Sunday, December 30, 2007

A message from President Wally

Presidential Blog
Wally Kiehler
MHPVA President

At last year's winter meeting, I announced that this year (2007) would be my last as your MHPVA president. It is time to turn over the reins to another volunteer, with a new vision. My MHPVA pension is now fully vested and I am looking forward to an early retirement with full club benefits.

I would like to review my 15 years with with the MHPVA including the last 10 as your president. I attended my first Waterford rally around 1992 and rose quickly through the ranks. I became vice president in 1995 and after a long hard-fought political campaign became your president in 1998.

I ran my campaign with only two goals on my agenda (increase MHPVA membership and start a MHPVA Web site). Well, I only succeeded at the latter. I contacted Bill Duemling, the League of Michigan Bicyclist's Webmaster, and he offered to develope our first MHPVA Web site in 1999.

Before this new Web site, our typed newsletters were started by Mike Eliasohn, continued by Charles Brown in Florida, then were taken over by Ray Carpenter, and discontinued in 2003 after 88 typed newsletters. At this time, new club member Paul Bruneau volunteered to be our club Webmaster. He developed every thing that you see today on our Web site including a new "blog". This "blog" will provide us with more current up-to-date information and allow contributors to get their ideas to all of us more quickly.

During my 10-year tenure, I have been fortunate to have seen many things that have been new for me, such as recumbent trikes, streamliners (one with a video camera and screen to watch for steering, instead of a window), the introduction of low racers, an enclosed "Air Force One Screamer", got to ride Leon Chassman's 1,500-speed bike that made it into the Guinness Book of World Records, and many others.

I want to thank all of the current and past officers I have worked with for their support in providing what I have heard from many competitors is the best-run HPRA event in the racing series. Of course, I am talking about our Waterford rally.
And also Bob Krzewinski for organizing the WolverBent Cyclists club and finding us a location every winter for our annual meetings.

2008 will be the 25th Annual MHPVA Rally at Waterford. June 21 & 22 is our weekend this year. As usual camping, restrooms, and showers are included with the entry fee.

Thank you for your support and I look forward to seeing you all on March 1st at Washtenaw Community College and at Waterford in June.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Some Thoughts from Charles Brown

Charles wrote the following to Mike Eliasohn in September 2006 in response to his query whether we should continue the "best homebuilt" prize at the Michigan HPV Rally:

Now, originally the International HPV Association was concerned strictly with speed, which resulted in streamliners that were good only for racing. Trying to come up with more practical vehicles, they came up with partially-faired and unfaired classes. These ultimately resulted in low racers, which are about as high as the hubcaps on a SUV, so again, maybe not so practical.
Why not just give that (best homebuilt) award to the best "street racer," the one that best combines speed with real-world practicality?

There are a LOT of MHPVA people who are into developing such a bike, probably more than any other HPV group...

Our Michigan group probably has the highest proportion of its members interested in fast bikes you can still use on the road, and we really don't have a contest for it.

The stock/semistock/etc. classes didn't work, the urban transportation contest depends on a questionable set of criteria. This (a new contest) could really give practical vehicles a boost.
I know I would sink my teeth into it. Ideally there would be a first, second and third place, and several people judging to eliminate (single) judges' biases.
I would belately nominate Wally's Lightning F-40 for the '06 season.

And in response to my comment that it would be nice to have more racers of conventional upright bikes competing at Waterford, Charles wrote:

I was thinking about this for a while and think the solution is to come out with a new "UCI legal" class...This would be a division of the stock class. Roadie-types would have some of their own kind to race against, and it would keep us (recumbent riders) on our toes, as well as to stay ahead of them.

Third edition of "The Recumbent Bicycle" published

Jeff Potter of Out Your Backdoor Press in Williamston has come out with a third edition of Gunnar Fehlau's "The Recumbent Bicycle." Better paper, better photo quality and photos of some HPVs you will recognize. There's even a photo of and lengthy paragraph about Charles Brown's wood recumbents. Some other photos include John Simon in his red Moby. the lineup for the start of one of the races at the Michigan HPV Rally and the Black Bear race.
Even if you have the first two editions (like me, Mike E.), buying the third is worth the money -- $24 including postage.

Jeff also has numerous other books available, some on bicycle topics. Go to

2007 Michigan HPV Rally

Dennis Grelk of Donnellson, Iowa, gets ready for the start of an event.  He won the stock class for the weekend on his homebuilt low racer.

By Mike Eliasohn

The 24th annual Michigan Human Powered Vehicle Rally June 23-24 attracted 38 riders and at least that many vehicles. There were two tandems and at least four riders competing with two or more vehicles.

