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Human-Powered Vehicle Speed Competition

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the faster-than-common-sense dept.

Transportation 102

nsasch writes "Over at Battle Mountain, NV on SR-305, for the 2008 Battle Mountain World Human Powered Speed Challenge (mirror), some of the best cyclists will be competing in human-powered vehicles to break speed records. The current world record was set in 2002 at the same location with a speed of 129.6 km/h (81 mph) by Sam Whittingham in a custom-made recumbent bike. A lot of advanced aerospace engineering goes into these machines to reach highway speeds on less than one horsepower. Take a look around their site for pictures of the event and this year's records. It ends 20 September, so more pictures and results will be coming."

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102 comments

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The top contender (4, Funny)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#25045033)

This [wikipedia.org] is the pinnacle of human-powered vehicle evolution. Here are some features:

- Compact, lightweight frame cuts down on weight and complexity while adding strength.
- Unique wheel placement and design ensures maximum power transwer to drive wheel while reducing drag caused by friction stemming from contact surface area.
- Portability - it's like owning a segway that you can hand-carry into the store!
- Ability to self-balance while occupied, without the use of a kickstand, leg, or tripod.
- It's like walking on a wheel and it makes the Segway its bitch.

BM is the "Armpit of the USA" (0, Offtopic)

CDMA_Demo (841347) | more than 5 years ago | (#25045747)

When you drive past it, it says so in large friendly letters on the mountains around the town.

Re:BM is the "Armpit of the USA" (1)

conureman (748753) | more than 5 years ago | (#25054343)

I spent some time in Battle Mountain in the '70s. While it was pretty scary in a blue state sort of way, and bore a striking resemblance to Bumfuq, it wasn't half the armpit that is Antioch, CA.

Re:BM is the "Armpit of the USA" (1)

conureman (748753) | more than 5 years ago | (#25063305)

OOPS. I meant red state. I once got to talking, about living in California, to a sweet little old lady in a corner store. She suggested that all of our problems could be solved if we just started lining all the hippies up against a wall and shooting them. "After about twenty or thirty or so, maybe they'll start to get the message...". I murmured my concurrence and escaped with my life.

Re:The top contender (1)

polyomninym (648843) | more than 5 years ago | (#25045851)

Ok, you had me for a minute. I really thought that your link was gonna take me to the "It" from that South Park episode where Mr. Garrison had invented his alternative, self-powered alternative vehicle. Props for posting the unicycle link!

Re:The top contender (1)

Anthony_Cargile (1336739) | more than 5 years ago | (#25048197)

That is the FIRST thing I thought of when I read the story title, lol, Mr. Garrison riding the IT!

Breaking Away. (1)

Ostracus (1354233) | more than 5 years ago | (#25045095)

""Over at Battle Mountain, NV on SR-305, for the 2008 Battle Mountain World Human Powered Speed Challenge (mirror), some of the best cyclists will be competing in human-powered vehicles to break speed records. The current world record was set in 2002 at the same location with a speed of 129.6 km/h (81 mph) by Sam Whittingham in a custom-made recumbent bike."

Good. Now I can finally see a high speed bicycle chase on Cops.

Re:Breaking Away. (4, Funny)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 5 years ago | (#25045159)

The cop (also riding a bike) could put a red light on his helmet and ring his bicycle bell as a siren... *ching ching* *ching ching*

Very intimidating...

And where would he put the suspect after he's caught, in the basket?

Re:Breaking Away. (3, Insightful)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 5 years ago | (#25045199)

The bitch seat? If you've just been caught by a bicycle cop, I can't imagine a more fitting place for you to sit.

Re:Breaking Away. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25045355)

No joke, this actually happened to me. There is stop sign on a corner in our neighborhood but there is no intersection! One day around noon I just drove right through it. At the next stop sign I noticed a bicycle behind waving at me to stop. Thinking a tail light was out or something, I pulled over only to get a ticket for running the last stop sign.

Re:Breaking Away. (1)

veganboyjosh (896761) | more than 5 years ago | (#25045161)

Have you not seen this one [youtube.com] ?

