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New Human-Powered World Hour Record 257

jesterpilot writes "Last weekend, the limit of human propulsion was pushed another kilometer. At the 2006 Dempsey-MacCready One Hour Record Attempts on the Nissan track in Arizona, Fred Markham set a new World Hour Record by cranking 85,4 km in a fully faired recumbent bicycle. This is about 1 km more than Sam Whittinghams 2004 record. Noting Fred's age of fifty years, it seems the boundaries of human propulsion are not even close yet. Read a report of the decisive runs on Rob English' diary."
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New Human-Powered World Hour Record

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  • Re:Wow! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 03, 2006 @05:22PM (#15652507)
    Allowing recumbents in road racing would entirely change the nature of the sport. When riding an "upright" bicycle, riding behind close behind another competitor requires about 1/3 less effort. (Sheltering.)

    However, nobody is stupid enough just to let everyone else sit on their wheel for a 200Km race. Instead echelons are formed where riders take turn in front, doing their share of the work. Eventually break groups form, and hopefully the smaller group can organize better and gain an advantage.

    Of course, if you're in a break group with all your own teammates, organizing isn't a problem. But most of the time you're with competitors. So you have to work *with* your opponents, yet still beat them. This leads to all sorts of interesting tactics.

    If road racing turned to recumbents, such tactics would virtually disappear due to the shelter advantage being reduced to minimal. It would, in essence, become a mass start time trial instead of a road race as we know it today.

    This is why the UCI does not allow recumbents: It'd be a different sport.
  • Re:Wow! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Moofie ( 22272 ) <`lee' `at' `'> on Monday July 03, 2006 @06:09PM (#15652772) Homepage
    You don't see F1 cars racing in the NASCAR (or CART or LeMans or SCCA or German Touring Car Championships) circuits. Similarly, UCI's races are limited to upright bicycles.

    What's the problem?
  • Re:Wow! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ironsides ( 739422 ) on Monday July 03, 2006 @06:36PM (#15652957) Homepage Journal
    When riding an "upright" bicycle, riding behind close behind another competitor requires about 1/3 less effort. (Sheltering.)

    It's called "Drafting" and is known to every racing fan and bicycle enthusiast I have ever met.

    As for the recumbents not drafting, that's not true. While the bonus may be reduced slightly, there would still be an incentive to draft. Drafting works no matter what kind of vehicle you are in.

    What the UCI could do is set up a different league for recumbent racing. Keep the two seperate, such as NASCAR with trucks and cars.
  • by colmore ( 56499 ) on Monday July 03, 2006 @07:49PM (#15653423) Journal
    With fastest / longest / etc. records, I think you have to assume perfect conditions. If you can find a better track with more ideal conditions, then that's part of getting to set a new record.

    The point isn't to pit one racer against the other in a perfectly "fair" way, it's to asymptotically approach the limits of human capability, so adding a couple miles to the record is significant.
  • Re:Wow! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by neuro.slug ( 628600 ) <> on Monday July 03, 2006 @08:08PM (#15653544)
    Also note that it's far, far more difficult to go uphill on a recumbent (perhaps due to different muscles being actuated or the inability to get out of the saddle to produce the surge of watts that might be necessary). Recumbent riders ALWAYS get dropped on any climb.

    -- n
  • Re:No F*cking Way (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mpapet ( 761907 ) on Monday July 03, 2006 @08:23PM (#15653631) Homepage
    If road racing turned to recumbents, such tactics would virtually disappear due to the shelter advantage being reduced to minimal. It would, in essence, become a mass start time trial instead of a road race as we know it today.

    There is not a grain of truth in any of this.

    1. The UCI has a strong sense of tradition that lead it to quickly ban things that don't look like a bike Lemond, Merckx (sp) Gimondi (keep going back...) rode. Recall that the time trial bars in Lemond's era were a controversy and are strictly limited to time trial efforts. National organizations usually follow the UCI at the national level with regional events offering greater flexibility.

    2. Like all competitive events, racing equipment is designed to a specification first. Innovation has a tough time making it through any way. Pick your sport, F1, Nascar, Bicycle racing. They all have detailed equipment specs.

    3. Wind resistance is the still there if you are sitting in a canopy or not. It will still be the same style of racing. Relatively flat events usually end in a mass sprint. Hilly events usually end up with a tiny lead group and the rest come straggling in for 1+ hours afterwards. Recumbents would make everything faster on average, but that's about it.

