Wolfgang Fasching, the Down Under Record breaker from 1998, answers our questions
He’s already won the Race Across America three times, climbed Mount Everest, authored a book, and become a successful motivational speaker. In 1998 Wolfgang Fasching set the world record for cycling from Perth to Sydney in 7 days, 19 hours, and 47 minutes. We asked him some questions about setting this record.
Temperatures in Australia reach an average of 40°C in January, an unimaginable temperature to cycle in. This could be an issue for Christoph Strasser as he couldn’t finish the 2015 Race Across America due to heat exhaustion. Was the temperature in Australia one of the biggest challenges during your tour?
”No, it wasn’t the heat so much as I did the tour in April when the heat isn’t as extreme. Despite that, I noticed that the sun burns hotter in Australia more than anywhere else I’ve ridden.
A bigger challenge for me was actually the headwind that we faced at the beginning. It put us behind where we wanted to be time-wise, and that played a roll on my attitude and psyche.
I think the biggest challenge that I faced was organizational. It’s not something I thought of ahead of time as I was still at the beginning of my career. Christoph already has a lot more experience in this regard, and compared to Race Across America the Australian tour is more manageable and less difficult.”
You rode the tour for 4215 km 19 years ago, and for Christoph today it’s “only” 3950 km. Is it easier to break the record?
“It’s not easier, it’s just different nowadays. The sport has grown and the experience along with it. Christoph is the ultimate athlete in the scene right now.
At the moment I see him as the best there is to offer right now. He’s changing many things, and the whole sport to a new level. If everything works out, he’ll do his thing and make it relatively easy.”
Christoph Strasser wants to set a new record, but he’s going to have to fight against the Australian heat. In your opinion, what is the most important thing needed in order to overcome this challenge successfully
“You can’t answer that with one simple answer, it isn’t just any one thing, but a combination of everything: You have to have a lot of passion for the sport and a great team, so that fun and joy still continue even when it gets tough. Your equipment also plays a decisive roll, but Christoph has been at the forefront of advanced material development.
I believe that Christoph’s attitude as an athlete and his team will be one of the most important factors in successfully comleting this project.”
Record Holder, Gerhard Gulewicz, Remembers his Challenges on the Australian Outback
Ten years ago Gerhard Gulewicz cycled across Australia. Despite a major accident on the last stage, he completed the Perth-Sydney route in a record 7 days and 8 hours. He's keeping his fingers crossed for his countryman, Christoph Strasser. In the interview he tells us what challenges await Christoph Strasser in Australia, and how he has helped Strasser prepare for the race.
Mr. Gulewicz, what is the biggest challenge of the Down Under Record? "You are competing against yourself, the track and the infinite vastness of the outback. The heat and the Australian fly plague are not to be ignored as well."
You are helping Christoph Strasser getting prepared - does that already give him an edge? "There is mostly a lot of respect amongst us extreme athletes and we can admire somebody else's performance. I gave Christoph as much input as I could for him to get prepared for the task at hand."
Who helped you in your preparations for your world record attempt? "I had no help at all so it was a lot of learning by doing for me. For example, getting supplies for our team was a huge challenge: In the Australian outback gas stations and shopping facilities often only come by every 400 kilometres!"
Why do you think Christoph has a good chance of beating the World Record?
"Christoph will surely finish in under 7 days and if you ask me, he will do it in under 6.5 days. He is the best extreme cyclist in the world today. He proved how fast he can be at the RAAM and he has an experienced and well-coordinated team. Above all, I think the track is just ready-made for him.
During my own World Record attempt in 2007 I crashed about 320 km before Sydney. I had to be sedated and brought to the hospital. I could continue afterwards but the accident took up a lot of time. If you subtract that from my finishing time and consider all of Christoph's advantages, I think him finishing in under 6.5 days is absolutely realistic."
The Biggest Challenges
Crossing the Australian outback on a bicycle is not child's play. Much like what Wolfgang Fasching and Gerhard Gulewicz mentioned in their interviews, Christoph Strasser will have to make sure that these challenges don't slow him down:
- Average temperatures of 40°C
- Strong Headwinds
- No civilization in sight: around 400km until the next supermarket or hospital
- Roadtrains as long as 50 meters, many of which drive up to 120 km/h on the roadways
We'd to thank Wolfgang Fasching and Gerhard Gelewicz for their insightful interviews. We're excited to hear about the updates coming soon from Christoph Strasser as he cycles across Australia!