As you might guess, François Gissy of France was not pedalling Friday – he was seated atop a hydrogen peroxide-powered rocket with three thrusters fastened to the frame of an elongated, but otherwise ordinary-looking bicycle.
The speed he reached in tests at the Circuit Paul Ricard are the fastest ever recorded in the world for a rocket-powered bicycle, according to the racetrack, which sponsored the event, and the Facebook page of Exotic Thermo Engineering/Swiss Rocketman, the company behind the bike.
In video posted on YouTube that announces a new record for a rocket-powered bicycle, a Ferrari racing the bike is left far behind within seconds of leaving the starting line.
The bike, designed by Gissy's friend, Arnold Neracher, reached its top speed of 333 km/h in just 4.8 seconds and 250 metres.
"In the moment, it is scary, but as soon as you stop, you also realize how amazing that was," Gissy said of the experience in an interview with the technology website Gizmag. But he said the wind is extremely powerful when travelling above 300 kilometres an hour. "I'm lucky my head is still bolted on the body!"
Gissy's previous speed record on a similar bike in 2013 was 263 kilometres an hour.
Exotic Thermo Engineering's other inventions include a rocket-powered go-cart, a rocket car, and a jetpack called a "rocket belt."
According to Guinness World Records, the fastest speed ever for a bicycle that wasn't rocket powered was 268.831 km/h by Fred Rompelberg of the Netherlands, riding behind a wind-shield fitted dragster car in 1995 and assisted by the slipstream of the car.
The current unassisted bicycle speed record is 133.8 km/h — a record that a team in Toronto is trying to break.