This past Sunday,(11-27-11) The Hartford Courant published an article titled, "Interest in Velomobiles Accelerates - New Britain Resident Rides Bullet shaped recumbent trike cross country" Here's the picture that went with the story. Here's the link to the article in the Hartford Courant
Here's me turning the camera on the photographer as he attached a big camera to the velomobile to take some video.
The guy who interviewed me at the campground in Indiana sent me a link to this video. It's a nice compilation of interviews with some of the ROAM riders. It is a 30 minute video. I'm interviewed about 25 minutes into it.
OK so I guess I'm officially in ROAM withdrawal. I've spend the better part of the day going through other riders blogs and searching YouTube for ROAM video. Since I found one the includes me, here it is:
As one of the riders said at the EU reception, "Others will do it, but we were the first to ride velomobiles across the US." It was quite an adventure. Had we not had a time definite that we had to reach DC (the Europeans had planes to catch), we might still be riding. The last couple of weeks I would develop "hot foot" 90 to 100 miles into each day's ride. It would have been easy to stop someplace else to camp if we hadn't had the imposed discipline of Josef's planning.
It was a great group of riders from 7 countries. 22 Europeans and group of North Americans that varied in size over the ride. Over 50 riders participated in some part of the ride. 35 riders peddled into DC and John Abbey drove the truck carrying his damaged velomoblile.
There were several velos that were damaged along the route. The primary culprit was the dreaded rumble strip. Great for waking dozing truck drivers, they were the bane of our existence. It turns out that when you ride a velomobile on a rumble strip, the bouncing it causes screws up the rear suspension and creates a phenomena very much like skidding on ice in a car. Three velos flipped after losing control on rumble strips. Drivers were generally courteous although two riders were forced off the road by passing cars. Finally on the afternoon of the "victory lap" in DC one of the Dutch riders was hit by what turned out to be an unmarked secret service car making a turn. The rider was a little banged up but the velo will need some serious repairs.
That said, we velomobilists (velonauts if you prefer) definitely prefer roads to Multi Use Trails.
Local bike activists, rightly proud of the the trails they have worked so hard to establish couldn't quite understand why we kept ignoring their carefully planned routes to ride down roads. The reality is that velomobiles are best suited to smooth surfaces with the gentle curves of roads rather than the sharper turns of some bike paths. Packed limestone may be fine for mountain bikes but give us a road any day. Gravel, forget about it. We spent a lot of time on US 12 the least traveled of the cross country routes. While there were trucks, it had a wide shoulder and a smooth surface. There were times in Indiana riding on bumpy back roads when we all longed for US 12. At the end of the ride Mike, one of the North American riders presented Josef (our tour captain) with a replica of a US 12 sign
For four weeks I focused almost completely on riding and related tasks, (eating, sleeping and keeping the velomobile running). I frequently found myself asking what day of the week it was, and only looked at the news for stories about ROAM. I think this was my favorite.
I got to know some great folks that I hope to stay in touch with. Roll Over Europe anyone?
We made it to DC. The highlight of the trip was our arrival in Georgetown (a section of DC)
We arrived at 6:30pm and decided to stay together as a group. In order to do that the first two riders stopped to block the crossing traffic at intersections so that all the velos could proceeded through the intersection. We were all blowing our horns and ringing bells. No one on the sidewalk had a clue what was going on but they were all snapping pictures and shouting questions.
After our impromptu parade, we ended up parking our velos in the lower level of the basement parking garage and posing for a group picture. Maybe in front of the Welcome to Washington DC would have been a better picture, but here's the garage shot.
The next morning we attempted a "victory lap" around the capital city only to be thwarted by a combination of mother nature (it rained hard on us for the first time of trip) and the park police who wouldn't allow us into Lafayette Park across for a picture in front of the White House and then proceeded to chase us off of several other photo op locations. We did manage to line up the velomobiles on the mall for a picture in front of the capitol.Another shot of the velos.
Finally here's one of me in front of the Washington monument which was closed due to the damage caused by the earth quake earlier in the week.
Made it back to the eastern time zone today. The highlight of the day was the town of Nappanee IN.
Velos parked in front of the round Amish barn.
Namanne has a large Amish community that in addition to the horse and buggy have embraced>BREAK
bicycles and tricycles. This was new to me so you can imagine my surprise when I rolled up to an intersection to find twist young Amish guys one on a Tour Easy recumbent and the other on a Baccetta recumbent. I chatted with them for a couple of minutes and learned that an Amish guy runs the only recumbent shop in Indiana.
