Saturday, August 27, 2011

Reflections on ROAM

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?

1 comment:

H@rry said...

great riding with you Merril. You're welcome when a ride like this will be organized in Europe. I think it will happen.