Friday, December 29, 2006

60 Velomobiles

Velomobile enthusiasts celebrate the end of the year with the Oliebollentocht. This annual late-December ride in the Netherlands draws more velomobiles than any other, despite the challenges of darkness, ice, and snow. In 2006, the weather appears to have cooperated, and 60 velomobiles made it to the event.

Participants compete to post photos first, so this year's photo pages began appearing by the end of the rally day on December 28. The Dutch recumbent website assembles a list of links to the photos and reports.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

ASME Human Powered Vehicle Challenge (HPV)

An annual contest for mechanical engineering students features velomobile development, but it seems to exist in a separate universe from the velomobile manufacturing world. The word "velomobile" doesn't even appear in the announcement. (See the link in the header.)

"ASME sponsors the Human Powered Vehicle Competition in hopes of finding a design that can be used for everyday activities ranging from commuting to and from work to going to the grocery store. Senior engineering students can use this competition for their capstone project and with their efforts design and construct a fast, sleek, and safe vehicle capable of road use. "

"There are three different vehicle classes:

Single Rider - operated and powered by a single individual
Multi-rider - operated and powered by two or more individuals
Utility - vehicle designed for every-day transportation for such activities as commuting to work or school, shopping trips, and general transportation

The rider (or riders) can be in upright, prone or recumbent positions. The single and tandem vehicles compete in sprint and endurance events. The practical vehicle emphasizes the usefulness of the vehicle for daily activities such as shopping, transportation or recreation. The practical vehicles must negotiate a slalom course with the challenge of carrying packages, going over bumps, potholes or other obstacles while stopping at signs and obeying the rules of the road."

"All vehicles in all classes of competition are required to have a full or partial aerodynamic fairing. This fairing must cover 1/3 of the frontal area of the vehicle and be built such that it clearly shows the provided number assigned to the vehicle and ASME logo. "

Cycling enthusiasts should encourage more coverage of these events -- it's hard to find any information on past participants and their vehicles, and it would be nice to have more links between the engineering students and the actual users of existing velomobiles.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Short days and commuting

Minnesota winter sunlight lasts later into the evening than it does in northern Europe, but eventually commuters have to do something about visibillity. This "Down-Low Glow" light is what I gave my husband for his birthday this year. It would look good under a Cab-Bike, too.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Back to Velomobiles

Getting back to velomobiles, since that's the topic of this blog, I've been uploading some velomobile film clips to YouTube. Click on the header for a link to the playlist. More to come when I get to them...

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Cool things to do on a bike

On a snowy day, I just learned how to upload a video to YouTube and embed it in this blog. This one is of the Haarlem Marching and Cycling Band, which biked and played for an hour or two at the 2006 Cycle Vision bike show and races in Zandvoort, Netherlands. There's a link to the band's website in the header.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Retro Cycling

Back in about 1960, my dad bought this 1959 Raleigh for my mom, who had never owned a bike before. She decided recently that she was unlikely to ride it, and she gave it to me. This and my dad's Schwinn were the bikes I rode before buying my own Dunelt 3-speed in about 1962.

Last spring, we bought the panniers in the Netherlands, and then couldn't fit them onto any of our racks. European panniers are built for serious load-carrying. I had to buy a European rack that's about 5 centimeters longer than the U.S. standard -- but it's worth it. (The header links to Velox Europe, where we got these Clarijs panniers.)

So with a velomobile, a folding recumbent, a long-wheelbase recumbent and a Greenspeed trike, what on earth am I doing on a 1959 Raleigh? ...Biking! There aren't any bad bikes.

Monday, September 11, 2006

100 mile ride

It's hard to know whether to brag about a 15-hour 100-mile ride. I watched Ymte Sijbrandij ride about 93 miles in three hours this spring, and Fast Freddy Markham went over 50 miles in an hour this summer. The guys in the Tour de France put in 100+ miles day after day. Still, I'm happy to be able to ride 100 miles in one day. This year, I did the ride on the day before my birthday because of the opportunity to combine it with two group rides. The St. Paul Classic normally attracts some 7000 riders, but a cold drizzle kept some of the crowds away this year. The Calhoun Cycle recumbent ride has exceeded 100 riders, but only a couple dozen showed up, and the ride was shortened. I rode our Greenspeed 20/20 GTO trike, averaging about 10 miles per hour, including rest stops, on the 30-mile route of the Classic. Dale and I rode over to Calhoun Cycle in the Cab-Bikes, getting in about 4 miles, but he had a sore foot, and I decided to switch back to the Greenspeed for further riding. The Cab-Bike felt slow and heavy after riding the Greenspeed. Oddly enough, I was actually not riding any slower, but open trikes just feel so fast. I didn't want to stress my knees on the hills by trying to keep up with lighter bikes. As it ended up, I missed the group and met them on the return loop. The last quarter of the 100-miles, I rode on the lake paths. Normally, they feel completely flat, but the little rises felt like mountains, and my speed dropped below 10 mph by the end of the ride. The odometer on the Greenspeed showed just over 100 miles when I pulled into the driveway. I had calculated that there was probably a 4% error, though; I figured that the 4 Cab-Bike miles would provide a guarantee that it was really a 100-mile day.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

100 miles

For the past two years, I've biked 100 miles on September 11. In 2004, it was in the Cab-Bike (see the photos; the odometer reads in kilometers), but in 2005, I used three different bikes. Riding a hundred miles takes me all day. I've only done it twice so far. It seemed like a good way to give my birthday a different focus after the events of 2001. This year, I'm planning to start the ride on September 10 and just finish it after midnight on the eleventh. There are two rides on the tenth that I didn't want to miss. The St. Paul Classic is a 7000-person tour of car-free streets in St. Paul, with plenty of music, food, and socializing. Riding there and back will bring that morning event to 50 miles. In the afternoon, Calhoun Cycle hosts a recumbent ride with as many as 100 riders that will add another 35 or 40 miles. A couple rounds of some local lakes will bring the total to 100. I'll probably start on a Greenspeed GTO trike, switch to the Cab-Bike for the Calhoun Cycle event, and end up with a 1959 Raleigh three-speed or a Brompton/Junik recumbent folder.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Cycling in Paradise

