• 17th September 2003 - By greg
    Sept 16

    Sept 17, 2003

    mission: To set a trans-Canada human powered speed record

    Well, I figure if I’m really going to do this, then I’d better get some of what I’m doing down on paper – or at least some leave some pixel record of my trials and tribulations.

    In 1991 Bill Narasnek set a trans Canada cycling record of 13 days, 6 hours and 9 minutes. He traveled exactly 6035 kilometers from Vancouver to Halifax. In a conversation with someone who has spoken to Bill, I was told he averaged 451 km per day, 18.8 km per hour and slept for about 7 hours per night.

    Compared to Race Across America cyclists who cycle 5000 km in just over 8 days averaging a whopping 25 km/hour, it looks like there is ample room for improving the Canadian record. Starting with Bill’s luxurious 7 hours per night of sleep. The average RAM rider hammers across America on only 2 hours of sleep per night! All the remaining time is spent on his bike. According to my friend Steve Born who did RAM 3 times, RAM is a suffer fest!

    So I want to set a new record by being the fastest man to cross Canada under his own power. That means I have to do it in less than 13 days, 6 hours and 9 minutes. Am I interested in crouching over my aerobars for 13 days with a few hours of sleep per night like the RAM riders do? No way. I’m going to employ some cutting edge TECHNOLOGY. You see, I’m not interested in setting a new CYCLING¬†record, as traditionally defined by the Canadian Cycling Association http://www.canadian-cycling.com/ where a ‘bicycle’ is a very strictly defined thing. This is just one of many equipment specifications that I pulled from their rules:

    1.3.004 Bicycles shall be of a type that is or could be sold for use by anyone practicing cycling as a sport. The use of a bicycle designed especially for the attainment of a particular performance (record or other) shall not be authorized.

    All the rules can be found here:


    The Ultra Marathon Cycling Association (http://www.ultracycling.com), on the other hand, has a category for Human Powered Vehicles (or HPVs) which would encompass any kind of person powered bike that doesn’t fit within the CCA specifications. The true ESSENCE of cycling is and should be about efficient human powered travel.

    It is my intention to design and build the most efficient human powered vehicle possible to take me from Vancouver, BC to Halifax, NS in less that 13 days. I know a bit about efficient human speed and aerodynamics and I can tell you now, that this vehicle will look nothing like a road bike!

    Here are some various prototype ideas I’ve dreamed up:

    On a bicycle at 40km/hr, over 90% of your effort goes to simply pushing your shape through the air! This HPV will need to be VERY aerodynamic and will probably feature a full carbon fiber fairing

    Three wheels will add stability, but will also increase rolling resistance as well as additional aerodynamic drag due to the three wheels. As such, it will probably be a two wheeled vehicle. But the trike sure looks cool!

    This is more like it – two wheels, low, and streamlined!

    The guts of the HPV will probably be constructed of a monocoque carbon fiber body with front wheel drive. Both wheels will be discs and will efficiently rotate within a wheel fairing as part of the monocoque frame.

    Because the front wheel fits between my legs, the turning radius is small and therefore slow speed handling is difficult. Also, navigating around traffic in cities and towns will be difficult unless I can get up above the front wheel. To accomplish this, I would like to be able to lift the seat up with struts or springs for low speed maneuvering and improved visibility. Then as soon as conditions permit, the seat can be lowered back down for highway speed.

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