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28 Feb 2010

Inside my PDA

Remember how my pocket PC guided me through a dark and wet Naarden? Well, it almost was the last thing the little gadget ever did. There was water visible in the screen when the device was turned of. You couldn't see it with the device turned on, than the backlight would camouflage the moisture. That's why it had taken me some time to discover this problem. I had to do something.

I took a mini screwdriver and opened it. At first sight, that didn't reveal the problem. So I disassembled further until I had the entire casing removed. It turned out I could peel a thin sheet of plastic from the LCD screen. That flimsy thing had miniature wiring around the edges, so that most be the 'touch' part of the touch screen. It was between those two things that I could remove the moisture. I double checked it, removed some more and repeated this sequence 2 more times.

Now I could click and screw my navigation sidekick back together again. I'd kept the micro screws on a little magnet.

26 Feb 2010

Oops, I did it again...

Nope, this is not about a teen singer in a to tight red latex suit, it's about me. Me, who bought another recumbent from the web. There is some red in this story, the bike has red sub frames. I'd agreed on picking it up last Sunday. That would suit me best. Than I'd be on my way home from Amsterdam where I'd been racing in the velodrome.

It was raining when I stepped on to the platform at the railway station of Naarden. I didn't see a thing and I could only find the right address with the help of my PDA. My glasses fogged up, my hands where cold and yet,  I'd only walked/cycled 900 metres to get to the house where I had to be.

The deal was quickly made. The bike looked way better than I'd imagined. Yes it looked cheap, used and a scratched, but it had air in the tyres and no parts where missing. I paid and wanted to get back to the warm train as soon as possible. Sitting on my just bought Oke-ja and rolling Yivalté beside me the station was not as far as it felt like the other way around. The weather still was crap, and the next challenge was not far ahead.

It's not easy to walk around a train station with all that luggage. A combination of: Yivalté on my shoulder and rolling the Oké-ja, taking one bike at a time at stairs, and with a little help from other passengers got my from train to train. A friendly grey haired man dragged the OK up the escalator. I tolled him dropping that one would be such a terrible thing. At the same moment I thought: 'I'd better carry the Fuego myself, it's costs 20 times more'. Train conductors where suprised when I handed them two bicycle tickets. Funny thing is that there's no restriction on the number of bicycles you may carry on board a train. Just as long as you do it outside peak hours and do not block any exits.

The train was about to stop for the station of Assen when I thought that I was almost there. But just when I thought I had it all, I noticed the fresh snow. The OK handled the snow without any real problems. Within three hours after buying it, the little thing had proven itself to be a loyal companion. I was now pushing my precious race 'bent through the snow and kept a steady pace of about 10km/h. I felt a little dizzy and even managed to ride with the Fuego on my shoulder. That however felt a little silly to do. I was home just before 10:30pm, time for pizza.

24 Feb 2010

Sloten velodrome race and 2 videos

Sunday morning, 7:40am, I'm on my way to the railway station. The roads are wet, so I'm on foot with Yivalté rolling beside me. Last thing I want is a bike covered in slush when I've got a race to ride. After a train ride of two and a half hours (yawn!) I only have to walk or ride very slowly for 4 kilometres to get to the velodrome.

First thing I see when I enter the building is this homebuilt velomobile. This is version 1.5 and it's halfway a serious makeover. It's technically based on Quest components and is built by man known on the forum as 'LongJohn'. It may look small, but is suits the 2 metre tall velonaut.

This event starts with a 4 kilometre pursuit. I forgot my strategy within 2 metres from the start and am circling the track with almost 49km/h. Unfortunately I have to stop after 5 laps because there's something wrong with the timekeeping.

Ten minutes later, my second attempt. My technical advisor on the carbon racer project and loyal supporter of numerous racers yells at me to stay low. I think I did quite well at that. I'll mount the Drift X170 on my rear fork next race to see if I really do manage to follow the black line. Higher up on the track means more distance and more elevation in the corners. It's not easy to compensate for the g-forces. This could be one of the problems with riding a heavier bike like mine. Anyhow, I lap my opponent and ring my bell when I overtake her. I'm probably the only rider with a bell on his bike...

