“Always Been a Daredevil”—38-Year-Old French Cyclist to Attempt 90 Mph Speed Record Again, Despite Near-Paralysis in Previous Try

Published 10/04/2023, 3:43 PM EDT

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François Pervis, a name synonymous with speed and thrill, has always lived life on the edge. The French daredevil, whose resume boasts seven world titles, recently embarked on his most audacious cycling adventure yet. With an Olympic bronze medal as a track sprinter, François attempted to break the human-powered speed record on a recumbent bicycle.

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Often dubbed a ‘casse-cou’ or daredevil, François has been fascinated by velocity since his youth. With steady determination, he entered the Nevada desert in a pursuit culminating in four attempts down the 8-km-long stretch. But the venture was also a ride along his memory lane, as the daring cyclist had faced a life-changing accident in this area that almost paralyzed him. 

Cycling mishap with near-paralysis consequences 

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In September 2022, Pervis faced a life-altering moment while hurtling down a road at 130km/h in the Nevada desert on his previous record attempt. Disaster struck when a slow puncture sent him into a terrifying spin, leaving François helpless as his bike tumbled. This shocking fall resulted in a fractured spinal cord that brought him mere millimeters from permanent paralysis. 

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But for Pervis, the adversity was not a deterrent; it fueled his persistence instead. With renewed spirits of cycling, the thrill-seeking rider returned to the scene of his biggest nightmare. Declaring his love for cycling adventures, Pervis expressed, “I like adrenaline. I like speed.” And indeed, the cyclist portrayed a track record that proved his urge to push boundaries. Yet, Mother Nature threw another formidable adversary at him this time, with sudden relentless headwinds.

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Triumphing over a deafening track of unbearable heat

François Pervis set his target to achieve the world record of 144.1km/h, held by Canadian aero engineer Todd Reichert since 2016. Each day through the trials depicted his battle against gales, with one day featuring an 11km/h headwind that wore him down. On his third try, Pervis mistakenly ceased pedaling with just 200 meters to go, maxing out at 139.05km/h. Pervis’ final attempt clocked in at 139.88km/h, a new European record but still shy of Reichert’s benchmark. 

Frustratingly, Pervis and his team later realized that a mere 4 km/h tailwind, like Reichert had seven years prior, would have secured his victory. The desert at 140km/h was surreal for the cycling enthusiast, with no visual reference points to gauge speed. Inside the recumbent, the sound throughout the ride was painful, with palpable vibrations and scorching heat. “I was soaked with sweat,” Pervis recalled as he shared how the disc brakes added to his hurdles.

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Under François’ fearless facade was a story of resilience and an unquenchable thirst for adrenaline. Although the speed record eluded him, Pervis refuses to slow down yet. He is now all set with sights on a different challenge, willing to win a ‘cyclor’ role in the America’s Cup sailing competition. The contest marks boats reaching 100-105 km/h speeds while cyclists provide power to move the sail. With his relentless passion for speed, François continues to defy limits, embracing life’s exhilarating highs and lows.

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Written by:

Sanchari Bhaduri

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Sanchari Bhaduri is a fresh Sports Viral Moments writer at EssentiallySports. Graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English from IGNOU, she embarked on her content creation career in 2015 with freelance projects. Her previous role involved her serving as a Content Manager for Reddit.
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