This is the life of the cycling legend that is Graeme Obree.
The year is 1965, and Graeme Obree is born in Scotland. He is bipolar, and attempts suicide as a teen by gassing himself, and later in the 90s with an overdose of Aspirin washed down with water from a puddle.
As his bike shop goes bankrupt, Obree decides he will attack the hour record, which was held by Francesco Moser at the time. He was famous for his self-built bicycles, and his ‘Old Faithful’ (see picture), which included parts from a washing machine, was the natural choice for him. On the 16th of July 1993, at the ‘Vikingskipet’ velodrome in Norway, Graeme went for it.
However, having booked the track for 24 hours, Obree decided he would attempt it the very next day. He spent that night not sleeping, recovering, but drinking litres upon litres of water, waking up every couple hours and stretching. The next morning he was on the track by 7:55, and ready to attempt the impossible 5 minutes later.
An hour later he had ridden 51596 metres, taking the record by 445 metres. He was an amateur.
The UCI banned ‘Old Faithful’ of course, and nothing similar has been seen since.
After later becoming the individual pursuit world champion in ‘93 and ’95, Obree turned professional. Before his first race with his new French team, he was fired. “I still feel I was robbed of part of my career. I was signed up to ride in the prologue of the Tour back in 1995, but it was made very obvious to me I would have to take drugs. I said no, no way, and I was sacked by my team.”
In 2011, Graeme came out as gay. He has two children, and is divorced from his wife. He is 49 years old, and still races in local time-trials on occasion.