When I first got into mountainbiking Frenchman Eric Barone had already reached mythical status. Back in 1994 he had set the fastest speed for a mountainbike on snow, beating Christian Taillefer’s (then) current record.
From Dirt Issue 124 – June 2012
Words by Mike Rose. Photos by Nicolas Le Carré.
The bike, the aerodynamic suit, the attitude…everything about these speed demons was enthralling to any young mountainbiker. In April 2000 he reached 138mph (222kph) on the snowy slopes of Les Arcs on a specially made bike. He had already set a speed of 73mph on the gravel slopes of Hawaii, but he believed he could go faster. In 2001 he hit 107mph (172kph) on the Cerro Negro volcano in Nicaragua, but then disaster struck. His carbon fibre bike broke resulting in a horrific crash.
I thought that would be the last we saw of Barone, he pretty much hung up his boots after that crash and retired. He got married and had two children, invented a new sport (kind of freeride running down hills), worked as a stuntman and became increasingly involved with second home, the country of Nicaragua (trekking, guided tours, etc.). Since 2006 he has run his own travel agency, and he now has a new project, eco lodging in the Jura mountains. But at the age of 51 he is back once again. He still holds the records both on snow and gravel for ‘prototype bikes’, but in 2011 Austrian Markus Stöckl (of MS Racing fame) set a new world speed on gravel of 102.5mph (164.95kph) on a production bike. In fact Stöckl asked Barone to train him for his record attempt. When Barone saw Stöckl riding on the volcano, he wanted to try again, to beat Markus’ record on snow on a stock bike.
On April 9th, back in Les Arcs, Barone once again made an attempt at the record. He could only clock 124.9mph (201kph), but he had faced his fears. Will we see him at the Vars Mondial du Velo de Vitesse (speed) in 2013? Lets hope so.