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- Pink Floyd

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Athletes & Explorers

Sep 20, 2018

Nearly 300km/h on a bicycle: Denise Mueller-Korenek shatters world record

Clocking in at 183.93mph, Denise Mueller-Korenek has just set the world record for the fastest speed ever achieved on a bicycle.

WRITTEN BY

Brooke Hess

How fast can you ride a bicycle? 13mph? 15? 20 if you’re really fit?
The fastest speed clocked by a cyclist in the Tour de France was by Rohan Dennisin 2015. He had a blistering 34.5mph average speed in the stage 1 time-trial.

How fast can you legally drive a car? Depending on the state you live in, most likely 65mph, maybe 75, or if you live in rural parts of Texas, up to 85mph.

Denise Mueller-Korenek, from Valley Center, California, just powered her bike to five times Rohan’s speed in the Tour de France, and twice that of the fastest legal driving speed in the United States.

On September 16th, 2018, clocking in at 183.93mph, Mueller-Korenek set a new world record for the fastest speed ever achieved on a bicycle.

Mueller-Korenek didn’t do this alone, though. Her custom bicycle was equipped with gears so massive that she needed to be towed to 100mph before she was capable of turning the pedals with her own power. She partnered up with Shea Holbrook, a professional racecar driver, at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, to help her reach the minimum speed. A tow rope attached Mueller-Korenek’s bicycle to the back end of Holbrook’s dragster. Once the 100mph speed was achieved, the tow rope was released, and Mueller-Korenek took over powering the bicycle on her own until she reached her maximum speed of 183.93mph. While pedaling, she stayed within the slipstream just behind Holbrook’s dragster, so as to be protected from wind resistance so strong it had the capability of knocking her backwards off the bicycle.

In case of a fall, Mueller-Korenek’s body was protected with an eight pound leather and kevlar suit, as well as a motorcycle helmet and ski goggles. At speeds above 180mph, though, who knows if any of that protective gear would help if she were to crash.

Mueller-Korenek shattered the previous land speed cycling record of 166.94mph, which was set by Fred Rompleberg of the Netherlands in 1995. The Guinness Book of World Records currently publishes the world’s fastest bicycle speeds in separate male and female categories. So, with that in mind, maybe Fred Rompleberg will get to keep his World Record title of fastest bicycle speed set by a male rider. He has, however, lost the overall fastest speed title. The title of the overall world’s fastest speed on a bicycle now belongs to a female, Denise Mueller-Korenek.

“Beat that, Fred!” yelled Mueller-Korenek after successfully setting the new world record.

Cover photo: YouTube/Project Speed.

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California

Sep 10, 2018

Stoking the Flames: Climate Change driving the West’s Devastating Wildfires

Anthropogenic climate change contributed to California’s record-breaking wildfires. The future of fighting these fires grows increasingly perilous.

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WRITTEN BY

The Outdoor Journal

The California wildfires of 2018 have seared themselves into the public conscience due to their alarming scale and destructivity. If you are one of the 50,000 ordered to evacuate your home, you know the severity of the infernos. If you are one of the millions of Mountain West residents concerned by the smoky atmospheric haze in your skies for the past month, you can appreciate the fires’ far-reaching impact. If you have followed the flurry of statements from the front lines and finger-pointing officials, you have seen a prominent fact emerge from the smoke: these fires and their effects were made worse by our warming climate.

One misconception about climate change is that it solely causes warmer temperatures. This oversimplifies the situation; global warming due to human activity results in a thinning protective atmosphere and increased solar radiation. The consequences of this heightened solar radiation manifest in myriad extremes such as floodings, drought, heat waves, and more frequent catastrophic weather anomalies. Research published by the National Academy of Sciences suggests that climate change may also increase lightning strike frequency and generate high winds.

According to the 2016 research report, these factors, driven by our carbon-burning habit, are ideal for perpetuating and sustaining large fires.

California’s 2018 wildfire season was the volatile climax of an intensifying narrative of climate change factors. These factors form the backbone of this story. Abnormally heavy winter rains in 2016 and 2017 led to an explosion of plant growth, increasing the fuel load for a sustained flame. In the spring and summer of 2017, earlier springtime melt-off and intense heat dried out the surplus plant material. Come July of 2018, conditions were ripe for the monster Mendocino Complex Fire and several others to torch 600,000 acres, destroy over a thousand homes, and claim at least eight lives. Of the protracted fight to contain and extinguish these flames, president of firefighter union Cal Fire Local 2881 Cliff Allen remarked that “The new normal is we are busier than we’ve ever been”. And further destabilization is likely. According to director of CU Boulder’s Earth Lab Jennifer Balch, computer models forecasting future climate patterns reveal an increased risk of drought and heat waves and delayed fire-quenching autumnal precipitation. Gone are the days of predictable fire seasons and reliable natural limitations on the size and intensity of these blazes.

The “new normal” of California wildfire season is reflected in the numbers. In 2017, wildfires burned a reported 234,000 acres across the state. 2018’s wildfire season blazes on into its historically worst months, and 613,000 acres have already gone up in smoke. To put these figures in perspective, the five-year average from 2013-2018 is just 158,000 incinerated acres. Massive, destructive wildfires, exacerbated by anthropogenic climate change, are California’s new reality. The closer we align firefighting efforts with emerging climate research, the better we can protect vulnerable communities and save lives.

Cover Photo: A helicopter silhouetted by smoke from the Mendocino Complex Fire near Ukiah, CA. By Bob Dass, taken July 27, 2017.

This editorial opinion was written by The Outdoor Journal’s Kela Fetters.

Resources and further reading:

Jennifer Balch’s research summary, A thorough wildfire study by CIRES, A Washington Post special and an editorial board opinion piece, The New Yorker, San Francisco Chronicle, A National Academy of Sciences fire study

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