It's all set to happen between 10 and 15 September: that's when TU Delft and VU University Amsterdam's Human Power Team will be making a bid to break the world cycling record, currently at 133 km/ hour. Last year Velox's recumbent cyclist Sebastiaan Bowier came excruciatingly close with 129.6 km/ hour.
According to team leader and Mechanical Engineering student Paul Denissen, this year Velox2 may go even faster: "If conditions during the race week are favourable, chances of that are good as the Velox2's air resistance is even lower than that of its predecessor." The students replaced the windshield of the super streamlined bicycle by two minute cameras and made the pedal mechanism oval in order to further sharpen the nose.
The full team will depart from Schiphol on 2 September, setting course for the site of Battle Mountain in Nevada (US). Between 10 and 15 September the teams aiming to challenge the world record have one of the straightest tracks at their disposal. In addition to students of TU Delft and the VU University Amsterdam, the team has two cyclists: recumbent cyclist Sebastiaan Bowier and former world skating champion Jan Bos.
New pedal mechanism
The cyclists have undergone intensive training in the last few months under the supervision of Human Movement Sciences students from VU University Amsterdam. They had to master an entirely new pedalling technique due to the Velox2's far sharper nose. The inner space leaves no room for 'circular' pedalling. The TU Delft students designed a pedalling system that requires the cyclist to pedal in the shape of an elongated oval.
"I think we're ready for it. Actually what I'm most worried about is my own teammate Sebas", jokes former world champion Jan Bos. "He's incredibly strong and we've been driving each other pretty hard in the past six months. But that's okay because we've both come out faster." But the team will be watching the current world record holder Sam Witthingham with interest. According to Sebastiaan, "I think he got a real wake-up call last year. His record was unbroken but, for the first time in years, he didn't cycle the highest speed during the record races. I bet he's been training hard".
Battle Mountain, Nevada
Each year the cycling teams are given the opportunity to achieve record speeds along a straight section of road in Battle Mountain, Nevada. "It's a fantastic stretch of straight asphalt that's almost 10 km long", explains Mechanical Engineering student Paul Denissen. "Cyclists have eight kilometres to accelerate and their speed is measured during the last 200 metres. That leaves almost two kilometres to slow down to a halt and you need every inch of that." The record races take place in the early evening: "That's when conditions are usually best. The wind often dies down and humidity is low. In conjunction with a height of approximately 1500 metres that gives you the most favourable conditions", says Paul. "But of course nature is never entirely predictable. Last year the wind was not really doing what we wanted it to so hopefully that will be better this year."
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