bicycle? You could argue that a recumbent position is as legitimate as either of Obree’s extreme riding positions.

    Shouldn’t a “best human effort” be a two wheeled human powered device (bicycle) of any shape / design?

    Then there are but two record classes. One for UCI legal bikes and one for a two wheeled human powered machine.

  2. I have found this podcast fascinating for the questions it asks as well as the answers that are always more complicated then they seem!
    I have a question about balancing weight on the bike. It’s mentioned that the pro’s often end up with a lot of ‘drillium’ and lightweight parts on the bike, but is there any thought given to the overall balance of the bike (from side-side or front-back)?
    I started thinking about this after seeing after seeing images of pro downhill mountain biker’s bikes where they have started adding weights to rims to balance the weight of the tubeless valve (here’s a picture of World Champion Loic Bruni’s bike with them:,12604/World-Championships-Winning-Bike-Loic-Brunis-Specialized-Demo-29,132902/iceman2058,94
    A co-worker said these were to balance the weight of the rim to make the hubs roll more smoothly as the valve would no longer be contributing to excess torque on one side of the wheel.
    This may be related, but I find my cheaper commuter (aluminum, Sora 9-speed + mechanical disc Trek Checkpoint AL3) is much less ‘stable’ than my cyclocross bike (aluminum, Force 1×11 hydraulic disc Trek Crockett). Every time I go over a bump or rough section at speed on my commuter, I feel like the commuter shakes a lot underneath me (wiggles left and right, sort of like riding too fast on a skateboard) but I do not get this on my cyclocross bike which is ‘twitchier’ through it’s geometry. Am I to blame here, or is the ‘balance’ of weight on my commuter leading to the sketchy downhills?

  3. I’m very glad I found this podcast, it covers almost exactly my favorite subjects in cycling, and the side topics are also very interesting. Your episode about marginal gains in mountain biking got me thinking. I am a multi discipline cyclist, including road, mountain, and gravel, and I took away a few great ideas for both cross country and in gravel racing, so thanks! My question has specifically to do with gravel riding similar to the Dirty Kanza 200, or Landrun 100 type of events. In road riding it seems like aerodynamics almost always trumps weight savings, and at a long gravel event of 100 to 200 miles, there would be a lot of time for aero gains to add up, although the average speed is lower and rolling resistance is higher. I have seen some riders, including successful pros like Ben King using deeper carbon wheels like the Zipp 303. Would a wheel like this really have any benefit when paired with a wide knobby gravel tire in the range of 35-42mm? From what I understand about the rule of 105% I would say not, but I could be wrong. If aero wheels don’t matter, would wheel weight start to make a difference on an event this long? For example, my DK200 from a year ago had almost 10k feet of climbing, although it was on rolling terrain. What about other marginal gains for long gravel events? I already wear a speed suit, and pay very close attention to my tire pressure. Thanks in advance!


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