I had thought I wouldn’t make it to the Jack Bobridge 1 hour record attempt tonight. I was aware it was on Cadel’s big weekend and expected to be down at Geelong. But a late invite from a good mate and a change in program for me meant that I could get there at the last minute; excited to see Jack (hopefully) break the record set by Matthias Brandle (Austria) only a few months ago. He rode a 51.852 kph average following Jens Voigt (Germany) who rode 51.115 kph only one month before.
I didn’t know the exact detail of these times prior to my arrival. I expected such information would be available on scoreboards etc., once I got there. But alas – zip…
Since starting to race mountain bikes about 7 years ago, I have grumbled about the standard of organisation in road races compared to the usual professionalism of mountain bike events; they are poles apart. The atmosphere, organisation, marketing and general fun associated with mountain bike racing far excels that of road racing. I know this may be a controversial point-of-view but there you go, it is mine.
Tonight, Cycling Australia did not upset my opinion.
They completely stuffed it up; an international event drawing international interest.
Bobridge started just after 7 p.m., with a little bit of hype (appropriate for an Australian event) and a very large cheer off the line (appropriate for an Australian event). So then I start looking for the details… The details, where are they…
- The current World Record?
- The holder?
- The average lap time required?
- Is he on target?
- Is he off target?
- How many laps does he need in half and hour?
- How many in the whole hour?…
Nothing? Oh… hang on… there you go; we get time elapsed in very small print on the scoreboard… fantastic… oh… and there’s a little lap counter down near the start/finish line showing us how many laps he’s done. Grouse.
So my mate and I start our own timing on the iPhone and then start communicating with another mate who is at home on the live stream doing his own calculations. We had a pretty good idea of how he was going then, and our timing indicated he was only just on target for 52 kay or so.
Then at about the 45 minute mark, the scoreboard started to provide a little more info. It told us (and Jack as he rounded each lap) that he was on target to ride a 54.5 kph average. Cool; he’s going to do it easy. But that can’t be right; our timing can’t be that wrong.
And then the whole scoreboard was turned off… about five minutes after it was showing the 54 kph estimate. “Shit… what have we told Jack!?“, I’m sure they thought (not to mention the audience).
At about this time I’m thinking, “If that’s the official timing, then is that what Jack’s coach has been telling him?” If so, then it’s not a wonder he slowed a little at times because he’s going to smash the record by minutes.
You’re probably thinking, “Surely they couldn’t have made such a grave error; effecting the mindset of the athlete in his drive for the goal?” Me too! That’s what I’m thinking. Surely not. I hope not. I really hope they only buggered it up for the audience and that it didn’t cause Jack to change his pace in any way… leading to his ultimate defeat at the behest of the hour. He rode about the same time as Jens; two world records ago.
Let’s hope we find out. Did Jack think he was on target for 54+ kph? That’s what I’d like to know.
Come on Cycling Australia; this was an international event. It has been, and will continue to be, the subject of further international commentary. I hope – despite the comments of my on line friend – that our international audience was not impacted by a lack of information or and abundance of mis-information. Either is embarrassing.
I have some good friends at Cycling Australia and Cycling Victoria who I’m sure do a great job. They are large organisations with growing profiles. That’s not an excuse for stuffing things up but a reason for getting them right. I hope Australia’s next 1 hour record event is managed a little differently.