blog header

blog header

Search This Blog

13 Dec 2012

My Pioneer

I don't write about him often. And there you have it. My Pioneer is my only bike that has no female name. The name 'Lobbes' just came to me when I was on my way to collect it from it previous owner. Lobbes. A big and friendly pal, like a large dog.

Three years after I'd rebuilt it from a horrible state, the odometer reads 10.450km. A 'bent with two big wheels had been on my list for quite some time. Just as an extra bike, I thought. To wander about on small paths.

I removed rust and gave it 6 layers of quality paint, with a brush. Most components where replaced too. Years of abuse and neglect had taken their toll. The frame however still was intact. I poured alcohol in the frame and set fire to that. That cleaned it up very well. The blue flame also made a cool sound.

The first 2000km or so I used a Nexus 8 hub. When I replaced that with an AW3, I gained 10% in cruising speed. Not much later I mounted a very common 3x8 derailler system. Now it was ready for some serious distances. That was 20 months ago. Since than I rode close to 7000km. (and more on my other 'bents of course)

More than just local rides without a destination is what we ride together. To work, to a wedding, 2 vacations, at night, alone, with a group. Werther I was stressed, happy, tired, confident, in doubt, slow, fast, weak or strong, for nearly every occasion and for every mood, Lobbes is ready. There are only 2 things that are not in my Pio's abilities. That are racing and snow riding. For the latter, spiked tires help. For racing, he's just not fast enough.

On the photo, that I took today: it's current set-up, pretty much exactly as it should be.

Though a Pioneer can be quite fast. When the city is asleep, and the roads are empty, you can ram a Pioneer forward at, relative, scary speeds. Why? Handling and stability. It doesn't care about how the road it. And despite mine being of an older, heavier generation, it corners brilliantly. It's like dancing. After some corners I wonder how I took them.

My cruising speed is about 28kph. Up a hill, 8. Down a hill, 76. Flat, no wind, 52. Flat with wind, 62.

So what is he now? Mostly a stock Pioneer, like one could have been bought nearly 11 years ago. I've placed the seat under a lower angle, narrowed down the handlebars, and mounted a Fuego rack, to replace to large steel one. I might even change that rack again, back to stock. It's tyres are common too. 40mm Marathons. Mud guards, a large bell, a very bright home made head light are key ingredients to the success too.

There are only 2 'sexy' components on it. A Shutter Precision dynamo and a TC Sports idler. Both are more smooth and efficient than the competition.

Now my 10k is peanuts. Pioneers are quite often used by true Globetrotters. Except for Antarctica, every continent has been visited several times. A friend of mine used his for the same things as I do, only more. That odo approaches 70k.

Yes my K is much, much faster. And my Fuego is just faster and more exciting. But without my Pioneer, I'd be nowhere. 

More photos

8 Dec 2012

Winter 'bent

Snow and ice on the roads are things a lot of recumbentriders have a problem with. Spike tires provide the necessary grip, and with a trike it can even become fun. I have a spike tire and also a velomobile. (not combined) But the Evo-K is a bit overdone for most short rides. And it's to precious too.... I do use the K in the snow, but for touring and commuting only.

A bike that good for 99.8% of the rides, my Pioneer, comes with a bruise guarantee in low/no grip conditions. Is that just me or not? Is that a problem? Not really. Snow is quite rare where I live. And the true winters only is a few weeks per year.

During the past 2 winters I came to the conclusion that a compact long wheelbase recumbent does work when winter has really arrived. My Oké-ja could keep me going at moderate pace. I also used it do deliver mail back then. And because of the heavy load, the spike tire was an excellent addition to it's rear wheel. What made it so good? It can only be the combination of low feet and up-right seat. And in case you would loose balance? No worries, it's still a recumbent. The Oké-ja had one flaw, it's 305 size front wheel. That sometimes had difficulty with deep snow.

Last summer I saw one lot of old rental bikes for sale. They looked like a far relative of the Oké-ja, but could take a 406 front wheel. And it would give me the chance to build up a 'bent in a classic style. So, I bought one of those, a bargain, and sold the Oké-ja. To Germany of course.

It was stripped and painted mat black. I gave it some old mudguards and a bottle dynamo. The hubs, shifter and headlight came from my dad's old post bike. These Sturmey Archer hubs have drumbrakes, 3 gears and are about 30 years old. Those got the same color as my Pioneer. That meant I could use the same good quality paint and save money. From my Mango time, I had a pair of 40mm Marathons with 6600km experience left over. So that became it's new tires. And some years ago, Anton had given me rim he didn't use anymore.

The few new parts I needed, grips, cables, tail light, dynamo bracket and rear rack are from Dutch Bike Bits.

Building it up again was an easy job. Except for the wheels. Those short spokes and old large diameter hubs made for a good lesson in truing them. So I got everything working and rolling but, the cranks tounched the front wheels. Aha! So that's why it had such a funny small 305mm front wheel. Luckily 140mm cranks are available on-line too. That solved the problem.

After some rides in the summer, I put this black bike away in the shed. Until last Friday. It had snowed! Now I could see if I'd made the right decision. Thankfully I had. It's not fast, no. Easy to ride it is. Perhaps even better than the Oké-ja. Where others slowly crawled to their destination, I hit a whopping 20kph, even on the slippery patches. The seat is hard, it needs a cushion, I'll figure something out for that. At least I can keep on riding to do my errands and to go swimming.

Why not an MTB you say? Don you know high those are? Way to dangerous. The only useful upright for me is a Brompton.

26 Nov 2012

1 year of Evo K

 7700km of joy and refining. In a years time I've:
  • mounted softer springs, big improvement for feather weight me.
  • added chain tube, less noice and no oil on luggage
  • added lights
  • added some foam, way less noise
  • more small, easy and cheap things

All these small modifications have hugely improved the joy of riding and did not interfere with the astonishing speed potential of the K. Apart from the home made rain cover, the K now is practical and comfortable.

My 1st ride was the longest, 260km. And it won't be long before I improve that record. Flat land no wind speed record is 72kph, without the head fairing. My typical cruising speed is around 40kph. That is what my local infrastructure, condition and save riding style permit. I reckon that on a good track, with proper preparation, 60kph for an hour is possible for me. And I can carry all my camping gear to the event with that same K.

I think that the answers to most possible questions I can think of can be found using the search function on this blog. If not, post a comment!

Added 12-11-28:

I've now adjusted the tracking of the K under load. That makes a +1mm difference. I wanted to change the 1 tracking rod to a 2 track rod system, but there's no room for that. Anyway, the front wheels wheels are aligned now. And I gained more speed by clipping on fabric wheel covers on the inside of the front wheels. The rear wheel already had received the old covers from the rear wheel of my Fuego. Wheel covers at the back also keep more dirt away from the chain. Though I must say that after nearly 8000km, that chain looks remarkably clean. And I've never cleaned it.

31 Oct 2012

Still got it

'Groningen' didn't go so well. The K's chain kept dropping due to the bumpy track. And those bumps made it difficult to go fast anyway. 'LEL' went without technical difficulties. There I was slow because the engine suffered from milage.

So I started to have doubts. Was I still quite fast? Or had the live with jobs 'n stuff taken away the sparkling bit out of me. The part of me that likes the 9th gear of my Fuego and knows how to use it.

It was on Saturday that a change at my job gave me time to race at Apeldoorn on Sunday, during the Elan record day. Just over 24 hours before the start. Not the usual weeks. Not even a whole week to take it easy like I used to do befor a race. First I seriously thought I would give mbb-fwd a try at a velodrome. But the idea of riding that single handed at 50kph scared me. On Sunday morning I decided that mbb-fwd is not for me on a steep banked track. I'd play save, not waste 5 hours of travelling and find out it doesn't work, I'd race my Fuego.