We're back from a bike trip that included riding in the Netherlands. We enjoyed separate bike paths along major intercity highways, signs for scenic and direct bike routes, traffic signals with sensors to detect cyclists and give them the green light, right-of-way and short-cuts for bikes, and this amazing bike parking ramp in central Amsterdam! Ordinary Dutch families were out cycling -- often all on one bike. Click on the title bar above ("Cycling in Paradise") for photos of family bikes and workbikes in Amsterdam.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

License WIMPs?

Biking to work, I’ve seen as many as six cars idling on Remote Start. On April 6, at 55 degrees, there were still two of them. We can’t ban such a popular feature, but why not license it? I propose the WIMP (Wasteful Idiot Making Pollution) license. A low-priced WIMP -40 license would allow remote starting only in extreme cold. A WIMP -10 license would cost a little more but entitle the owner to pre-warm the car with Remote Start at anything colder than 10 below. The cars I saw that morning would need a WIMP 60 license, priced to pay for enough troops in the oilfields, mass transit programs, and tree-planting to offset their excess fuel consumption. WIMP 85+ licenses, allowing users to hop into pre-chilled cars despite global warming, would be cheap at a cool $20,000 a year. WIMP-EXEMPT licenses would be available for people with cold-induced asthma and Raynaud’s Disease. Violaters’ Remote Starts would be deactivated; fines would be twice the annual fee for the license.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Not biking today

I rode the bus today - not all the way to work, because even the buses couldn't get through. By the end of the day, we had nearly a foot of snow. There was one cyclist out riding, but it didn't look like much fun.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Peaking early?

Riding to work at 28 degrees F (about minus 2 Celsius), I thought it might be too warm to photograph any cars running on remote start. After all, this is Minnesota, where we don't think of ourselves as weather weenies. Here's a multiple choice question:

When the driver came out, was it
A) an arthritic old lady with a cane?
B) a young mom with twins in car-seats?
C) a 30-something guy smoking a cigarette?

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Road Rage

Thinking about the profane driver who "buzzed" me for not using the bike lane on a quiet residential street, I wonder how to reach that sort of person. The photo here shows what that lane looked like -- sheets of ice and snow, and piles of loose sand, on an uphill stretch. What sort of idiot, I'm wondering, would consider that a suitable place for a commuter with a heavy set of panniers to ride?

But labeling this guy (however much he deserves it) as an idiot and wishing for a well-placed patch of ice to take him off the road does not solve the problem. He'd probably be even nastier if he were reminded that Peak Oil will have him biking or walking to work himself soon. Does anybody know how to tame the raging American Road Hog?

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Remote start

Exhaust coming from a car gets your attention when you're biking - but more and more, I'm noticing that those cars are empty. "Remote Start" is running about a half dozen cars every morning along my 5 mile commute. This has been a warm winter in Minnesota, with temperatures rarely getting to zero (F, or 13 below C). It's certainly not too cold to bike. How come it's suddenly too cold to get into an unheated car?

Monday, February 27, 2006

Nasty and nice

One very nasty road hog and one pleasant cyclist passed me this morning.

First the road hog. I was riding uphill on a quiet city street when a car zoomed by, very conspicuously gunning its engine. At the next stoplight, I pulled up behind and photographed his license plate. The driver jumped out and suggested that he should have photographed me riding outside the bike lane. Now, that striped bike lane along the street was full of the usual February loose sand and icy patches -- hardly a suitable surface for uphill riding -- and Minnesota law clearly treats bicycles as legitimate vehicles. I pointed out that I had a right to be in the street, and further that he did not have a right to threaten me with his car, and that he had to leave at least three feet of space when passing me. At that, this not very gentlemanly fellow said, "That means YOU have to keep three feet from ME, you f****** b****!" So here's the photo. If you see this guy, make sure you leave him plenty of room.

A friendlier guy, riding a bike toward downtown, passed me and commented "you really know winter's over when the recumbents come out." I told him I'd been riding all winter, including in the snow. He asked, "have you stayed up?" "Noooo," I replied, "have you?" He laughed and answered that he had gone down a couple times too.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Impractical vehicles


On Saturday (February 25, 2006), I went to Mondo Fest. It's about as far from a velomobiling event as you can get without leaving the human-powered world. Crowds of kids zipped around on unicycles, jugglers tossed hoops, rings, clubs, knives, and balls, sometimes while unicycling, and lasso-artists, people with hoops, and a wide variety of yo-yo experts filled four basketball courts and an indoor track. Last year, I rode a velomobile to this event, but a funeral in the morning left me with too little time for the long ride, so I drove there.

My favorite unicycle was this carousel horse. A slight offset in the attachment of the supports causes it to go up and down as the rider pedals. It was tricky to ride, but the kid in the green shirt was taking it around in circles. The link in this post is to some of the videos. film clips from Mondo Fest

Very tall unicycles, fat-tire unicycles, big wheels for touring, little tiny unicycles for kids who didn't look older than 5 -- there were a lot of crazy things. Even some bi-cycles and tri-cycles in which one wheel turned another below it - and sometimes one below that.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Velomobile Experiences

There are several velomobile (velomobiel, velomobil) blogs up already. I'm adding this one with a focus on the Cab-Bike, but with attention to other velomobiles and other human-powered vehicles and their infrastructure.