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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.