The latest ride on that was from Huizen to home, over 152km. Yivalté did not need much changed for the race. Both tires require 8bar, and the air shock 10 bar. That, and a whiping of some sand was all. So, from tourer to racer in almost no time. A true 'gran turismo'. The small amount of lugage for a race day goes in to a pair of Radical Design Solo Racer panniers.

Despite having worked late, 2am, I feel fit and relaxed. I've eaten good, and rest well enough it seems. Like almost always, the trains rode according to schedule. It's very quiet in the velodrome. There's no special record atmosphere like there was the first time this event was held.

In a 5 minute warm-up I test every gear and ride around at a moderate pace. The bike feels right, now lets see what the engine can do today.

During the race I'm faster than I expected. Since the last race at a velodrome my 'riding quite fast but not getting tired quickly without slip-streaming speed' has gone up by 1.5kph! I try to ride a race on my own and I grab every draft that's in my reach. And than I'm leading a small group again. Not much later I'm on a fast 50+ lap. There are no weak moments in this 45 minutes criterium. And the final 3 minutes are really fun. I draft behind Sjaak on his RazzFazz. 51, 52, and the final lap at 55.

The result is that I feel great and the average on my speedo is 45.9kph. On the time keeping the avg. 45.2. And that compared to previous races like this, is a good result. One of my best ever actually! I still got it.

Back in my hometown again, the Fuego is back in her rol as real world 'bent. Swiftly manouvring through a quiet Assen. Being agile, fast and comfortable.


18 Oct 2012

LEL 2012

After a long day that started at 6 in the morning, I left home to ride to Almere in about 4.5 hours. One week earlier I'd bought soft springs from Velomobiel.nl to improve the comfort of my K. And those are a leap forward! Yes, I loose some sideways stability, but having 1.5cm of 'soft' suspension (+1cm hard) really makes riding a lot more pleasant. The stock suspension was just way too hard for a rider like me. I'm talking about the front now. The rear was right from the start.

After 2 hours the combination of light rain, darkness and glasses starts to become a problem on roads or paths without white lines. It's a known problem to me, though I had almost forgotten about it since I didn't have to deal with it for a long time. The solution will be, as I see it now, to have a 80 lux Philips e-bike head light in the air in-take of the K for these situations. My current light (fine for most situations) sits where a right hand side mirror would be. But when the nose of my VM is wet, the light reflects in the water.

Luckily I knew exactly where I was going. Because at the most difficult moments, I didn't see more than 2 green blurs left and right with a large black patch in the middle.

Just after 10 I arrived at my place for the night. I was welcomed with a shower, a pasta meal and friendly cat. The bed was so good that I slept for 9 hours straight. Perhaps the 155km of Saturday also contributed to this...

It was just after 13h when we arrived at the start of the time trial of the dike between Lelystad and Enkhuizen. The distance is 51km and the fastest riders cover that distance in under 55 minutes. I was hoping to need 1:05 or so. But would the 180km I'd already ridden and not using a head fairing stop me form achieving that? Yes they did, and quite succesful too. I needed 1:14. And whilst being the only one with all that distance in his legs, I ranked 10th place. Another racer's excuse was that I was riding a stock VM without aero ad ons.

All in all my preparation just wasn that good. But it's fun to take part, and a 43 average isn't slow, it just isn't fast. In 2010, when I got their by car, the weather was nice, and raced with a hooded Mango, I was 6 minutes faster! So, doing everything by bike is nice, but has a horrible effect on my race result.

Luckily, the ride home was more Evo-K-esque. Effortless cruising at 40 through a desserted landscape. For the 1st 10km I rode with Dirk, untill he got a flat. With still 100km to go for me, and only 25 for him, I said goodbye and rode on.

Many riders had flat tires this year. The surface of the dike has seen better days, but also the choice for very fast tires, or tubes with a thread as I call them, doesn't help either. Interesting to see at LEL was the newest evolution of the Evo, the Ks. A bit smaller, and perhaps a bit faster. I'm not a fan of it's exposed suspension parts though. It would suite me very well, yes. But my K isn suddenly 'yesterdays VM'. It's still very good. And I keep improving it too.

17 Sep 2012

The Seminar

After a 3h ride, during which the only thing mentionable where giggling school girls or those giving sounds of approval, I arrived at the campsite in Dronten. There I was welcomed by 3 men from oversea and a few Dutch Velonauts. LeeW had arranged a chalet for him, me, Bill and Miles. That's luxury for a fair price. With pleasant things like a shower, kitchen and indoor VM parking.

That evening we had interesting conversations. And I learned that yellow labelled Brompton tires roll well and that kevlar VM's stink more than others.


The next day I rode with Bill to the Seminar via an impromptu route. Why get there via the shortest route when you can explore a whole new part of Dronten? The 5 extra kilometres where a good way to start the day. Parking on site was excellent. And as so often, Theo was there to help everyone get through the 90 degrees entry.

Coffee, welcome, speeche, presentation, presentation, break. Most of this pattern continued the whole day. Not the coffee part of course. That much caffeine would sure do me no good. One thing I also did was spark the possibility for Evo K's to use the new 'drop in units' that are being developed for VM suspension struts by Risse Racing.

In the time that LeeW ate his fries and a burger, Bill and I did more shopping. Today and tomorrow we would prepare ourselves a good meal. Two fine variations on the theme rice and veggies. After that we went to the party in the cantine where Schneewittchen (Snow White) gave a show. You've probably seen the video by the time you read this. It was a truly memorable experience.



Saturday was the day of the group ride. About 80 of us velonauts gathered at the square in front of the conference centre. The 1st part of the ride was through Kampen. There I wasn't happy. A group of 80 cyclist and common traffic is a difficult mix. But from there on we went where there was more room. Not to gallop, but to roll along and talk with others. At this low speeds my chain makes an annoying grinding noise over the idler. On the big ring and at normal speeds it's pretty smooth though. I'm yet to find out what causes this.

It was nice for me to see that in a field with mostly Quests, the K is quite an agile velomobile. Yes it is practical. It just doesn't like brick roads. Schokland had no real roads for us at all. We had our lunch stop there. The lunch was good and Schokland is worth a 2nd and longer visit.

In Urk I felt how warm it actually was today. I was so glad to ride back to the camp site with the fast group. Best part was of course the Ketel bridge. I anticipated to a fast descent by starting in last position, way at the back. On the first part of the dip I spun up to 74. Than I could reposition myself behind the group, without breaking too much, for the 2nd dip. As soon as the oncoming traffic was gone I floored it again and overtook most of the group. Even on the flat I still kept it high in the 60-ties. The wind didn't do me much, Ksynonica J. was stable as a rock.

Near Dronten again, I made a short video of the Cedar Quest. A unique machine built by a man with lots of skill and time.

That evening was on of those when you really appreciate a shower. We couldn't stay up late. Though my ride home was short, the others had a whole day of riding to the Ferry to go. 90km, with a few stops to stretch my tired legs and back home I was.

More photos.


21 Aug 2012

5th Annual tandem ride.

Nazca recently started building tandems. And so came the opportunity for me to take part in a tandem ride. Maaike was the lucky, brave and kind one to be my stoker. Together we formed a twosome with almost zero tandem experience.