One of the Dutch riders works for a company called Ciber that is located near Nappanee and treated the group to lunch at the Amish Acres resort.
Happy to report a good experiance with Golden Oasis New Energy Group. After one of my 20 ah batteries only held 12.5 ah I sent them reporting the problem an told them I would be passing through Chicago today. This morning one of the SAG vans drove me over to swap the bad battery for a new one. No hassles and they were very impressed with our cross county trip
Rest day in the rain cities. We only ride 60 miles between camp sites on the east and west sides. Stopped for a vegan scone, soy cappachino and a new bike pump at freewheel cycle and cafe. A very cool place.
The spring's floods washed out part of u s 12 in Roscoe south dakota so we had to take a detour be about 20 miles. When we finally got for lunch to Ipswitch SD, one of the locals mentioned that the priest at the catholic church had somethin sorta like this without the shell. I suggested he give him a call and a few minutes later there was a priest outside of the Subway checking out the velos.
It turns out that Fr. Randy Philips has a 2008 ICE trike that had been a demo. I asked him what he thought the odds were that 34 velomobiles would roll through his little town of ipswich. Later I wondered what the odds were that we would encounter a recumbent trike riding priest in at town of 941 souls in the middle of South Dakota.
Today was a 160 mile ride from Bowman ND to Mobridge SD. It was generally down hill, the temperature a perfect mid 70's and partly cloudy. With the exception of a few miles of road construction the road was smooth with a car or truck passing every 5 or 10 minutes. In the morning we were blasting along at 25 to 30 mph with a tail wind. After 50 miles we had our coffee break and I joined a bunch of folks for an early lunch. 15 miles later I started wishing I had coffee instead. 70 miles into the ride I was gettring distinctly drowsy. I kept hoping that over the next hill there might be aa town big enough to have a place to buy coffee. At one point I found my self with my head resting on the inside of the roof fighting to keep my eyes open. I looked down at the speedometer I saw that even on the verge of falling asleep I was still pedaling fast enough to be going 27 miles an hour. Just then as I was writing off another cluster of broken down buildings and farm equipment as another us been town, I spotted a hand written sign for a restaurant with a neon "Open" sign. I hung a quick U turn and went back to a little dive full of locals. Coffee in hand, I fielded the usual, "What do you call them there little buggies?" When I asked how much I owned, the owner said, "That will be 50 cents, no you only had one it's on the house. You have a safe ride." Later in the day we stopped at the Prarie Dog cafe where they had a map where patron could stick a push pin in to their home town. For you dewing the blog with my location shown on a map its clear, but for us riding through the endless hay and wheat feilds, it was quite a revelation that we are now almost half way across the country.
I had the best of intentions to blog daily about ROAM (Roll Over America) but the reality of the trip makes that hard. On a typical riding day we get up as early as possible (someone's alarm goes off around 5:30am). Then we pack up, eat something and get on the road as fast as we can. For me that's been as early as 6:30 and once as late as 8:30. The reason for this mad dash to ride in the cool morning rather than the hot afternoon. That and the later you get into camp the less time you have for dinner etc. Typically we ride 100 to 150 miles each day. Prior to ROAM I had done one century ride, so this has been challenging. Each day we have coffee break and a lunch break planned. In Montana, which will take us 6 days to ride across there are only a million people (less than a third of CT's population) and great swaths of the state don't have cell phone service.
Today we rode 131 miles. We had a 12 hill that wasn't fun, but we were rewarded with a the 10 mile down hill to lunch. After lunch we had a couple of climbs but then a 20 mile stretch of rolling hills that gently decended into Harlowton Montana. After realizing how primitive the camp site at the rodeo grounds was, one of our of our advance people called the superintendent of schools and got him to open the high school locker room so we could take showers. Lots of towns folks came by to check out the velos including a guy with two six shooter on his hips. The europeans assumed he was the sheriff an was surprised that a regular guy could walk around wearing guys.
Today after at long hot 150 miles we crossed into Idaho. When my doctor told me I'd probably need to eat around 5000 calories a day I thought he was crazy. I just finished my fifth meal of the day. After 150+ miles I found myself polishing off a big ribeye, baked potato, plate of pasta, salad and bread. Good thing the new headlight works because it's now 10:30 pm and I still have a couple of miles to ride to the hell's gate camp ground
The day started out cool and comfortble. Most of the day's ride was on the sholder of I 84. Not particularly fun. After a while you get used to the big trucks whizzing by. The real problems were the rumble stop and road debris particularly the wires from blown truck tires. Among the group we had 15 to 20 flat tires. The rumble caused one ride to lose control and flip. Rider was banged up and velo shell sustained some cracks. Fortunately we're done with highway for a while.