And finally, I managed to do a proper start at a criterium. I quickly nestled myself in the leading group. We even started to ride as a group. Each having our turn at leading the pack. It seem like 2 riders had agreed upon something. And when Emmy had some serious chain management problems I was one my own. I was hoping to do the same as in Apeldoorn and to work together to defeat the other 2, or at least, to stay close. With her exiting the race I could forget that plan. Number one was unreachable for me, but number three was lapped.

Strange thing was that my legs seem to be missing some power. Most of the times my lungs are the problem. Was the problem the wrong sports drink? Did the anti-snore thingy on my nose work so good that the oxygen problem was solved? Or did I push to hard on my way home from work on Friday? My heart rate was high enough and I'd had enough fuel. Second in the turtle group did give me a place at the podium and two bulbs. The winner received a large plant.

During my race I was riding with my on-board camera. This is my first video made with the new software, a full package from AVS.

I used the race of the hares to talk about my plans for the carbon racer with Thomas. The design has potential, but it does need some changes. I learned new techniques and will return to the drawing board this week. Building should start not long from now, as soon the temperatures are up a bit and I've had some monthly cash flow.

I mounted my Drift X170 camera onto Niels' (thanks!) rear fork after I raced in the turtle group criterium. He'd be racing with the hares, that the faster group. Bike is a M5 Nadir L'espada. The 'weight' of the camera didn't seem to slow him down, he finished 2nd a couple of laps behind the Quest with race hood.

It took a while to get home afterwards because I had to pick up a bike a bought on-line in Naarden. More about that later this week. Yivalté received 'thumbs up' from an Italian couple and a Australian guy at Schiphol when I was waiting for the next train. 'Nice bike mate!'

20 Feb 2010

Velodrome race Sloten, one day to go....

Yesterday was a productive day at work. I had three bike for France, one for Finland, one for Germany and one demo bike for ourself. The lack of sleep didn't give any problems. And besides that, I was happy that I saw Nesbitt win gold the evening before. And yes, I also had sympathy for Gerritsen becoming second on the 1000 metre after her fall during the 500 metre speed skating.

The ride back home was pretty fast. It was 12 degrees C warmer than last week and that had quite an effect on my performance. Yavixa also felt better'smoother/faster and cornering wasn't limited by lack of grip or piles of snow. It all added up to a time 10 minutes faster than what is normal.

And now it's a matter of taking it easy to be in good shape for tomorrow. Yes! It's time for another day at a velodrome. And despite the fact that this race is at the Sloten track, I'm realy looking forward to this event. The track may be narrow, dark and in not such a good state, it's still a race.

Yivalté is ready and I even have a strategy! First race of the day is the 4 kilometre time trial. That should take about 5:20 to do. So the idea is to do the first 2 minutes in a medium pace, the next 2 minutes at quite a speed and the last minute or so as fast as I can. If all goes well, a 45.5km/h average is within reach. That being 1km faster than last year.

The idea for the 45 minute criterium is similar to the previous race in Apeldoorn. Only this time I will look in my mirror to shed of people who are slipstreaming a little to long. In Apeldoorn a rider on a Rapto followed me for almost the entire race. And I can do better than that! If got a much better bike, and am more experienced. Quickly accelerating to 50k+ should be enough.I may be a little short on air every now and than, but my sprinting capabilities are amongst the better.

Interesting for you, the viewer and reader of this blog, is that I've mounted my Drift X170 camera so that it gives an excellent view of my ride. It sits just above my right shoulder. You can see me shifting, watch the engines, read the speedo, and still see the track as I see it.

16 Feb 2010

Olympics, Pancakes, part 2

This night I did almost dream about the pancake recipe. However, watching the Olympics cost so much sleep that there was no time to dream. I watched the downhill skiing and the 10km freestyle. The snowboard cross begun at 11pm. That whole event was wrapped up quickly and I fell asleep right after it. A Canadian guy won silver :-) He finished only a metre behind an American, so it was a pity he didn't win the gold medal. 