But let's first go back to 6:25 in the morning. That's when I left home to ride to Nijeveen. A sunday morning has very little traffic, so I choose to ride with head fairing to see how fast I could go at this early time. After a 10km warm-up I shifted to 6th gear and kept it there for most of the time. That meant that before 7 in the morning, my cruising speed was high in the 40-ties. That lead to a 4 minute improvement of my previous record time on this route! 1:01:47, door to door, without scaring anyone.

We drove to Rotterdam with 3 riders and 2 Quetzals. A trouble free drive of about 200km brought us to the start of the ride at Gerold's and Maartje's place. Everyone got a warm welcome with cold lemonade, or tea. The most important person for this ride, my stoker,  arrived about 45 minutes after me. She had to take a few involuntary detours. Luckily I'd already set the rear crank set to the right leg length. So, by stuffing our gear into 1 bag, we where ready to go. Just like the 15 other tandem couples.

Our start was careful, but we quickly managed to synchronize and respond to each other. At 1st, I said everything I did, later on I said less and less, about riding that is. It just sort of worked. The Quetzal was easy to handle and any speed. And in case of a captain's error, I could count on a quick responding 'landing gear' at the back. Our confidence grew. Corners became fun and Maaike started taking pictures.

Halfway we had a stop for shade and pancakes. I ate one with lot's of vegetables. Something healthy and relatively light to digest in this 34 degrees C. weather.

Naturally, the paths we followed weren't perfectly smooth. Oh, yes they where good, perhaps a bit crowded here and there, but with a nice scenery. And  the occasional bump didn't bother us at all. Two 50-559 Big Apples, rear suspension and a wheelbase of 208 centimetres make for a supple ride. Tight corners where difficult during the 1st 20km or so. But tandem riding is something you have to learn, and we learned quickly. The big aero bars gave me the chance to manoeuvre close, almost cozy with others tandems. Which is fun because it makes conversations better.

After 45km some sweat or sun cream got in to my eyes. Marjolein came to the rescue with clean water to flush it out. I only carried lemonade, about 2 litres.


Todays ride was 61km. And when we got back at the start, there was a treat for us, 'raketjes'. (wikipedia) The second treat was a small inflated pool. Big enough to splash the sweat and dust of yourself. I must have looked like a bird washing it's feathers in a small puddle...

Well then, time to say goodbye and thank you to those who made this possible. And after doing so, the group Nazca rode back to the van. There we folded the Quetzals to reduce their length to 'normal' recumbent size. (well what we find normal, normals may vary)

By the time I got home it was 10 in the evening. A can of cola (thanks Monique) was my fuel for the final 42km. Besides a very memorable experience this day also added 145km to my life.

More about the Quetzal can be seen here in this pdf.

30 Jul 2012

Nazca time trial Nijeveen

Can you ride a Nazca Pioneer to a wedding, in a suit? Yes you can. And including a detour to get around a closed bridge, I averaged about 29kph over just under 6km. (with fancy shoes, not my Bonts) On time I was and the wedding was a very nice day. I managed not to do anything silly. And when I did spill some coffee, my very white blouse escaped unharmed.

Now a day like this means sitting or dribbling around a bit for most of the day. No chance of any exercise or to lay my legs horizontal. As a day before a time trial, this day was not that good. But that's life. There's more than just riding 'bents all day. And we all enjoyed this unique day. Of three, two brothers are married now.

On Saturday morning I felt not fast at all. Good thing was that it was dry. I could ride the Nazca TT on a Nazca. I could ride my 'companies bike' at the event the company puts some money in. (our name is in the booklet with the schedule) And let me first say that my Fuego still has 'it'. She's pretty quick and suits me o so well. The streets where wet. But my Fuego had new parts, mud guards! Now me and my bike would not be dirty and wet within 5 minutes after departure. No, not at all wet. The narrow and deep mud guards from M5 do such a good job, that only my front fork needed to be wiped of.

At Nazca I prepared things to receive fellow riders before the start. Tea, coffee, lemonade and cake. And I'd come extra early to machine 2 small parts for Yivalte's handle bars.

Fast forward past some more eating and talking. I'm at the start for my 22km and feel much better than 6 hours ago. I'm able to keep a steady pace of 43. My cornering is horrible today. Part of that is down to not knowing the corners and part of it mechanical. I'd narrowed down the handlebars a bit too much and the headset had a tough life. So I take it easy around the bends and save my energy for the long straits.

That strategy worked. And despite going a little slower on a few stretches, I manage to keep the speedo at 43. I keep accelerating during the final kilometre and max at 48.5. My time is 31:07 minutes, averaging 41.9kph. That's my best ever at this event. Apart from the one time it  rained and I used a Mango. That year I did 43 something.

After the celebrations I said good bye and rode back to Nazca again. There I replaced my Fuego's crank set with an Ultegra one that came from my Evo K. (got a triple) Well then. By now it was a quarter to 6 already. Time to go North again.

24 Jul 2012

Racing Rutenbrock

I was on my way to Rutenbrock last Friday evening. That's a small town, just across the border, about 55km from home. It's the evening before a race, so I'm taking it realy easy. The speedo is between 40 and 50kph for most of the time. In the 7 or so villages I cross I ride a pace that's low enough for the rest of the world to understand. Yes, I'm in my Evo K, with the roof on. And in the back is my camping equipment for a short weekend. I don't break a sweat, even get a little cold on the final kilometres.

After I said hello and pitched my tent, I eat a pizza with a few others in a restaurant 2km from the temporary campsite in the Bentlage's yard. After this belated dinner we all sit in the yard for another 2 hours and than, one by one, we all crawl in to our tents/campers/vans.

Saturday starts with breakfast. Fresh 'Brotchen' and coffee to get me started for a day that is packed with racing. And normally I don't have coffee with my breakfast, so the extra shot of caffeine is a boost.

Just after 10, I think, we ride to the track. After some thought, and advice, I leave my head fairing in my tent. The track is too much start-stop to ride fully enclosed. I soon find out that doing so is a very wise decision.

Our paddock for today comes with a clean toilet, a canteen and a air cushion for the kids to play on. The track is challenging. The 1st corner is alright, the straight that follows is bumpy. Than comes a sharper than 90 degrees corner followed by a good straight. Corner 3 again means back to 28kph, followed by pushing it up to 45-50 again. The final corner is of-camber and tight too. So a 2.3km round roughly is 4 times a 500 metre sprint.

And after 'one fast lap', I felt not so well. Going flat out at 11am just doesn't work for me. This hard work was good for a 4th place though. Pretty good when you now that I didn't go faster than, perhaps, only 52kph. So my sprints must have been pretty good to leave the lighter 2-wheelers behind. My average was 42.something.

There was nearly 2 hours of rest before the 1 hour race started. This called for a less explosive approach. Now I ended up 6th in the ranking. After 45 minutes I lost halve a minute because I heard a loud noise. It was a Mentos trapped under my Idler. I'd lost it 5 minutes earlier. It took special care to overtake other riders around corners, without constantly locking a wheel or slowing down to much. Had I mentioned before how much I like the handling of Ksynonica J.?

The 10 lap race was easier. We now rode the track the other way around, that made the corners easier,  and it took only half an hour. Now I was able to keep the lightest bikes behind for 6 laps. Again I finished 6th, slightly faster than in the 1 hour, 40 and a bit.

That evening we had a nice barbecue at the campsite. Tired from pushing so hard, but satisfied with the result, I ate and drank enough to fill up the fuel tank again. (I do mention eating often on this blog, don't I?)

18 Jul 2012

Evo K, 5684km

In the past 8 months or so my K has proven herself to be a good velomobile. I had to ad a homemade rain cover on suction cups as a finishing touch, but that was the only 'big' thing to do. The 50mm suctions cups keep it in place over the entrance. It's made from Cordura and foam, bought from Radical Design.

