Bridie O'Donnell broke the women’s UCI Hour Record on Friday, setting a new benchmark of 46.882 kilometres at the Super-Drome in Adelaide.
The 41-year-old produced a controlled and measured ride to beat Molly Shaffer Van Houweling’s existing record, set in September, by 608 metres. In the process she smashed Anna Wilson's Australian Hour Record of 43.501km, which had stood for 15 years.
"You guys are amazing, I have never ridden that fast before and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without all of you coming," said O'Donnell, picking up the microphone and addressing the crowd, which included UCI President Brian Cookson. "So thank you so much, and thank you to all my family who commuted here form Queensland."
O'Donnell, a former Australian time trial champion with little track background, paced her effort perfectly for much of the hour and had 93 laps of the 250-metre track completed at the half-way mark - exactly in line with her target. At 50 minutes she was one lap up on her projection and although her lap times started to fluctuate in the last 10 minutes as her form deteriorated, she had more than enough in the tank and was well on her way to the record.
"I was trying to not think about how I was feeling and only focusing on what I was doing," she said. "Mindfulness is absolutely vital in an event like this because how you feel is kind of irrelevant - you just have to have confidence in the plan. To be honest, yesterday I had no confidence, I felt really nervous, but today I felt a lot more calm and ready and the people around me made me feel reassured.
"Clearly I'm not the best track rider in the world, you saw that tonight, but it's much more about having belief in your ability, and in your consistency, and we knew from all the numbers in my training, I’d be able to do it if I did it right and wasn’t an idiot."
There has been renewed interest in the Hour Record since the UCI revamped the format in 2014 to allow modern bikes to be used. Leontien Zijlaard-van Moorsel's record of 46.065km had stood for 12 years before Sarah Storey got close early in 2015 and Van Houweling later broke it at altitude in Mexico.
A strong time triallist, O'Donnell won the 2008 Australian national time trial title and has gone on to claim the silver medal in 2010 and 2015, and the bronze medal in 2012 and 2014 since then. The 41-year-old, who works as a physician, enjoyed stints of racing in Europe and North America and represented Australia at the World Championships but in recent years has focused on the domestic scene.