What Can the Fastest Woman on a Bike Teach You About Growing Your Sports Program?

On September 16th, 2018, Denise Mueller-Korenek accomplished something that most of us would consider inconceivable.

She pedaled a bicycle more than 180 miles per hour.

Just to put that into context, it is faster than the takeoff of an Airbus A340. And it happened to crush the previous bike-land-speed record.

Her story definitely inspires.

But if you dig a little deeper, there are also some valuable lessons hidden within.

Are you a sports administrator looking to grow and empower your program? Or perhaps, are you a head coach hoping to lead athletes to their full potential?

Take a look at these 3 questions that all great record-breakers wrestle through.

1. What Are the Possibilities?

Great leaders look at their current circumstances through this lens.

It is VERY likely that Denise considered this question. She probably didn’t ask herself, “am I too old to try this?” But she WAS 45 when she obliterated the speed record.

She also probably didn’t ask, “can a woman be the fastest?” If she had, the doubters certainly would have spoken up.

Are you asking the RIGHT questions?

As a sports administrator or head coach, are you focused on the possibilities? It’s a perfect starting point to:

  • Create a new vision for your program
  • Inspire a healthier work ethic in your teams
  • Broaden the dreams and goals of your athletes
2. What Limiting Thoughts Am I Listening To?

Just 2 short years before setting the record, Denise attempted to take the overall record for the fastest person on a bike. She already had the fastest FEMALE record at 147.7 mph. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate, and the lead car was not fast enough.

This failed attempt could have limited her thinking on what she could accomplish.

However, we know that it didn’t because she actually made another attempt (this year) and went 17 mph faster than the previous record. She didn’t break it, she crushed it. And that doesn’t happen while listening to limiting thoughts.

Restricting ideas can pop up in several areas of life. It’s crucial to identify preconceived notions and replace them with constructive beliefs.

Look closely at these areas to discover if you are allowing limiting thoughts to impact the growth of your program:

  • Previous experiences
  • Past school records
  • Former unexpected setbacks
  • Past personal failures
  • Fear
3. Am I Evaluating and Adjusting My Processes Regularly?

In order to accomplish the record-breaking feat, Denise is tethered to a race car that brings her up to 100 + mph. The driver needs to get her up to this speed so that she is able to turn over the cranks with her own power. Once in the slipstream, she unhooks from the car and has to draft.

In her own words, Denise says, “It is like a dance. I’m constantly adjusting, floating forward, and floating back.”

Successful sports administrators, head coaches, and athletic directors often have to do a similar dance of evaluating and adjusting, to grow their programs.

It might look like this:

  • Evaluate the overall morale of your program and massage the culture as though you are striving to be the best in the state.
  • Collaborate with coaches to determine what coaching strategies are most effective and adjust or abandon what’s not working.
  • Adjust the training activities that each athlete needs to do, in order to be the best version of themselves in competition.
Final Thoughts 

Breaking the world record required commitment, a training plan, a supportive team, the right equipment, multiple attempts, and desire.

You can bet that Denise focused on the goal with a positive intensity.

Growing a sports program calls for the same.

Be sure you are asking the right questions — with, “What are the possibilities?” leading your efforts.

Identify any limiting thoughts and remove them from the equation.

Be diligent to evaluate your processes regularly, and be open to adjusting the elements that aren’t moving you forward.

Now take a moment to watch this inspiring story of Denise’s record-breaking journey.

Let us know in the comments what action step you will choose to empower your program’s growth.

Sport Family Coach at

Founder of Growing Champions for Life, David helps sports parents and coaches incorporate positivity and persistence into their communication with the young athletes who count on their encouragement and guidance. An eight-time national water skiing champion, five-time national record holder in water ski jumping, former World Championship U.S. Water Ski Team coach, and proud professional sports parent, he understands first-hand the challenges and rewards of competition. His extensive experience as a corporate leadership coach for Nextel, Sprint, Allstate, Balfour Beatty, The Villages and other companies provides David with unique insight into the skills needed to excel in sports, business and life. He brings an athlete's discipline, a coach's inspiration, and a parent's practical experience to his mission to grow not just champion young athletes, but holistically well-rounded individuals equipped for lifelong excellence.

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