The chain looks oily and free from sand, though I've never cleaned it. Wear thus far is acceptable, but more than in a Mango or similar vm. To make live inside more easy for me, I added 2 pieces of chain tube around the power side of the chain. That keeps my right leg and luggage clean.

Around the aluminium rods that are part of the steering, there's a hole in the bridge. To seal that against incoming water, I added some foam. That weights and costs nothing and does the job.

My K is the only one ever made that has a partly glass fibre monocoque. Her belly was a bit like a drum on a rough road. To stop it from being noisy, I connected it to the pedal axle shell. Now the rumbling sound is a whole lot less.

My gearing is a triple, with bio chain tube shift, 61-52-30 and 28-12 at the back. The 52 is to have close ratio gearing on a long ride with luggage.

On several spots, mostly on or around the chain tubes, I added some thin foam. Again to reduce noise and with success.

I've tried 35mm Kojaks. But the resulting turning radius was huge, like a Q on 40mm tires. (smooth and comfy fat tires...) With all the rumble reducing things I did, I luckily no longer needed them.

Another noisy part where the front struts. On a rough road a wheel sometimes, briefly, has some air time. And without load on the struts, the springs would make a rattling sound. Some rubber and garden hose solved it. Just like in the good ol' FAW.

At CV I bought a race cap from Daniel. As I bought it, it wasn't usable on the open roads. It was meant for setting records. I added some lexan and now it is a pleasure to ride with on my standard everyday rides. It's spacious and the view is excellent. The speed increase is very obvious. (understatement...) Very important thing is that I get loads of fresh air via the frontal inlet.

Less impressive, but good for the ears, is the small deflector I made. It guides the air that comes from the bonnet over my head, instead of in my ears. Because most of the time, I ride 'head out'.

So, overall, after nearly 6000km I can still say that the Evo K is a true velomobile. I've talked about speed bumps and luggage capacity before. I only added some foam and a rain cover to improve it. Though it would be a good idea if Beyss would come up with a foam cover like you find on other velomobiles. The noise issue is largely because of the less stiff partly fibre glass monocoque. But I still don't like brick roads. However, those are never that long.

Handling and speed are excellent, save, outstanding and even marvellous. The drive train combined with the rear suspension is superb. I can't have and don't want anything else anymore. Character wise and to sum it up, an Evo K is a small and agile sports car, whereas most other velomobiles are family saloons.

More photos: here. Also worth reading are Rob's not so pleasant experiences with Beyss. Though he still really likes his K.

2 Jul 2012

Cycle Vision 2012, 2

Saturday morning, it's dry and windy. When I step out my tent, I see the track. It looks big enough and very clean. First I have breakfast in my little tent and then I ride to the 540 metre oval track to get my name on the list for the 'fastest lap'.

The big question for me was: how fast could a light rider like me corner here in a velomobile, without making a touche with a concrete wall? Well, in an Evo K the answer is: pretty fast. 52-52kph is a lot better than I'd expected. Maintaining that velocity for 4 laps is easy. Getting around the bents with 3 wheels on the asphalt does costs extra energy. And actually, the track isn't an oval. Turn 2 is more like 1.5 and 2. Where 2 is tighter and is made even more exciting by the wind blowing on your left wheel.

This featherweight manages an 11th place, 52.3kph.  That just shows how good the handling and stability of a K is. Now there was time to eat, rest and wander about, like on a typical CV day. All in preparation to the 3 hour race that started at 1300h.

Ah, the big race. I often say that I'm not a long distance rider. Truth is that I often enjoy en perform well in races that take 3 hours or more. This one was no exception. Yes, I started carefully. A field of 55 riders on a track like this has to find a way to make it work. Soon most riders found out a way to go fast and safe around the track and slower participants.

6th gear was all I needed for 99% of the time. Bracing myself constantly took it's toll. After an hour already my right arm felt 'different' and my left ankle 'odd'. Time for a few easy laps and to set my left shoes knuckle buckle closing strap thingy a little looser. There where a few boring laps, but soon enough it was time for overtaking again.

Half way I had a planned pit stop. Going left for 3 hours is very unpleasant for your right tire, so that's why I swapped the front wheels half way. Two friends lifted the front of Ksynonica and I worked fast with a 4mm Allen key.  This stop most likely cost me 2 positions. Afterwards I found out how close it was. It also saved me a €30,- tire. Better save than sorry.

After the stop my ankle, and all other limps that did not like going left continuously, felt better too. I went a little faster again :-) Xander, the piano tuning Quest rider was soon in my mirror again. We kept motivating each other for the rest of the race. How surprised I was to see that it was really close between us. Between 9th and 10th there was only 13 seconds, we'd been riding for position!

On of my latest laps was the fastest. That when 2 other K's overtook me and I wanted to, sort of, keep up with them. Other exciting moment was how I had to overtake a yellow Milan SL. That was not very fast in the second half of the race, but it did use the whole track. After a few laps of being held up, I set up my move. Instead of the usual right hand side overtake, I sped up and out braked it in to a corner, twice, via the left side.

After 3 hours I had an average of 45kph, 251 laps, a sore right shoulder and a 9th place. Nice.

After I race Emmy offered my some candy and fresh water. Perfect timing! 'Her' Robert finished 7th on his M5, the fastest un-faired rider. The race was won by Daniel in his K with an average of 51.3kph.  The complete results are available here.

The rest of the Saturday was calm. Ate some, tried to have a shower, ate some more.  Later in the evening I and others did a few laps on the track. LeeW let me have a go in his SL. And I tried out my head fairing. The day ended with a fireworks display above Lelystad, to which Fards brought my attention.

Sunday promised to be wet, very wet.

29 Jun 2012

CV 2012, Friday.

After a calm ride of 4 hours into a 5bft headwind, I arrived at the Midland circuit. In the middle of a province that's mostly empty there is an area with activities. It includes this track, the RDW oval and the next neighbour, the airport.

After having waited inside my tent for the rain to pass by, patching 2 leak tibes, and a simple but nutritious meal, I ride to the big oval for the 1 hour TT. The track is wet, it's windy and I was too late to ask Daniel for a head fairing. Yep, racers excuses already, and I'm yet to start. Maarten gives each rider a signal, and we are send of with an interval of about 10 seconds. For some odd reason, this year we did left corners, while every serious rider knows going right, is the right way to go, and it always has been done so. That has to do with cars damaging the asphalt, and they always make left turns on the 2.5km oval.

Because I'd forgotten my tiny battery, I can't read my speedo, which also means I don't know a time!  But I know what speed I'm doing by counting the gear shifts. 7th gear is good, 6th should be used very little and 8th on the headwind straight is very nice. The wind gusts are noticeable, although they stay under a level of being annoying. My first laps are a joy, the rest is less pleasant. At 2/3 of the ride, I grab my phone from the rear shelf of the K. That has a clock, and it's said I have about 20 minutes to go. Instead of a head fairing, the I'm hidden partly under my red raincover, that I'd didn't mount right, so that must have cost me another kph. Anyway, all the excuses aside, I averaged just under 50kph. Next year, with proper preparation 60 is within reach.

10kph faster, isn't that a leap forward? It is, yes. But later that evening I bought a race head fairing from Daniel. I had the choice of 3 different models. All the same shape, but of different material or carbon structure. The prettiest one now lays at my floor, waiting to be made more practical. It's weight now is 484 gram. With thin lexan, foam and a genius mounting system (to be developed) I hope to ad as little as possible to the weight, noise and drag.


