NEW SPEED RECORD ON A BICYCLE
Austria's Markus Stoeckl, 33, set a new world record at the weekend for series mountain bikes on a renovated high-speed La Parvarun in the Chile's Alps when he hit a speed of 210.4 km/h (130.7 mph). He shattered an eight-year-old record by an incredible 23 km/h (14 mph)!
For years, there was little news to report about speed-bikes on snow: the world's fastest vehicle without propulsion. In the 1990s, there had been a number of unforgettable duels between Frenchmen Eric Baronè and Christian Taillefer; who set a series world speed record as they sped down the French Alps - clad in rubber suits, with spoilers-attached, and aerodynamic helmets - riding futuristic projectiles only faintly resembling bicycles.
The only other racer who came close to keeping up with the French duo, was a young man from Kitzbühel: Markus Stoeckl. Because he could not afford an expensive prototype at the time, he rode in the series bike class, managing to set a world record in that category at 187.013 km/h at Les Arcs in 1999. Eric Baronè's record in the prototype class of 222 km/h still stood.
After that, interest in France dropped off, as Markus Stoeckl explains: no races, no championships, no runs. Since then, the giant nicknamed "Hercules" (he weighs 100 kg, or 220 pounds, and stands 6'4" tall) has taken part in 'normal' downhill races, founded his own company, and set up his own World Cup team "MS Intense Racing". He was on an assignment in Portugal when he found out that the old speed track in La Parva, Chilewas being renovated. He did not hesitate and quickly jumped on a plane to South America after hurriedly packing his old helmet, speedsuit and his new "Intense M6" bike.
Just seven days later, on Friday, 14 September at 11:18 a.m., Stoeckl was standing at the highest-possible starting point in front of a 2000 metre, and 45-degree, slope. The conditions for the record run were far from ideal: South America's springtime weather had melted away much of the snow alongside the piste, shrinking it to a narrow strip set up between bare mountain cliffs, it was not possible to gradually raise the starting point for test runs. The final test run took place from a spot that was hundreds of metres below the starting point where a top speed of 178 km/h was recorded.
Because the protective visor on his helmet kept fogging over, Stoeckl was also forced to hold his breath for the 40-second run. "I knew that this would be my only chance,"he said. The record run went off without a hitch. There were no problems whatsoever and despite hitting a speed of 210.4 km/h it all seemed somehow unspectacular.
Markus Stoeckl has now tasted success and he wants to try to break the other age-old records set by Eric Baronè.
"At the end of the run, I had the feeling that I was somehow watching the run myself."
"The planning for the trip to Chile was so hurried that I ended up having to use my street shoes for the world record run."
Austria's Markus Stoeckl, 33, set a new world record at the weekend for series mountain bikes on a renovated high-speed La Parvarun in the Chile's Alps when he hit a speed of 210.4 km/h (130.7 mph).