What does it take to set a world record? Supported rider, Fred Meredith, writes about his preparations for setting the junior world hour record.
Following 2021, I sat down with Liam to plan the 2022 season. Each section of the year was divided into periods where we aimed to achieve a specific goal. Knowing how my motivation works, and after seeing Dan Bigham do his hour record, we thought the junior hour record could tie in well with my preparation for the season ahead. A consistent winter is essential for road cyclists, and the hour would provide me with the 'carrot' i needed to get me through those cold, dark winter days.
This was my first winter with Liam, and it started very differently. Usually, I would go from the road season straight into the cyclo-cross season. However, the first thing Liam planned for me was rest. Following this, I felt fresh with motivation high; ready to push hard for the hour.
I put a lot of my time and effort into the technical aspect of the hour, such as aero testing, while letting Liam take the physical side. I found massive gains in the aero side with a large amount of testing with a range of equipment, but I still had to pedal the bike.
Going into October, I had to build a base; this is what I was lacking previously. It may be slightly different from a standard build-up to a typical hour record, but this had to fit in around a packed road calendar, with my main goal being the road season. Aerobic endurance and strength training was the foundation, mixed with some cyclo-cross races to keep things fun.
Come January, the record was getting closer and feeling more serious. With some big names and companies invested, I knew I had a lot resting on my shoulders. I stuck to the plan and concentrated on the process, throwing my entire focus onto the hour. By February, I had the bike sorted and dates booked and confirmed.
In the final few weeks, things got very specific. I was building the top end, that threshold power, with a lot in the tt position. By March, it was all in place. I'd done the trial run, done the work and had a nutrition plan set in place by Liam. I felt both physically and mentally ready. All I had left to do was ride my bike.
The taper week went well, and I felt fresh but strong the day before the attempt. My motivation and confidence were high; I was ready to go for it!
In the warm-up, I set myself aside and let everyone work around me, focusing on the job I had to do. As I rolled away, something felt off; I felt something was wrong but unsure what. My lap splits were ok, but I was worried about the perceived effort for the time I was doing. Suddenly, the rear tyre burst, and I was fishtailing along the track. Trying to decelerate from 30mph down to zero on a flat disc is surprisingly difficult. I thought it was all over and wanted to run away. Still, I sat down as the disc was replaced and got my head back into it, using some of the mental strategies Liam had me practice in training. Thankfully, as I punctured in the first two minutes, I was allowed a restart.
As I went off, it felt so much better. I felt in control, and everything was going to plan. I was feeling strong and in the zone. I focused mainly on conserving energy with a consistent line and position and not going out too hot. As I got to the 25-minute mark, I got given that I was 2 seconds down on schedule. This was a bit of a shock, and I kicked instantly. In the grand scheme, 2 seconds is nothing, but at that moment, I felt like I was failing and wanted to fight back. At the next split, I was 6 seconds up. The first 30 minutes flew by as I felt in control and could sustain this pace. But this is where the negative splits start to bite. As I hit the 40-minute mark, the lactate was building, and it was taking its toll mentally and physically. 20 minutes left was an awfully long time to increase my pace for. But I kept in the zone, counting half laps in my head, focusing on the process and staying calm. Secretly I'd planned to kick on at 15 minutes to go. As that approached, I delayed it to the last 10 minutes. As that closed, I waited for the last 5. I kicked at 2 minutes to go. I think that shows how perfect the pacing was. I left it all out on the track. As I rolled across the line for the last time, the relief was immense. I had done it!
After 5 months of prep and hard work, I had unofficially set a new record; it brought a tear to my eye. As I stopped, I saw my Dad and just fell into him; I was cooked. After a quick chat with GCN, I got to see my girlfriend. Both her and my family supported me throughout the process and made my life as easy as possible. I can't thank everyone involved enough, from Dan Bigham to my sponsors and especially Liam, for believing in me through the hard sessions. It was all worth it, and I was so glad I could deliver on the day. The high was amazing, seeing all the messages of support and hearing all the pros that have heard of me being added to the hour record list.
What goes up must come down. A couple of weeks after the attempt, there was a definite low. Not many riders talk about this, so it was unexpected, but I felt lost without this huge goal. Liam contacted me and supported me through this as it was the first time I experienced it. It was essential to enjoy the moment and achievement, but other goals were on the horizon.
I'm now into my road season and recently placed 2nd in my first round of the Junior National Series. It just goes to show how important the preparation phase of training is. I'm now super motivated and excited for the season ahead!