A little more than 2 hours later the light and TV went on again to watch the 500m speed skating for men. That whole event took a lot longer than planned. It wasn't until 5am that I could go to sleep again. This time for 3 hours. I woke up at 8 for breakfast and a re-run of the pair figure skating. So far so good, I haven't got any problems yet caused by the short nights.

Just before noon I started the make to pancakes following the recipe I mentioned yesterday. The result was very good. The edges where crispy and the colour was golden brown. The egg white does needs to be fluffier, and next time I'll double the amount of syrup. I'll go for version number 3 on Saturday, unless I can't stop myself and find my self mixing the ingredients a couple of days earlier. Next step is find out how much banana I can add and how to mash it so that the batter stays smooth.

Now for those who are just as unfamiliar to cooking as me and like to give it a try, here's my recipe. Make sure to beat the egg white properly and don't be hasty during the baking.

Canadian pancakes
For two 18 centimetre pancakes,
  • 40 grams of flour
  • 3 grams of baking powder
  • 80 millilitre of milk
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 table spoons of syrup
In a small bowl
Mix the flour, baking powder, milk, egg yolk and syrup untill smooth.

In a glass
Beat egg white untill stiff and slowly fold it in to the batter. Don't stir the the batter anymore, just gently fold in the egg white to keep it fluffy.

Bake in a pan, medium heat, with about 5 grams of heated butter.

Based on:
date: 2010-02-15

And to complete this blog post, here's a video. It's a song I was singing whilst pitching a tent in the pouring rain.

15 Feb 2010

Velonauts on ice and pancakes.

For the second consecutive year I rode on a lake with Yavixa. This time it was on the 'Zuidlaardermeer', a lake at about 20 kilometre from my hometown. I wasn't alone this time, I was with Wilfred and his Velox Incendia. We lifted our Mango's on the ice via a pontoon. There was at least 4 centimetre of snow on the ice, so we didn't go fast at all. Except for the part where someone had cleared a path. I could do almost 40 on that clean part. Us two velonauts easily peddled ourself around for a couple of kilometres. We watched hundreds of skaters passing by and I drunk a cup of hot chocolate which you could buy from a little stand somewhere on the lake. A fellow velonaut came by, this time on his skates, accompanied by his nice daughter. In some sort of way, it did feel like we where drawing attention. Another skater remembered seeing a velomobile that looked a lot like Yavixa near Zwolle. I tolled him that I couldn't imagine another person riding around in VM with a design like mine, so it probably was me. That Zwolle is a city more than 70 kilometre from Assen did seem to confuse him.

After we'd had a few sandwiches for lunch we did some more fooling around on a part of the lake without skaters on it. A dozen of 180-ties, long drifts and some fishtailing must have made us look like a couple of kids with expensive toys, but fun we had.

Talking about lunch, food is an important part of my life. I burn a lot of energy and often feel a little hungry. Now the fact is that 'we Dutch' mostly eat bread for breakfast and lunch. When I was in Canada, a 3 week vacation in '08, I often had something hearty like pancakes or doughnuts. My digestive system was finally satisfied. This morning I was surfing the web for recipes for what I revered to as 'Canadian pancakes'. It turned out that, that is how those delicious things are called on the other side of the ocean. Today I had my first try at mixing the basic ingrediënts. An egg, milk, and flour. My creation lacked to important ingredient backing powder, but this already was tasty. I mixed half a table spoon of syrup through the batter which made it delicious.

So next thing to do within a couple of days is mix in the baking powder and making sure the batter becomes one smooth mass. My cooking is based on this recipe but I'll scale it down to one portion and ad the syrup. I did already read that the batter becomes better when you put it in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Back to the velonautic adventures on ice. Wilfred made nice photo's and a entertaining movie about it. I only made the photo you saw earlier in this post. I made this video last year and on a little lake near Assen.

