What it’s like to race Bradley Wiggins

Note from Andreas: I’m in New York this week and it just so happened at the same time London Cyclist was invited to race Bradley Wiggins during his record breaking challenge. Unable to go, my friends Peter Newell and Ben Holt took on the challenge.

On Sunday, Sir Bradley Wiggins smashed the record for most distance travelled by bike in an hour. He cycled 54.526 km (33.88 miles).

I was invited, along with Ben, to a static bike race organised by Vitality Health that would take place at the same time as the record breaking attempt.

Having ridden 373 miles across Wales in the weekend prior, I was a little apprehensive of the challenge, but it’s not always you get an opportunity like this, so I leapt right in.

After travelling to the Velodrome and getting registered at the Vitality welcome desk we had time whilst the support races were on to look around the various stands in the velodrome, everybody in the cycling world seemed to have turned up to watch the record attempt, including former Tour de France champion and hour record holder Miquel Indurain. It was the start of what would become quite a historic evening in East London.

We had our safety briefing with the Vitality team who showed us our static bike, we would be racing 20 other teams ‘virtually’ on big TV screens although it became apparent that the London Cyclist team was a pair and the other 20 teams were a team of 3, so we had our work cut out to ensure London Cyclist was well represented.

By this time the velodrome was full to capacity, with 6,000 people cheering the arrival of Bradley. At this point, we were situated in the middle of the track and the noise was deafening. You really got a feeling of what it was like during the 2012 Olympics.

A very well groomed (marginal gains to the max) Sir Bradley Wiggins appeared on his bike as the whole velodrome cheered him, he didn’t talk or wave to anyone, clearly in the zone for what lay ahead. Two slow laps on his road bike and he jumped straight onto his custom made, one of a kind Pinarello track bike ready for the start.

It was at this point our static rely race was about to start. We jumped on the bikes, the starter gun commenced the hour record attempt and our much slower but no less energetic static race.


Bradley absolutely flew round the track and made it look effortless, the Vitality race was a little more frantic, with 20 people spinning as fast as they could racing each other on big TV screens. The velodrome was set at 28c for the record attempt and within minutes the sweat was pouring off everyone in the Vitality race, anyone who has ever been on a spin bike will know that feeling of ‘when will it end?!’

After 58 hard minutes of cycling, the London Cyclist team were very much mid table, and the crowd was going ballistic as Bradley had now matched current record and was riding into unknown territory, when the final gun went, the velodrome was absolutely deafening, the record had been smashed. This also meant that the Vitality race was over and we could finally stop spinning!

Unknown to the crowd, but talked about in the interview afterwards, Bradley’s coach said he was really worried for him in the last 10 minutes because the pace was so fast and his body was so oxygen starved, he couldn’t ride on the black line of the track. That’s how hard he pushed himself and there was a real sense in the velodrome we had just witnessed something ground breaking.


After the race my legs were well and truly shot and the spin bike took every bit of energy out of team London Cyclist. The week ahead I’m planning some very serious sitting and I’m sure Bradley Wiggins will be doing the same.

Thanks again to all at Vitality for an excellent evening and the opportunity to take part in a very enjoyable few hours to do our bit to represent the joy of cycling.

P.S. Here’s a picture of the priceless bike Bradley used just shoved in the corner behind a chair and a bin before the attempt!

bike pic

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5 Responses to What it’s like to race Bradley Wiggins

  1. Eric D 11/06/2015 at 4:33 am #

    28 degrees without forced-air cooling ? madness ! Humidity ?
    I see that record may not stand long.

    • Cathie 12/06/2015 at 10:14 am #

      28 degrees is intentional – warm air is less dense than cooler air, decreasing the aerodynamic resistance the riders encounter; increased humidity also decreases air density

    • Mathew 12/06/2015 at 12:00 pm #

      This is SPARTA.

  2. Paul 12/06/2015 at 2:22 pm #

    So, how far did you go?

  3. the5krunner 07/07/2015 at 3:05 pm #

    me vs bradley 🙂 I watched the time trial that kicked off the TdF. I told the person watching me how I go at that same speed for about a mile or so (and it’s true) but I didn’t dwell on the incredible difficulty of doing it mile after mile after mile. Just enduring the pain for a bit longer is not a strategy. years of hard training helps.

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