The Italian Almanac

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scuba biking

Scuba Biking

Italy's Vittorio Innocente has set a new world record in underwater cycling, pedalling his specially adapted bike to a depth of 65 metres in the sea near Genoa. The new mark bettered Innocente's own record of 60m, set three years ago. The 62-year-old scuba diver was expected to set the record in a televised event on Wednesday but it had to be called off because Innocente damaged an eardrum in his last test.

But a Guinness Book of Records judge from London authenticated the record after vetting eye witness accounts and checking the computerised depth gauge on Innocente's modified mountain bike. Innocente said he was sorry he was unable to repeat his feat because of doctor's orders but happy to have taken his mark up a notch. He thanked a team of local scuba divers who helped him get onto his bike as well as the Carabinieri police who oversaw his effort.

Innocente was lowered into the calm waters of Portofino's maritime reserve. He mounted his vehicle at a depth of 28m and started out along a 110m underwater slope, dodging mud pools and rocks. Nine minutes later he reached the 65m mark. ''It was tough because I ran into more mud than I expected,'' he said. ''I had to click up a gear to make pedalling easier''.

Apart from raising money for cancer research, Innocente is on a self-appointed mission to prove that mountain bikes can go anywhere. He has already cycled over glaciers, deserts and mountains from Alaska to Kenya. Then, about seven years ago, he decided to continue the mission by uniting his two passions - scuba-diving and cycling. Since then Innocente has been honing his technique and gradually pushing up the record for undersea cycling.

Needless to say, he dominates the sport.