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31 May 2010

Bentblog.de visited Nazca

Just over a week ago, we had a special guest at Nazca. Chris, the man behind Bentblog.de, dropped by to write an article and to test ride two bikes. Well worth reading, and it also features me. Recommended!

Check it out at: http://www.bentblog.de/

30 May 2010

37000km, and I rode the High Racer again

Friday morning, an easy commute with Yivalté. I arrive at the little int. hq. nicely on time. My cycling gear is swapped for work clothing and the first thing I dolace a wheel. Then I give an old bike of mine, a Fiero, a final check-up. I owned this Nazca before I bought the red Fuego and now it's sold to someone in Sweden.

Than an interesting person with a remarkable story comes by. His Explorer, less than one year old, needs some serious servicing. He'd just came back from Australia, and before that, this Frenchmen had visited 17 other countries. Russia, Thailand, India, the list is impressive. His stories could probably go on for hours. Apart from the usual things like drive train, shifters and tyres, his bike still was in a reasonable condition. I say reasonable, after 37,000 kilometres. Thirty seven thousand kilometres, in just over 11 months. Let's say that again: 37,000 or 23,000 miles if you haven't heared of the metric system ;-) He speaks French, naturally, and English with an accent that I quickly adopt.

That day I also tensioned the spokes on  2 brand new freshly laced Rohloff wheels and gave 2 Pioneers a full check-up. Important for me was that I adjusted on of the test-ride 28" Gaucho's to my size. Next weekend it's time for the highlight in the recumbent riding world of the Netherlands, Cycle Vision. First race for me is the 1 hour individual and I thought it would be interesting to do that on a Nazca highracer. My employers shared this idea. So this would be my preparation. Riding home on it, and bringing it back the next day. 97km to get everything dialed in.


You might now that I've ridden this bike before. That was last year and I used those 20km or so to make a video. But now I really had the chance to get to know it. So how does it compare to my Fuego Yivalté? For a start, it's a completely different bike, yet it does sort of the same. Roughly equally fast on the longer distance at 30-35km/h, and slighty slower above 40, that's probably when the Fuego has it's aerodynamic advantage. The 28" Gaucho does not come with the larriness that my Fuego can give when I her want to. So maybe it's less exciting, better said, more mature. It felt strange to ride 38km/h on a bad road without really feeling it. At first, I thought the speedo was wrong, but I really was going that fast. The sensation of going fast isn't there like on a low bike.

It's strong point is it's wheel set. 622 millemetre on the front and rear. A pair of real road bike wheels. Light, fast, direct. It's height makes it easy to ride. But still, it's low enough for someone my size, that being 1.74 metre tall. Those wheels are a true blessing on rougher roads. The tyres may be narrow, but this ride is just as comfortable as on a set of 599-50 Big Apples. The rear suspension is an air unit. The chainline is so that pedalling has no effect at all the movements of the rear swing arm. It's like the best of both worlds, of roadbike and recumbent. Recommended by me, and not just because of my job.

Some specs:
  • 622mm Continental GP 4000
  • 3x9 Tiagra on this entry level bike
  • 14.5 - 15.0 kg, I think sub 14kg is possible
  • 26 degrees as lowest seat angle
  • Quasar wheel set, 24/28 spokes (front/rear)
  • Not available with: kick stand, fenders, fat tyres and rear rack. It's a high racer!

26 May 2010

Pieter and his M5 CHR on the Trias track

I strapped my Drift X170 camera to Pieter's M5 CHR for the 2nd criterium of this day. This video includes one full un-edited lap and a few other interesting bits. More about this event in this previous post.
 

25 May 2010

Racing: Trias The Hague 2010

Beautiful weather and an afternoon on your favourite track, how nice can it be? The number of 12 was a little low compared to last years 30 participants, so the track was a bit empty. My presence started with a success, I opened the gates to the track, without a key. We'd been waiting for 10 minutes or so, and it was time to do some warming up! No harm was done to a fence whatsoever.

First up was the single individual lap. I did pretty well, improving my old lap record with 2 tenths of a second down to 2:03:099 I was hoping for more. A more impressive lap time was set by David on his M5 CLR. 1:57:815 is 4 seconds faster than the best time of last year. His average was 45.835km/h, almost 2km/h faster than mine.

