OFF INTO THE WILD WET YONDER How does this...
Even though 54, French daredevil Eric Barone still has an insatiable need for speed, recently breaking his own speed record on a custom mountain bike by riding it down the world’s steepest snow track.
He topped out at 138.75 mph (223.3 kph).
The previous record was set in 2000 at Les Arcs ski resort, with Barone hitting 137.9 mph (222 kph). This latest run took place on the KL Chabrières speed track at Vars ski resort in the French Alps. Looking at photos of this alpine testing ground, it seems impossibly steep at nearly 45 degrees closer to the top of the slope.
One can only imagine how tense it must have been moments before he was pushed off the starting block down the slope on his newly designed US$87,000 carbon-body mountain bike. Approximately three years in the making, this project had the added challenge of exceptionally gusty conditions on the morning of the attempt.
Time and money aside, Barone knows all too well this is something that virtually guarantees serious, possibly paralyzing injury (or worse) if mistakes are made or equipment fails. Even after completing numerous trial runs, there are simply too many variables in alpine conditions such as this. Combine that with breakneck speed and, well, you had better prepare yourself for the eventuality of some gnarly crashes sooner or later.
One of his most famous crashes actually took place on the side of a volcano in Nicaragua in 2002 when his bike fork snapped while hurtling down the slope at 107 mph (172 kph). Despite losing his helmet the second he face planted, he came out of it “ok” with only two torn shoulders and a bunch of broken ribs. Brutal.
Also known as “Le Baron Rouge” (the Red Baron), Barone previously worked as a stuntman, but has since immersed himself in the world of extreme biking. He has cruised down the slopes of some of the world’s most renowned volcanoes—Hawaii’s Mauna Kea, Japan‘s Mount Fuji, and Italy’s highly active Mount Etna, to name just a few—as well as some 20+ volcanoes in Nicaragua.