Wheelie big news: Stolen bike recovered, world record broken

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — "Wheelie Guy" did it.

A spent Chris Barnett, a.k.a. "Wheelie Guy," had few words when he pulled around to the dozens of onlookers who had just witnessed him set a new a world record.

"Need some water," he said.

As he replenished his fluids, a lap tracker advised him of his performance: "13.65 miles."

"That'll do it," Barnett answered.

Shortly after 9 a.m. Saturday Barnett, 23, of West Salem surpassed the previous world record for the longest distance ridden on a bicycle in one hour, all while doing a wheelie.

It almost didn't happen.

Barnett's bike was stolen during a visit to Eugene in August. KVAL News covered the story, and police found the bike less than two weeks later during a routine sweep of a homeless camp.

"Thanks for your help in recovering my bike," Barnett wrote to KVAL News just before his world-record attempt. "Without you guys I have doubt I'd be doing this so soon."

The cheering dozens who watched the fete at South Salem High School's track couldn't help but to notice the fast pace.

Barnett began his quest at 8:30 a.m. and broke the previous record of 10.5 miles well inside of the allotted hour. Ensuing shouts encouraged him to keep going, which he did. At 9:22 a.m. Barnett's momentum finally began to stall and the front tire set down at the northwest corner of the track, ending the effort.

"I definitely felt the adrenalin," Barnett said. "When they showed me the sign showing I had 10 laps to go for the record, that's when it really kicked in.To see everyone out here cheering for me, even in the first few laps, that's when I knew I would do it."

The cheerful gathering lined the south edge of the track, some were friends and family, some just curious — all were supportive, erupting with applause each time Barnett cruised by with a smile.

"This is awesome," said Bill Beavert, 56, a neighbor of the Barnett family in West Salem. "I've known Chris for a long time. I've been snowboarding with him. He's friends with my kids from the neighborhood . He's quite an athlete."

Crews marked each lap and kept the times, and a handful of two-wheeled riders took turns keeping pace - each needing respites during the ride. Among the pace riders were Thomas Richards, Jon Barnett (Chris' brother) Derek Wilson and Keith Brandtjen.

"His pace was . ridiculous," said one bystander.

"He set a blistering pace," agreed pace-rider Richards.

Barnett's ride was more than a record breaker; he's raising money to help a needy African village obtain a freshwater well.

"Got to get a well dug now — that will be nice," said Steve Barnett, Chris's father.

Chris Barnett said he had raised $2,000 for the cause coming into the day; about half of what is needed.

"I can't help to be proud," said Paula Barnett, Chris's mother. "He's been working toward this for more than a year; obsessed really. Maybe a little too obsessed, but it's a good obsession and a good cause."


Information from: Statesman Journal, http://www.statesmanjournal.com

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. KVAL News contributed to this report