The first criterium was a good, but sort of lonely. There was someone a hundred metres or so behind me, and I joined the leading pack for one round when they lapped me. But no lap is dull on this fabulous track, so I didn't really bother. I ride totally different lines than most other riders, so slipstreaming isn't much of an option. The lack of direct competition isn't helpful when you're striving for the fastest laptimes, but in the end, I was faster than last year. 39.6 compared to 39.2 km/h last year.

The second criterium, also 45 minutes, was 5 minutes to long. I really needed an emergency stop after 44 minutes. Waiting 5 minutes with doing 'a number 2' would have had disastrous consequences. So instead of finishing 8th, 12th  and last was my place in the results. I lost 3 laps. My legs didn't feel happy during this race and I kept my heart rate 15bpm lower than during the first race. 183 felt fine during that one. You simply can not take to much risk when you have 3 hours of train travel to go.

The rest of the day was warm and lazy. Chatting, eating, loitering and close to six hours of travelling. I found a more than comfortable spot in the train for the last one and a half hour of my journey. Laying on my bike, leaning against a wall, a shoe clicked in, that's better than first class.

 

Photo's Martenjn made, all 65 of 'em, can be found here, recommended!
There'll be another post pretty soon with a video about the 2nd crit, filmed from a M5 CHR.

20 May 2010

A new bag to save weight on-board

Last week I wrote how I quite easily saved 580 gram on Yavixa's total weight. That was when I came up with another idea to bring to total past the 1kg mark. A new bag! I've been using a bag based on an old pair of jeans for almost 3 years. It is strong, easy to sew and has several pockets to easily find things when you need them. This bag always carried my cell phone, wallet, camera, lunch box and things like a spare battery. It does have a problem, it weighs 550 grams. More than half a kilo to carry stuff inside a already protective velomobile.

I took the shape and size of the 'jeans bag' and sketched something new. Light weight, with one big pocket, 3 smaller ones inside, all 4 covered with one zipper. And 2 little pockets on the outside. Easy to make and not waterproof. My velomobile tends to stay dry inside, well, except for some sweat. The whole bag weight just under 80 grams. That brings the total weight reduction to more than a kilo, within a week, whilst spending less than €10,-.

Does this make me significantly faster? No, maybe 0.15km/h at 30km/h. But why carry the weight of a bottle of milk around for no reason? Curious as I am, I also took a scale to see what Yavixa weights. The basic 'weight yourself with a vm in your hands' technique worked fine. The 35kg seems reasonable. That's ready to ride with a pump, spare tyre and audio kit. A 'normal' Mango must have weight in at about 34kg back in 2007.

Nowadays you can also get a Mango Sport. That one tips the scale below 28kg! I did a little review on that back in March.

Video from last Sunday

The sound of the V12's came out surprisingly well. I covered the microphone with a finger during the Super league races. Only thing I had to improve was the 'gamma' setting on a few video parts. That solves the light problem when it's cloudy.



This post goes with this previous one.
My camera is a Casio Exilim ex-fc100

19 May 2010

Helmets, a second life

A hot topic amongst cyclist, to wear or not to wear. I'm clever enough not to burn my hands on this. Do what you feel like! This post is about what to do with an old helmet. Every few years or so, I get myself a new one. The old one is damaged, scratched or just stinky. The cheapskate in me doesn't like throwing things away. The cyclist part likes new things, and sees the good point in buying a new one when that's necessary or handy.

Yesterday I came up with something that settles down mr. cheapskate, a way to re-use to old helmet. All you need is:

  • an old helmet
  • plastic with holes (something sharp does the job)
  • soil
  • a plant
I made a 2nd one from my mom's old helmet. That one needed a few cable ties to arrange to straps, but now it has a new life. 

18 May 2010

A great day at the TT-circuit

Cars, not such a good idea for every day transport in a lot of cases. Up to 20 kilometre and more, a bike and even better a recumbent, is the way to go. Except for obvious things as taxis, couriers, lorries and emergency vehicles, it would be best to reduce car-use to a minimum. And yes, there are more things which can't be done without a car, but you get the idea. But, there's nothing wrong motoring as a hobby. I once had a classic BMW, and I still love the looks and sounds of a proper sports car. Another thing I enjoy is motor sports, I try to watch every Grand Prix live. I'll record it if that's not possible. Sunday, I had to record the Monaco Grand Prix, for a good reason.