It was Dennis Grelk’s weekend in more ways than one. He won the stock class on his homebuilt low racer. That class had the most entries, 16. Riding the Barracuda streamliner built by Warren Beauchamp, which Dennis now owns, he finished second in the streamliner class behind John Simon in his Moby. And riding a Bachetta Corsa, Dennis also competed in the urban transportation contest.

The 38 riders was an improvement over the 29 we had last year, Many of the regulars were missing, but we had several newcomers, including a contingent of low racers from Ohio recruited by MHPVA President Wally Kiehler at the Calvin’s Challenge ride in Ohio.
Also encouraging were the 34 vehicles and 32 riders competing in the Sunday events. (Three riders competed with two vehicles and there was one tandem.)

In addition to Ohio, Iowa, and Michigan, of course, riders came from Iowa (Dennis Grelk), Ontario (Jim Iwaskow), Indiana and Illinois.

This was the first year we gave cash prizes instead of merchandise. Nobody kept track of who got how much, but the total, coming from entry fees, was $335.

Dan Thorne and his daughter, Julie Pitko, of Sault Ste. Marie on their way to 29.9 mph in the 200-foot sprint event.  Riding a WizWheelz tandem, they were first in the tandem class for the weekend and also won the urban transportation contest. (What was WizWheelz is now TerraTrike, based in Grand Rapids.)

The first event was the one hour. In the streamliner class, Dennis edged out John Simon of Portland, 31.5 miles to 31.2 miles. In the second one-hour, Dennis won first place in the stock class on his homebuilt front-wheel-drive low racer, 26.7 miles.

Other class winners were: superstreet, Mike Mowett, St. Clair Shores, on his upright Cervelo with fairing and body sock, 24.9 miles; superstock, Chris Cortez, Chicago, on a Rick Gritters-built low racer, 23.6 miles; tandem, Bob Teregan and Merlin Elsner, Warren, on a Rans Screamer, 19.9 miles; women, Dora Cortez, Chicago, Optima Baron, 19.5 miles; and junior, Ryan Miller, Vandalia, Ohio, upright bike, 17.4 miles.

The first event after lunch Saturday was the the hill climb-coast down. Scott Forthofer of St. Clair Shores had the third best time ever going up the hill to win the stock class, 18.69 seconds, on his upright Softride Powerwing. (Thanks to Mike Mowett for keeping track of the records.) The other class winners were: Superstreet, Mike Mowett, 19.97 seconds; superstock, Paul Bruneau, Portage, Velokraft VK2; 22.35 seconds; junior, Nick Myers, Holly, Maserati upright bike, 24.72 seconds; streamliner, John Simon, 24.78 seconds; tandem, Teregan/Elsner, 24.97 seconds; and women, Amy Miller, Vandalia, Ohio, Bianchi upright bike, 28 seconds.

At the top of the hill, competitors stopped pedaling and then coasted. Winners were: Streamliner, John Simon; stock, Thom Ollinger, West Milton, Ohio, Velokraft NoCom; superstreet, David “Doc” Pearson, Mooresville, Ind., Infinity front-wheel-drive; superstock, Chris Cortez; women, Dora Cortez; tandem, Teregan/Elsner; and junior, Nick Myers.
Saturday's final event was the standing start 1-kilometer time trial: Streamliner, John Simon, speed at end, 29.5 mph; stock, Dennis Grelk, 28.9 mph; superstreet, Mike Mowett, 27.9 mph; superstock, Paul Bruneau, 26.5 mph; tandem, Teregan/Mike Mowett (subbing for Merlin Elsner, who had to leave early), 24.5 mph; women, Dora Cortez, 21.6 mph; and junior, Nick Myers, 19.2 mph.

Dora Cortez of Chicago finished first in the women's class for the weekend on her Optima Baron.  Her speed in the 200-foot sprint, shown here, was 28.5 mph.

Sunday started with the 200-foot sprints. Frank Geyer of Brighton has his one good run of the weekend by winning the streamliner class in the Rick Wianecki-built Frank-n-Liner, 43.6 mph. Other class winners were: Stock, Thom Ollinger, 36.7 mph; superstreet, Mike Mowett, 34.1 mph; superstock, Chris Cortez, 33.8 mph; tandem, the father/daughter duo of Dan Thorne and Julie Pitko, Sault Ste. Marie, on their WizWheelz tandem tricycle, 29.9 mph; women, Dora Cortez, 28.5 mph; and junior, Nick Myers, 21.4 mph.

Garrie Hill generously posted some cash prizes for the 200-foot sprints. Here's his description of the prizes: “The GeeBee Cup cash awards for the 200-foot sprints this year were for the top speed in streamliner, stock (male), stock (female). I'd originally said that the winners would receive their speed in cash, i.e. 29.33 mph would win $29.33. There would be an additional cash bonus for speeds "above and beyond" certain numbers (which I don't remember) I listed (somewhere!). I do remember the streamliner mark was 45 mph. Frank Geyer posted a top speed of 43.56 mph. I presented him with $75 because he managed to turn in that speed after crashing the new Frank-n-Liner about 15 times in launching! Dora Cortez got $75 for her effort of 28.52 mph because I was feeling generous, and still laughing from Frank's escapades. Thom Ollinger received $75 for his 36.65 mph run because he proved that putting an old guy (Thom) on a fast machine (my NoCom) does make the old guy fast!”

