In the Masochistic Cycling Feats Dept., news has filtered through to us that a 50 year-old Dutchman will attempt to break the World Hour Record for riding without a saddle (or a seatpost). Maas van Beek, a former tandem pilot of Jan Mulder, will attempt to better the mark of 45.848 km set by none other than Fausto Coppi on the track in Alkmaar, The Netherlands, on Saturday, October 8. He's doing it for a good cause: to raise money for the Polar van de Donck foundation, which helps children in Africa who have AIDS.Record-holder Fausto Coppi was an incredible rider, the Lance Armstrong of his day. He won the Tour de France twice and the Giro d'Italia five times. Had his career not been interrupted by World War II, he surely would have won more. I am glad to hear this rider won't be using a seatpost--I knew a kid who rode without a saddle, jumped a dirt hill, slipped off his platform pedals and fell on the seatpost when he landed. Not pretty, though it was a very convincing argument for clipless pedals (except that they did not exist at that time, circa 1982).
As a rather large rider myself, I cannot imagine "dancing on the pedals" as Phil Liggett calls it for an entire hour.
Van Beek has been averaging 43 km/h during training, and says that it's quite possible to hold a position out of the saddle for three hours, provided the muscles are used to it. He'll be using a bike with a massive 68 x 11 gear and 205 mm cranks, but no particular aerodynamic equipment.There is more information at www.goedkoopsteskelter.nl/recordpoging.htm, and you have to see the photos of this man. He has huge arms for a cyclist (although the photo at the top looks misleadingly stretched). Too bad Google can't translate Dutch. Good luck, Maas!
UPDATE 10/09/2005 - Unfortunately, cyclingnews.com reports that Maas van Beek failed in his record attempt, covering "only" 42.1036 km.