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17 Dec 2011

Een goed doel (2)

Gisteravond was het zo ver, 1 uur zwemmen voor het schooltje in Rwanda. Elke vrijdagavond zwem ik ongeveer 45 minuten, wat neerkomt op 40-50 baantjes. Als het water een beetje warmer is, kan dat 60 zijn.

Gisteravond hadden we een uur om te zwemmen en het water had de juiste temperatuur. Tel daar bij op dat er toch iets van een wedstrijdelement in zat, en de omstandigheden zijn perfect om veel te zwemmen. Want alleen al het idee dat het ergens om gaat, is 10% snelheidswinst.

Ik had gedacht 60 baantjes te zwemmen, dat werden er meer. En ik denk dat dit voor elke zwemmer gold, ik zwom veel meer dan gedacht.  Wie mij sponsort is misschien minder verheugd met mijn gezwem. Honderenzes baantjes, achtentwintighonderd meter. De sponsoren ontvangen bericht van mij over hoe ze het geld kunnen overmaken.

part1/deel 1

Yesterday evening was the evening of swimming 1 hour for a school in Rwanda. I swim every Friday, for about 45 minutes. Most often that's 40-50 lenghts. When the water is a little warmer, 60 lenghts is possible too.

Yesterday we had one hour and the water was warmer too. Add the element of competition, and the circumstances are perfect. Apart from the fact that I had to overtake a lot of slower swimmers. But just the idea that it's about something, adds 10% speed.

I'd expected to swim 60 lengths, I did more. And I think every swimmer did a lot more than he/she expected. Those who sponsored me might be less enthusiastic. One hundred and six lengths, twenty eight hundred meters. I'll send my sponsors a message about how to transfer the money.

16 Dec 2011

My K, after the 1st 1000km

It took me 3 weeks to reach the 1000km mark. A classic moment to sum up my experiences thus far.

Ground clearance is sufficient. Only some utterly steep or prolapsed speed bumps require attention. The right angle of approach helps. I'd say 98% of the 'drempels' I encounter don't cause any scraping. (The thing on the right is a horrible obstacle, but my K manages it. Anything steeper or higher should have an escape route for cyclists)

Suspesion is good. The front suspension is hard, but that also makes it handle so good. The occasional pothole like obstacle (we don't have real potholes here) isn't pleasant at all. But that's not the K's fault, and the ride stays stable. Roads should not have such ridges. It's best to swerve around them. As I'm also a volunteer for the Fietsersbond (cyclist federation) a new goal of me is to get rid of every ridge I can find in the roads around Assen. Luckily though, the roads and cycle paths around here are very good. But there are still a few annoying bumps on my routes. All that said, the air suspension at the back is fabulous. It has plenty of damping is a big advantage at high speeds.

Speaking of which, it's fast. Even with the slow, but puncture resistant, Conti Sportcontacts, I'm 25% faster in a straight line that I was with my Mango. On an average ride, with a mix of rural and town (3:1), the difference is close to 15%. 

It took some fiddling, but the Philips headlight is fine now too. I've shielded a small part of the beam that reflected on the nose, and blinded me. The rest of the lights is combined in the box on top of the K. High, easy to install and work on, with good visibility.

At this moment, Beyss only offers a full head fairing and no simple rain cover. So I've made one from foam and Cordura which I bought from Radical Design. I tested it, and it works, hail and rain proof.

Handling is sublime, outstanding, yes even lovely, at any speed. A year or so ago I rode a Catrike for a few KM and wondered why velomobiles don't have such fun handling. There always felt slow, lacked responsiveness and where unstable compared to a bare tadpole trike. Now the handling of the K feels totally different from the Catrike, because it's a different vehicle, obviously, but it is fun. This marvellous handling also is a big safety factor.

Gearing is almost the way I want it. A 61 and a 39 chainring are waiting for a 32-12 cassette to arrive. That's just a bit easier to get going than the current 28-12, and also the spacing of this particular cassette is better.

A tiny problem are the holes in the floor that are there to remove the rear wheel. When the road is wet, water comes in, floor gets wet. The currently used Coroplast sheets don't seal enough. I'll work on it. Removing the rear wheel is pretty easy. Practice makes perfect.

