Sunday, June 20, 2010

Urban transportation contest - June 12, 2010

Former MHPVA President WALLY KIEHLER, shown here during one of the Sunday morning road races, won the urban transportation contest Saturday on his carbon fiber Lightning R-84. (Mike Eliasohn photo)

By Paul Pancella, UTC organizer

This year, six vehicles were entered in the urban transportation contest at the Michigan Human Powered Vehicle Rally. Despite this small sample, there was great variety among the vehicles and competitors, including veterans and first-time participants. All seemed to have fun with the event, taking on the various tasks with the proper attitude.
Contestants, vehicle numbers, their vehicles, and their final scores were:

1) Wally Kiehler (345), Grosse Pointe Woods, Lightning R-84 carbon fiber short wheelbase recumbent, 69.4 points.
2) Dennis Grelk (820), Donnellson, Iowa, Surly Big Dummy upright cargo bike, 68.9.
3) Daniel Sing (12), Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Terre Haute, Ind., partially faired leaning recumbent trike, 51.4.
4) Dan and Brenda Lonowski (816), Novi, homebuilt Quadster HPV side-by-side quadricycle, 49.2.
5) Jim Iwaskow (110), Richmond Hill, Ontario, WAW velomobile, 47.6.
6) Miguel Jensen Didulo (967), London, Ontario, homebuilt recumbent leaning trike, 40.7.

It was a close finish between Dennis and Wally, both veterans of past UTC events. Wally won with a score close to what he earned in previous years riding a different Lightning bike, while the powerful Grelk improved considerably over his score in 2008, using a similar upright bike.
Wally's carbon fiber R-84 scored much better on weight (27 lbs vs. the Surly's 57) and aerodynamics, of course, while vision, visibility, and a small passenger bonus allowed the cargo bike to make up most of the difference. These two competitors also had the best times in the simulated grocery run, which helped separate them from the rest of the field. The top two finishers each received a modest cash prize.
Grocery abuse was unfortunately widespread this year, which caused three of the four other competitors to fall off the lead. Multiple items were actually ejected from one vehicle during its exit from the slalom part of the course.
It was very unusual to have two leaning tricycles in the contest. These vehicles demonstrated the two shortest braking distances, but in each case their relatively low rider position decreased their scores. A high ratio of vehicle to operator weight and rather large turn radius hurt the Rose-Hulman entry, while Jensen's trike was not well adapted for carrying groceries. The long time required to repack the grocery items (only a single bag’s worth) caused his entry to post the lowest score in the grocery run.
The Lonowski side-by-side quadricycle was competitive, despite its large size and weight. It performed very poorly on the coast down test, which might have been due to a correctible mechanical problem. Its braking was excellent, stopping only a foot and a half farther than the best vehicle this year, at the end of a pretty fast grocery run.
The velomobile entered by Jim Iwaskow could have ranked higher if it had lights, but its turning radius was huge. While it may be a nice feature, I do not award points specifically for the fact that a cigarette stays lit within the WAW fairing while underway, and the small bonus for carrying a pencil was not enough to overtake fourth place.
I want to thank all of the contestants for their enthusiastic participation, the MHPVA for its support, and especially Rick Wianecki for helping to run the grocery errand part of the event. Even with a late start we were able to run all six contestants and finish before the start of the kilometer runs.

DANIEL SING rode the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology entry to third place. The rear axle assembly, which enables the machine to lean when cornering, can easily be replaced with a single rear wheel. Cargo capability was built in behind the seat. (Paul Pancella photo)

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