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Jack Bobridge : Interview

Jack Bobridge interview
Mark Bailey
14 May 2015

The Budget Forklifts rider tells us what went wrong with his shot at the hour, what he eats for breakfast and his goals for Rio

Cyclist: Describe how your body felt after your unsuccessful Hour world record bid in Melbourne in January?

Jack Bobridge: I actually had to take the front wheel off to get my leg over the bike because I couldn’t lift it. The cramp was so bad. I sat down in the tunnel under the track for an hour with my skinsuit pushed off my shoulders and just did nothing. I was so uncomfortable. I couldn’t sit, stand, kneel or do anything. Cramp is normally gone in a minute or two but this was solid pain.

Cyc: Would you change anything if you tried it again?

JB: I fell into the trap of starting too fast and when the pain kicks in and you start fatiguing on a fixed bike, there’s no return. It gets worse and worse as the hour goes on. Your glutes, groin and hamstrings are the parts that really hurt. Up to 40-45 minutes it’s tough but the last 15 minutes are so painful it’s hard to describe. I wanted to really move it on but I think the distances that have been done recently [the current record is 52.937km by Alex Dowsett] are actually about right. I would probably change my position a bit next time too. I went for a higher position than I normally would ride on the track. If I did it again I would use my normal individual or team pursuit position.

Cyc: Would you be tempted to do it in Switzerland, where many of the recent records have been set?

JB: Obviously the biggest thing for me was to do it in Australia. I’m Australian and I wanted to do it in front of Australian fans at the track nationals [championships]. I think if I did it again I wouldn’t do it in Europe but I might try another track just because it would feel right – a new record attempt on a new track.

Cyc: What power output did you need to sustain for the hour?

JB: I set out to do high 300s to 400s and if I had maintained around 400 watts I would have been successful. When I died with 15 minutes to go, so to speak, I lost that momentum of power and everything goes out the window. It’s horrible. Your body has gone and there’s nothing you can do. I have sustained that power for 52 minutes before in the national time-trials [in January 2015] but I couldn’t do it this time.

Jack Bobridge portrait

Cyc: How did the experience compare to the Individual Pursuit world record you set in 2011?

JB: For the Hour record I knew I was trying to set out to break a world record, whereas for my Individual Pursuit world record I just popped up and it happened. For this one I had to mentally prepare myself for the pressure, the crowd, the pain – everything. Obviously, having competed in the Olympics, the Commonwealth Games and other big races, I was OK on the mental side of things, but it’s still strange to know there is a stadium full of people watching your every move for an hour.

Cyc: Why did you move from Belkin Pro Cycling to the Australian-based Team Budget Forklifts this season?

JB: It’s about moving back to Australia and racing for a Continental team alongside all the other Australian team pursuit guys. My team pursuit colleagues are racing in the same team so it works really well as a pathway for Rio 2016. I want to continue racing in Australia and America and keep my endurance up on the road, but we will be able to do track work whenever we can, whether it’s in training, at a World Championships, or at events such as the Revolution Series, so we can keep chipping away on the boards. At the moment we are all hands on deck for Rio. I won a silver in the Team Pursuit before [at London 2012] and I’m eager to get it right next time. We’re making great progress and are pretty confident for Rio.

Cyc: The British and Australian team pursuit riders are fierce rivals. Do you enjoy some banter?

JB: Yeah, for sure. There’s always going to be a rivalry between Great Britain and Australia and that’s especially the case in the team pursuit. We’ve had some great battles over the last few years. Both sides spice it up with the media but put us in a room together and we get on well. We see each other out on the road too so we have a good laugh and try to stir each other up. It’s a good rivalry but there are no hard feelings, that’s for sure.

Cyc: How does your track background help you when it comes to racing on the road?

JB: The track definitely gives you a lot of things. The best thing is your technique because it teaches you how to pedal. You learn how to pedal in a big gear and sustain power, but it also teaches you bunch skills so you get used to racing close together. You develop good coordination and awareness and learn how to ride close to wheels. I tell cyclists one of the best things they can do is get in a velodrome.

Jack Bobridge track

Cyc: Out on the road Australian riders always seem to enjoy getting in breakaways. Is it part of the Aussie cycling culture to attack?

JB: I guess that’s the way we are brought up. A lot of the junior coaches in Australia are old pro racers and quite hardy, and they teach juniors to go out and race. Whether it’s a road race or a track event, we’re taught to race 
hard. It’s bred into us to be aggressive. Sometimes it pays off, but it can also be a disadvantage. We like to race hard in every race. Sometimes it’s brilliant and sometimes it’s stupid!

Cyc: What’s your earliest cycling memory when you were growing up?

JB: My father was a cyclist but he stopped riding before I started training. My earliest memory is of going to race nights at the Adelaide Super-Drome. They would always have big events to welcome back Olympians and my father would take me there. Obviously I’ve watched the Tour Down Under since I was a kid. It was fun watching all the riders come across from Europe.

Cyc: Lance Armstrong once said you’re the ‘real deal’. Was that encouraging to hear, despite his subsequent demise?

JB: I remember Lance at the Tour Down Under, so to hear that comment does give you a lot of hope and energy. It shows that you’re on the right track.

Cyc: Describe your usual training day nutrition plan.

JB: If it’s a big day I’ll normally have scrambled eggs in the morning and, for any Aussie, a bit of Vegemite tends to work. I will probably add some cereal as well. On the bike I try to stay away from bars and gels and other ‘race food’ as I call it, as it doesn’t sit well with my stomach. I prefer muesli bars and natural oat bars. When I get home it’s normally a chicken and salad wrap, but I’m happy to go with the flow. I’ll happily eat whatever leftovers are in the fridge from the night before.

Cyc: Finally, what’s the most common mistake you see amateurs make?

JB: The biggest thing I see these days is riders using such big gears. A lot of riders are always in the big chainring at the bottom of their cassette. It’s always been drilled into me to use small gears and pedal a lot. It sharpens your technique and your speed and saves you energy. It’s also why a lot of riders find they don’t have the necessary leg speed to spin away when they climb. Get up top a bit more and you will ride a lot better.

We talked to Bobridge at Round 5 of the Revolution Series in London. Visit cyclingrevolution.com

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