25 May 2012

The Hague, my favourite track

On the 13th of May we had the 1st race of the Dutch recumbent summer competition. Held at the challenging curvy track of Trias in The Hague. It takes me well over 3 hours to get there by train, but it's worth it.

The asphalt still is very good since it's renewal 3 years ago. You do have to look out for a small twig here and there. After 5 to 10 laps, I knew how to take the corners at a fast enough speed again. It is for races like this that I keep a Stelvio tire. Maybe it's just me, but I highly prefer that model for cornering over Duranos or Kojaks and even my daily Fuego tyre, the magnificent Minits Lite. Luckily, Nazca has a few 'NOS' in stock, I hope/thought/must check....

Anyway. These afternoons start with a single fast lap. And as far as I can remember, this was the first year it had a standing start. I wasn't completely confident in the corners yet, so I maybe lost 3kph more than necessary in the 3 most challenging corners.  Looking at the competition I'd say that my 4th place was satisfying.

Than the bigger question. How would the engine perform, after a 2 week cycling vacation, in a 45 minute criterium? Not bad at all. I could ride together with Jos for the 1st halve of the race, but I felt somewhat lightheaded. So I let him go and soon all instruments where in the green again. During an overtake in a wide 180 degrees righthander, I must have leaned in a tiny bit too much. That, or I rode over something. My front wheel shortly lost grip and slid to a few centimetres to the left. Scary. I managed, I kept it under control. But it did take a few laps to regain confidence.I finished with an average of 39.9kph. That felt quite good. Though it did became harder and harder to maintain a decent speed on the small elevations of the track. More stamina needed.

If one criterium isn't enough, Trias always has a 2nd, the other way around. Nearly did 'we' succeed in getting that one down to 30 minutes. But seconds before the start the race leader (valuable volounteer!) decided it would be the usual 45. Now that is just a little bit too much for me. I agreed with myself that I'd keep a decent pace, but would complete the day without feeling miserable. That ended up being my best '2nd criterium ever'. Not a high average, but not low either.

Thanks to my 4th place for the fast lap, I also became 4th overall. This pleasant little suprise was followed by Surinamese dinner in the front garden of a fellow 'bentrider's sister. An all new to me and delicious and nutritious combination of ingredients, that was a good start to a long evening with the nations railway company. Because of an accident, somewhere on the tracks, it all took an hour or so longer, and with less space to breath than desirable. 

Full result can be found here.

Within not too many days, there will be a video online from how I rode the track in the 2nd criterium.

18 May 2012

Spezi, the weekend

8 velomobiles and a Pioneer is what rode from Lingenfeld to Germersheim on the evening before Spezi. I could keep up, sort of. We went to a meeting of the German forum. I had a beer.

The group I went back to the campsite with, was smaller. I knew how to get back, well, I had a GPS and lead the way. As I approached the viaduct outside of Germersheim, I saw my shadow on it's greyish walls, projected by the light of Ymte, LeeW and Wilfred. 3 metres high it was, and moving from left to right, and back again. I took my task as leader serious, but didn't hesitate to guide use over the narrow and steep bridge over the railways. On the last 2 km back to camp, the other 2 youngsters sped of in to the darkness. I kept my cool and so did the blue Q's velonaut. He just rolled past me when we descended to the gate of 'Bagger See'. Aerodynamics in the real world at work that was....

The next morning, around 10, I parked the Pioneer against the fence of the outside exhibition. So much to see, so many people to talk with. I wandered, I guessed and I tried. Because some of the things I saw, really made no sense to me. And I tried 2 rides too.

After I'd spoken with a man from Ice, I went to the test track to ride an Ice, the Vortex. Now I don't know much about trikes. Carrying an extra wheel, with out it being a velomobile, only makes sense to me on a steep hill or on ice. But, I liked this one. No pedal or brake steer, and it cornered pleasantly at low and higher speed. Also, the quality and the way Neil talks about designing trikes gets 'thumbs up' from me. We both could not understand how some manufacturers put 'bents on the market with obvious design flaws, and get away with it. Don't others do any research with different geometries?

Ice once built the B1. I never saw one in real live, but their quality combined with a folding 2-wheeler sounds like a combination I'd like.

The 2nd test ride was on a Carbon Recumbent. Despite having no suspension, this 10kg 'bent felt pretty comfortable over cobble stones and the annoying kerbs you find in German cycle paths. The build quality was fine too, and the drive train felt stiff. To test this I selected the granny gear and gently pulled the brakes. No movement to see at the boom, nice. Up hill was funny easy compared to my Pioneer. I was less happy with the handling at low speed, a bit like M5. So many 'bent manufacturers do not get this right! Once you've tried a Nazca, you know how good a 'bent can handle, at any speed. Good thing is that the price of just over €3000,- is alright for the quality and low weight.

I also spoke with the owner of Evo K #5 and had a look at his K. He'd made a clever cover from neoprene, fixed with Velcro and bathroom suction cups. Another man, Rudolph, visited Spezi for his first look at the recumbent scene. I showed him around a bit and gave him some advice.

At the Gingko stand I looked at their latest offerings. They're a small company that specialize in light weight, yet reasonably priced parts, mostly for velomobiles. With some of their parts, my Fuego for instance could loose another halve a kilogram.

A silly thing I did was only take a tiny amount of chain oil with me, for a two week vavation. So I bought a bottle of my favourite oil at Icletta and enjoyed a cup of their delicious coffee. There I noticed that sell handle bars in different widths, and with different angles. Important stuff when you want to build up a bike exactly as you want it.

In hall 3 I met the Slovenian Nazca dealer. Together with 2 others, he started up a company in recumbent clothing. I bought a pretty blue shirt with long zipper. The collar is low at the front and the backside is a bit longer. It fits nicely and has little recumbents printed on it.

On Saturday evening I ate at an Italian restaurant together with Wilfred and his 'Roamies'. I didn't take part in ROAM, but had bought a t-shirt and am, I guess, accepted as an 'ok guy' in 'our' recumbent world. On Sunday I prepared dinner for two again at camp Bagger See.

Spezi is not complete with a visit to the test track and a portion of 'Siberischen Pelmeni'. At the track I rode the Vortex, a Giro and a kick bike. Furthermore I looked around a bit more. Being surprised of what I saw.

Sunday ended  quite early. Monday was planned to start at 06:00h.


10 May 2012

The ride to Spezi 2012

Wilfred came over to my place on Sunday. Together we left early Monday morning. He in his Mango+ and I with my Nazca Pioneer. For this day, I knew the route for a large part. First 100km or so without GPS, later on I followed a track. Our first stop was near Aalten on a small, very neat campsite. (recommended) We had dinner in a small cafeteria next to the border with Germany. Their lasagna and salad tasted good after 180km.

Day 2, our destination was Cologne. Wilfred followed the track I made with a website, and I followed the Mango. A website that produces tracks for cyclist, on 2 wheels. Tiny problem is that Germans can't built cycle paths, and sometimes put gates on them, that make them un-accesable with a velomobile. Luckily, a by-pass is always easily found. Some stairs (!) where impossible for me too.

It is these kind of things that made me ride to Spezi with the Pioneer, (and that it's high and very comfortable) instead of with the K. I'm somewhat spoiled perhaps by the Dutch infrastructure. Next year, I'll know better routes and the K get's a triple. Than the occasional rain 'flurry' we had will be even less of a problem, and head winds won't be there anymore.

In German towns it's recommended by me not to use the cycle path. They're narrow, twisty, bumpy and dangerous. The main road is a much better place if you actually want to get somewhere.