Yes there is an I 84 in OR too, and out here you are allowed to ride a bike on the sholder. After some negotiating the OR DOT agreed to set up a rolling blockade so the we could ride through a narrow tunnel without cars or trucks. This picture is of the group blasting down hill on the way to the tunnel. Every velomobilist'z fantasy, racing down a hill on an interstate without cars or trucks.
I spent the evening sewing two drag chutes to slow me down as I desend the rockies. As I ran the sewing machine I couldn't help but think, "Thanks Grandma Gay for not sewing something for me but rather teaching me to use her old treddle sewing machine. Thankfully, we moved up to an electric machine. I've got new found respect for people sew tents and stuff made of nylon. I did a passible job but its not pretty. Certainly won't be quitting the day job to become a tailor.
They say that imitation is the highest form of flattery. This is my homebuilt version of the Flavobike roof. The Alleweder has a large opening so it required 2 x 4' aluminum rods, a short piece of 1/4" derlin rod, a sheet of blue foam camping pad, a 2' x2' piece of polycarbonate, some nylon nuts and bolts and two tubes of liquid nails extreme outdoor glue.
I used a fiberglass flag wand to figure out the shape of the curve so that I could just see out to the sides from under the roof then traced it on to a piece of cardboard. I then used the cardboard as a template as I bent the aluminum tube to create the desired curve of the roof. Then I cut an inch long slot in one end of each tube. I cut a similar slot into a short piece of derlin rod. Once that was done I drilled a hole through the aluminum and darlin perpendicular from the slot. This way its the darlin not the aluminum tube that touches the vertical connection to the velomobile.
I then fired up the BBQ and heated a sheet of blue foam camping pad (Walmart $5.95) and stretched it over an empty propane tank to put a curve in it. Next I cut a piece of 1/16" polycarbonate to the proper size. Then I put it all together by cutting some 4' long strips of fabric about 2.5" wide and glueing them to the blue foam with liquid nails. It was a lot easier when I glued the fabric to one side of the foam and let it dry. The next day I used a short piece of the 3/8" aluminum tube as spacing guide to glue the fabric around to the other side of the foam. This created a sleave on either side of the foam. After the glue dried I slid the aluminum tubes through to give the roof its shape. Then I drilled holes along the edge of the windshield and poked coresponding holes through the foam. Finally I secured the windshield to the foam using nylon nuts and bolts from McMaster-Carr.
All of that was fine but the back end was kind of long and didn't match the roof line of the turtle deck so I cut a V out of back. Then I applied some Liquid Nails glue to the edges.
And finally I stitched up the incision from the inside so that it can't be seen from outside.
And voila a sub $60 roof (sub $50 if you count the cost of the individual nylon nuts and bolts rather than the cost of the bags of 50).
Every day is a day closer to the July 28th start of the Roll Over America. We're expecting about 50 velomobiles in Portland Oregon for the ride cross country to Washington DC. That's 3,000 miles in 30 days with a couple of rest days. So that means that we'll be averaging 120 miles a day. Every time I say that I think about how much more training I need to do. This morning I did 62 miles up to the Massachusetts line on the Farmington Valley rail trail.
Originally I set up this blog to document my adventures taking the car free challenge during the month of May 15th to June 15th 2007. The Car Free Challenge is sponsored by Bentrider Online. My primary tool in this adventure is a fully faired, home built, recumbent trike.
At the end of each entry you will find the word comments. Click it to make a comment or ask questions.
The question "Why?" frequently comes up when I tell people I'm doing the car free challenge.
Here in working class New Britain, CT I get lots of comments about how high the price of gasoline is, but the fact that gas is at a record high price is really only a coincidence. It doesn't seem like a day goes by that I don't hear or read another story about global warming and its effects. I wonder what kind of mess we're leaving for our kids. As I ride I see that most cars on the road have one person in them and I've read that 40% of car trips are just a few miles long. So in a way I'm trying to prove to folks who see me that it can be different. It is possible to do most of what we use a car for by human power. Besides, there is the obvious answer that most people can figure out from the big grin on my face as I ride the trike (I'm having a blast) I like it when people admire my creation. On a typical day I'll get 15 or 20 thumbs up, lots of waves, and 4 or 5 people will roll down the window at a stop to ask me about the trike.