There are impressive records for many things, but strapping yourself to the back of a drag-racing car, hopping aboard a bicycle and telling the driver to ‘gun it’ is up there with one of the most impressive.
For Denise Mueller-Korenek, any thoughts of potential pitfalls and dangers had to be pushed to the back of the athlete’s mind, as her determination to smash a record that has stood for 23 years presided over everything.
The former high speed cycling record was set by Fred Rompelberg, who managed to hit a staggering 167.044mph by attaching his steed to the rear of a modified vehicle, releasing and then pedalling like mad.
On September 16, 2018, Mueller-Korenek absolutely obliterated that record and became the fastest human to ever ride a bicycle, setting the World’s Paced Bicycle Record of 183.932mph at Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.
To do this, Mueller-Korenek rode closely behind the same rail dragster used by Rompelberg to set his record, however, this time the dragster was driven by world famous racecar driver Shea Holbrook.
The 1,000bhp, 26ft-long machine was completely overhauled after it had been left standing for 23 years, while the methanol fuelled engine needed a revamp to ensure it met with strict current safety standards.
“It was a crazy wild ride to 183.9 mph, but so worth the sacrifice and years of focus on becoming the fastest human on a bicycle in the world!,” said 45-year-old mother of three Mueller-Korenek, who hopes the feat empowers more female athletes to bust down the door.
Photographer Matt Ben Stone was on hand to document the record and his resulting shots are nothing short of breath-taking, perfectly capturing the amazing visuals and crackling atmosphere.
“It was such an amazing opportunity,” explains Matt. “After Denise was towed up to 100mph behind the 1,000 horse power rail dragster, she released her bike and was able to pedal the massive gear in the slipstream created by the vehicle,” he adds.
“The bike itself is a feat of engineering, boasting a custom drive-chain with double reduction gearing to allow her to pedal her way to the record speed,” Ben explains.
You can check out more of Matt’s work by heading to www.mattbenstone.com, or by following @mattbenstone on the usual channels.