Faster Than a Jet on Takeoff!
I recently joined my local Soroptimist Club. Before joining, I knew a handful of the women in the club, and they were all women I admired and thought highly of. When I attended my first meeting, was I impressed to learn that one of the members had set a world record for speed on a bicycle.
Just the weekend before I met Denise Mueller-Korenek, Don and I had rented electric bikes and took a ride around Mission Bay in San Diego for a few hours. I had managed to take a spill on the bike, when I was stopping to talk to Don, and had basically scraped the crap out of my body. After my fall, going about 12 miles per hour on the bikes had me scared spitless! All I could think of was the damage that could be done to my body if I fell while going “full speed!” It had me as nervous as a mouse in a cathouse!
So….. imagine what I thought when I heard that Denise had broken “land speed records” on a bike! I figured she had gone maybe as fast as 40 miles and hour or something! No. She hadn’t gone 40 miles an hour. Not even 50 miles an hour. She had gone 183.9 miles per hour. On a bike. WHAT??????
In my wildest imagination, I can’t even begin to think what it would be like to go that speed on a bicycle! 183 MPH is faster than the takeoff speed of a JET! And all she had to protect her beautiful limbs and head during the process were a leather riding suit and a helmet!
An Awe-Inspiring Woman!
The first thing I thought when I met Denise is that I need to get to know this woman better, and I have to do an interview with her for my blog! Talk about “Leading a Royal Life!” This is a woman who isn’t sitting back waiting for life to give her an adventure! She has taken adventure by the balls, and given them a big SQUEEZE!
Denise agreed to sit down with me and explain HOW it is that a woman goes God-danged near the speed of light, on a bicycle!
When Denise broke the world speed record for a bike on September 16, 2018 it was far from the first impressive goal she had set for herself, or- for that matter, the first world record she had broken! Not by any means! Denise started competing and earning titles in racing bikes when she was 14 years old. The minute she tried downhill mountain bike racing she was hooked and went on to earn the Silver medal in the Junior World Championships in 1991. When she hit 19 she stopped competing, and basically didn’t even get on a bike again throughout the years that she married and raised her 3 boys.
The Competitive Bug Bites Again
When Denise was raising her boys, she realized the only way she could consistently get a workout in was when she went to a 5 AM class. It was at that class that she met 3 women who were training to compete in the San Diego Rock & Roll marathon. Denise and some others decided to go and support their friends, and that’s when the ” competitive bug” hit Denise once again. She decided that she would compete in the 2010 marathon with her middle son.
I guess the saying “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” has more truth to it than you might imagine, because her son Michael Boever decided he wanted to run 19 1/2 marathons that year at the age of 16. Setting, and achieving goals obviously runs in the blood with this family!
That followed up with Denise running 1/2 marathons with all 3 of her sons within 3 years.
In 2012 Denise ran into her old cycling coach, John Howard, and he told her he’d love to see her participate in a charity event. Denise hadn’t been on a bike in nearly 20 years, but agreed to do it.
That’s when the “bug” hit her again. Denise planned to break a record in 2016 when she was being towed behind a Range Rover at the Bonneville flats. Unfortunately, after training intensively for 2 years, the last day she was to compete it rained. At this point, although she had already achieved a 1st ever Women’s record at 147.7 mph, she knew she could do even better! Instinctively, she immediately announced, “We are coming back next year to do this.” (Just as this 2018 record , a distinction needs to be made between being towed to start pedaling vs being towed the whole way. Some people think she was towed the whole way, which is not true. She needs to be towed only to be able to turn the large gear over herself, then she continues increasing speed unattached, but “surfing” the draft of air.)
That wasn’t to be, however, because her sponsor let her know that they couldn’t provide the Range Rover again in 2017, so she had to come up with “Plan B.” Plan B was to beat the world speed record set by Fred Rompelberg in 1995, which had stood for 23 years. His speed had been 166.9 MPH. And she would do it behind the same vehicle that Fred had used. The vehicle required extensive rehabilitation, having not been used for a long time. Denise and her team worked to get her, and the vehicle “up to speed” (no pun intended) so she could compete at Bonneville in September 2018. With her specially equipped bike, her coach John Howard and race car driver Shea Holbrook they were ready to go for the record breaking ride of a lifetime.
Denise explained the way it worked. She had to be pulled behind the special vehicle until they got up to a speed of 110 MPH, then she unhooked from the car and rode in the airstream, pedaling until she hit the 183.9 average speed. Denise’s son was driving the vehicle that followed to pick her up after the ride. Her husband, Chris followed in another sponsor vehicle from Optec to pick up the race car at the end.
Mueller-Korenek told me what it was like when her son came up beside her, doing a facebook live and told her that they had determined her speed at over 183 MPH. All they planned to do was 170 MPH to beat the record previously set by Rompelberg. Denise said she screamed “WHAT?” when she was told the speed she had hit.
As she explained it to me, she was going the average of 1 football field per second, behind the “cup” of the vehicle in front of her. All she was concentrating on was staying upright and pedaling her fastest. There was no way she could take even a moment to look at her speedometer.
Think about that speed. Think for a moment what would happen if you lost your balance, while going over sand at that momentum. Personally, although I am pretty much of a daredevil, I can’t even begin to think of the consequences of one slight misjudgment in timing.
There is no “practice” for this type of endeavor. It’s a one shot event. Denise prepped physically. She prepped mentally. But she didn’t get to go to the Bonneville Salt Flats and give it a test run. Unimaginable!
When I asked Denise what her family thought about her doing this, she said she had their support, because the whole family was used to setting goals and meeting them. She had done it numerous times, her sons had done it with their marathons and other goals, and it just didn’t occur to any of them she wouldn’t achieve the goal.
What an inspiring story! A 45 year old woman breaking a world speed record! This isn’t a 20 something athlete, this is a mom of people in their 20’s!
What happens now? I’d think that if you accomplished what Denise has accomplished that would be enough. But I was wrong in that assumption. After taking a few months off, Denise is now training to break a record on a special type of bike. A “Faring Pod.” This is a recumbent bike, completely encased within a “pod.” The one that Denise will compete in doesn’t even have a window. You look at a video screen to see where you are going. The current women’s record is set at 75.6. Somehow, I don’t think that record will stand on the books for very long! There is only one place where they run this race in the country. On a special “road” in Nevada. Denise plans to go there to break the record this September. I don’t doubt for a minute that it will happen, do you?
When we give excuses about why we can’t accomplish one of our goals, we need to look at what this awe inspiring woman has accomplished. She has overcome many of the excuses we constantly tell ourselves. I’m too old. It can’t be done. I’m not as good a another person. I don’t have the time. I don’t have the resources. We all use these excuses day in and day out. Yet Denise didn’t listen to those excuses. She just decided she would, she could and she did.
What unachievable goal can you set for yourself?