The ride of a lifetime

Updated: 2013-03-19 05:39

By Wang Zhenghua in Shanghai (China Daily)

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Intrepid Pole cycles to top of the Shanghai World Financial Center

Imagine having to climb 100 floors of stairs in one of China's tallest buildings; a grueling task for sure. But world renowned cyclist Krystian Herba made the challenge even tougher by riding his bicycle up the 2,754 steps of the Shanghai World Financial Center on Sunday in a bid for a new world record.

In 1 hour, 21 minutes and 53 seconds, the Polish cyclist rode his seat-less bicycle to the building's 474-meter high observatory, a new record which will be recognized by the Guinness Book of Records for the most steps climbed on a bicycle.

The previous record was also held by Herba, 31, who climbed the 2,040 steps of the 68-story Rose Rayhaan by Rotana in Dubai, United Arab Emirated, in 1:13:41 in January 2012. During such rides, his hands and feet are not allowed to touch the ground or walls to seek support.

"I am a little bit tired but very excited. I am happy to be in Shanghai and on the top of its tallest building," Herba said after completing the feat.

Born in August 1981 in Rzeszow, Herba started his sport career in 1995 and became popular by appearing in the TV show I've Got Talent.

With a dream of conquering the "crowns of the land" - the world's tallest buildings on his bike, he has climbed eight skyscrapers so far, including the highest building and hotel of Europe.

But the Shanghai World Financial Center posed his biggest challenge. "The tallest building I climbed before was only 330 meters with 2,040 steps. But the challenge this time was more than 2,700 steps. It's a really big difference."

The ride of a lifetime

The most difficult part is that the cyclist cannot touch the ground and walls, and has to stay on the bicycle all of the time, he said. "Then you have to climb 500 steps, then 1,000 and 2,000, which can be very hard and dangerous."

Asked what he had been thinking during the climb, the cyclist said: "I was very focused on my target and rode up, up and up. If I think about other things, I may lose my balance."

The secret is to train as much as you can, said Herba, who prepared six months for Sunday's challenge. "A coach told me once that the best way was to train more than everyone else."

Another training ploy was to use a heavier bike, about 8 kilograms, and compete with a lighter one, which weighs 6.9 kg.

Accompanying Herba through the climb was a team of eight people, including friend Marzena Krawiec, a reporter with Polish Public TV.

"It's exciting to see him complete the challenge," she said. "He's very strong. Two days ago, he completed the journey in about 1:40 in a trial run and that was already a very good result."

Another team member, Remigiusz Walaszczyk, ran after Herba with a camera on his head that captured the attempt for the Guinness Book of Records. Natalia Przystas, who gave water to Herba, checked his pulse and controlled his pace.

The stairs in the building were marked with numbers so the team knew exactly where it was.

Looking forward, Herba said he does not know what his limits are. But he has decided to take up the challenge of 3,600 steps with a split-climb next year climbing up to the top of a 300-meter building, taking an elevator down and doing the climb again.

Shanghai Tower, a skyscraper under construction and to be China's tallest building at 632 meters, and high-rise buildings in Hong Kong, Taipei, South Korea and the United States are among his potential targets, he said.

(China Daily 03/19/2013 page23)