Last Sunday I went to the local race track, together with my oldest brother. This weekend the TT-circuit of Assen was home of the Super League Formula and races of the Dutch Supercar Challenge. We parked our bikes near the rear entrance of the track and found a nice spot close to a chicane. A good place to see some overtaking. Later on we viewed the racing from more places around the southern part of the track. This whole day of 'petrol head' entertainment only cost us €35,-. The sounds and speeds that the SLF cars produce are magnificent. Their 4.2 litre V12 are very, very loud, so ear protection is a must within 100 metres or so. The best close racing was done by the DSC. I watched that from the grandstand next to the world famous 'Geert-Timmer bocht'.

But don't let this make you think that the circuit is a hard place to life when you're a bird. I saw all kinds of them around the track. They nest in the trees behind the stands and search for food in the small patches of heathland near the southern part of the circuit. And as soon as the engines are shut down, you can hear them whistling again. Nature seems to live in a strange sort of harmony with the roaring gasoline burning machines and the thousands of people who come to see them. Most of the time, the circuit is a quiet area with only minor activity going on.

See all the photos I made here. Me and my brother had a great day and will be there next year too. The TT-circuit truly is a place where Assen can be proud of.

Next Sunday I'll be the one racing again. This time one my favourite track, Trias, The Hague. My white Fuego Yivalté is ready for some serious cornering and so am I. This is the video I made there last year.

13 May 2010

Fun ride, shedding weight.

Today was a national holiday. That probably contributed to the fact that there was a lot more traffic on the cycle path than during most of my fast rides. I just took the main road every now and then to overtake a group of cyclist that where doing about half my speed. But fun it was and I someone took a photo of me with a big camera when I, safely, rode past them at a more than average pace. I did a lot of cornering. That brings down the average, to 34km/h, but it ads to the fun and vehicle control experience.

One stretched chicane was almost a bit too exciting. This was a nice stretch of 1.5 metre wide cycle path, which wasn't straight, but went half a metre to the right and than half a metre to the left, a stretched chicane, with cattle grid to start with.

It already looked challenging, so I slowed down to 32 or so. I went over the cattle grid when my back wheel moved a bit to the left. No problemo, I kept it nicely between the poles. Than the little left manoeuvre came, with a slippery bump on the apex. That caused understeer and the loss of pressure on the left wheel. So I had over- and understeer within 10 metres, at more than 30km/h. I think it was a good thing I slowed down before this corner. Preparing and looking ahead is crucial!

A thing that helps improve the handling of a vehicle is lowering the weight. Not that I did anything big, but I easily lowered Yavixa's weight with almost 600 grams today. That could make me 0.1 km/h faster at moderate speeds. (not scientific)

  • Drilled holes in seat
  • Stopped carrying: map, bell, bag for tools
  • Removed an un-used bracket and holster
  • Removed rubber casing from amplifier

I always 'honk' and the tools found a different spot. The same treatment, without the drilling part,  made Yivalté loose 380 grams. I'll get some fabric Saturday to sow a bag which will be about 350 grams lighter than my current velomobile bag.

Now it's time for an older video of mine, duration is 3:09.

12 May 2010

Two very different rides

I did something different than the usual weekly group ride last Sunday. I did join a ride, but it started in Zwolle, 70 kilometres south of my hometown Assen. A distance easily covered, in these situations, in a velomobile. But since I'd be riding the Pioneer, my day started with a train ride. The ride started at 10 in the morning with 4 riders. Me, a Fuego, a Quest and a Taifun. Our goal was to visit mills. It was the 'mill weekend' and one or two would be open to public today. We saw a lot of mills whilst riding through a nice landscape. It did amaze me how different this region of the country is compared with 'my' Drenthe. They've got little hills and rivers down there!

Although it didn't feel like spring, it did look like that. The world was very green and it came in many variations. Big old trees flowering, blossoms blooming, birds singing, you get the idea. The trails where nice and we had them for our selves. That really is the up-side of this cold weather, most people stay indoors...

