Wally makes it a hat-trick of world records at 81

Wally Fowler on his way to an age-group world hour record at the Newport Velodrome
Evergreen 81-year-old Wally Fowler smashed the one-hour world record for his age group by more than 6½ kilometres – then said he was disappointed!

Wally clocked up 35.772km at the Newport Velodrome in South Wales on Saturday (24 October) to set an impressive new UCI Masters 80-84 world best.

But cramp set in during the last 10 minutes of his finest hour on two wheels, meaning he fell just short of his bid to reach 36km.

The Stourbridge Cycling Club veteran now has a hat-trick of world records in his age group and will aim to make it a clean sweep by adding the pursuit crown to his collection at the World Masters in Manchester next October.

Wally, a CTC member since the 1980s, said: “I set a target of 36km so I’m disappointed in failing to make that. I was short by nearly a lap.

“But cramp was a fear of mine and it struck in my right leg in the last 10 minutes, so I couldn’t go as hard as I had intended to. I passed the old record with about 12 minutes to go, so the most important thing was to ensure I finished. It would have been devastating to have had to pull up because I’d pushed too hard.”

At 5ft 4in and 10st, great-granddad Wally is a sprinter at heart – but endurance was the name of the game in Newport.

Wally, who also holds world-best times for the flying 200 and 500m time trial, had to overhaul New Zealander Peter Grandiek’s distance of 29.187km, set earlier this month.

And he did so in style, improving the record by 6.585km – a little over four miles – at an average of 25.17 seconds per 250-metre lap.

I broke the hour down into smaller time sections to make it more manageable. If it was good enough for Sir Bradley Wiggins, it's good enough for me!"

Wally Fowler

Members of Stourbridge CC provided Wally’s all-important support team during his successful record attempt, which provided the lunchtime entertainment during the League of Veteran Racing Cyclists’ Track Championships in Newport.

Martin Pockett, a current competitor in the UCI World Masters, was the record-breaker’s right-hand man, while Wally’s son Stephen and granddaughter Natasha were on lap-counting. Paul and Ann Chapman also played a major part by timekeeping and giving Wally updates every 10 minutes by holding up coloured placards – red for too slow, yellow for too fast and green for on schedule.

Maggie Thompson, a past ladies’ national pursuit champion, filmed the ride while Chris Davis, who was also competing in the LVRC meeting himself, provided a commentary voiceover for the video.

Wally, who lives in Kinver, Staffordshire, said: “My legs are a bit stiff and sore but I’m recovering well and a couple of pilates sessions will certainly help.

“My one tip to budding hour competitors would be to break the event down into 10-minute sections, rather than think of it as one big chunk of 60 minutes – otherwise the clock almost seems to stop!

“Sir Bradley Wiggins broke it down into 12-minute sections when he set the elite hour record of 54.526km at the Olympic Velodrome in London on 7 June. If that approach was good enough for him, it’s good enough for me!

“I now have a year to prepare for the pursuit record, but the gauntlet has been well and truly thrown down there. The record is a very quick 2min 50.933sec over 2km set by the American Carl Grove in 2012.

“The pursuit is a combination of sprint and endurance as you have to go flat out for eight laps. But I’ll train hard and give it a go in 12 months’ time.”

And there’s plenty to keep Wally going for years yet. He already has half an eye on a world hour best in the over-100 category!

Frenchman Robert Marchand holds that particular record, covering an astonishing 26.925km in one hour at the age of 103.

Wally aptly describes that achievement as “mind-blowing” but adds: “I still regard myself as a work in progress. If I’m still around at the age of 103 and it takes my fancy, then I will give it a go.”