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31 Dec 2009

2009 in a few lines

2009 was an eventful year, it had it's high ups, and some very low downs. This is what came up when I was writing this item. It's very well possible that I've forgotten something.

  • I graduated from the laboratory school in July, scoring 5 times 8 out of 10 and once a 7 out of ten on my end list.
  • A crash in the velodrome of Alkmaar twisted my lower spine. I was fully functioning again after 2 weeks. The only thing that didn't hurt was riding Yavixa.
  • The red Fuego was swapped with Yivalté. I had to work for it, but it almost felt like a present.

30 Dec 2009

Pjotr320's Oliebollentocht 2009

I didn't feel like riding to the OBT this year. Utrecht is a 170km ride and a round trip would take 2 days. But I'd prefer the temperatures a bit higher when it comes do riding 200+km per day. Luckily, I got the chance to ride with David Hembrow in the van from Sinner.

It was 6:50am when I walked to his house. Our Mango's where already in the van. We headed for Zuidwolde at 7:15am, just after David had finished his breakfast. With me as navigator we arrived in Zuidwolde right on time. I have the reputation to get lost very easily, but our drive so far only had 1 u-turn. We collected some brochures about the Dutch recumbent society that could be handed out in Utrecht. Utrecht of course was easy to find and we unloaded the van of it's precious cargo at 9:50am.

The parking was loaded with all kinds of velomobiles. Yes, the Quest is by far the most seen VM nowadays, but there was quite a variety. The Mango's (+) had arrived in great number as well, and I also spotted Versatiles, WAW's and Strada's. The FAW, almost becoming a classic, had 3 re-presenters. You can see a the brightly coloured selection of velomobiles in my OBT2009 gallery.

Riding with 113 VM's is a time consuming event. The first part of the journey had a reasonable pace thanks to the split-up in 3 groups of about 35 each. I had the joy of some serious fishtailing on patches of slushy snow. That the speed dropped a bit after the coffee and cake stop didn't matter. It was a nice route and riding in such a huge group of VM's still is something special. Back to the coffee and cake stop, my choice for hot chocolate instead of coffee had nothing to do with the waitress.

To route leaded us to a part of a bicycle highway. This part was truly excellent. It felt like being on a real highway filled with VM's. This is where I did most of the filming for my Oliebollentocht 2009 video.

We where back at the beginning again after 57km. I had soup and some of the food I'd brought with me in my Lego lunch box. We loaded the van again and headed for home. The ride appeared to be going smoothly until me approached Nunspeet. We got stuck in traffic for more than an hour due a large accident. The police arranged a u-turn for 5 kilometre of cars and soon we where on our way again. Home was still far away, even when we rode past hometown Assen. The van had to be brought back to Groningen. A good chance for me to get a new set of tyres from de 'Ligfietsgarage' (David's work place) Curious as I am I looked around and spotted a few developments that I found very interesting.

It was already 10pm when we started the last part of the day. Assen was a 30km ride away. Just one of those moments when you really appreciate your VM. It was dark, cold, and we'd had a long day. I turned on the radio and followed the Mango taillight in front of me. The roads where empty, inside it was becoming cozy. It was just past 11 when I got home. Time for dinner!

27 Dec 2009

thinking about a velomobile design

Suppose I had the money, knowledge, equipment and will to built my own velomobile, what would I come up with?

Will start with a narrow fiberglas canopy, wide enough to fit me, but not more than that. That canopy will have a low nose, so I can sit low and still look over the bonnet. It will require 150mm cranks, but it seems you can live with that. It should get a foam cover, just like my Mango and an optional race hood. The head and tail lights will be built in to the streamline to give the VM styling instead of a shape.

Now things are getting a bit odd. I'll go for 3 26" wheels in tadpole layout with rear suspension only. Since the front wheels are large as well, they'll have to be outside the fairing. That's less aerodynamic, but does give a possible small turning radius. They'll get a full cover aero mudguard, with a quick release system in case of a puncture. Braking is done with big drum brakes. Everything mounted with close to maximum camber.

The rear wheel is single side mounted and is driven using standard bicycle components. I'll prefer an air-shock to stop the rear wheel from dribbling. The whole frame is made from chromoly steel, the most durable metal I know. The frame will be sort of like a normal trike frame.

The seat is adjustable for seat angle and x-seam. Besides, behind and under the seat is the place for luggage. Tiller steering, bar-end shifters and switches will be the control elements of this VM.

I mentioned them before, the head lights. Think in the categorie of a IQ-speed, 2 of those, and a wide beam. There should be indicators, tail and brake light and car-like interior lights. Every powered by the combination of a combination of a hubdynamo and a lithium polymer battery.

Lenght: 2,55 meters
Wide: 80 centimetres
Seat angle: 25-32 degrees
Weight: sub 30kg.
Color: white
Drive train: 3x9 sram X7
Speed: like a Mango, maybe faster.
Riding: hard cornering, rally like, comfortable, all weather

25 Dec 2009

Night riding

I like riding in the dark. Especially during winter when it's freezing. There very little traffic at those times of the day and the air feels better to my lungs. I follow roads that I know like the back of my hand. My lights are way above average, they let the fear I once had at night go away. The lights show not only the road, or in most cases the cycle path, but also the ditches, the trees and sometimes another cyclist. Seeing another cyclist is very rare on the routes I take. I leave town as quickly as possible and pedal myself in to the darkness. My 'bents take me along quiet sceneries. Horses in a field or lonely farmhouse down a dusty road. There is nobody to slow down for, nobody to warn and overtake. And one of the best things is that there's nobody who ruins my cornering.

