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So far it’s a solo ride.

An Hour on the Rivet: Why the Ultimate Power Test Is for Everyone

Jim Merithew |

Now the dust has settled, we can look back on Brennan's Hour of Power effort with scientific, sober analysis. What a freaking machine! Several hours after his effort, while we waited for his red hot chain to cool down (it hissed like a cornered King Cobra for at least a week), we had a chance to think about his power effort and how it all came together. To learn more, we sat down with AC's own Chad, the architect of Brennan's route, to chat about the merits of right-handers, why you should do your own power test, and the origins of his cycling obsession.

We heard from Brennan Wertz last week about his impressive Hour of Power. He mentioned you helped design the course he used for this test. It seems like the kind of bike nerd thing you love. Can you tell us a little bit about designing the course?

I've ridden these roads for over 20 years, so it's back-of-hand stuff, really. You're looking for minimal left-handers, no technical long descents, no long hard climbs, few obstacles and a course long enough to last an hour. Descents are the hardest part; you don't want steep or difficult descents. Anything that robs absolute pressure on the pedals is out because that robs you of your power, or rather, the possibility of maintaining the same power. The route Brennan and I worked up is as perfect as local conditions allow for this type of effort.

There's a photo in last week's journal post where we can spot you riding with Brennan during his hour. How did your effort go?

Honestly, I knew even if I was sitting in his draft, I would be doing 320 watts. Unfortunately, I picked him up on the one left-hander, followed by a false flat. I picked my spot poorly, and by the time I sprinted up to speed, I was already behind! He was gone in three corners. He's a pro for a reason. It was incredibly impressive.

Historically, the hour effort is an interesting touch point for cycling fans. Do you have a favorite rider who attempted the hour?

When I was a kid growing up in the late 80's, I stumbled into the local bike shop in my hometown. And it was amazing. That shop is genuinely the reason AC exists today. In this tiny shop (Il Vecchio), there was a contraption that turned out to be an espresso machine, big bicycle posters hanging on the walls and a tattered orange bike on display. When I asked the grouchy guy (who later became a great friend) who ran the shop about the bike, he mumbled something about pesky kids, and then he told me it was Eddy Merckx's actual hour-record bike. That's right, the actual bike Eddy Merckx road to break the hour record in Mexico City was hanging in a shop in my hometown. It was one of the first pieces of cycling history I ever saw as a young cycling fan, and all the more impactful because it felt relatable.

Eddy was probably the last person to beat the hour record without using a specially adapted bicycle. I watched the Eddy Merckx documentary a thousand times. I had it on VHS tape. I think he went 49.4 kilometers at an average of 485 watts, the exact same as Brennan. It was fantastic.

It seems like with all things cycling, such as great climbs, cool gear, and exercise science, the Hour of Power is not just for the professionals. How would an amateur integrate such a crazy idea into their life?

I was riding this route regularly, over and over, and I started to realize I was hitting the same spot in the same amount of time, riding at my aerobic pace. I started to see trends based on my fitness, the bicycle I was riding, and my nutrition. Riding for a set time on a set route gave me a great data point for testing myself and my gear.

You don't necessarily need to do a maximal test to understand the benefits of knowing what you can do for an hour. You can use this touchpoint to test your fitness, nutrition, equipment and mental health.

In the end, Brennan's number was 485 watts. Can you put that into perspective for us?

I'm not comparing Brennan to Eddy Merckx; they are different types of body styles, and Eddy did it on the velodrome, but holy crap. I was shocked. At the strongest I've ever been, I could have probably reached the top of the first climb (Whites Hill)at 485 watts, and then I would have blown up. And Brennan road that power for 52 more minutes. It's cool our friend and local kid is riding at this level. The power numbers he puts out are usually the reserve of a small handful of riders at the highest level of the sport, which Brennan is justly joining.

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