The final events were the two road races using the .624 mile short course, which does not include the hill.

Entrants line up for the start of the 20-lap road race on Sunday morning.  John Simon of Portland in the red Moby at far right won the race and the streamliner class for the weekend.

John Simon won the 20-lap race in his Moby streamliner at an average speed of 27.8 mph, followed by Dennis Grelk on his stock class lowracer, with Warren Beauchamp on his Velocraft NoCom in third.

Wally Kiehler on his superstreet class Lightning F40 won the 15-lap road race at an average speed of 21.7 mph, followed by Scott Forthofer on his stock class Softride upright bike second and David “Doc” Pearson third in in his superstreet Infinity.

First and second class overall in each class were: Streamliner (5 entries) – 1) John Simon, 285 points; 2) Dennis Grelk, 280. Superstreet (5 entries) – 1) Mike Mowett, 295 points, 2) Jeff Hunn, North Manchester, Ind., Reynolds TiCuda, 265. Superstock (4 entries) – 1) Paul Bruneau, 285 points, 2) Chris Cortez, 280. Stock (16 entries) – Dennis Grelk, 275 points, 2) Thom Ollinger, 259. Junior (2 entries) – Nick Myers, 295; Ryan Miller, 280. Women (4 entries) – 1) Dora Cortez, 295 points; 2) Amy Miller, 275. Tandem (2 entries) – Dan Thorne/Julie Pitko, 280 points, 2) Bob Teregan/Merlin Elsner, 240.

As the sole judge for the “best homebuilt prize, I (Mike E.) couldn't make up my mind, so $10 was given to Warren Beauchamp of Big Rock, Ill., builder of the Cuda-W streamliner, and Jim Iwaskow of Richmond Hill, Ontario, builder of the Figure 8 carbon fiber short wheelbase.
Niether bike is new. Jim built his short wheelbase bike in 2002, but has made improvement since. He shaped the frame out of foam, then covered it with carbon fiber. He also make the fork, seat and handlebar mast from carbon fiber. (the mast and, I think, the fork have since been replaced.) New this year was the tailbox. He first made a plug, then a mold, then a single layer of carbon fiber (or fiberglass – I neglected to write it down) inside the mold. The tailbox weighs 5.5 pounds. The bike, 24 pounds. The rear wheel is 700c; the front, 20 in.

Reg Rodaro of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, built the plug, female mold and fairing to Warren's design. Warren did the rest, including the front subframe that bolts to the monocoque. It's a front-wheel-drive, with gearing provided by a 14-speed Rohloff Speedhub driving a 406mm (20-inch) wheel. The rear wheel is a 700c that bolts to dropouts that bolt to the monocoque.

In 2005, Warren pedaled the Cuda W to 64.4 mph at Battle Mountain, Nevada. As of the rally, he still have front and rear wheel fairings to make and was still fiddling with the subframe.
If you want to see the entire building process for the Cuda W, go to (of which Warren is the Webmaster), then click on “recumbent building,” then “human powered vehicle research and development,” then on “Reg Rodaro builds the Cuda-W.”

Other homebuilts of note at the rally – there aren't many of them these days – included Dennis Grelk's stock class entry, previously mentioned, and the Rick Wianecki/Frank Geyer Frank-n-Speed streamliner that was still experiencing teething problems.

Frank Geyer of Brighton and Rick Wianecki of Okemos experienced a lot of problems with the new Frank-n-Liner built by Rick.  But Frank did have one good event – first place in the streamliner class in the 200-foot sprints and top speed of the rally at 43.6 mph.


TIM HEIST (seated) and son Louis Jasinski of Reading, Pa., with their front-wheel-drive, rear-wheel steering trike at the Michigan Recumbent Rally - West Sept. 9 2006 in Kalamazoo.

By Mike Eliasohn

Timothy Heist and his son, Louis Jasinski, came all the way from Reading, Pa., – 627 miles each way – with their two homebuilt trikes to participate in the Michigan Recumbent Rally - West Sept. 9, 2006, on the Western Michigan University campus in Kalamazoo.

The following day, they rode them in the Vineyard Classic Bicycle Tour that starts and ends in Paw Paw. As of then, Tim said they had built five recumbent trikes. “It’s just a hobby,” said Heist, who does steel fabrication for a living. Although a hobby, their creations have a name, Scorpion Trikes.

