Jaime Nielsen has set the first New Zealand women’s hour record and smashed the world sea level hour record previously held by Bridie O’Donnell.  Nielsen stopped the clock in a remarkable 47.791km in front of a loud and enthusiastic Avantidrome crowd.

A very warm Avantidrome played host to what would be a history-making evening.  Jaime Nielsen would be setting the first New Zealand women’s hour record under the watchful eyes of a good sized and enthusiastic crowd who had come to see her attempt not only to set the New Zealand record over 60 minutes, but also to break the world sea level hour record set by Bridie O’Donnell of Australia.  Her record of 46.882km was Nielsen’s target.

Nielsen got out to a strong start, averaging 46.256kph after the first 2.5km of racing.  Her technique was flawless as her upper body barely moved a millimetre, with all of the power going into the pedals.  It didn’t take long for Nielsen to ramp up the pace though and with 7 minutes covered Nielsen was well up on Bridie O’Donnell’s 46.882km, averaging 47.281kph.  But had she gone out too hard and would she pay for it later on?

At the 15 minute point Jaime’s pace had lifted again and she hit an average speed of 47.581kph.  When we spoke to Jaime Nielsen prior to the hour record attempt she’d told us that one of the things she’d hoped to accomplish was interest from a number of other riders.  But with the pace that she was putting down at this point the sea world record was going to be smashed and the outright hour record was even at risk; and that had been accomplished at altitude!

Jaime Nielsen putting down the power en route to the first New Zealand women’s hour record, photo Cameron Mackenzie

Under the watchful eyes of a progressively louder crowd at the Avantidrome Nielsen’s pace continued to lift.  Among those watching was the man who had previously broken the masters 55-59 hour record holder Jim McMurray; who knew all about the world of pain that Nielsen was going through.  McMurray’s record attempt saw him stop the clock in 47.733km; and Nielsen was beginning to look as though she would be challenging that.

Halfway through the attempt 95 laps had been covered, a distance of 23.75km and an average speed that was now hovering around 47.556kph.  Nielsen had gone through a brief lull, but only brief as she was about ready to ramp up the pace again.  At the 45 minute mark Nielsen had re-established her former pace at over 47.7kph and the crowd were right there behind her.  With the volume in the velodrome lifting, along with the intensity, Nielsen gradually began to show signs that the pain was really getting to her.  Even so the pace was still high and with less than 10 minutes to go Nielsen passed the 165 lap point with an average speed of 47.735kph.

As the minutes ticked away Nielsen squeezed out every last strand of energy she had left as she pursued a shot at the outright world hour record held by Evelyn Stevens.  It was looking like she’d just miss out on the 47.980km but the sea level record was set to be smashed.  The crowd lifted the volume once again as Nielsen passed the 46.882km of Bridie O’Donnell and pressed on towards the hour.

Finally the clock stopped and the official distance was given of 47.791km in one hour of riding.  It is the first New Zealand women’s hour record and a mighty benchmark for anyone looking to challenge her distance.  Nielsen must surely now be tempted to go after the official UCI world hour record, with Stevens’ distance just 189 metres out of reach and done at sea level.


Photos: Cameron Mackenzie



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