Re:Breaking Away. (1)

Ostracus (1354233) | more than 5 years ago | (#25045215)

Check and see if he has a big "S" on his chest.

Re:Breaking Away. (1)

skabob (826380) | more than 5 years ago | (#25045451)

CUTTERS!

pf (1)

amnezick (1253408) | more than 5 years ago | (#25045127)

I first thought this was about a 2piston Flinstone engine only competition ... *sigh*

Re:pf (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25045379)

YABBA DABBA -- don't .

Hmm. (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25045139)

What if I build a vehicle that is fueled by 1000 human corpses? Does that count? If not, I can always fall back on my alternate vehicle (powered by the tormented souls of children).

For you warlocks in the crowd (1)

ciaohound (118419) | more than 5 years ago | (#25045345)

Here's a great idea: cook up a human child to make flying potion. Then just kind of hover over Battle Mountain until all the dweebs on their bikes are looking at you, jaws dropped, then say something like "Hey, I got your fastest human-powered vehicle right here!" as you glide effortlessly over the horizon. That would be so cool.

An egyptian locomotive? (2, Informative)

mangu (126918) | more than 5 years ago | (#25045635)

As Mark Twain put in his "Innocents Abroad", the Egyptians burned mummies in their locomotives: "The fuel is composed of mummies three thousand years old, purchased by the ton or by the graveyard for that purpose, and sometimes one hears the profane engineer call out pettishly, 'D--n these plebeians, they don't burn worth a cent--pass out a King!"

Human-Powered, eh? (4, Interesting)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#25045145)

I see they're pretty much all recumbent bikes, and that's pretty cool and all, and 81 mph is impressive and stuff, but I think maybe they're perhaps suffering from a lack of imagination. Based off the common usages of "Solar-Powered" and "Diesel-Powered", would it be safe to assume that Human-Powered could also mean Human-Fueled?

Or should I read the fine print before entering the contest?

Re:Human-Powered, eh? (2, Funny)

OldMiner (589872) | more than 5 years ago | (#25045679)

...would it be safe to assume that Human-Powered could also mean Human-Fueled?

Killing people to use their corpses as fuel for your Roadster of Doom may run awry of the "no necromancy or angering the spirits of the dead" rule.

Re:Human-Powered, eh? (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#25045871)

Killing people to use their corpses as fuel for your Roadster of Doom may run awry of the "no necromancy or angering the spirits of the dead" rule.

Well since I got married and had kids, I had to sell the roadster and get a Sedan of Doom instead. It'll still do more than 81 mph though especially with fresh bodies of the innocent.

Thanks for the heads up about the rules. I wish they'd make these kinds of things more explicit, but I guess that's just what I'll have to expect in these anti-necromantic times.

Re:Human-Powered, eh? (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 5 years ago | (#25048437)

would it be safe to assume that Human-Powered could also mean Human-Fueled?

All you have to do is find a way of mounting a combination liposuction and biodiesel plant on a bicycle and you're a winner.

Millions of Americans have been stockpiling fuel in anticipation of your invention. Go for it!

Re:Human-Powered, eh? (1)

ChrisMaple (607946) | more than 5 years ago | (#25048887)

Hair burns very nicely, particularly if it's oily. No need for death, to fuel a human-combustion engine.

Re:Human-Powered, eh? (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#25055071)

You're no fun at all.

Sam Whittingham's Bike Design (3, Informative)

catchblue22 (1004569) | more than 5 years ago | (#25050265)

I didn't see it mentioned in the summary, but world speed record holder Sam Whittingham's bike [thetyee.ca] was designed by a Bulgarian sculptor, Georgi Georgiev, who is not an engineer. The bike was not designed from computational fluid dynamics, or other modern engineering techniques. The design emerged from the brain of Mr. Georgiev; he designed the bike to "hide from the air", while providing Sam Whittingham with just enough space to pedal comfortably.

I have always been amazed that Sam Whittington and Georgi Georgiev have been able to consistently beat teams with engineers and batteries of computers with advanced aerodynamics software. Mr. Georgiev is something of a genius.

What you saying? Energy bars is people?!? (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 5 years ago | (#25051315)

I knew it, damn those athletes! So that is how they get those human hormones for their dope scandals!

