Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Velomobiles ROAM-ing across North America

Velomobile riders from 6 or 7 countries got a huge send-off from Portland on July 28, 2011 as they began their coast-to-coast cycle tour of North America. The video above was recorded in Portland by Brent Logan.

The ROAM tour highlights bike-friendly places -- Portland, OR (#2), Missoula, MT (home of Adventure Cycling, too small to be counted in the 2010 Bicycling Magazine survey that's the source of these rankings), Billings,MT (#37), Minneapolis, MN (#1), Madison, WI (#7), Chicago, IL (#10), and Washington, DC (#13).

There are 9 Germans, 9 Dutch guys, one Dane, one Austrian, 3 Brits, a Canadian who is coming only as far as Minneapolis, and two dozen or more from the US. The gender ratio is a little unbalanced, with just one woman. Other North American bike, trike, and velomobile riders are welcome to tag along for as long as they can keep up!

The velomobiles themselves are a mix of home-built and commercial models from around the world -- Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Australia, Canada, and US. The majority were built by Velomobiel in Dronten, Netherlands.

Where there is cell-phone access, a little blue Dutch velomobile avatar rolls across a Google "Kaart". (The first few days of the ride, in the sparsely-populated West, cut the riders off from their usual internet and phone access to the world, but they were expecting better connections east of the Mississippi.)

Cyclists in our area are looking forward to the Minneapolis/St. Paul "rest" day -- a Saturday, August 13 cruise from Baker Park Reserve west of Minneapolis to St. Croix Bluffs Regional Park, east of St. Paul. The relaxed ride along scenic bike trails and low-traffic streets is only about 55 miles, rather than the ROAM average of 125 miles a day.

Then it's on to Wisconsin, through the tunnels on the Elroy-Sparta trail, with a stop in Madison, followed by another "rest" day riding through Chicago. Much of the eastern section of the ride follows rural routes to avoid dangerous traffic.

The tour ends in Washington, DC with rides through the capital on August 24 and 25.

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