In Cologne we met a Milan SL rider on a Dahon. And that was posted in the 'spotted' thread on the German forum. After 150km we arrived at a campsite next to the Rhine river. Clean and good enough but close to a busy main road. However, sleeping never is a problem after a a long ride. So I slept well, on my 6cm air mattress from Thermarest.

Day 3 was longer than expected. We had to navigate a lot. Well, mostly Wilfred did that. And he did that well. There was a house next to the Rhine with the Maple Leaf. Apparently, long rides make me more emotional. I sang Oh Canada out loud, and it felt really good.

On the Southern part of day 3, we did ride on a good cycle path. And it was a long stretch too! Around St. Goar we started to realize how little bumps and obstacles we'd had for an hour or so.

Our campsite was next to the Rhine, (again) 2 rail roads and 2 roads. All 5 being used 24/7. Some freight trains made so much noise that the end of the world seemed near. But, since I'd ridden close to 150km, again, I slept well. The good food Anne had served us in Trechtinghausen must have contributed to that as well. Asparagus with potatoes and a schnitzel.

Day 4 promised to have a few hills. There was some change in elevation, yes, but nothing compared to what I'd deal with in week 2. Nice was that we got away from large cities. Only small towns you could easily ride through. Like every day, we stopped at a bakery for something delicious. I always had a cappuccino, Wilfred drank tea.

The campsite, that I found with LeeW's GPS location, was close to Lingenfeld, and a nuclear facility. We arrived nicely on time after not much more than 120km. I prepared dinner for the 2 of us. Spaghetti with broccoli, spiced tomato sauce and cheese.

I spent Friday doing very little. Washing, relaxing, got some groceries. During the day, more Spezi 'bent riders arrived. The weather now was sublime. By now I'd ridden about 600km, and felt great.

Next post: Spezi, the weekend.

photo 1: at the top of the Tiger & Turtle hill.
photo 2: somewhere during day 3, I think.

14 Apr 2012

Easter meeting 2012 (2)

Five hours of sleep can be enough. In a setting like the Easter meeting, I seem to sleep faster ;-) It's about 5 degrees Celsius,  but I eat my breakfast in front of my tent, as always. I quickly find out that warmth is painful for my tooth. So, I can eat, that's important.

Ksynonica J. continues to draw a small crowd. One woman said she'll fit in. We tried and she does. A shame I didn't take a picture....

Halfway the morning I went shopping. The shelf in the back of the K is very handy for carrying small items. Back at the campsite I continued doing very little. I chatted with fellow blogger Mick, who pitched his tent next to me. He always has a story to tell or a creation to show.

After dinner, prepared by me and enjoyed in quietness, I went inside. Inside being the building where the kitchen is and where most people share a meal. For the 1st time, I tried to make photos of people, without a bike in sight. The quality of the photos variates. Some are reasonably good. Anyway, they do catch the atmosphere that was there.

Later on I enjoyed the campfire. I had the right side of my head facing the fire, I cooled the left side by sipping from my water bottle. And so came the end to another relaxed Saturday on an Easter meeting for me.

Sunday morning. More toothache. But today promises to be fun with the puzzle ride. Answer questions, gain GPS coordinates, and ride. At one descent I overtook Maarten in his Quest, while we both where riding over 50kph and riding on a cycle path.... My top speed on that stretch was 70.3. The big brakes and Airzound where very welcome with the oncoming not so awake cyclist. I slowed down to a more sensible pace when I came close to them.

The twisty Pomphuisweg was on the programme today too, just like on Friday. But it's more fun in daylight. Mostly downhill, and with corners that really suit the K. A bit of a pity that I got stuck behind a car doing 50 on the last km.

During the coffee and apple pie stop after 50km Eugene gave me an extra portion of whipped cream. That in reply to me saying that if anyone had to much cream on his apple pie, I'd help out. Tasty calories I need!

The final 20km often was a bit narrow and bumpy. We managed, the K and I. The reward for today's ride was the food we ate together. Though because of the heat and the smoke from the barbeque, I sat in the quiet cool kitchen. That was much better for my tooth. My mom, who went camping with dad for the 1st time in 20 years (hurrah!), brought food. Stefan didn't fancy getting smoked either, so it was a dinner for 2.

Wendy came with a gift. She said the 200mg pain killers I used where to tiny. She had something way better, 600mg! That helped my through the night.

The next morning started with 2 awful hours, the painkiller had worked out. But after 9, the pain faded away with the 2nd 600mg pill. I packed up my wet camp, said goodbye and rode home. 38km from home I passed a small toiletry unit. It was open, so I could use the toilet. It was then that I saw 4 other velomobiles approaching. Fellow Huneliggers. But they were riding way slower than me, even though I had been a little sleepy for the past 30km. Now however, the final 38km went at the usual cruising speed, nice.

Now, my tooth feels pretty good again. My dentist did some work on it. I feel confident that it won't bother me on my Spezi vacation.

More photos.

11 Apr 2012

Easter meeting 2012 (1)

Friday 17h, I'm hungry and put a portion of macaroni in the microwave. A leftover from 2 days earlier.

Friday 19h, I'm in a Chinese restaurant with 17 other members of my swim club. A good get together that I surely enjoy. There's a wide variety of food and I eat several small portions with little meat, and a lot of veggies. The amount of dead animal in my diet is declining. And when I cook, there's non of it.

Friday 21h, Home again for the final preparations for my ride to the annual Easter meeting. Within minutes after leaving at half past 10, my 'sleeping bag secure in front of pedal system' fails. What an utter failure that is. There's some space left in the back of the K and I re-arrange some luggage. I'm not feeling fast today. That could be down to the time of the day, or that it's far from warm. Funny thing is that my fully loaded K weighs less than my 1st VM, the FAW, weighted empty. Even some modern VM's are heavier empty than what I pedal now.

After 50km it starts to feel right. I've switched off the radio. There's nothing more than piracy broadcasts to receive in this area. From Zwolle on I receive something civilized again. I listen to classical music. These high quality melodies are excellent for staying awake at this time. What could be better than violins in my ears, the fastest VM connected to my feet and quiet roads ahead? Me happy.

A small navigation error forces me to make a u-turn just past Zwolle. When I grab my right tire, I notice the low pressure it is on. I'm standing next to a lamp post, and since it dry, and I feel warm, I decide to take my time and fix the puncture instead of just swapping the tube. The leak was found within a few seconds. It was caused by a stone too sharp for the Durano.

That sure rides better. It's now just past 1h and I'm riding along a canal. The asphalt in the municipality Heerde is best. Apeldoorn is easily reached now. A right turn takes me up a 'hill' in the middle of Hoog Soeren. I bioshift down from the 61 to the 39t chain ring. At the highest point, I wiggle the chain back to the 61 again and carefully ride the very dark and twisty 'Pomphuisweg'. 46kph felt fast enough on this road and I was happy with my 90mm brakes.

Into the woods, time for the high mode of the Philips head light. I see 2 wild boars beside the road. The sound and sight of an Evo K scares them away. Which is a good thing. They're half the size of the K, and easily weigh twice or three times as much.

A twisting wide gravel road leads me to a long straight cycle path that ends at my destination, where I arrive at 2:53h. Nothing more than a few raindrops on my visor. 130km without rain is good luck this weekend.

I find a spot for my tent after a short walk around the field. Flat with soft moss and about there where I always pitch my tent at this meeting. Half an hour later, my camp is made and I brush my teeth. Not before I ate a small Snickers to raise the sugar level. Now it get's cold. A good time crawl into my sleeping bag. My new air mattress is so comfortable! It weighs next to nothing and is easy to inflate, even with my slightly asthmatic lungs. After a 5 hour ride, that actually felt quite easy afterwards, it sure is time for a good night sleep.

