John Terrell Sets UCI Hour World Record In Remarkable Run In Mexico
by Paul D. Bowker
U.S. Para-cyclist John Terrell was so determined to set a UCI hour record that he smashed the old record by more than five kilometers.
And then he did it again.
“Setting a new world record is surreal,” Terrell said after his record runs posted in mid-October in Aguascalientes, Mexico. “I hope this inspires current and future Para-cyclists to push the boundaries of the sport.”
Terrell, a 29-year-old from Converse, Texas, who competes in the MC4 class, reached 47.904 kilometers on Oct. 12. That broke the record of 42.460 km, which was set in January 2020 by Great Britain’s Wayne Harrod.
“My attempt was not perfect,” Terrell said. “I had a few issues with overheating and saddle discomfort in the first 15 minutes, making the remaining 45 minutes extremely challenging. I reminded myself that the only certainty in life is adversity and I accepted where I was, continuing to push forward.”
Two days later, he hit 48.178 km in another run. However, the first run of 47.904 km is the official record recognized by Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI).
“I’m excited and honored to be a part of Para-cycling history,” Terrell said. “My goal is to raise awareness and further legitimize the sport of Para-cycling.”
The news quickly hit social media with hundreds acknowledging the accomplishment, including Olympic medalist Sarah Hammer-Kroening, who is now the associate director of high performance for U.S. Paralympics Cycling, and three-time Para-cycling world champion Clara Brown.
Since reaching the international stage in 2022, Terrell has quickly risen on the U.S. team. He won a pair of bronze medals in the omnium and scratch events at the 2022 UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships, which were held at the venue that will be used at the Paralympic Games Paris 2024.
He added three top-10 finishes at this year’s world championships in both track and road disciplines. On the track in Glasgow, Scotland, he placed ninth in pursuit and 10th in the scratch race. He was 10th in the road time trial.
Terrell competed in all three road world cups this year, finishing fourth in the MC4 time trial in Maniago, Italy, and placing seventh in the time trial at the world cup final in Huntsville, Alabama. His first world cup win came in the time trial last year in Elzach, Germany.
A BMX racer as a teen, Terrell’s journey toward becoming an elite Para-cyclist began 10 years ago when his car broke down, and as he and a friend were walking down a highway to get help a car struck him, causing serious damage to his right arm. He told TeamUSA.com last year that his arm was “essentially unplugged from my spine.”
“If you think of your spine as an outlet, like a power source, my arm was detached from five different vertebra,” he said. “It was a spinal cord injury but to the nerves.”
Doctors encouraged Terrell to continue cycling as part of his rehab, but when the hoped-for improvements never came he opted to have his arm amputated below the elbow. While recovering in the hospital, Terrell watched the Paralympic Games Rio 2016 on TV, and two years later he moved to Colorado to begin training for his own Paralympic run.
“Prior to my amputation at the age of 19, I was passionate about BMX freestyle and racing,” Terrell said. “Para-cycling has been instrumental in my rehabilitation, benefiting both my mental and physical health. It provides a sense of normalcy and helps me participate in the local and greater community.
“Para-cycling is an aim, an art, a pursuit with no end. You’re never done,” he added. “You can always go for another ride. Para-cycling has been a means to heal, and I hope that other people are inspired to engage and continue forward with life.”
While posing for celebratory photos in Mexico, Terrell happily put on a sombrero.
“Gracias, Aguascalientes, for your warm hospitality and unwavering support,” Terrell posted on his Instagram account. “We’re truly grateful. Hasta luego”