The man behind the World Speed Record by bike (223.30 kph in Vars, 2015), also know as the “Baron Rouge” because of his red suit, returned to Vars to ride the famous Chabrieres speed slope from the top, this time at night during a full moon.
A new and unique project mixing artistic performance and extreme sport, entitled Eclair (lightning). Eric Barone, in association with Maelys Rebuttini (a young artist from Marseille), Marc Rebuttini (photographer and director) and Guillaume Stagnaro (an artist and teacher), wanted to create an artistic project to give a new dimension to the mountains with a piece of poetry during a full moon night.
On Saturday 23rd, the 55 year old athlete offered to more than 600 persons an impressive and beautiful night show. The only sound was wheels spinning at 160 kph on snow, the only light came from moon and the illuminated bike and suit, racing down “the most rapid ski slope of the world” like colored lightning.
The suit and bike were lit by LEDs and their intensity and color varied depending on the speed, giving a unique effect in the middle of the mountain. While the weather conditions and the state of the slope were not ideal last year during the World Speed Record, everything was perfect this year for the night performance; a clear sky with a full moon, a well shaped speed slope from the top to the bottom, cold temperatures to keep the snow hard and a lot of people at the bottom of the slope.
If you’ve never been to the top of the Chabrieres speed slope, it’s difficult to understand how steep it is and how scary it would be to ride down it on a bike, any attempt to brake on the 1km slope would certainly cause a rider to fall. While Eric Barone made many attempts on the slope on his speed bike, the run at night was made on his training bike, which is completely insane.
“The run itself was more complicated than last year because you don’t see that far by night, only 3 or 4 meters ahead of your front wheel, and you don’t see the roughness of the track or the variations of the track. I had to fight with the bike to stay on it and maintain my position while trying to feel the track and see something as much as I could” said Eric after his run. “When I go to the top, I know I’m going to do something specific, something unique I’m the only one to do in the world, and it’s really exciting. The goal was not the speed tonight, even if we go at 160 kph, but it was all about harmony with the environment and the full moon…” continued Eric Barone before announcing his ultimate goal for next year, “Tonight was only a step before to try to beat my own World Speed Record in 2017. It was an interesting step mentally and I’m proud I did it thanks to a great team who worked hard for this.”
Words and images- Richard Bord