For the time being, the record for the tallest rideable bike in the world remains in the hands of Californian Richie Trimble — even though he was willing to lose it to a Cuban whom he helped build a whopping 24.6-foot-tall bicycle.
Things were looking good when Félix Ramón Guirola Cepero, 53, rolled out the sleek new tall bike, which he christened his “superbici,” on Thursday morning near the Capitolio building in Havana. It was built with the help of parts Trimble brought from the United States.
It was just an hour after the two had put the finishing touches on the tall bike, and there was reason to think Guirola could break the record. He has already built and rides a 19-foot, 8-inch bike — just shy of the 20-foot, 2.5-inch tall bike that Trimble used to set a Guinness World Record back in 2013.
But a last-minute technical problem prevented Guirola from becoming the new record holder.
Juventud Rebelde, the Cuban state newspaper aimed at young people, covered the attempt and reported that after Guirola mounted the bike he couldn’t pedal with “absolute control.” Adjustments in a tube connecting the front fork to the steering mechanism will be necessary, the newspaper said.
To set a Guinness record for tallest rideable bike, the tall bike must be ridden for a minimum of 100 meters (328 feet). Trimble set his record with a bike he calls “Stoopidtaller.”
After reading about Guirola’s efforts to piece together tall bikes using frames from old Chinese Flying Pigeon bicycles, Trimble put meeting the Cuban bicyclist on his bucket list. When a spot opened up on his calendar, he sold his car to finance his trip to Cuba and went to Havana on March 21 to offer his assistance in building a record-setter. He took 30 pounds of bicycle parts with him.
Even though the world-record attempt was unsuccessful, Trimble said he had a “blast.” When the pair wasn’t working on Guirola’s new bike, they rode the Cuban’s other tall bikes along the seaside Malecón, waving Cuban and American flags from their handlebars as they pedaled along.
Guirola, a former boxer who has a long-standing love affair with bicycles — especially tall ones, is an outgoing guy who has invited bike aficionados from all over the world to come and ride with him. He’s been riding and building tall bikes for more than 35 years and he’s often seen pedaling around his Old Havana neighborhood or along the Malecón.
The trim Guirola clambers easily to the top of his tall bikes and says he has always been fascinated by height.
In a 2015 interview with the Miami Herald, Guirola said that he and his half-brother Rolando Mergarejo Vega are the only ones in Cuba who build tall bikes so he relies on the international biking community for advice and support. In the United States, there are tall bike clubs in a number of cities.
On Saturday, Trimble flew home, 2 1/2 weeks after he began his quest to help Guirola smash his world mark.
Even Trimble’s mother, Helen, was among those rooting for the Cuban to break her son’s record. “It is not over.... just wait!!” she said in an email Saturday.