Valley Center Cyclist Becomes First Woman To Hold World’s Cycling Speed Record
San Diegan bicyclist Denise Mueller-Korenek, 45, broke the world record for the fastest cycling speed on September 16, 2018. Clocking in an incredible 183.9 mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, Mueller-Korenek easily defeated world record holder Fred Rompelberg, who scored 167 mph in 1995.
This 183.9 mph record makes Mueller-Korenek the first woman ever to hold the world record for the fastest pedaling speed.
It took Mueller-Korenek and her team six years of training to reach this incredible moment. Two key people sharing in Mueller-Korenek’s accomplishment include her pace driver Shea Holbrook and her coach John Howard.
In interviews following her record-shattering lap, Mueller-Korenek said she was surprised she beat Rompelberg’s speed by as much as she did. Mueller-Korenek was only hoping to reach somewhere in the 170 mph range.
Mueller-Korenek says she’s always had a passion for racing mainly due to the influence of her parents. Mueller-Korenek’s father is a well-known long-distance cyclist and her mother is a demolition derby enthusiast.
Although Mueller-Korenek trained with Howard on-and-off for 30 years, she decided to take time off from cycling tournaments to spend time with her three kids. During this time, Mueller-Korenek headed Rancho Santa Fe Security Systems.
It wasn’t until 2012 that Mueller-Korenek felt like she was ready to get back on the bike. Immediately after Mueller-Korenek got in touch with her coach, Howard came up with the idea of training to beat Rompelberg’s record.
Howard, who held the world’s fasted cycling speed (152 mph) from 1985 to 1995, told the press he believes women in their 40s are stronger long-distance cyclists than men of the same age. He also credits Mueller-Korenek’s record to special muscle fibers he believes help her with acceleration.
The Bonneville course Mueller-Korenek rode on measures five miles. Cyclists are supposed to use three miles to reach their max speed and then decelerate on the last two miles.
Mueller-Korenek was first attached to a special car fitted with a long block-like device known as a fairing. On the first lap around, Holbrook quickly reached speeds of 100 mph with Mueller-Korenek pedaling behind him.
The point of the fairing is to create a tiny pocket in which the cyclist can ride without any wind resistance. Cyclists attempt to stay within this pocket for as long as possible as the driver speeds up on the second and third miles.
Once they got to the second mile, Mueller-Korenek broke off from the car and pedaled as hard as she could to remain in the air pocket. During miles two and three, Holbrook was driving at 130 mph. Mueller-Korenek reached her peak speeds in the third mile.
Mueller-Korenek’s team created the group Project Speed to help raise funds for her training and equipment. Although Project Speed wasn’t able to raise the necessary funds for the Utah trip, all of the crewmembers agreed to work with Mueller-Korenek free of charge.
When asked whether she would be training to beat another record, Mueller-Korenek said not any time soon. Although Mueller-Korenek admitted the thought crossed her mind, all she wants to do now is take a well-deserved rest with her family.
To learn more about Mueller-Korenek’s world record, visit Project Speed’s website at http://theprojectspeed.com/.