Track cycling is a very weird and wonderful world. Quite aside from the World Cup and World Championship competitions that go on away from the limelight and the hype that the Olympics bring about, there are 2 events that hold a special place in the hearts of the cycling purists.
They are the KILO and the HOUR. Both are mired in controversy, filled with myth and legend, and shortly we are going to see a new contender pitting himself against the fiend that is the KILO.
This is probably the less peculiar of the disciplines and less riven with historical discontent. One man, on one bicycle, on one track aims to ride a kilometre faster than any other man has ever done before. Sounds simple, but it's not quite as easy as it seems. First the contender must go through hoops with the authorities to ensure that his bicycle passes muster and will be eligible for a record attempt. Handle-bars or saddle in the wrong place, and peddle your heart out, you won't get the record. Then you have to decide where to make your attempt. Obviously it must be a recognised venue, but choose the wrong altitude and it'll all go wrong. Chris Hoy is going for the record - it may be the last we see of him on the world stage. We await May with keen anticipation.
The HOUR is a very different kettle of fish, but one into which British cyclists have thrown their dinner a few times. In fact the whole madness that is this event was started by an Englishman - F.L. Dodds, back in 1876 when he completed a distance of 26.508 km on a machine that would scarcely be recognised as a bicycle these days.
In the 1980s Francesco Moser was king of the HOUR and his record of 51.151 km looked for a while to be invincible. But technology began to play a part with the science of aerodynamics finding its way into the world of cycling, and in 1994, Big Mig Indurain pushed the record out to over 53 km, stealing the thunder of Scotland's Graeme Obree.
The current holder of the record is another Brit - arguably Britain's best-known professional cyclist: Chris Boardman. Having covered a distance of 56.375 in 1996 using the controversial "Superman" position, he confirmed his supremacy in 2000 using what is now the UCI's official conventional riding position.
As I write, I am not aware of any of today's big name cyclists preparing to have a go. Lance Armstrong talked of doing it, but to no-one's surprise never did.
I would be sad not to see any further attempts, as would most track fans. We just need someone take to the velodrome and go like a madman for an hour to set a new record.