Mountain bike superstar Markus Stoeckl, one of the world’s most extreme sportspeople, has just visited Queenstown, and New Zealand, for the first time.
The 48-year-old Austrian, who owns a slew of downhill mountain bike speed records, has reached 210.4kmh on snow and 167.6kmh on gravel.
He also owns the MS Mondraker race team, which includes Kiwis Brook Macdonald, Tuhoto-Ariki Pene and, latterly, Queenstowner Toby Meek, 18, NZ’s newly-crowned downhill champ.
Stoeckl’s just been staying with Toby and his family, whose company, MeekBoyz, produces downhill bikes for kids.
‘‘I was looking for the best possible downhill bike for my daughter, when she was five or six, and then MeekBoyz popped up, and then we got in contact.’’
Asked how he got into setting speed records, the first of which he set in ’99, Stoeckl quips: ‘‘I suck in the technical part, so I had to go straight, fast.’’
Considering he’s said, ‘‘if you fail, you die’’, aren’t there easier ways to earn a living?
‘‘You won’t earn your living with that, it’s just a passion thing.”
He says doing 200kmh on snow is ‘‘way less dangerous than doing 160kmh on dirt — ’cos snow, when you crash, you just slide, but on dirt you start to tumble and do flips, that’s when you break in pieces’’.
The key to setting records is ‘‘you have to plan ahead, because once you have a problem, it’s too late’’.
‘‘The last one we did, we had about 25 people on the mountain.’’
Stoeckl, who dons a special suit and helmet for his attempts, says ‘‘if you think about something going wrong, in doing a speed record, you shouldn’t do it because then you’re not ready for it’’.
He won’t attempt any more records on snow because of all the fuel you burn to get it specially groomed.
‘‘To burn 60,000 litres of diesel is not my idea of protecting the environment.’’
He’d still like to break 200kmh on gravel, though, and was in South America in December looking for suitable terrain — he needs about 600 vertical metres on a 45-degree slope with a big run-off.
‘‘I couldn’t find any but we go back and do some more scouting.’’
Stoeckl says there are some great opportunities in Queenstown for European mountain biking pros, particularly during their winter, many of whom are already familiar with the resort.