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What is the Paced Bicycle Land Speed Record?
Bicycle records set when the cyclist drafts (rides) behind a motor vehicle to minimize wind resistance. The vehicle is usually modified slightly by adding a tail fairing (an exterior structure) to keep the wind off the cyclist who is riding behind it.
This type of record was invented by Charles “Mile-a-Minute Murphy” who drafted a train to set a 60 mph record at end of the 19th century. In order to accomplish this feat, a mile of plywood sheets was attached to the railroad ties ensuring that Charles would have a smooth surface riding behind the train.
In 1938, Alfred Letourneur reached 91mph at a velodrome in France riding behind a motorbike.
In 1985, Denise’s coach and 3 time Olympian, John Howard, set the record at 152 mph riding behind a dragster car at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.
In three separate centuries, less than a dozen people have set a bicycle land speed record.
On September 10-13, 2016, Denise Mueller will attempt to carve out her spot in the history of this event…..
On September 10-13, 2016, Denise Mueller will attempt to break the men’s record of 167mph and set a FIRST women’s record!
Denise Mueller has an inner drive “To Be Fastest!”. She describes the moment when the concept of being the first woman to set a Land Speed Record on a bicycle was presented as an epiphany similar to the explosiveness of “a match being thrown on gasoline.” There was no looking back.
Her coach, John Howard, a 3-time Olympian and member of the US Cycling Hall of Fame, approached Denise about the idea of breaking the record he set 30 years ago at 152.2 mph. So with a goal of reaching 153 mph on her bicycle, Denise will be the FIRST WOMAN ever, in three separate centuries, to attempt this incredible feat.
Racing bicycles and cars, Denise is no stranger to speed and adrenaline. Combining her competitive drive with her natural athletic abilities, this land speed record is the perfect goal for Denise to strive to accomplish.
Denise has also finished on the podium in her other sport love- motor racing. She drives go-karts, rides off-road motorcycles and has even had a run on the Bonneville Salt Flats in her modified Mini Cooper.
Denise’s personal journey will provide an inspiration to other women (and men) to follow their dreams no matter what life path they have traveled.
“There is a fine line between living as if this is your last day on earth, and planning for your future. I choose to dance, sing and play on that fine line and live without regrets.” – Denise Mueller
John Howard Coach and Trainer
John is a legend in American bicycle racing.
3 Time Olympian 20 Time U.S. National Champion 1985 Land Speed Record 152.2 mph 1982 Winner Hawaii Ironman Triathlon 1971 Gold Medal Pan American Games Co-founder Race Across America Member U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame
Denise Mueller Cyclist
Denise is no stranger to speed.
Current National Criterium Champion 15 Time National Champion 2 Podiums Junior Worlds KHS sponsored racer CEO Rancho Santa Fe Security Systems Proud Mother of 3 boys Olympic Aspirations
Shea Holbrook Pace Car Driver
6-Time Pirelli World Challenge Winner Jet Dragster Driver, Top Speed 278 mph Co-Owner of Shea Racing Spokeswoman for BUBBA burgers Featured on espnW Recipient of Women’s Sports Foundation Women in the Winners Circle Project Podium Grant 2011 First Woman to Win the Long Beach Grand Prix in Touring Car Advocate for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy
No, They Weren’t Crazy, but… Paced cycling events have been a part of the fabric of bicycle racing from the early days of the sport. As early as the 1870s, cyclists began pushing their high wheel “Penny Farthings” for more speed on banked tracks. The first pacing of cyclists was accomplished with human pace, teams of powerful racers pacing from tandems and triplets. The advent of the motorcycle, automobile and airplane (each brought to life through the guts and gears of bicycles) accelerated the pursuit of the bicycle-powered ‘need for speed’. Project Speed was created to break a world record.
60 mph – Drafting behind a train (boards placed along the tracks) – Nationality: USA.
1928 - Leon Vanderstuyft
76 mph – Nationality: Belgium.
1933 - Alexis Blanc-Garin
80 mph – Nationality: France.
1935 - Frank Bartell
81 mph – Nationality: Czechoslovakia
1937 - Albert Marquet
87 mph – Nationality: France.
1941 - Alfred Letourneur
100 mph – Pedaling behind a midget race car – Nationality: France.
1962 - Jose Meiffret
127 mph – Nationality: France.