11 Feb 2010

An evening trip with Yavixa

I was reading a post on the forum and felt like going for a ride. The ride turned out twice as long as planned and ended with a visit to my first school. It was open yesterday evening because it'll be towed down next month. They'd invited a couple of people, but I just happened to be around. It was nice to talk with teachers and to walk through the building. To see where I went to school from my 4th till my 12th. I made a few photo for my 'archive'.

During my 20km ride in and around a snowy city of Assen I had the camera recording. I went to places with a lot of lights, because there's no 'night mode' on my X170. In the end, it turned out rather well. The scenes I like the best are the two 180 degree slides I did in the school yard of  'de Lichtbaak'. It became quite a psychedelic video.

You'll see a velomobile making strange manoeuvres and brightly coloured lights in strange shapes passing by. And you'll think that it isn't really happening . But I also saw it, I really did. It's all true.

9 Feb 2010

My dad's Flevobike Alleweder

As I look out the window, into our garden, I see two velomobiles. The right one is my Mango, the VM on the left is my dad's Flevobike Alleweder. Like most 'bent riders, he also started on two wheels. And he still rides his red Cruiser. He newer saw the point of riding 'in' a bike. 'You should feel the wind when you're riding'  he'd say. 'Those velomobiles are good for the young, for those who cycle much more than I do' would be his second reason not to want a velomobile.

But something happened, he made a test ride in a Alligt Alleweder during a 'try a recumbent day'. He liked it, but still didn't really saw the need of getting himself a comfy enclosed trike. His opinion changed. Especially when a friend remembered that my dad had shown interest in a velomobile. This friend would be selling on of his velomobiles because his wife didn't fit in between the front wheels. To be honest, that is a narrow space in a mark II Flevo  Alleweder. Buying the FAW was allowed by mom, but he had to sell his scooter. He'd bought that a few years a go to visit grandpa. But that good old man had passes away 4 years ago, so the scooter already was sort of redundant.

We sold the scooter and agreed day to collect the VM. It must have been a sunny evening in the spring when we picked it up in the nearby town of Nieuw Roden. My dad was brought to Nieuw Roden by a colleague, I arrived there in my previous VM, also a FAW. (who I had to sell to pay Yavixa, I sometimes miss that '94 special, so please don't ask to much about her ;)  ) We adjusted the seat, set the bicycle computer to the tyre right size, had a cup of coffee and rode home again.

Over the past 3 or 4 years, I did change a few things. First thing to be swapped was the seat. I installed a much more comfortable wooden 'Zephyr' seat. The headlights where up-graded to powerful homemade LED lights. And I equipped the yellow machine with indicator lights.

There was however still one problem, my dad doesn't like yellow. And he was riding 5 square meter of this colour. We kept the bright and safe yellow, but added a design inspired by our national railway company.

Nowadays he really likes riding his 4608. A name I came up with. Most trains have a personal 4 digit number. 46 is his year of birth and 08 stands for August. He rides year round and even went out when their was snow. He buys potatoes and dairy products at little farm shops around Assen. By now there's probably something like 9000km on the odometer. I think that with his Cruiser, his town bike and the 4608, he does a total of 7000km a year.

Last week I did a small repair on the wheel arches. As aluminum does age through the years, some cracks had appeared. A problem quite common to a VM of this age, over 12 years old now. I also put some new grease is the ball joints of the front wheel suspension.

7 Feb 2010

A social ride and a Mango on fire

It had been a while since the Huneliggers had their last ride. We could ride to get from A to B, but riding a scenic route was a different thing. All the small back roads we tend to ride on where covered with snow, ice or a mixture of those. Today however, we had a good reason to get together. On of us had just received his first velomobile, a Sinner Mango +. He now has 2 recumbents, the other one being a green Nazca Fuego. We'd been talking about the design for months, and than he decided not to go for a white, but a black one. That meant back to his drawing board for a new look.

