Denise Mueller-Korenek

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Denise Mueller-Korenek (born c. 1973) is an American cyclist. As of September 2018, she holds the world record for paced bicycle land speed[1][2] and is considered "the fastest cyclist on earth".[3][4] She set the record on September 16, 2018, at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, by traveling an average of 183.932 mph (296.009 km/h) on a custom-built carbon KHS bicycle behind a custom-built vehicle to minimize air resistance.[5] The previous record, 167 miles per hour (269 km/h), was set in 1995 by Dutchman Fred Rompelberg. Two years earlier she set the women's bicycle land speed record, pedaling 147.7 mph (237.7 km/h).[6] She is the first and only woman in history to hold the world record, which was first established in 1899.[7][8]

Early life and education[edit]

Denise Mueller was born into a family of daredevils. Her father, Myron Mueller, was an ultra-distance cyclist; he celebrated his 70th birthday by pedaling the entire perimeter of the coterminous United States, a distance of more than 12,000 miles (19,000 km). He is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest person to bicycle that perimeter.[9] Her mother, Anna Dement, raced midget demolition-derby cars. "In our family, crazy is our sort of normal," Denise said.[6] She graduated from San Dieguito High School.[6]

In 1991, she appeared in a segment with her mentor John Howard in an instructional videotape produced by New & Unique Videos entitled "John Howard's Lessons in Cycling" which won an International Film & TV Festival of New York Silver Medal and a National Telly Award.[10]


Mueller competed as a junior cyclist in her teens and finished in the top three in national and world competitions more than a dozen times.[11] She won national championships in road, track and mountain biking 15 times.[3] She retired in 1992 at age 19.[7] She went to work for her family's security company, eventually becoming president and CEO.[12]

In 2009, Mueller resumed bicycling and running, competing in marathons and Ironman Triathlon competitions. Her trainer, both in her teens and later, is John Howard, a three-time Olympian and holder of the world speed record before Rompelberg.[6] Mueller-Korenek decided to go for the speed record when Howard told her no woman had ever attempted it. She began seriously training to set a new bicycle speed record in 2012. Along the way she won two national titles for her age group.[8] In 2016, she made her first run at the record at the Bonneville Salt Flats. Her speed of 147.7 mph (237.7 km/h) established the women's world record.[8]

In paced bicycle racing, the cyclist follows immediately behind a pace car equipped with a wind shield, so that they are pedaling in the car's slipstream. Riding at that speed just inches behind a pace car is so dangerous that most world-class cyclists do not attempt it.[6] The custom bicycle is geared so high that it has to be towed by the pace car until it reaches 90 to 100 miles per hour (140 to 160 km/h); the cyclist then casts off the towrope and pedals under their own power.[8] Rompelberg, whose record she was trying to break, encouraged her efforts and allowed her to use as a pace car the same custom 1,000-horsepower (750 kW) dragster he had used in setting the record.[13] The pace car was driven by professional race car driver Shea Holbrook.[11] In her 2018 attempt, Mueller-Korenek circled the track 3+12 times after casting off the tow rope, breaking the world record on her final mile. Her goal had been to break the previous record of 167 mph (269 km/h); she was surprised to learn she had reached 183.9 mph (296.0 km/h), breaking Rompelberg's record by almost 17 mph (27 km/h). "We weren't supposed to go more than 175," she said.[14]

External links[edit]

Documentary: How This Cyclist Hit 184MPH and Set the World Record, Wall Street Journal. (YouTube, 21 min)


  1. ^ Ingraham, Chris. "Analysis | American woman pedals 184 mph, smashing record held by men for more than 100 years". Washington Post. Retrieved September 25, 2018.
  2. ^ "This Woman Just Biked at 184 MPH to Smash the Bicycle Speed Record". Bicycling. September 17, 2018. Retrieved September 25, 2018.
  3. ^ a b Daley, Jason. "American Woman Sets New Bicycle Speed Record". Smithsonian. Retrieved September 25, 2018.
  4. ^ Allen, Nick (September 19, 2018). "Mother-of-three becomes fastest human being on a bike at 183.9mph". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved September 25, 2018.
  5. ^ "Cycling land speed record smashed on Bonneville Salt Flats". BikeRadar. Retrieved September 17, 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d e Kragen, Pam (August 4, 2018). "Woman cyclist aims for men's world speed record". Retrieved September 13, 2018.
  7. ^ a b Kragen, Pam (September 17, 2018). "San Diego woman officially the fastest bicyclist on Earth". San Diego Union Tribune. Retrieved September 21, 2018.
  8. ^ a b c d Lindsey, Joe (September 13, 2018). "The Exquisite, Intricate Insanity of Riding a Bike at 184 mph". Wired. Retrieved September 21, 2018.
  9. ^ Morrow, Tom (April 12, 2006). "Myron Mueller passes at age 74". San Diego Union Tribune. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  10. ^ "Lessons in Cycling - Crystal Pyramid Productions".
  11. ^ a b Chappell, Bill (September 18, 2018). "Woman Rides Bicycle To 183.9 MPH — A World Record". NPR. Retrieved September 21, 2018.
  12. ^ "American woman smashes cycling record held by men for more than a decade". Durango Herald. Archived from the original on September 26, 2018. Retrieved September 25, 2018.
  13. ^ Hollingum, Ben (September 21, 2018). "A history of cycling speed records as Denise Mueller-Koronek reaches 183 mph". Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  14. ^ "Cycling land speed: Denise Mueller-Korenek breaks world record". BBC News. September 19, 2018. Retrieved September 21, 2018.