    What's sad is a competitive amateur (Cycling USA ranked racer) can't go near recumbents for fear of being shunned from the amateur/pro sport. Then you'd see some amazing times. I'm not sure how people would take to racing recumbents as an organized sport, but if Nascar can attract viewers maybe recumbents can if they can simplify some of the race formats.
  • by Slugster ( 635830 ) on Monday July 03, 2006 @08:37PM (#15653686)
    You can ride what you want of course--but there's a couple of points I'd make:
    Firstly--recumbents don't cost that much now. Yes there are some $3K and $4K+ ones, but there are upright bikes that cost that much too and everyone who rides doesn't own one. The cheaper 'bents start at around $500-$600. At that price point a bent is not particularly fast or good for long-distance touring, but it will still be way more comfortable to ride than any upright, at any price. If you can cough up $1200-$1500, there's quite a few choices. -Which is not very expensive, when you consider that 'bents are actually comfortable to ride, and that you might ride them a lot more than you would an "uncomfortable" bike.

    How many upright bikes sit gathering dust in people's garages, their tires going flat from dry rot?
    People buy these bikes because they "cost less", or because they "look normal".
    But of course the bikes make one's butt, neck and hands hurt--so then they never ride them.
    What kind of bargain is that?
    If you already know that upright bikes are uncomfortable for you to ride, then don't throw your money away on yet another one.

    Secondly--when upright bike riders say "it's comfortable", they really mean that "it's not so bad that I can't stand to ride it". With recumbents, normally your butt and neck never hurt, and your hands never go numb. The comfort difference between uprights and recumbents is difficult to overstate.
    With recumbents, you don't wear "padded" shorts or padded gloves, because you never need them.
    And the thing is--if you have never tried riding a recumbent 50 or 100 or 200 miles, you don't really know the difference. Upright defenders tend to forget that people who spend money on recumbents nearly-always used to spend money on nice upright bikes; we know what it feels like to ride uprights.

    I spent $1500-$2000+ each on a series of bikes for twenty years, telling myself "it wasn't that bad".
    Then I borrowed a BikeE for an afternoon, and realized--it was that bad. And it had always been "that bad".
    Every upright bike I had ever owned had been uncomfortable, in the exact same ways.
    It doesn't matter if you spend $200 or $2000 on an upright, they're gonna hurt just the same.

    Soon after I bought my first recumbent, I got rid all but one my upright bikes--because I wasn't riding them at all anymore anyway. The last one I kept just in case I wanted to ride it ever.
    Two years later I hadn't taken it out even once, so I got rid of it too.

  • Re:Wow! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by smellsofbikes ( 890263 ) on Tuesday July 04, 2006 @12:50AM (#15654657) Journal
    There are a lot of good sites on the web about making bikes of all types. The Internation Human Powered Vehicle Association [] has a library of links for DIY sites, some of them of exquisite sophistication, like Damon Runyard's carbon fiber bikes and some of the pedal-powered hovercraft.
    The reason I tend to recommend atomic zombie [] is that rather than buying a bunch of 4130 and jigging up a gorgeous replica Greenspeed, complete with machining and tapping details for wheel mounts, the Zombie takes a BMX, welds a new bottom bracket shell onto a stick of tubing onto the front of the BMX, bolts on a couple pieces of plywood -- and, dude, recumbent! Half a dozen non-precision weldjoints and an hour with a tablesaw and you're done! It's much more encouraging to beginners, who might not have lathes and mills.
    I like the website you pointed out, don't get me wrong. I'd love to build something like that. But if we want to get this critical mass of recumbent-builders going, start out with rickety dogbikes to give people a taste, then start building the superb designs.
  • by Asahi Super Dry ( 531752 ) on Tuesday July 04, 2006 @06:35AM (#15655447)
    I think these are mostly misconceptions, arising from what I would guess to be mainly cultural reasons. I live in Japan, and lots of people here ride bikes with none of the above concerns. One problem (from a north american perspective) might be that these bikes aren't remotely "sexy." They're mostly single-speed steel frame beasts with baskets, fender racks and little friction-powered headlights. Here are your concerns addressed:

    *You sweat (not good for dating/going to work)
    You can change when you get there, or alternatively just deal with it.

    *No place to store your groceries (or for the slashdot crowd, taking your rig to a lan party)

    *No place for the girlfriend to sit
    Fender rack.

    *No air conditioning


    It's entirely possible to hold an umbrella while you ride. Ahh, I forgot they don't use those in the states, either.

    Ok, I know bikes aren't practical in the US, but not necessarily for the reasons you outlined. Mainly I'd be worried about getting killed by a car, or the fact that everything is so damn far apart and products are sold in such bulk quantities. I can guarantee if people rode bikes in the US there'd be no Wal Mart.

If graphics hackers are so smart, why can't they get the bugs out of fresh paint?