So that was a calm, relaxed ride, talking and sight seeing 25km/h. Thanks to Paulus and Wijtze for arranging this ride. I'd done 118km by the end of the day.

Yesterday evening was completely different. I did the long evening ride of 58km with Yavixa. No time for sight seeing this time, but I did enjoy the fresh air that came with the gently ongoing rain. My heart rate was with '160 something' in the D3 region, so I was doing a pretty decent job at keeping the speedo up.  Cruising speed was somewhere between 35 and 40km/h,  slightly affected by the 3bf. wind. It was pretty cool to see my big brother driving by in the 'fire departments dive assistance van'. On his way to a training I guess.

5 May 2010

Classic purple bike

I guess you know what happens with a bike that wasn't sold during a police auction sale, it gets scrapped. It must have been a week before that would happen to a large number of unsold bikes when an 'informant' of mine spotted my newest ride. The purple old-style mtb had no saddle or rear wheel, but when I received the phone call, I was tolled it had a carbon fibre frame. My first thought was that he was a being little silly, but he was serious. So we picked it up the next day from the depot. And to be honest, it wasn't a full carbon frame, it had aluminum lugs and carbon tubes and stays. But still, an impressive catch.

It had good looking components, XT, XD, XTR and a high tech looking front fork. The front rim had worn out, but the high end hub was in good condition. My first idea was to use all the fancy components for my racer, and use the special frame for a sort of town bike. That plan changed after I'd done a little research. It turned out I had a classic Giant in my shed. One of the first 'affordable' carbon bikes on the market. Affordable is a relative thing and I'm pretty sure it cost the first owner a lot of money back in 1994 or so. This Giant may already be at least 16 years old, everything worked fine and wasn't really worn down.

So, the strategy changed. It would become a low-budget (what else) revival. I had a set of Big Apples that had come of the Pioneer. There was a rear wheel in the shed made from an orphan bike rim, spokes and a hub I got from the Sinner trash can. The front wheel came from another salvaged bike from that same place where the Giant came from. I got new shift cables and a chain from Nazca. The saddle was taken from my fire bike. That bikes also donated his computer. The final parts, saddle tube and handles where bought at a LBS.

There was a thing that I didn't like about the bike, and that was the colour of the front fork. I covered it with 2 layers of black from a can I've been using for years now. I also got rid of the smallest chain blade, a 24 or so. This would be a urban bike, so it wouldn't be used anyway. And without this tiny blade, the chain wouldn't get close to my precious carbon chain stay.

Now it was a matter of re-assembling the Giant and adjusting everything. The wheels needed some truing, and I also lubed the headset. I used two old sprockets as spacers to make the 9 speed rear hub suitable for a 7 speed cassette, which also came of an orphan bike. Back in '94, 21 speeds was already quite something.

Well than, how does it ride? I'm sure this is the finest up-right I've ever ridden. Sure, my wrist feel sore after 15 minutes, but rides won't ever be that long. This thing is great for a quick fun ride to town. It's very quiet and has no problem at all with rough roads. After 16 years, it still shifts and moves very smooth. The whole ride feels solid, this is a well engineered bike.The low weight of only 12,5kg contributes to the fun as well, it handles great! If it wouldn't  be for that pair of 900gram super comfortable Big Apples, this bike would weigh almost a kilo less. A very nice bike for less than €20,-

And what about the fire bike? Well, without a couple of stickers and  accessories, that just a budget 21 speed MTB, ready to be sold.

4 May 2010

It has begun...

I've just ordered all the material I need to build the frame for my racer. It's going to be a long, hard, time consuming thing to do, but I'm looking forward to it. Every know and then I'll post a message like: racer looking good, or: made good progress on the racer.

There'll be a full report afterwards. Except for the technical advisors, they will be updated more frequently for two reasons. First because that could prevent me from doing something really stupid, and second because they deserve that.

You could say that I'm a bit excited :-)

3 May 2010

Just a photo...

A million and a half or so supercar from Aston Martin with a 7 liter V12, need I say more? Now it's time the clean my keyboard... Btw, its called the One-77

Read the whole story here, at the Top Gear website.