Thursday, May 14, 2009

Human-powered cycle breaks the decimach barrier

"Sam Whittingham, who lives and works on Quadra Island, BC has won the $25,000 Decimach prize, riding his Georgiev designed enclosed recumbent bike at over 82 mph or 132 Kph at Battle Mountain, Nevada.

Sam has become well known as the builder of Naked Bicycles, and winner of the grand prize at this year's Handmade Bicycle Show in Portland, Oregon.

While many admired his craftsmanship, few were aware that he has for several years been the fastest cyclist on the planet.

With his latest success that will likely change."


D: a decimach, BTW, is one-tenth the speed of sound.

With muscle power alone.
A combination of raw organic horsepower and a very nice set of wheels.


In theory, one could use a recumbent bicycle with a fairing to travel between cities, or even across the country.
In reality, there are so few highways one can bike on that one cannot do so.

I constantly find it amazing. We will lay down endless acres of asphalt, so long as it is for powered vehicles. But the moment we suggest human-powered modes of transportation, suddenly the concept is too expensive.
All that is required is a paved road edge of a metre in width.
The wear and tear on the road surface is negligible for light vehicles.

This is the same myopic viewpoint that we also see in Waterloo.
We see so few multi-use trails.
The cost of an asphalt trail amounts to double that of a sidewalk.
But the surface is friendly to many more modes of transporation.

For example, I rollerblade.
Blading on a sidewalk is no fun, and difficult.
This deters folks from choosing to use a muscle-powered means of transit.

Also, the bike lanes in town have not yet been cleaned this year.
I called this concern in a week ago.
It is nearly JUNE.

The great shame of bike lanes in Waterloo, Father David Bauer drive, has not been cleaned since last SUMMER.

Recumbent bikes are more sensitive to road surface conditions than a normal bike.
For example, one cannot hop a curve on one to jump up a few inches.

But imagine it- bike friendly path-ways away from traffic, or at least well thought out bike lanes.
That don't play leap frog with the bus service.
That are in decent condition, flat and even.
That are maintained as if they are in fact a road.
That aren't filled with broken glass and gravel to hide that broken glass.
Which - wait for it- displaces the cyclist onto either the sidewalk or the road anyway.
Or maybe that would-be cyclist reacts by simply driving to work, thereby clogging the roads even worse and contributing to smog and high fuel prices.

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