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This is what happens (2, Funny)

longacre (1090157) | more than 5 years ago | (#25045255)

This is the mountain bike speed record being broken [youtube.com] . Spoiler alert: it doesn't end well for the vehicle or the human.

Re:This is what happens (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25045415)

And this is what happens [youtube.com] when you do the same thing on a speedbike. Fortunately Rob walked away with nothing worse than cuts and bruises.

Damn (4, Funny)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 5 years ago | (#25045283)

There goes my plan for a hamster powered car entering the race.

Re:Damn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25045761)

I've got you covered. We're building a human-sized hamster wheel for a similar human-powered rail race, the Handcar Regatta.
Check it out here: http://www.lumberingcontraption.com

Not at sea level? (2, Interesting)

schwit1 (797399) | more than 5 years ago | (#25045295)

What are the advantages and disadvantages of doing this at 1,408m instead of at sea level?

Re:Not at sea level? (2, Informative)

Flying Scotsman (1255778) | more than 5 years ago | (#25045319)

Advantages: Thinner air, less air resistance. Disadvantages: Thinner air, less oxygen for the engines (the person pedaling),

Re:Not at sea level? (2, Informative)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 5 years ago | (#25046389)

Since power required to overcome air resistance rises as the cube of the speed (force rises as the square, as a function of the cross-sectional area) there's a big advantage to high elevation. Since power produced drops off roughly linearly(*) with elevation because of reduced oxygen for the rider, you gain more by going to higher elevations than you lose. Many long-standing Olympic cycling (and other speed-related sports) records were set at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, at 3200 meters elevation.

* as I recall, pressure drops off as an exponential function, roughly pressure = sealevel pressure * e ^ (temp / (acceleration of gravity * height in meters)) but don't quote me on that.

Re:Not at sea level? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25045347)

Speeds are considerably higher at 1408m because of the reduced air resistance. There's less oxygen pressure at that altitude so power output will be slightly reduced, but the reduced air drag more than makes up for this.

Re:Not at sea level? (1)

dmatos (232892) | more than 5 years ago | (#25045393)

Thinner air = less wind resistance?

Probably the only place they could find a road that was flat and straight for > 4 miles, and had little enough traffic that the HPV's wouldn't be endangered.

Re:Not at sea level? (1)

klondike151 (716334) | more than 5 years ago | (#25046215)

Have you seen some of the flyover states? Flat straight roads for hundreds of miles :)

Re:Not at sea level? (5, Informative)

Somegeek (624100) | more than 5 years ago | (#25045397)

This is the longest, paved, straight, flat stretch of road that the organizers are aware of, in the US. Also, Nevada lets them shut it down for certain time windows for the race.

If you do the race on a banked racetrack you can get an advantage from the wind where you use the bike fairing as a sail. That wind assist is hard to calculate and factor out of the final time, while a small headwind or tailwind on a straight course is easily mathematically removed to be able to equalize the results.

Re:Not at sea level? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25045719)

If you do the race on a banked racetrack you can get an advantage from the wind where you use the bike fairing as a sail. That wind assist is hard to calculate and factor out of the final time, while a small headwind or tailwind on a straight course is easily mathematically removed to be able to equalize the results.

"Legal" runs through the 200 meter speed traps must be made when the wind is below a certain speed (defined in the IHPVA rules, along with allowable downgrade for the road and various other conditions). There is no correction done for head or tail wind.

Re:Not at sea level? (1)

veganboyjosh (896761) | more than 5 years ago | (#25046009)

Don't they have to do it in both directions? Or is that some other speed record event?

Re:Not at sea level? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25047557)

Don't they have to do it in both directions? Or is that some other speed record event?

There has been talk of modifying the rules to require 2-way runs, but it is pretty hard on the rider / athlete to do even one of these runs--two in a row would be a real killer. Also, it takes a lot of waiting for low wind speed, by the time you got turned around and got all the observers in place to go the other way, the wind might have come up. Full rules can be found here: http://www.ihpva.org/IHPVA/ihpvarules.html [ihpva.org]

Re:Not at sea level? (1)

Beezlebub33 (1220368) | more than 5 years ago | (#25045933)

Plus Nevada makes lots of money on the tickets that they write on people going over 65!