When the roads are dry and clean, nothing beats my Fuego. Nothing sprints, tours and corners like Yivalté does. I think I can say that if I only had summer weather, Fuego would accompany me on most of my rides.
When the roads are wet, or I want to ride through a forest, the Pioneer will do fine.
When the weather is like it's now, cold, wet, and snowy my velomobile can show where she's good at. VM's work in any weather condition, but they start to take a leap on all other bikes when the weather is trying to keep you indoors.

You can understand that I was very surprised when I met another recumbent rider on an otherwise deserted cycle path. I spotted the bike from far away, which is worth mention, as a lot of cyclist tend to ride without proper lights or reflection. He was one his way home, half way a 20km commute.

Later on, we both went our own way again. I was now approaching the TT circuit, south of Assen. The road was empty and my speed was building up. The radio provided a little extra energy and contributed to the car-ish feeling. The grey concrete in front of my wheels was brightly lighted by my headlights, the snow formed a little wall on each side of it.

I raced past the circuit and headed for the darkest road of the entire route, the old brick road past the cemetery. From there on I set course to the city centre, rode past the canal and I was home a few minutes later. Another 33km added to the odometer.

23 Dec 2009

Ellen ten Damme, in-store promotion

This is just my 2nd blog item, but it's time to do a non-recumbent item. Today I went to an in-store promotion for Ellen ten Damme's newest album. The English speaking world probably doesn't know her, so I'll give a very short introduction. She's a Dutch multi-talent that is most known for 3 things, singing, acting and an insurance commercial. She can also play the piano, the violin and guitar. She's was born in 1967 and grew up in nearby Roden. Untill today, I knew even less than that.

edit 2009-12-24: a friend of mine wrote this comment on my facebook page:
Mar Krts
She also does gymnastic pretty well. She can be very physical on stage. And yes, she's an alround good performer with a voice straight into your heart. Seems to me she' s a genuine nice person, and that shows in her performances.

Now she has made an album in her own language, Dutch. That something new for her. Her previous albums where in English. I heard some songs of that album on the radio and liked those. And I recently spoke a colleague of mine who went to a theatre concert of her. So when I saw in a local paper that she'd come to Assen, I just had to go.

The in-store was originally meant to be held on Sunday but was re-scheduled because of the weather. Instead of what was originally planned, she had to do it without her band. Didn't really matter, it was worth the waiting. Like all famous people also Ellen is shorter than I'd imagined.

After a little problem with the amplifier/speakers she did a small, but overwhelming performance. Maybe it's just me, but hearing her powerful, tender, loud, sweet, crystal clear voice whilst being within 3 meters of her made me feel tiny, wobbly and squishy. In short, I was flabbergasted. Her voice has an amazing range. One moment she sounds like a school girl, the next moment she could sound like a huge angry woman. Even when she speaks her voice is utterly beautiful.

Luckily, I a few brain cells left to shoot some photo's. The other billions where running around frantically like a group of lemmings. I had bought her album just for the mini-concert and had it signed right after it. Afterwards I watched other people do the same thing. In the end when most of the audience had left, 2 or 3 shop employees posed for a photo together with her. So, this was my chance. Not taking this chance was something I'd regret for a long time. I gave my camera to an employee I know and waited until she'd finished talking to someone else. I asked for the photo as if I where a 8yo scout asking someone to buy homemade cookies.


I had my photo, a signed album and a story to tell. There used to be girls/woman who I sort of had allowed to call me 'Petertje' (little Peter). The last one was my favourite colleague from my 6 month trainee ship at Cordis. I'm pretty sure it will never happen, but the rare privilege to call me Petertje, has been given to Ellen.


Before I went to sleep last Wednesday, I looked out the window and thought: 'I guess this is all to snow we'll get, just 2cm.... How wrong could I be? The next morning there was at least 10cm of the pretty white stuff! It made me get out of bed half an hour earlier than usual, and do something childish. I got dressed, went down, put on my sandals and rode around the street on my Pioneer.

But, it being Thursday, I had work to do. There where 2 small crates of mail in the hall that had to be delivered. Luckily, the cycle paths where clean enough to ride on. And I think that it didn't cost me much more time.

Than came, as usual, Friday. The most important day of the week. The day I work at Nazca. Almost every week a 42km ride brings me to Nijeveen, a small village south of Assen. Knowing that my route is a much used cycle route, I had no doubt that I would be able to ride my Mango velomobile to work. It was the only option. Walking takes to long and the trains had a lot of problems with the weather conditions. I must say, that it went surprisingly easy. Of course there where a few km's that weren't totally free of snow, but most of the paths was clean enough to do at least 25km/h. After 1:50 hour I was welcomed by a surprised mr. Nazca. I was right on time and even managed to ride through to 15cm of snow on the the Nazca parking place. Just a matter of building up a lot of speed before diving into the snow.

It was long day and I went home at 9pm. But not before I enjoyed a good mail and a cup of thee. Not only the engine of Yavixa got new fuel, also the LiPo battery had been charged to ensure plenty of light on the way home. Now imagine a quiet snowy scenery with farm houses, christmas lights, little traffic and a clean cyclepath, how great would that be? Excellent I can tell you. I was all warm and cozy in my VM. Outside it was -7 degrees celcius, inside a had the radio on. There was some slush on the road, but still I averaged 24km/h. My back wheel spun a few times and I had a little bit of oversteer in some corners. In short, a great ride :)