Human-Powered Vehicle Fun Day

Human-Powered Vehicle Fun Day

Sunday was hpv fun day at Hellyer Velodrome in San Jose. This is arranged by a local couple Carol and George Leone who do it as a labor of love. They charge a fee for participating but it barely covers their costs. We had a beautiful late spring day for the occasion. The velodrome is about 15 miles from my house, so I rode my recumbent there, partly on the Coyote Creek trail, and partly on roads with good bike lanes. We had to enter via the back gate because the path from the main entrance to Hellyer Park to the velodrome was still flooded.

I had a bit of a tailwind so I got there in 53 minutes. Then we were able to warm up on the velodrome track for about half an hour. It is amusing how intimidating this is at first- the banking seems really high for those of us who experience riding on it only once a year. But after a couple of laps, your confidence comes back and it becomes really fun zooming on the track.

The first event was a 200-meter time trial. We were given a full lap to get up to speed then did the timed part. We could also take advantage of the banking by staying up high at first then swooping down to the black line at the bottom of the banking for the timed run. I enjoyed this a great deal. I crashed doing this event a few years ago on a folding bike, partly because it had small wheels and partly because the position in the aero-bar handlebar extensions on an upright is not the most stable. This time I was on my recumbent, and the “aero” position is with the hands with their normal grip on the handlebars. So I felt much more secure.

There were a few more group races after that. Due to my inexperience riding in a group on a track, these felt less safe to me, and I’d promised my wife I’d be careful, so I skipped most of them, having my lunch while I enjoyed watching and filming them. My favorite was the “miss and out” race: At the end of each lap, the last place rider is pulled from the race. This continues until there is only one rider left, who is the winner. I uploaded a video of the end of this race here:

I could not resist doing the “Medicare” race, however, open to participants over 65, in which there were four entrants. Two of the others were fully-faired “velomobiles” and the other was a higher-performance recumbent than mine, much more reclined and aerodynamic. So I was not surprised to place dead last. But it was great fun. It’s interesting that unfaired bikes, being lighter, start out much more quickly than fully-faired ones, but their aero advantage quickly takes over so they catch up quickly. Being passed by one is exciting because they make a very distinct noise coming up behind you and then a whooshing sound as they fly right by.

After that race, I took off for home, which took about 70 minutes this time since it was against a slight headwind. A most enjoyable outing. Thanks, Carol and George!

Various bikes and riders and a shaded rest area. My recumbent is in the foreground. Note how much more upright the seating position is than the high-performance recumbent below. The tradeoff is comfort, I wouldn’t want to go on a three-hour ride on the one below
A high-performance unfaired recumbent. The extreme recline of the seat makes for very low frontal area which reduces drag. The disk wheels also help. Notice the rider needs a headrest, because it would otherwise be uncomfortable holding your head up in that position. This was probably the strongest rider that participated. He came in second in the miss-and-out race, which means he was never caught by one of the velomobiles in the race, and the other one only passed him in the last lap near the finish.
The banking is hishest in the corners, and was intimidating at first.
View From the top
A velomobile passes the finish line. They can be made even more aerodynamic by covering the cockpit but that makes it stuffy inside

May 23, 2023May 22, 2023

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