Re:Not at sea level? (1)

taj (32429) | more than 5 years ago | (#25049613)

>> This is the longest, paved, straight, flat stretch of road that the organizers are aware of, in the US.

I'm guessing this could be the tourist attraction North Dakota has been looking for.

The Red River Valley is a prime place for long flat paved roads. Think "curve of the earth" flat.

Re:Not at sea level? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25057049)

This is the longest, paved, straight, flat stretch of road

Actually, the trick is that it is not horizontal, but instead is inclined - going downwards - at just a tiny little bit less than the maximum allowed by the rules.

Re:Not at sea level? (2, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 5 years ago | (#25045447)

Availability. My suspicion is that there aren't many places that
- have a long, perfectly straight and flat road
- little traffic
- residents that don't mind having their roads closed for 30 minutes at a time

Re:Not at sea level? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25048469)

"- have a long, perfectly straight and flat road
- little traffic
- residents that don't mind having their roads closed for 30 minutes at a time"

What about North Dakota ?

SR403 (1)

conureman (748753) | more than 5 years ago | (#25054961)

Long-ass, straight road, in the absolute middle of NOWHERE. No crossroads, virtually no traffic, and probably the city was cooperative in organizing the event. There isn't much going on in town, just the Owl Cafe, the casino, and the cathouse. Probably outweighed the advantages or disadvantages of the altitude.

Re:SR403 (1)

conureman (748753) | more than 5 years ago | (#25055041)

OOPS thats SR305. sorry.

More Information on the event... (1)

mpapet (761907) | more than 5 years ago | (#25045377)

What makes Battle Mountain the place to do this kind of thing is it's the smoothest, flatest road that the local community is willing to close.

Putting a UCI-class rider in one of those things would be great to see. The speeds would be off the charts. That would be the quickest end to your pro career. Much worse than getting caught for doping.

Recumbents are without a doubt much more comfortable to ride for most people than the traditional bicycle. Their costs continue to come down too. It's the fact that they don't look like a regular bicycle that scares most people away from them.

IHPVA is a great group. Lots of new ideas and experimentation going on with slim budgets.

Re:More Information on the event... (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25045839)

Putting a UCI-class rider in one of those things would be great to see. The speeds would be off the charts. That would be the quickest end to your pro career. Much worse than getting caught for doping.

There are articles of agreement between IHPVA and UCI and, over the years, many UCI-class riders have ridden in hpv's (at HPV events)--so there is no "political" problem.

The problem is teaching a rider how to do a flying 200 meter speed run--it is not like a normal bicycle because the gearing is so much higher. Acceleration is very slow at higher speeds and the rider has to learn to accelerate carefully over several minutes. The goal is to pick a pace so that you exhaust yourself (run out of breath!) just as you enter the timing traps. Bottom line--just putting a strong rider into an hpv will not guarantee record speeds, it takes practice and thought.

Re:More Information on the event... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25048931)

Also, recumbents use muscles slightly differently, so it takes a time period to adjust to the recumbent position.

Re:More Information on the event... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25051055)

The ideal racer for this event would probably be a pursuit rider: somebody who's trained for an event of about the right duration, with a sprinter's raw power and the cardi-vascular system to run hard for several minutes. Are you listening, Taylor Phinney [youtube.com] ?

Re:More Information on the event... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25050113)

What makes Battle Mountain the place to do this kind of thing is it's the smoothest, flatest road that the local community is willing to close.

Actually, it is not flat and has the steepest slope permitted under the ihpva rules for the 200m record. Unlike other forms of land speed record you don't have to do both directions, as in general the riders are only able to do one good run each day.

This is a bit of a cop-out though, as even the miniscule slope permitted under the rules becomes significant at high speed. Look at it like this - if you weight 100kg and drop 1m you gain 1kj of energy.

A gradient of 1/100 is nothing if you're pootling along at 4m/s, but if you're doing 40m/s it starts to provide a significant amount of your energy output. If Battle mountain were truly flat, the records would be significantly lower - perhaps 70-75mph.