What's not pleasant is the pain on the left side of my mouth. Making the pillow softer doesn't help, so I turn to my right side. The pain that suddenly appeared doesn't go away, but I get enough rest in this place where I sleep best. In my tent, on a field in the woods, near what feels like family.


1 Apr 2012

The start of April

April is an important month. Next weekend we have our annual Dutch Recumbent Easter meeting. It starts on Friday. Problem is that I have a dinner on Friday evening with the other 'youth' from my swim club. Now, that isn't really a problem. It's a good excuse to ride at night with Ksynonica J. When I leave home at, lets say, 21:30h, I could arrive at 2 in the night. Not later than my evenings shifts at my job end. It's than just a matter of pitching my tent, inflating my mattress and  crawl into my sleeping bag.

Riding there with the K requires some extra preparation. In front of my crank set is space I need for luggage. So tomorrow I'll create something to keep stuff there. A cord, a net, Coroplast, something cheap, light, good and simple. And to require less space, I'll buy a new much comfier air mattress.

The weekend after that there is the Ligfietsopstapdag. A name that roughly translates to recumbent newbie day. That day asks no preparation from me. Apart from making sure that my Pioneer is shiny and carries a pair of Radical Banana M side panniers to show of the luggage capacity for travelling.

I bought those panniers last week. The 1st time I'll really use them is on my Spezi ride. Last year I rode there via the Sauerland. This time I'll avoid the biggest hills, not bust my ankle on a long bad road (and have pedals too far away) and ride home after the event. I realized that I hadn't looked for hotels along the route. Heck, I haven't written down a route yet. But no hotels means going camping. So that was another good reason to buy good bags and a tiny air mattress. Because yes, I'll ride there on my big ol' Pioneer. Which, by the way, lost 2kg compared to last year's Spezi.

So, that's quite an exciting month to come. Now I go back to figuring out a way to create that luggage space for in K. As I proved in my previous post, reaching there is easy. I know my camping equipment will fit in easily.

Last week we had fabulous weather here. And though I now it's a bit dry and dusty now, I'd like some of that weather with Easter. The current temperatures of 8 degrees Celsius with a cold wind will require extra layers of long underwear. It was on one of those sunny days last week that I shot this photo.

16 Mar 2012

Faster

My Pioneer is my 'bent I use for shopping and errands. He's also is my choice for long rides and short scenic evening runs. Last year I gave it a Scott Unishock front fork. That did a good job on soaking up almost any bump in the road. My right ankle (Spezi adventure) appreciated that. It also look really cool. The weight penalty was no more than 450 gram. The fork is made from magnesium and thin walled stainless steel. And it's rare because of a big recall in the early 90-ties...

In preparation of this years Spezi, I put back the original fork. Lobbes is now much lower again and steers a whole lot better. Further upgrades include the Sora crank set from the K and lighter tubes. This afternoon a SP hub dynamo came in from Taiwan. I'll build a new front wheel that saves another half a kilo. All these upgrades will surely result in a Pioneer weighing less than 18kg. Which isn't light, I know that. But it's acceptable if you know how fantasticly it rides and how versatile it is.

In the above paragraph I mentioned the K's Sora crankset. Ksynonica J. now has an Ultegra SL crank set. I found a new one offered for half the price because of minor cosmetic damage. The weight advantage is 213 gram and it looks better. The pedals got a treatment with a saw and grinder. The cage of a Shimano A520 pedal has no function on a 'bent. By removing that I saved 26 gram. The pair now weighs 291 gram.

On the other hand, I added weight to the K too. Today I installed an Airzound. It's known as a torture device, but after several 'moments' when even a 5 meter wide road barely was wide enough, because some people have no idea of the other traffic, I ordered one. This added weight will make my rides more relaxed. And don't worry, I tend to ride carefully and with respect to traffic laws. And I brake for animals, especially for coots ;-)

Speedwise, the biggest step in mentioned in this blog post is the rain cover I made for Ksynonica J.. Made from Coroplast, it looks rather cheap. However, I expect it to keep me dry and I've already noticed a significant aero advantage. Easily 4% or so at 40kph, and that's cruising speed area.

More numbers? Yep. Based on quite some experience I can say that on my 41.8km commute, from Nazca to home, my K is 15% faster than my Mango was. This under 'normal' conditions, with the usual commuter power input. There are 2 sections of road where the K is slower, 2 sections with old brick road surface.

Yesterday was the first day with 'spring-and-want-to-ride-my-pretty-Fuego-weather'. 58km of happiness. Faster than expected and, for the 1st time ever, without a helmet. (there's been quite a debate on that in the Dutch 'bent scene)

After that ride I made a video. A video that answers a question about the Evo K. A question I never really understood. Because A: you hardly ever have to work on a crank set and B: it's really easy to reach.


26 Feb 2012

Shoes

I've waited for this a long time. My old shoes where getting really old and worn out. And I'd found new shoes I wanted. It started back in August when I wore the old pair to a wedding. Jon suggested Dromartis. Those look 'normal', better said luxurious, and are good for riding. I kept searching and asked on Facebook what other others liked. Mike suggested Bont. Yes, he's somewhat biased, he doesn't pay for his Bont shoes. He did point me in the direction of shoes that appeared to be made for me.

I promised myself that I would buy a pair when I'd found more work/income. In the meantime, I performed more research on the web, and kept coming back to MTB 2's from the Australian brand Bont. However, when the time came that I allowed myself to buy them, I found a pair of MTB 1's on E-Bay. In my size and never worn for a good price. My size 43 weigh 740gr a pair.

It took a few weeks for the shoes to arrive. I immediately tried them on and was glad to learn they fitted. Not exactly, but length and width wise, they where fine. Now came to clever part, you can heat mold Bonts. I placed them in the oven for 20 minutes at 70 degrees Celcius. The resin now became soft so that the carbon nicely curved around my slender feet. In these shoes, your feet are completely supported by carbon. That makes them very stiff and comfortable. They even prevent my ankles from leaning inwards, like a also do with ice skates. The heat mold was so effective, that after that procedure, I could strap the Velcro 2cm further than before.

On my first rides, something was poking in my heels, but that's sorted now. I did had to cut away a millimetre or so from the sole, just around the cleat area. That rubbed on the pedal and completely blocked any sideways movement. Now, 400km later, it's all dialled in. They pedal real nicely and support my feet and ankles really well. I recommend this product!

Their stiffness has the side effect that walking should be limited to short distances. There's enough of rubber (replaceable, just like the clicky thing) to stand on, but they make you walk like a duck. So when I ride to something like the Easter meeting, I'll carry a pair of sandals for the walking at the campsite.

There's no Dutch brick store retailer for these shoes, but it's possible to buy them online. It's up to you if you want to do that.

15 Feb 2012

Alkmaar 2012

Due to the wintery weather, my usual mean of transportation to a race, the train, likely wouldn't have been the right choice. Fewer trains means less space for a 2.1 metre TF-ed Fuego and a tired rider. Luckily, I could travel with the van Dijken family. So I left at 8:30 in the morning to ride to their place and arrived in Alkmaar nicely on time, just before twelve. The night before I'd worked 'till 2am. But it's quite common for me to have less than ideal sleep before a race.

First thing I noticed in the velodrome was how cold it was. I even raced the criterium in long sleeves and with an extra shirt. Not a drop of sweat was on my skin today! It must have not been warmer than 10 degrees Celcius or so, instead of the usual 20, I think. According to Kreuzotter, that costs about halve a km/h. Second thing I noticed was that there where less than 20 participants. That resulted in 2 small fields in each criterium. But the field was competitive, resulting in two entertaining races.

