Essay: On Evelyn Stevens’ #myhour
(2016) It was a big day for cycling, particularly in the United States. Even the dogs were eager to wake me up early to prepare for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. No sooner did Van Avermaet cross the line than Evelyn Stevens could be seen warming up for her Hour Record attempt. Wouldn’t you know there was roughly one hour in between the two events?
In the spirit of Stevens, I decided to mount my mechanical steed and push the distance of a one-hour ride. It became immediately apparent that any Strava segment would be impossible with the taunting headwind. Any direction I went felt like wind as a rugby scrum. Thinking back to all the Roubaix finishes with the snapped flags only propelled me onward. I also wanted to finish my route in less than one hour.
I felt the same swell of pride to be a cyclist when Bradley Wiggins claimed the top spot in the Hour Record. When I walked into the house, Evelyn Stevens was under way in Colorado Springs, CO and on her way to just under 48 kilometers (29.82 miles). Her humbleness shone when she reiterated the attempt was to raise awareness for women’s cycling; she hoped the mark would propel other women riders to dethrone her.
In its process though, it made me want to go out and ride. I selected the standard route I use when pressed for time. What was enjoyable was the fact that today’s ride had a purpose. When the wind battered from the front, thoughts of Evelyn Stevens drove the pedals downward. Chattering through late winter temperatures were brushed off by Greg Van Avernmaet’s sprint finish in Ghent, Belgium.
Tomorrow the next race of spring classics rolls out with Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne. Tomorrow will find me riding the roads being inspired once again. Perhaps I will be so inspired to see Tom Boonen, I’ll juice my own oranges during the race. Regardless of where the inspiration comes from, this is one of the reasons cyclists gather around the computer early in the morning: to cheer on the giants of cycling and then clip into the pedals and pretend we’re making them suffer. Riding a one-hour course where Tom Boonen can’t hold my wheel? That’s happened hundreds of times in my mind.