Re:More Information on the event... (1)

EaglemanBSA (950534) | more than 5 years ago | (#25057241)

Actually, that's not exactly true - the faster you go, the slope represents less of your total energy output - for example, a rider going 50 mph will burn roughly a cubed amount of additional energy per additional speed, whereas your energy gained due to slope is, at that point, negligible and increasing linearly.

Slope adds sin(atan(slope))*w as a parallel force to your vehicle, so for a slope of .01, you're talking about roughly 17 lbs of force for an average rider+machine. Compare that to the drag force at said speed, and you get the idea - it's not _that_ significant.

Re:More Information on the event... (1)

Retric (704075) | more than 5 years ago | (#25057529)

Wind resistance is based on you speed cubed so it takes a lot more energy (~88%) than you might think to go from 70 to 82MPH. I don't know what the other forms of drag are but chances are 2mph of wind is far more important than the slope.

Recumbents (2, Interesting)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 5 years ago | (#25045381)

I think recumbents are incredibly cool, especially the Windcheetah three-wheeler. I could use one of those for winter training when the surface is too greasy for the conventional bike. It's just a pity that recumbents aren't so good on the hills where you can't get to produce power from the muscles in your arms the same way you can on an upright, although in fairness I tend to do most of my climbing sitting in the saddle these days except for when I'm near the top.

These faired HPVs are amazing, I think they're a great illustration of how much power a human can translate into motion if he has an efficient enough machine under him.

As for this speed challenge, it'd bring a lot of publicity to the even if they could persuade big name pro cyclists or at least high profile ex-pros to take part.

Re:Recumbents (4, Interesting)

EaglemanBSA (950534) | more than 5 years ago | (#25045529)

Actually, recumbents are just fine on hills, they just use different, rather untrained muscles - it takes time to get these into shape. Human power production and biomechanics are my area of study, and I've just finished a project developing a human-powered utility vehicle. It is truly amazing what you can do with 150 watts of power and some creative design.

I'd really like to see recumbents become more mainstream here in the US. They can make riding a lot more pleasant, and can make trips of up to 20-30 miles feasible for many people who thought otherwise. With the small market penetration though, they're in a vicious circle of high cost (typically >$1.5k). You can see my HPUV in action here. [blogspot.com]

Re:Recumbents (1)

GeckoX (259575) | more than 5 years ago | (#25056489)

Part of the problem with recumbent uptake is that they are extremely unsafe on roadways where there is vehicular traffic due to their much lower visibility. It's basically suicidal to ride one in the city on roadways, as unfortunate as that may be.

Re:Recumbents (1)

EaglemanBSA (950534) | more than 5 years ago | (#25056865)

They are no less safe than uprights, so long as the rider is wary to wear reflective clothing, and to make sure to have proper reflection/lighting equipment on his/her vehicle...but you're right, we really need a good bike lane system for our city roadways.

Here in Athens, OH, they've just installed bike lanes on most of the city streets, and the number of cyclists around town has nearly tripled.

Re:Recumbents (1)

Anonymous Codger (96717) | more than 5 years ago | (#25059487)

Probably true for some of the lower designs, like a low racer, but absolutely not true for more practical designs. In fact, recumbents have two advantages in traffic:

1. The rider is naturally looking forward, not down at his front wheel, so he can more easily spot the enemy.

2. Recumbents are still odd enough to stand out.

I ride both 'bents and uprights. I put probably 10 times more miles on the 'bents, but I have just as many close calls on the uprights as I do on the 'bents.

Re:Recumbents (1)

TwistedSymmetry (1354405) | more than 5 years ago | (#25046053)

I remember reading somewhere that recumbent bicycles were banned from regular bicycle races. Is this true? If so, it seems a bit silly. Imagine the Tour de France with recumbent superbikes...

Re:Recumbents (2, Interesting)

Flying Scotsman (1255778) | more than 5 years ago | (#25046217)

Yes, that it true. UCI races have very particular specifications as to how your bicycle must be set up. Lots of little details, such as exactly how far forward or back your seat must be, how the handlebars are shaped, specific characteristics of the wheels, etc. The idea is to make the race about the athletes, not about their bikes. Think of it in terms of auto racing. Do you think that F1 cars should be allowed in a NASCAR race?