Apparently, my 4km time trial went well. Or not bad, I don't know. 45.7kph sounds reasonable to me, but I have noting to compare it too. I felt more consistent than really strong.

And that stamina helped me in the 45 minute crit. There I averaged only slightly less than in the 5 minute something TT. There is the advantage of drafting, but still, it's almost 9 times as long. For a big part of the race, I rode together with David on his RazzFazz. I could keep up with him in his final sprint. The faster moments in the beginning of the race where a bit too fast for me. Good thing was that I got way better at staying close to the black line, instead of weaving up to the red line. The higher you are on the track, the more metres you ride.

So the race went well, but wasn't exciting nor spectacular for me. It was consistent, which is good. My speed was about the same as on the 2011 record day in Apeldoorn. Maybe I'll bring my carbon TT 'bent to the next race in Amsterdam. That needs some tinkering. It has proven itself during CV 2011. But again, that not a good reference point, as I was utterly slow that weekend. The bike masked that somewhat.

The result are here. Someone else photos are here.

8 Feb 2012

On a lake, without skates

Two weeks ago, I sold my skates. I hardly ever stood on the ice anymore, and when I did, it hurt my back. The money earned with that sell went to buying a longboard. More about that in a future blog post.

Monday I was out on a frozen lake. David and I rode their in our velomobiles. A 25km ride took us to the Hoornse Plas (lake). Steve was there with his IceBats. The temperature was around -8 degrees Celcius. Thanks to our Evo K and Mango however, the journey was pleasant.

After some preparation I pedalled two laps around the lake. Carefully manoeuvring around skaters and spectators. This is way more fun than on an ice rink! The propeller provides enough thrust to glide through fresh snow, which is handy when you have to overtake people.

After pedalling the IceBat I slid into my K. Most of the time I pedalled calmly, at the same speed as the skaters. Except for one part. There I went somewhat faster than would be possible on skates, on this type of ice.

The ride back went via a slightly different route than how we got there. An this on route some snow hadn't been cleared from the road. At one point my rear wheel slid aside. Thanks to plenty of counter steering, I kept a straight line. In my area, roads and cycle paths are kept clear so well, that I don't need winter tyres. My VM is on slicks year round.

5 Feb 2012

More things I should have mentioned earlier

Half January I went to Hoorn for a IceBat demo with Steve. We had 2 runs in a programme built around marathon skating. Our demos went well and there was quite a crowd. After 2nd demo run it was time for a platoon of women the skate 60 laps. Now during the men, 100 laps, I already found out that this sport is quite interesting to watch. It fast, close and full of competition. But well, you get the idea, the 60 lap race was nicer to watch.

Back to 'bents. The Pioneer's TF went to the Q559. And the big Pio got the Fuego's rack. Yivalte got a TF too last year, so her rack was hanging in the shed. (?) Mounting this smaller rack saves weight and improves the looks.

The seat height of Lobbes is 66cm. The suspended front fork ads quite some height, and because of that,  I corrected the head tube angle by changing the position of the rear shock. With the suspension soaking up the bumps, the hub dyno producing power for lots of light and the the fact that I'm higher than most cars, this big red 'bent is perfect for getting through town real quickly and easy. And if someone just isn't looking, there's an air horn under my seat.

Now that some parts of the road are slippery, I use my winter bike, the Flevobike Oke-ja. It's dead easy in slick conditions and the chain is very well protected. Slow, but it get's me where I have to be.

Two weeks ago, I was on a ride with my Evo K. I approached a pony, pulling a thing on 4 wheels, with a young woman steering it. Ponies are more relaxed than horses, but nevertheless, I slowed down and carefully rode past. She got of the 4 wheeled thing and calmed down her pony. And than she said something pretty special. First, thank you, but that's actually pretty normal. Followed by: he's familiar with a yellow one, but this one is new to him, it's, a different construction. (I replied with a short clickityclack from the freewheel, as that might have been the scary thing for the pony) Someone seeing the difference between 2 types of velomobiles, when their not standing side by side, is spectacular. As far as I know, most people don't come further than that it's something yellow. Not only did she notice that my K is white, she also saw that it's differently shaped than a Quest. A truly memorable experience. I should have asked her phone number!

Anyway, we said goodbye and she also said that her friend was down the road, with another pony. This amazon too thanked me for slowing down and waiting for her to ride by. Velonauts and amazons sharing the roads. With some patience from both sides, all is well.  
Men rides horses too, I know, but I hardly ever meet them. And the few times that I did, they where less friendly  (not more than that) than these young ladies. And I don't know the English male equivalent for amazon.

3 Feb 2012

Many things

Wow, lot's of little things happened in the past month. Let's start with a serious thing. I've got a new little job. It involves bikes, offers variation and pays well enough. Insiders will know the rest of the story by now.

The Q451 became a Q559. I've bought parts from various sellers and with those I've built a wheel set of 1700gram. 100gram lighter than the stock 451 set. The rims are quite heavy at nearly 500gram, but they are affordable. The hubs are from e-bay and together weigh less than 400gram. The spokes are 'Lasers' from Sapim. For tyres I used as wide as possible, 28mm Conti GP, from Dutch Bike Bits.

This upgrade make the Q better at long day rides. And to make it even better for it's new role, I've given it the Pioneers TF. The Pio now is easier to use in and around town. And with the slender Fuego rack mounted at to the seat of it, it looks great. For an unknown reason, there's no photo of that yet.

Winter has finally arrived here. With it come the good things as bright skies and clear roads. Until today that is. Snow is pretty though. The low temperatures do slow you down. The engine performes less with the cold air and tyres lose their suppleness. Despite all this, my Evo K still is fast. With -10, it's as 'slow' as my Mango was with +25 and a minor tailwind.

Now with all the snow though, I'll use my winter bike, the Oke-ja. Slow, yes. But I need the daily doses of riding.

For the last months, every time that I went for a ride, I've been pushing quite hard. And that 'training' seems to work. I feel stronger than I did in 2011. Downside is that I've lost 1-2kg. The poolwater is cold....

Well, that was it for this little post. I'll leave you with a photo from my up-graded Cruzbike. I'll be back soon with more.

1 Jan 2012

OBT 2011

Data
Tuesday: rode from 9:50 to 16:05 and covered 167km. I started following the Fietsersbond route too late, causing me to ride over brick roads for 10km or so.
Wednesday: 51km with 150 other velonauts through an open and windy landscape.
Thursday: 166km in 5:20, including not riding for 15 minutes.


Velomobiles everywhere you look, in so many colours and variations. Let's hope we stand at the beginning of a new form of transport for millions around the world. And with the youngest velonaut being a 16 year old girl, there's hope. Though frankly said, I'm one of the few who keep the average age down a tiny bit too.

The K again was a headturner. With some minor aerodynamic tuning it's the fastest VM is the field. And the entrance is big enough for a woman too. (tested, N=1) In 400km, only 1 'drempel' was so steep that it needed a different approach. Even in 'long distance save energy mode' a 6-7Bft headwind slowed me down no further than to 30kph. Without headfairing and with un-enclosed wheels. How cool is that?!

The organization of the event was outstanding. Food was good and the location provided everything we needed. During the ride the group leader did take a wrong turn. 40 (?) VM's had to make u-turn. A moment we will remember for ages. The route was very good for a ride and huge group like this. Little traffic and only 1 traffic light.

I met new velonauts and exchanged experiences with the more experienced ones. No matter how different we are, we've all had something to say others recognize or find useful. And else, it's just fun. Like memorizing how much fun a certain part of cycle path is.

More photos: here