He came up with a spectacular full colour print. This morning my dad and I rode to our meeting point in Tynaarlo. There was a total of 7 velomobiles, a Quest, a FAW, and 5 Mango's. We had coffee, chatted about bikes, broken legs and dogs.

It was time to get going again after half an hour or so. The weather had cleared up a bit when we headed east. Two riders took a different route, the remaining 5 continued as a group. We made our way over the last remains from what was left of a thick layer of snow. Here and there the only way to stop you from getting stuck was to charge the icy obstacles with speed, or less brusque, with a little help from another rider.

It was under a blue sky when 3 horses came running towards us when we stopped to take some photos from the wintry scenery. Most horses freak out when they see a recumbent, and especially when they see a velomobile. This was breed was a whole lot braver. Or maybe just curious? They where probably just happy to see someone and wanted some attention. Within in few days someone will have uploaded a video of this meeting.

up-date 2 video's with the 'Velox Incendia' and with the horses : Wifred's video, 7:13 and David's video, 10:14

The quintet of velonauts continued their journey. We had great fun when we rode through a 'tunnel' of arms from a group of pedestrians. Just before the group fell apart, 3 went to Assen and 2 to Groningen, we ate some sandwiches besides a quiet road. I sat in the wind shadow of Yavixa, with my back against her left wheel arch. The last part of the ride went at quite a higher pace, partly because that's fun, partly because we'd become a little cold during our roadside lunch.

5 Feb 2010

The downside of winter

Yeah, I've got a velomobile. A lovely machine for everything a cycle based life form could wish for. But if you just want to go for a ride, two wheels is just more fun. Don't get me wrong, I like riding my Mango. I can throw her through the corners like a little racer, or easily pedal myself over long distances. The radio is great, the low maintenance thing is a dream come true. A VM protects when I'm not feeling so well or when the weather is like it is now.

But when the roads are clean, the temperatures have gone up and especially when the sun is shining, 2 wheels give more fun. Dive in to the corners, accelerate like a flea and feel the wind and the sun. Feel what the tyres do, attack the corners and line 'em up into long sweeping bents.

For the last 2 months, there was none of that. The cold isn't the biggest problem, it's the slush on the road and the sometimes complete absence of grip. You see? I still like the velomobile, I really do. But I long for the time we call Spring.

Last September I made the following video. It was before I started my little 'Friday job' at Nazca. I was there to buy some parts, or something like that, and was offered a test ride on the 2x28" Mont Ventoux. A high racer with the same sort of wheels you'd find in a diamond frame bike. It may look kinda high, but it suits me, and I'm only 1.74 metre tall.

4 Feb 2010

Long on-board with Yavixa

Yesterday I blogged that this video would be ready the following weekend. It's not, it's here already! Ten minutes of easy going on-boards from the mirror mounted Drift X170.

I've tried to let the video follow the music with the transitions and alike. I think that in some parts that really turned out great, like during the vocal part. That's accompanied by a long quiet stretch of wide open cycle road.

3 Feb 2010

Secondary freewheel and Mango Sport

This morning I went to the Ligfietsgarage Groningen (Recumbent garage) to replace my secondary freewheel. Something had gone wrong inside the Shimano BMX bike part and it had stopped freewheeling after about 23,000 kilometre. Luckily I know a few things about velomobiles and bicycle technique so I could change it myself. Well, with a little technical support from H@rry.

After the rear wheel was in back in place I focused my attention on the left front wheel. I moved it millimetre forward it and made sure Yavixa still had properly aligned front wheels. There was 3 millimetre of toe in. (I'd hit a curb I guess) That's not that bad, but it good be better, so I also took care of that.

Final job for now was to make a short video showing the Mango Sport. We rolled and lifted (it really light!) it out and I did my filming. The result is embedded below.

I also made some nice material on the way to Groningen with my Drift x170. That'll be edited and up-loaded in the coming weekend. Expect quite a long white ride seen from Yavixa's engine hood.

