Briton Neil Campbell is all set for his attempt to break the 268.76km/h men’s cycling speed record at Elvington Airfield, North Yorkshire, England, this weekend.
The 45-year-old European cycling speed record holder (239.792km/h) will use a parachute braking system for his custom-built bike as he drops from about 112km/h to 0km/h in just 400m.
He will also be wearing an airbag suit and use a Porsche Cayenne pace car in a bid to better Fred Rompelberg’s time, set way back in 1995.
Achieving the fastest bicycle speed in slipstream is one instance where a woman currently holds the world record.
“I’ve known about this record for 25 years since meeting the former British record holder Dave Le Grys,” said Campbell, who is a British and Commonwealth bicycle speed record holder.
“I’ve harboured the long obsession to attempt to ride that fast since then. It was only when Guy Martin broke it [the British record] that it became apparent that I should get on with it.
“Obviously Diane Mueller-Korenak has done 294.51km/h on Bonneville, but it would be impossible to attempt that in the UK on such a short [3km] runway, but the men’s record still stands and is there to be beaten in the meantime.”
Campbell felt that this challenge was a stepping stone towards getting to the 16km track at Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, USA, and targeting the world record.
“Besides that, we’ve been told so many times that it can’t be done in the UK and we’re doggedly determined to prove that with a little ingenuity and brave pills it can be.”
Campbell said he felt apprehensive ahead of this attempt as it was not a given that they would have enough distance to achieve top speed and brake safely.
“For this to work the planets really will have to align. So much can go wrong and the stakes are high, not to mention having the British weather to contend with.
“We simply don’t have the distance to get to top speed and in reality only have 400m to get back to 0km/h, hence the parachute.”
He added that the runway surface was rough, particularly in the braking zone, hence the big tyres and chunky forks, which had 1 000cc internal components giving 65mm of travel.
“The bike has been designed specifically for this runway, although we’ve already got draft plans for a ‘Bonny’ Bike and it looks quite different.”
Campbell said four main factors would contribute to them hopefully achieving their objective.
“We have a fast car, top driver [Andy Frost from Red Victor Racing], top team and some determination.
“The rest will come down to fate.”