The seat, 625 gram of carbon beauty, (and 15gr foam) is way more comfortable than you'd think. I've cut 2 holes in it, that fit my spine. I like it the way it is now. Adding a Ventisit would double the total seat's weight. (and make the seat to pedal distance to short....)

Two 90mm drum brakes are more than enough for this velonaut. I'd did upgrade the brake cables, the stock cables where the cheapest sort imaginable. There is a bit of brake steer, but even above 50kph, it's nothing to worry about.

The drive train is perhaps a masterpiece. I don't know the physics involved, but this utterly stiff set up I've got is great. The carbon boom, carbon sandwich floor, immense oversized rear swing arm, the chain line and the 23t TC idler make viaducts (and hills) feel less steep. Also on the 39t chain ring, this drive train is a long way ahead on the competition. You've got to experience it to fully understand it. (and when you ask, almost any kind of drive train is possible, like gearing needed on 20% grades)

Last week I tried out the luggage capacity. With some creativity, I can fit in my usual camping gear. Only thing left to figure out is a 'thing' to hold my sleeping bag in front of the crank set.Something with Coroplast and tiny brackets held in place with epoxy. The space in front of the wheel wells also is tempting to use. The thing is that there's enough room inside this small sports velomobile to carry almost the same amount of stuff as I could get in my Mango. It does ask for more creativity.

The chain needs some kind of cover between the idler and the rear swing arm. And again, a small piece of Coroplast does the job. Now my Radical Design velomobile bag finds a stable and clean spot under my right elbow.

Summation: I like it, a lot. And with a tiny bit of creativity with Coroplast and a sewing machine, the every practicality is there too. Yes you sacrifice things like a 'Flintstone reverse' and a few centimetres of ground clearance. But my wish never was to reverse and have 14cm of air under my vm. Speed and handling are worth more to me.

More photo's

11 Dec 2011

Ride to Dronten (XS & K)

I bought my K with a 70t chainring. 70 is a big number, so big, that I even at 65kph, my cadence would be only just over 90rpm. Indeed, that makes no sense. With 61t, starting is easier, and the whole range would be more 'close ratio'. had a 61 in stock and I rode there to get it.

I left at a quarter past 10, and grabbed a banana after 45km, that I ate whilst riding. A short pause after 58km for the pond across a water. 42 km later I was at my destination.

There was quite a crowd at Velonauts for parts, advice, technical problems, new vm's or just out as a group. Nina had brought something tasty to share. Marjolein's Strada had a small technical issue with an own will. I quickly received my 61. When asked how I'd install the new part, I simply replied: 'just crawl in'. And once I was in, swapping the parts was easy. Most important, I didn't get stuck on my way out. Than there was more time for eating and some velo talk. Clement found out he fit's in my K. Others studied it, up close.

What had caught my eye was the new Quest XS. And hurrah, I was offered a ride. Now, I'd just bought myself a very fine vm, but it's always good to know how such an eagerly awaited machines is in real life. I didn't ride for long, perhaps 10 minutes or so. Talking about how it's build and what specs it has is not that interesting. It's a Quest, so it's it good in just about every aspect. Build with a huge amount of every day experience.

What really makes it different is that the body is lower. Because of that, small people can sit just as low, and have their seat just as reclined as large people can in the big Q. And whereas I (short featherweight velonaut) always found the big Q very unstable, the XS is alright, a bit like a Mango perhaps. Compared to my K it's very comfortable, but it weights more and isn't such a dream when it comes down to handling and raw speed. But it's a good vm, absolutely. And, when you stand next to it, it looks better than on a photo. Even the rather large head fairing is well proportioned. The XS was designed with a rider up to 1.75m tall. I'm right on the limit, particularly with my 110cm ex-seam. And shoe size 43 felt like a maximum with 155mm cranks.

Back in my Ksynonica J. for  the ride home, I felt at home again. The 9t less on the chain ring make it a lot better to ride, much easier and smoother to accelerate. The evening before, I'd swapped the hard chain tube for a softer one, with flared ends. That lowered the sound level a lot. Velomobiles and hard chain tubes are not a good combination.

I rode the final 55km in the dark. A clear sky, a long smooth cycle path ahead and 36kph on the cyclometer. The Philips head light (tweaked to work on the onboard battery) gives a nice beam, wide and far. And when 20Lux isn't enough because of dirt on the road, the high mode of 80Lux certainly will give enough light. Day's total was 180km.