Re:Recumbents (1)

TwistedSymmetry (1354405) | more than 5 years ago | (#25046275)

You do have a point. But it does run contrary to innovation. But I guess that's what races like this one are for.

Re:Recumbents (2, Interesting)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 5 years ago | (#25046361)

Ever hear the story of Graham Obree? He was a track rider who built his own bikes. He invented this low-tuck position that was subsequently banned. So then he invented the 'superman' position, everyone else copied it, and then it was banned too. I'm surprised a movie hasn't been made about him. He was a high profile rider at the same time as Chris Boardman was riding on the track with the famous (and expensive) Lotus bike.

Re:Recumbents (2, Informative)

Flying Scotsman (1255778) | more than 5 years ago | (#25046429)

I'm surprised a movie hasn't been made about him.

Not sure if you were kidding with that line, but a movie was made about him.

The Flying Scotsman [imdb.com]

Re:Recumbents (1)

TwistedSymmetry (1354405) | more than 5 years ago | (#25046531)

Not only that, but there's a slashdot user named after him! 8'O

Re:Recumbents (1)

Flying Scotsman (1255778) | more than 5 years ago | (#25046591)

Hahaha. I chose this handle before I knew that Obree had that for a nickname. It describes him better than it describes me, though.

Re:Recumbents (1)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 5 years ago | (#25048467)

He was a high profile rider

I thought I was following your post until I got to that part.

-Peter

Re:Recumbents (1)

agingell (931397) | more than 5 years ago | (#25051641)

They did, it is called The Flying Scotsman.

Re:Recumbents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25058177)

He's got a movie. The Flying Scotsman (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0472268/).

Re:Recumbents (1)

Macman408 (1308925) | more than 5 years ago | (#25047047)

I agree with the sibling post that recumbents are fine on hills - at least, anecdotally. I've only tried them briefly, but I biked across the US about 11 years ago (with an organized group), and one of the faster riders rode a recumbent. This included more than a few hills, such as the Rockies (which, incidentally, aren't too bad, since they're not nearly as steep as shorter hills tend to be). Of course, two of the slower riders also rode recumbents, and did have a lot of trouble on hills, so it does take some conditioning, as the sibling post also notes.

In any case, I never stand while pedaling up a hill - I've always felt that it's horribly inefficient. It might be OK for a quick boost of power, but it seems to waste a lot of energy in lateral and other motion that doesn't go into the pedals. Plus, it usually seems to me like there's a dead spot at the bottom of the pedal motion - after falling with the pedal, it takes a tiny bit of time to shift your weight to the other pedal and push on it instead. When just on the seat, I can push much more consistently on the pedals, because I can use the seat to balance myself, even if I'm putting a lot of my weight into the pedals anyway. I've found that I can almost always beat somebody standing on the pedals up a hill by either downshifting, putting a little more power into it, or both. I imagine that, on a recumbent, you'd need to be able to press into the back of the seat to get as much power, since you don't have gravity acting on your weight to help. But you should still be able to get up a hill just fine.

I was recently cleaning out some really old stuff, and came across a physics lab from high school. We measured our power output by timing how long it took to run or walk up a flight of stairs; my peak was running 2 steps at a time, when I reached 865 Watts! Granted, this was only sustained for 3.5 seconds, but just imagine if the human body could sustain that amount of output...

Re:Recumbents (1)

jesterpilot (906386) | more than 5 years ago | (#25053951)

Modern recumbents do fine in the hills, as long as you are doing more than one hill. Using your arms is not very efficient, and after a short sprint the energy in the muscles is gone and needs to be replenished. In the long run, your power is limited by your heart-lung system, and in the really-long-run, by the digestion system. Not by your muscles. So you'd better get as much of your energy as possible directly into the pedals, and let the rest of your body rest as much as possible. My experience in the Tilff-Bastogne-Tilff cyclosportif (220 km and steep hills) fits this: The first half many people on conventional racing bikes climb faster than me, in the second half i climb faster. The problem was always the weight difference. My Challenge Jester weighs no less then 12 kg. But a modern Fujin SLII came in at only 8 kg last year. Will be probably less nowadays.

