High wire cyclist breaks own world record + Video
Nik Wallenda pedals 260 feet above ground, nearly twice the height of 2008's heartstopping ride
Cycling at a slow pace with your hands off the bars is a skill that takes a bit of practice to acquire, and won’t be made easier by having to carry a 30-foot-long pole as you do it. Now, imagine doing it 260 feet in the air on a trapeze wire with no safety net below.
That’s exactly what the American high wire artist Nik Wallenda has done in an attempt to break his own Guinness World Record for the highest bicycle ride on a high wire – although even if he’d instinctively reached for the bars, he’d have been grasping thin air, since they’d already been removed.
Wallenda, a seventh-generation member of the Flying Wallendas circus family – and therefore unlikely to have ever had a career in accountancy penciled in for his future – set the existing record in 2008 at Newark, New Jersey, when he rode his bicycle 235 feet on a wire suspended 135 feet above the ground.
Now, he’s topped that by riding at a height of 260 feet – almost the length of a football pitch – for 100 feet on a wire between two hotel rooms at the Paradise Island Atlantis resort in the Bahamas, according to a Press Association report.
The new World Record is subject to verification by Guinness, but Wallenda wasn’t finished, getting off his bike to walk 2,000 feet – the longest tightrope walk he has ever undertaken – at a height of 250 foot, above the resort’s maritime habitat which contains sharks, piranha and barracuda, whole having to cope with winds of 28 knots, as he had done on his bike ride, plus the odd thunderstorm.
Afterwards, the 31-year-old Wallenda said: "Against all odds I walked on that wire today. There was lightning in the area, high winds, and it was the first walk without my father. It was one of the hardest decisions I ever made in my life and the hardest walk I have ever done. But my family history and my family tradition is that the show must go on," he added.
Wallenda is conscious of the risks that come with his profession. The year before he was born, his great grandfather Karl Wallenda was killed when he fell during a high wire walk in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
And when setting his 2008 record, watching viewers of a live broadcast on MSNBC’s today programme held their collective breath when just yards from completing his ride, his wheel rims lost traction on the high wire and he started to slide backwards before recovering.
At the time, Wallenda said: “It was a little bit hairy for a minute there. It was real scary.”
You can watch that record-breaking ride here, and it’s pretty heart-stopping stuff as the Specialized bike comes to a complete halt with the arrival point almost within touching distance. We’re pretty sure the reporter’s warning of “don’t try this at home” is a little redundant.
Undaunted, he has his sights set on what perhaps is the ultimate achievement in his chosen field. "I want to be the first person in the world to walk across the Grand Canyon," he explained, "and I have the permit to do it".