When James Ogilvie, the new holder of the UCI Masters Hour Record, was seeking a speedsuit that would give him the greatest aerodynamic advantage, it did not take him long to approach Endura.
By recording a distance of 49.514km at the Darebin International Sports Centre, Australia, on Friday March 9, 2018, Ogilvie set a new world record, not only for his 35-39 age group, but for all Masters categories. Ogilvie’s new record, and a new UCI Masters Hour Record for female athletes aged 50 to 54, set by Anna Davis in the same session, represent an extended run of success for Endura in cycling’s blue ribband event. Alex Dowsett broke the UCI Hour Record for elite men in May 2015. Just nine months later, Dr Bridie O’Donnell extended the distance for elite women to claim the UCI Hour Record for female athletes. Last October, Vittoria Bussi came within just 404m of breaking the current UCI Hour Record for women. All used the Endura D2Z Encapsulator suit.
Ogilvie’s coach, Stephen Lane, had helped O'Donnell to her record success, in a prototype of the suit launched to the public last week. The Australian Masters time-trial champion sought a similar advantage. "Time-trialists are always looking for the newest and greatest and fastest, and I'd seen Alex Dowsett's successful attempt at the UCI Hour Record in 2015, and his Endura suit,” Ogilvie explains. "I'd previously used a different brand, but I saw the new Endura D2Z Encapsulator suit, and got in touch with Jim McFarlane to see if he'd be interested in working together, and he was, which was fantastic. With time-trialing, when we do aero testing and talk about gains of 17 seconds over 40km, it doesn't seem like a lot. In the context of the Hour Record, if someone says a suit is worth 40 seconds over an hour, that's an additional 550m. That's massive. The Hour Record is normally broken or not broken by less than 100m, so to be able to make massive savings like that is huge."
Having gained McFarlane's support, Ogilvie reported a detailed series of measurements to Endura HQ. He collected his suit on a Christmas visit back home to the UK.
Ogilvie's performance, and that of his Endura D2Z Encapsulator suit, is magnified by the far from favourable conditions in which he made his attempt. Two weeks before rolling onto the boards, and with final preparations progressing well, Ogilvie was knocked from his bike on a training ride, and suffered severe bruising, causing him to cramp during an event for the first time in his career.
"The plan was to go out and hold just a fraction under 18 seconds a lap, which equates to 50km. It was perfectly on target, up until 30 minutes, and that was the first time the cramp kicked in," he explains. "Each time it kicked in, I'd have a couple of really bad laps, and then it would ease, and I'd be able to push back up to speed, and just about get back on track, and it would come back in again. There was a yo-yo effect that went on for 20 minutes or so, and each time I thought I was going to have to pull out, but once it gets to the last ten minutes, you know you're going to get there one way or the other, so you almost stop looking at the lap splits and grit your teeth and battle on."
To add insult to injury, atmospheric conditions inside the Darebin International Sports Centre were the worst they had been for month, with air pressure running at 1025 HPA, and air density, the more significant factor, "off the scale". The good news is that Ogilvie can anticipate a still greater performance, should he be tempted to try and break his own record. "It just depends on whether I can get a green card from my wife," he joked. "It's definitely one for next year, perhaps somewhere a little warmer."
Should a further attempt come to pass, Ogilvie might count on further gains from wearing the new Endura D2Z Aeroswitch helmet, another design conceived by aerodynamicist Simon Smart in the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 wind tunnel in Brackley, Northamptonshire.
After the sacrifices of training, the shock of being knocked from his bike, and the unrelenting demands of an unbroken, 60-minute effort ("In any normal time-trial, you're constantly changing position, and even if the difference is slight, it means your muscles have a chance to recover. In the Hour Record, it's exactly the same position, from minute one to minute sixty") Ogilvie says breaking the record was more a matter of satisfaction, than exultation.
"My coach was stood at trackside, giving me splits, and I knew the splits were pushing out, but I couldn't tell how close it was getting to the existing record, so it wasn't until I stopped and saw the time that I realised I had actually done it, so instead of elation, I felt huge relief, to be honest."
His new mark not only exceeded the 48.922km record for men aged 35 to 39, established last year by Rob Scarlett in Camrbidge, New Zealand, but also eclipsed the 49.392km distance recorded by Norman Alvis in October 2017.
On a day of joy for the Ogilvie clan, the happiest member might have been his young son, who celebrated his second birthday the day after his father’s record-breaking success with - what else? - his first bike.
“He loves it,” Ogilvie reports. “He was buzzing all day. I’m not 100 per cent sure he understood what was going on, but everyone riding in circles was very exciting for him.”
Endura does not yet make a D2Z Encapsulator suit in toddler size, but if young Ogilvie gives signs of his father’s talent and dedication, the custom clothing division in Livingston might find themselves with a very unique assignment.
Photos by Henry Productions