Flat out chasing a Kiwi legend

Director feels the heat in record bid

Brough Superior has offered Henry Cole the chance to break the world land speed record for a pre-1955 bike on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.
Brough Superior has offered Henry Cole the chance to break the world land speed record for a pre-1955 bike on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.

British film producer and director Henry Cole is used to riding thousands of kilometres across continents but, in the new documentary series The Ultimate Ride he is trying to emulate famous Kiwi Burt Munro.

British motorcycle manufacturer Brough Superior has given Cole the chance to become one of its works racers on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah in an attempt to emulate Munro's world land speed record for a pre-1955 classic motorcycle.

But record glory never comes easy, as the documentary shows.

"Filming the show was the ultimate thrill but also the ultimate test of my motorbiking abilities," Cole told Driven. "I've ridden in some pretty interesting terrains over the years, but this really was the ultimate challenge,"

Henry Cole has the chance to break the world land speed record for a pre-1955 bike on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. Pictures / Gary France
Henry Cole has the chance to break the world land speed record for a pre-1955 bike on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. Pictures / Gary France

"The legendary Burt Munro set the record for an under-1000cc world record at Bonneville on August 26, 1967.

Nearly 47 years later it was a real privilege to attempt to break the world land speed record for a pre-1955 classic motorcycle."

Cole spent nine months preparing for the record attempt, but an accident early in the training meant he nearly had to quit before the attempt started.

The documentary, The Ultimate Ride, shows Cole struggling with the physical and mental damage the accident caused before meeting the Brough Superior team in Los Angeles to spend another week preparing the bike.

The preparation is done in one of the most famous workshops in the world - US chat show host Jay Leno's Big Dog Garage in Burbank, California.

While the team does the final checks on the race bike, Leno gives Cole an exclusive tour of his astonishing motorcycle collection.

Cole and his 30-member team head to the Bonneville Salt Flats - more than 50sq km where temperatures can top 45C.

The salt flats have a reputation for tearing bikes to pieces, the salt attacking every moving part and the altitude takes 30 per cent of a bike's power.

After a five hour-wait, Cole starts off down the five mile (8km) straight racetrack. He has two miles (3.2km) to reach his required speed, then he hits the timed flying mile (1.6km). After this, he has another two miles of track on which to slow down.

If he is successful on that run he will have to do it all over again the other way to get a land speed record-breaking average speed.

The first of three episodes of World's Greatest Motorcycle Rides - The Ultimate Challenge premieres on Monday April 7 at 8.30pm on Sky's Travel Channel.

- NZ Herald

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