21 August 2007

World Leaders in Cycling

Everyone knows that the Netherlands are the world leaders when it comes to bikes and everything cycling. But if you don’t know, or are still in denial about the last sentence, let me prove it in the next few weeks with the few freaks I have found. It will be an ongoing program of convincing, but I am sure at the end of the few stories, you will wholeheartedly agree as well.

Everyone knows the old saying that ‘there are more bikes in Amsterdam than there are people’, well they are probably right, but that’s a story for another day. In the meantime I will show you a couple of great inventions I have seen around the races, and a race of local invention. First up I will bring you a couple of local designs, only found here in Holland, but will be looked upon as possible favourites to copy in the future.

As a country that seems to prefer riding their bikes than driving, here is an invention that will make even the diehard car freaks look up and pay attention. Now I have seen many HPV’s (human powered vehicles) in my short time on this earth. Most of them are made by bike nerds, more interested in the aerodynamics, rather than the stability and ease of riding the machine. Most of them can’t turn a corner to save themselves, and most of the time you have to remove limbs before you can fit inside them. Plus the other reason I really don’t like them, is that they are a very close cousin to recumbents (my worst enemy when it comes to working on them), which feature almost at the bottom of the bicycle evolutionary scale (along with 20”BMX bikes).

The front on view, headlight and driver on mobile.

This thing came past my legs so fast and quiet, I hardly noticed it. If it was not for my alertness and intuition I would have missed it altogether. Lucky I had my camera on my belt as I had a couple of shots off before you could blink. Being three wheeled, gives this machine a bit of stability, where others have failed. This was still in prototype mode, but being directed towards the commuter market with it’s front and rear lights, easy operating rain cover, and comfortable cockpit. From the speed to which he accelerated away from us as he left, I was astounded. As he took the corner at about 25km without braking I was impressed. Up close it was well manufactured, with a very simple set of controls, which I managed to find on the net here. From the read of his website, sounds like he used to work for another company making the same models, he just shifted and gone on his own. I look forward to seeing more of these around, as they look pretty cool, and super fast on the road. I await for Armageddon before we see more of them on the road replacing cars, but otherwise a great start in the right direction.

From the rear, nice and smoth and very fast looking indeed.

Next up this crazy bike I saw hanging around the pits at a local crit. This crazy machine looked pretty spanky with it’s graphics and wheels, but as I was have a good look around, blamo, it hit me. Something that I have never seen before, and never thought I might ever see. See if you can spot it?

Close up of the bike and frame, notice anything a bit different about it?

Well give up, well just like me, it took me a minute or so looking before the rear seat stays (the frame stays that comes up from the rear wheel and attach to the seat tube just under your saddle) became very obvious. Where there would normally be carbon poking out of the frame, this time it’s a very nice, well prepared, piece of wood. Now before you start to get all funny, think about it, all those alloy frames with carbon rear stays are trying to achieve the same idea. The wood is there to absorb road trash, or the vibrations coming form the road surface. Wood is as good a product as carbon in this situation, not as light in some instances, but just as cool in this case. From the looks of things, GER is a Dutch bike company, but this frame is not featured on their website, but maybe when they update in the future you might see it. As for the future of this idea, I ‘m not so sure the general public would accept this, as they like all the bling about new frames. Convincing them wood is the way of the future is going to be a rather hard sell.

And a close up of it, doesn't it look nice.

I like it, looks pretty unique, and felt pretty reasonable as far as weight goes. As far as the spank factor goes, this rates pretty highly. Hope we see it more in the future, I am all for modern materials mixing with a bit or old school. Now all we need to see is the fusion of ‘Unobtainium’ with ‘Drillium’ and you are on the way to my perfect bike material.

And last but not least, a race to end all races. Starting in a few days from our neighbouring village, a 4000km road race. Working on the idea of the old Tour de France, a non-stop tour of massive proportions, raced throughout the night, day till it ends. I will endeavour to be at the start on the 30th and try to catch the finish a month or so later. This is just to see the freaks that have entered, and to see if anyone finishes at the end of it.

I was out on a training ride last year as I got passed by some dude on a TT bike, out in the middle of nowhere, it was a strange sight. He was moving pretty fast, and was covered in advertising, with a support car not too far behind. I didn’t think too much of it till I got home and remembered looking into it more. I then found out the finish was 4km from home, I looked into it a bit further, as it was the winning solo rider I had been passed by out on the road. After 4000km he was still moving pretty fast, I had to look into it more, as our sport is full of freaks and hard men, but this was the hardest I had heard of to date.

You can check the race out here, and watch what happens over the next month or so. Expected arrival is about the 8th sept, but don’t quote me on this.

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