1973 - Dr. Alan Abbott
140 mph – Cycling behind a Chevy dragster in the Bonneville Salt Flats – Nationality: USA.
1995 - Fred Rompleberg
167 mph – Cycling behind a race car in the Bonneville Salt Flats – Nationality: Netherlands.
1985 - John Howard
152.2 mph – Cycling behind a race car in the Bonneville Salt Flats – Nationality: USA.
Designed for Speed
The bicycle Denise will use is sponsored by KHS Bicycles (www.KHSbicycles.com) and custom designed for this record. It will have 17″ high speed rated motorcycle wheels & tires to help reduce the center of gravity.
The frame is elongated for stability and utilizes a “short travel” suspension to dampen high speed vibration. It will also be fitted with a steering stabilizer to eliminate any speed wobble at high speeds. The bicycle is hand made by Len Lochmiller from San Diego in conjunction with SD Wheelworks (www.SDWheelworks.com) in San Diego.
The double reduction gearing and drivetrain is custom made by Todd Schusterman of Davinci Designs www.DavinciTandem.com to allow Denise to pedal the bicycle at a rpm that allows her to provide the necessary power to achieve 168mph.
It is uncharted territory. Something no Woman has done before, yet men have been setting these records starting with Charlie “Mike a minute” Murphy in 1899 The record has been broken about a half dozen times since. My coach and friend John Howard set the record in 1985 @ 152 MPH. I want to give women a voice on my bike at Bonneville. I want to be the fastest woman on a bicycle.
Bonneville is shrine of speed, the mecca of all things fast. I’m an Adrenaline junkie so I view the Land Speed Record as part of my destiny. To do it on Bonneville is not only necessary for safety at the speed goal of 140mph, but an honor to share with so many other amazing people that have set other speed records.
Yes, it’s all about the team. My coach John Howard keeps me fit and on point with my training and racing. Working with Fred Rompelberg to use his current record holder car is essential for creating a draft. The driver is critical for propelling the draft, (and I’d love to have a renowned driver pace me) my mechanics prep the car for speed and safety, and the USFRA and Guinness sanction our record and make it official.
My coach, John Howard brought the idea up to me over lunch in late 2012. Since he had broken the record in 1985, he knows what is physically and mentally required in someone to go after this record. Having been my coach since 1987, John knew I had what it took to go after this record. I hadn’t thought about going after a Land Speed Record until John brought up the concept. Once he did, I immediately wondered why I hadn’t thought about it before. I was completely on board from the first mention of it!
The gearing will be similar to what John Howard used for his record, which was around 130 feet per revolution of the pedals. It will be a double reduction single gear set up. The final gearing will be customized to optimize my particular physical pedal power efficiency.
In the same way previous men’s records have been done, I will be towed to allow my legs to turn the enormous gear over under my own power. Since the bike has only a single gear, it is impossible to have one gear that is used at 10mph all the way up to 140mph. The gearing has to be setup so that it is most efficient at the highest speed. Think of it as a racecar that only has 4th gear to create a record. That car could not start in 4th gear, so as is customary in setting speed records, there is assistance in getting it to a point that it can run under its own power in that high gear. It is the same theory.
I started racing bicycles in 1987 as a junior athlete. At the end of 1991 I “retired” from racing with 13 National Championship titles in 3 bicycle disciplines (Road, Velodrome & Mountain Bike) along with 2 World Championship podium finishes. During my 23 year retirement, I raised a family, ran my family business and stayed in shape by running marathons and finishing an Ironman Triathlon. In 2014 I entered the bicycle racing arena once again and earned another National Championship in the Criterium. Having raced as a downhill mountain biker in the early 1990’s, the thrill of adrenaline is still an inherent part of who I am and is a driving force behind setting this Land Speed Record.
The official distance for the timing trap is one mile after approximately a 3 mile lead up distance to get up to speed and under my own power. It will take approximately 25 seconds to go the one mile at my target speed of 140mph!
Denise believes in herself and her spirit is indomitable. She has the heart and soul of a champion.
Be a Part of It!
To make this dream a reality, we are fundraising to help offset some of the large expenses involved in attaining this goal, including pace car, custom bicycle, training, travel, etc. We ask that you provide generous support, and also follow along for this historic ride. We are offering many fantastic perks for your 501c3 donation!