2 Feb 2010

2628 Racer and crash pants.

I just received an e-mail from a reader. An important reader, because he knows a thing or two about fast recumbents. The racer I designed wouldn't have little turning capabilities, it would have no turning capabilities. And I need at least a the 'agility' of a Quest to ride on the road. So, I thought up a design change. I walked up the stairs again after I finished my desert (instant strawberry pudding) and draw a new one. Luckily I could copy most bits, and still use the aero features I'd figured out. The racer on paper now had a 559 wheel, with more clearance. Still not a bike to take down town, but nimble enough to ride on our wonderful wide cycle paths and, more important, race tracks. It does mean I have to shorten the donor fork, and find a smaller front wheel.

Not making this structural change would resolve in actually using the safety of my recently purchased crash pants. When you touch the tarmac on a 'bent, most common wounds are scratched hips, upper legs and elbows. Sort of what I had last year in August. Not that I crash often, but it really hurts afterwards. I decided to take some simple safety precautions. Since 'Apeldoorn' I'm using a pair of crash pants and elbow protectors. I bought them at a web shop for in-line skaters. Naturally, a modification was needed. The tail bone protector plate had to go for obvious reason. With that part removed I now had a comfortable pair of shorts, that looks like it work when my tyres loose contact with the surface I should be riding on.

1 Feb 2010

My wish to build a carbon 2x28" quasi low racer (1)

My current stable of 'bents covers almost every wish a cyclist could have. Yavixa the Mango is pretty car-ish. She combines racing speed with every day and all weather usability. The Pioneer is sort of the same, but without the high speeds and the weather protection. He doesn't fear the unpaved road. Yivalté is the fast racer and tourer for long rides and the best cornering you can think of.

One part of recumbent racing is not yet covered, ultimate speed without any compromise to comfort (well, it's still a 'bent, so it won't be that hard) or practicality. Pure straight line speed is all that counts. A 2 wheeled straimliner has proven to be the best at this subject, but that is a little bit to complicated. I'd like something like a M5 CHR, but than prettier, better engineered and with some sort of finishing. It should also be faster and a whole lot cheaper. Not an easy task, not by far. So best would be to try to design and build it all by myself. With simple techniques, everything made in the shed. Beginning with a donor DF to keep the budget down and the concept simple.

Big wheels help to seriously reduce rolling resistance. Good thing is that such wheels are easy to get. Every road bike has a pair. The donor also comes with light weight brakes which are easy to mount. It's front fork is narrow, thus leaving room for the chain. The gearing is aimed at my goal, a cruising speed of 50km/h in a race. You can get a reasonable donor bike for about €50,-. My brother rides such a bike and it functions well.

In the title a call it 'quasi low racer'. Thing is that I'm only 1.74m in length and that I want a 622 front wheel. By agreeing with a horrible crank wheel overlap, combined with a seat hight of about 38cm, that is possible. The seat angle can't be extremely laid back, I'd be looking at the crank set all the if I'd go below 20 degrees. There is no room in the design and my build capabilities for front wheel drive. I'll go for the classic and efficient rear wheel drive. In that way I also reduce the need for special (expensive) components.

The frame has an integrated seat and is made around a foam core with wet in wet carbon cloth lay up. Metal parts will be isolated from the epoxy using a polyester resin. They'll be glued to the foam frame and  aligned in a rig. After a base layer has been applied to the foam, the delicate job of laying the layers can start. Think of something like 2 (3?) layers 200grams woven cloth with 1 or 2 layers of 5cm wide unidirectional in most places. The UD arranged in such a way to withstand the forces that the frame has to deal with. The top layer start with peel-ply to wrap everything together and provide a good surface for the paint.

If everything goes well, I'll have a frame that weighs 2,5kg. Adding all the donor components should lead to a bike that weighs 10kg or so. With the help of some clever earo features this machine should be very fast. I' have to craft the foam into a sleek shape that pushes and guides the air in the right direction and leaves little turbulence behind. Ambitious? Yes, but it should be possible.