More than one Horsepower (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25045555)

The records will probably be set using much more than one horsepower - Cyclists are easily able to exceed 1kW peak power.

Re:More than one Horsepower (1)

tygt (792974) | more than 5 years ago | (#25046115)

"Easily" is an interesting word to use there.

Re:More than one Horsepower (1)

ahaile (147873) | more than 5 years ago | (#25047195)

Actually, 1kw really isn't that hard. I'm just an amateur racer, and Ican hit 1.5kw. It helps that I'm a little bigger than your average racer, as power scales roughly with lean body mass. For this reason, experts usually talk about w/kg, not total watts. World class track sprinters can do about 24 w/kg, which puts their total wattage around 2kw. This is for very short durations, though, like 5 to 10 seconds.

Holy *$&! (3, Insightful)

ahoehn (301327) | more than 5 years ago | (#25045567)

Am I the only one that thought, "Holy Shit!" at 81mph?! On flat ground? On a bike?

I've never broken 40 letting my fat ass drag me downhill on a roadbike - I can't imagine what it's like to be able to propel yourself at 80mph with your feet.

Re:Holy *$&! (3, Funny)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 5 years ago | (#25045759)

I've done over 35 on a crappy wal-mart bike on a strait level road. Unfortunately there was a pile of wet leaves I didn't notice till it was too late. Time really does seem to slow down when it feels like you are about to die. It felt like forever for the bike to flip over and land on my head while I used my face to brake in the gravel and dirt on the side of the road. It didn't really hurt until they started sewing my ear back on.

Re:Holy *$&! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25050041)

I've done 57 on a touring bike, and 47 on a recumbent. I once had a go on a faired bike and it was very difficult to control. The short answer to your query is... Scary!

Re:Holy *$&! (1)

jamesshuang (598784) | more than 5 years ago | (#25051221)

Wow, I'm surprised you haven't gone over 40. It's quite an experience - I have yet to break 50, but I'm very close. It's more fun going down mountains, where twists and turns could kill you at any turn :-D

I would love to do a flying run in one of these faired recumbants. I doubt I'd make it even near 50, but it would be fun nontheless

Re:Holy *$&! (1)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 5 years ago | (#25054995)

You could find out!
Well, maybe not 80, but Atomic Zombie [atomiczombie.com] has lots of plans for how to build your own recumbent bikes using cut-up old bikes and a MIG welder, and some of his are very, very fast. My recumbent does in the 30's on flat ground without even pushing very hard and on downhills it's just terrifying.
Building your own bikes is a great DIY hardware project, and it's an area of active innovation: not all the problems have been solved and there is still room for people throwing stuff together in their garages to come up with some great ideas. Plus recumbents are really comfy. I prefer my upright bike, still, for some circumstances, but the 'bent is really cool.

Re:Holy *$&! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25056279)

Am I the only one that thought, "Holy Shit!" at 81mph?! On flat ground? On a bike?

I've never broken 40 letting my fat ass drag me downhill on a roadbike - I can't imagine what it's like to be able to propel yourself at 80mph with your feet.

I was on a competitive mountain bike team for a year and my coach would take us out on the road to train. I have seen members of my team get speeding tickets for exceeding 50 mph, granted this wasn't on flatland....

Re:Holy *$&! (1)

An anonymous Frank (559486) | more than 5 years ago | (#25061071)

Tried downhill in-line skates?

--
kinda like rollerblades, but with 5-6 wheels minimum.

Human Powered? (2, Funny)

JayAitch (1277640) | more than 5 years ago | (#25045595)

Was I the only one thinking the article was about making Bio-diesel from Liposuction Clinic's waste?

Re:Human Powered? (1)

Abreu (173023) | more than 5 years ago | (#25047925)

Not a bad idea in these times... But I think I'll stick to boutique soap bars, for the moment.

Meh (1)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 5 years ago | (#25045677)

There's no way they're going to go faster than a BASE jump, which is human powered if you climb up by yourself.

