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15 Feb 2011

A race with the Gaucho

I was close to sleeping in the train on my way to Alkmaar. My throat was soar, my head was aching every now and then and I felt like going to bed most of the time. Not the best condition to enter a race. But I really wanted to race. In front of me stood a fast machine that needed testing. Besides that, I like racing. Luckily, I wasn't to only one who felt the same. 22 other riders wanted to give it a go on the 250 metre velodrome.

So, after the usual unpacking, testing and warm up, I started with a 1km time trial. Now you must know that I had zero track experience with a dual 28" bike. So I was glad that I could practice a bit during the warm up. The world sure looks different from the Gaucho's point of view. It becomes easy when you go past the 40kph barrier. Slower is possible, but doesn't feel pleasant on the banked corners.

The 1km. A good start followed by 3 steady laps of just over 50kph. Lap number 4 went a little slower. My time was 1:17:3, nothing special. I qualified for the runners-up race.

The great thing about a criterium is that you can draft, or slipstream, whatever you call it. For me however, there wasn't much to hide behind. I could feel some difference with a bike in front of me, but it kept feeling awfully windy around my head. But I could keep up with our group of four. And I also was fast enough to lead the pack. How? Most likely a combination of a good 'bent and a trained engine. As long as I didn't push to hard, heart rate 174 or so, I felt fine. And so we kept riding around for 43 minutes.

That was the moment I thought: let's see what's possible. I left my 3th position and fiercely accelerated from 44 to 54kph. I cleverly used the height of the banking as a gravity boost. For 5 more laps, my speed was above 50. The last 2 laps where difficult and I finished coughing, but in 1st position. Five seconds behind me in 2nd position was Emmy, followed by the tandem and Gerold on his Baron. 

And yes, I made it without a headache! I spent the rest of the afternoon hanging around, talking about this and that, taking some photos and eating. I got a ride home with the van Dijken family, thanks! That saved me from the utter chaos you often find on the train station of Amersfoort on Sunday evening.

I won the little race, the Gaucho with a 21 or so degree seat angle is fast, I didn't get ill, and had another fine afternoon at the races.

How fast is it? I'd say very close to my Fuego on the track, and faster on the open road. The big wheels and high position really pay of in every day life. But choosing a bike is personal. I'll keep riding my Fuego because it's just more exciting and fun. And I can't buy everything I like.

My photos

12 Feb 2011

An even better Gaucho 28?

Friday morning. I get well dressed for a ride on my Pioneer. Just before leaving I install my radio in my pockets and ears. Riding the Fuego and Mango have spoiled me a bit when it comes to speed sensation/ The Pioneer is kinda slow on such a long, long straight. Radio 2 is a good companion for the long distance commuter. But it's a good bike, and I get to Nijeveen in a comfortable and save way. I had time to think of ways to make Lobbes faster.

I spent most of the day checking bikes for dealers and customers in France and Germany. Everything most be perfect. Everything as by the book. Everything as good as possible.

After tea I start working on some wheels. And while I'm doing that, Henk is preparing a special Gaucho 28, one with some new, an experiment. Instead of the usual 28 degrees, which racy me finds rather up-right, this one goes down to 21 or so. Of course, without getting a strange geometry and wobbly handling. Two weeks ago I swapped the aluminum plates halfway the bike. Now the bike gets a headlight (an IQ-Speed) and a small rack so that I can ride it home.

Half past five, time to go. I load my stuff onto the little rack and switch on the lights. I sense in the first 50 metres that I like this geometry. It's the ride position of the Fuego combined with the best rolling wheels possible. You might expect that after a ride in the morning on 50 millimetre Kojaks, riding 28 milimetre Conti GP4000S's feels rough. It doesn't, it really doesn't. No rattle, no noise. Nothing more than a deep humming sound. The rear air suspension and 622 size wheels are truly excellent.

It's on my way back home that I know what my Pioneer needs. A derailleur and a different seat. We'll work on that. More things happen when I ride past the canal. My headlight's battery drops in voltage. That means the IQ switches into 'eco mode'. 10 instead of 50 lux. Enough to see the road, enough to be seen. But it ain't very bright no more. To compensate I turn on my latest buy, a Planetbike Spok. Small, economic, high on my helmet and amazingly bright. The perfect back-up! 

The Gaucho is clean now, ready for tomorrows race. I'll bring my cameras and I'm curious how it'll do on the track.

6 Feb 2011

Weekend, several things

My weekend started at Nazca. I checked several bikes and built four wheels. A lot of wheels I use on my own bikes are laced and trued by yours truly, but these where the first I build for Nazca. I learned it, five years or so ago, from a fellow Huneligger. And yes, I also had the joy of my 84km Friday commute. This time with a 5-7bft. wind. The tailwind pushed me home, the headwind gave my some extra training. Which is good. I have another race on the 13th of February.

Last week I gave my Pioneer a proper tiller. I'd been using a home made one for over a year, that one wasn't that stable anymore. So a well engineered, slightly heavier, but much nicer tiller from the 'little int. hq. was installed. Also added to my big red 'bent was a 46t chain ring. That completed my 3x3 gearing system. An efficient  and classic Sturmey Archer AW3 hub, with two 33% steps, combined with a 38, 42, and a 46 chainring give a 9 speed system with 10% steps. Operating it has a learning curve, but it works! Big easy steps for city riding and close gearing for longer distances. The gear range goes from 13 to 48kph.

My Oké-ja finally got the right shifter to match the SRAM TK3 hub. This hub replaces the original Nexus 4. That one was geared way to high and much less efficient. Indeed, I like 3 speed hubs. I got the classic looking little thumb operated lever from a fellow velonaut with a webshop in bike parts. My up-right-ish 'bent also had it electrics checked and it's tail light replaced. That's another little home made thing. Dynamo operated and with a capacitor to keep it shining when the wheels don't turn.

On Sunday I made a little 70km ride with 3 other Huneliggers. The four of us where riding some of the worlds finest velomobiles. A red Carbon Strada, a Mango Red Edition, a Mango Sport and a 'normal' Quest. Again, the wind was strong, we enjoyed that. Later this day I took mom out on her Gaucho. Winter had kept her from riding her blue 24" 'bent and I thought it was about time she'd get back on it again.

Tomorrow, a courier from DHL will pick up a large package from my house. This is part of a little project of mine. It involves second hand recumbents, me, and the international community of bentriders. More about this later. However, my Cruiser still is available. It might be a good idea to create an add for that on

An extra little notice for my American readers. Nazca's are available via a dealer in California since not so long.  That's makes buying this Euro-bent a whole lot easier. Check out the Spincylz website for more info. Am I getting paid for this? Not that I know. I already liked the idea of more Euro-bents on the other side of the big pond. And an overseas dealer makes for a whole lot less hassle.