The man Wiggins has to beat is Alex Dowsett, who rode 52.9km in Manchester earlier this month; in doing so, he became the fourth person to break the record in the past eight months.
Such is the hour's reputation, the young British rider blocked out all the stories of pain and glory.
Henri Desgrange, a French sports journalist, was the first official record-holder.In 1893, he managed 35.3km (22 miles) in Paris, 10 years before he founded that other big event, the Tour de France.A starting gun had fired, and Wiggins will be the eighth rider to attack the new record.Before I could set my own target, I needed to become a different rider.Imagine a straight, flat road stretching east from Trafalgar Square in central London.
At that pace, in one hour, Wiggins would trigger every speed camera this side of the M25, and be on the beach at Southend in time for a celebratory choc ice. After some negotiation, I managed to reserve the Olympic velodrome (now known as the Lee Valley Velo Park) for the morning of 19 May, leaving three months to train, organise, learn and decide on my target.Boardman stepped up straight away, adding just 10 metres to Merckx's 49.4km record in the last ride of his career."I couldn't walk for four days afterwards," he told me.After Merckx, technology and radical riding positions offered huge aerodynamic gains.In 1993, Graham Obree, the "Flying Scotsman", rode 51.6km, only to be beaten by Boardman (52.3km) six days later.He was happy to help, but added in his reply: "I feel it's only fair to say that it's really quite difficult, and even doing it badly is surprisingly unpleasant."Hutchinson later compared the relentless, accumulating discomfort of the one-hour attempt to that of pushing a nail through his own hand.