Anyone else think Flywheel! (1)

belloc1 (1118477) | more than 5 years ago | (#25045777)

I checked... against the rules.

Re:Anyone else think Flywheel! (1)

Tenebrousedge (1226584) | more than 5 years ago | (#25047019)

I am looking into this flywheel idea, as well as a number of alternative energy storage methods. Probably the major point of detraction for a flywheel is that it would tend to stabilize the bicycle and that would not always be desirable, i.e. when turning.

I am also considering that energy storage isn't really all that useful. You're not going to get more energy out of the system than what you put in; the only thing that might be useful for a bike would be regenerative braking. Also, if you start talking about adding a couple solar cells, a fuel cell, or drawing power from a wall outlet, then this could be an idea worth pursuing. But for this challenge, there's really no point in storing energy at all; it should just go straight to the wheels.

I am 100% down with supplemental energy for my bike, though. Biking is fun, but longcommute is loooooong...

Re:Anyone else think Flywheel! (1)

belloc1 (1118477) | more than 5 years ago | (#25049547)

Not really what I was thinking. My thought was to basically drift down the course at let's say 5 mph, all the while you are spinning a flywheel to a very high rpm. At a designated point you release all the built up kinetic energy and propel the cycle through the checkpoints. I would think some very high speed could be achieved for a short time.

If stability is an issue you could use two smaller flywheels going in opposite directions.

Re:Anyone else think Flywheel! (1)

conureman (748753) | more than 5 years ago | (#25055417)

Actually it's twisting the axis that will be challenging. About 100 kph on a motorcycle, try riding with one hand. The wheels act as gyroscopes and the tilt of the bike corresponds very nicely with the curve of the road. (And you push the handle in the opposite direction of the turn you want to initiate!) If you had the flywheel inside of the front (steering) wheel (same axis), maybe that would be a solution.

Not true! The Entity is Faster (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25045955)

I thought this was the fastest human powered vehicle?

The Entity [wikipedia.org]

why not wind up? (1, Interesting)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 5 years ago | (#25046085)

Seems unfair that I can't just wind up a spring over a couple of weeks and then discharge it all in a single race.

Re:why not wind up? (1)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 5 years ago | (#25053211)

Or you can turn a dynamo and store the energy in batteries which you can then use to crank out kilowatts of electrical power to drive an electric motor?

As long as you can crank up the spring during the time the race is run, I don't see a problem with it.

more than that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25046427)

The lower atmospheric pressure leads to less airodynamic drag

My top speed... (1)

splorp! (527131) | more than 5 years ago | (#25050483)

I was doing a 100 mile bike tour and came up the backside of a large hill to see a massive downhill run. Being young and stupid, I cranked it up as fast as I could. About 1/2 way down the hill, I saw the stop sign. Since I didn't see any cars coming, I literally said "SCREW IT" and pedaled my ass off. I had a speedometer on the bike that registered 51MPH at top speed.

Scared the crap out of me.

Scrapheap Roadshow had some nice ideas (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#25051653)

The Scrapheap Challenge (i.e. junkyard wars) spin off did a human powered drag race.

There was a very nice device that used a rowing action. Seems like a clever idea. Allowed the whole body to be used for powering it rather than just the legs.

Re:Scrapheap Roadshow had some nice ideas (1)

jesterpilot (906386) | more than 5 years ago | (#25053619)

Like this [rowingbike.com] ? The Thys rowing bike is great technology, but it's not fast. It's heavier and less aerodynamic than a legs-only HPV. Using more muscles does not give you more power for more than a short sprint, because your power is limited by the heart-lung system.

Why only a single gear? (1)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 5 years ago | (#25051731)

If falling over is a hazard, why not fit the bike with more gears? Surely the weight of a derailleur and 2 extra gears is insignificant, top speed being bounded by drag rather than weight.

well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25051963)

I think we found the solution to the oil crisis.

Lance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25056137)

Two words one name. Lance Armstrong

Obligitory Flintstone referance. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25056981)

I'm sure the words 'Yaba-Daba-Do' were muttered under at least one contestant's breath during this event.

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