Mad Max Comes To Life
Markus ‘Max’ Stöckl hits a top speed on an ordinary mountain bicycle
Challenging status quo has always been an objective for Markus ‘Max’ Stöckl and for this record; he had taken two years to lay an action plan for himself. And true enough, in just 11 seconds; Markus had reached a top speed of 167.6km/h on a standard mountain bike, hurtling down a nameless mountain in Chile’s Atacama Desert. The gravel slope of the location was a perfect 45 degrees, serving as the perfect angle for his record. The 43-year-old hit a pulse of 170 beats per minute, as the wind whistled past his ears on the 1,200m descent.
Markus was brought up in the Austrian mountains, craving for speed since a young age as he participants in the speed annuals since 1999. His penchant for breaking records grew deeper over the years and some of it includes records set at a French ski resort of Les Arcs and a
volcano in Nicaragua. His latest record came after eight practice runs in the barren Chilean desert with barely anything in sight from 4,000m (above sea level).
Speaking emotionally moments after the finish and his latest record, he said: “I’m back on the mountain without a name in the middle of the desert. It’s tricky because it’s all rocky and loose at the start. It was such a long time and standing up there was like we already cried at the start. It was great fun. The whole project is an adventure. This is the top bit of it but also travelling here with all the stuff and making our way through the middle of the desert. It’s hard to reach top speed. After 160, each km/h is a huge effort. If you want to reach a certain goal then you have to put it all in.”
It was also a rare sight as Markus was in a specially designed, figure-hugging suit that effectively had rudders attached to his legs under the material and a helmet in two parts. The carbon-fibre helmet, outfit and bike were tested in a wind tunnel to find the optimal design and seating position for the record attempt. The greatest accomplishment was the use of an ordinary bicycle parts. It may be highend parts but it could very well be bought off shelves at any store.
Whether this latest record has quenched his thirst for the record books remains unknown. Lying on the ground fresh after the attempt, he spoke of a desire to return home to his family.
“It’s important that it feels like an adventure,” he said. “We are travelling to another continent, heading into the desert for countless hours, sleeping in tents under the mountain with a good bunch of guys – it all makes for so much excitement. You never know what is going to happen from a start point before you try it."