He said he first got interested in building recumbent trikes after his 86-year-old father saw a photo of one in the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper. “My dad showed it to me and said, ‘Maybe you can build one of these.”

He started building his first a couple of years ago. Before then, he said, he used to drag race motorcycles and built his own drag bike (”drag bike” as in “motorcycle.”) “I enjoy the fabricating and design process, learning what works and what doesn’t.”
Trike No. 5 has been a real learning experience – propulsion is via the single front wheel, which Tim straddles, and the rear wheels do the steering.

That’s not a new concept, and some lean while cornering. The Heist/Jasinki rear-steerer doesn’t lean, but apparently does solve a problem many of them don’t – instability at higher speeds.

Moving a lever changes the ratio in the steering. At slower speeds, it’s 1:1. At higher speeds, it’s less than that – that is, moving a lever changes the ratio so moving the steering a given amount changes the direction of the rear wheels a lesser amount. “I’ve only had it up to 28 (mph), coasting down a hill, but it seemed okay,” Tim said. “What happens after that, I don’t know.”

The other Scorpion trike at the rally is more conventional in that it’s rear wheel drive, and the two front wheels do the steering. But instead of using hubs that require building special wheels for the front, the frame supports two head tubes and two regular front forks, so regular front wheels can be used.

Each trike at the rally weighed about 70 pounds. The frames are made from regular 1-1/4-inch square tubing (not thinwall chromoly) and 1-1/2-inch wide steel channel. The wheels and components come from bikes bought at Wal-Mart.

Tim and Louis are now working on tricycle number 6 and hope to bring it to the Michigan HPV Rally in June. The two front wheels will be in a fixed position. The single rear wheel will do the driving and steering!

Thanks also to Breakaway Bicycles in Portage for bringing several recumbents to the rally on Sept. 9 for people to test ride – and hopefully buy.

LOUIS JASINSKI rides the “conventional” trike they had at the rally. Notice use of steel channel for the rear stays and interim freewheel and deraileur, in addition to the rear wheel freewheel and deraileur. There’s also a deraileur for the chainrings.

THE FRONT-WHEEL-DRIVE TRIKE. Shifters are at the sides of the seat. What looks like handlebars above the front wheel is the mount for the rearview mirrors.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Urban Transportation Contest - June 23, 2007

By Paul Pancella

We had a nice, relaxed Urban Transportation Contest at Waterford this year. Only six contestants entered; I guess that’s what I get for outlawing unicycles. Besides the new multi-wheel requirement, the only other rules change since last year was a slight reduction in the passenger bonuses. In the following table I list the contestants, a little about their vehicles, and their final scores, in finishing order:

Table 1 UTC contestants and final scores, in finishing order

# Contestant name(s) Vehicle description Overall score
701 Dan Thorne/Julie Pitko WizWheels Tandem TerraTrike, 2006 74.3
910 David “Doc” Pearson Sun EZ-3 delta tricycle, 2003, front fairing 70.8
140 Wally Kiehler LCD Lightning F40, faired bicycle, 1991 70.1
486 Paul Pancella Volae Club “highracer,” 2003 68.3
905 Richard Myers Kickbike large-wheeled scooter, 2007 65.5
611 Sue Lyons Raleigh C500 “hybrid” upright bicycle 2004 59.9
911 Dennis Grelk Bacchetta Corsa “highracer,” 2007 57.4

The first thing you might notice is that I have listed seven entries, instead of six. With the relatively small field, I took the opportunity to enter my own commuting machine to see how well we would do. Of course, I was not eligible for any of the prizes. It was interesting to me that I fell squarely in the middle of the pack, with a numerical score barely above the average.
The second thing you might notice (if you are a true UTC aficionado) is that the winning scores are higher than they have ever been before. I attribute this to the fact that the top three finishers are veterans of previous contests and used their experience to increase their scores. More on this later.
The next table shows the details of where the scores came from. Table 2 contains the points awarded, not actual weights, times or sizes. The highest scores in most columns are indicated in bold. Points were awarded for safety, utility, efficiency, and comfort factors, specifically the coast down time, driver vision (day and night), turn radius, timed grocery run, braking distance, weather protectin, comfort; tools, lock and spares; pulling gear ratio; and a "passenger bonus.".


Despite my efforts to keep things tidy by adjusting the rules, contestants still had a few surprises in store. I was not thinking about scooters when I designed this contest, but I think it gave Ohioan Rich Myers’ Kickbike a fair shake. This vehicle is nimble, but not as efficient in forward motion as a pedaled machinE and I think the low score for comfort is justified.
This year’s winner was the huge tandem tricycle, made here in West Michigan by the WizWheelz company. The Thorne/Pitko team, veterans of the 2006 UTC, studied the rules well and made a huge improvement over their previous score of 58.7, which was good for fourth place in a field of nine last year. They got 6.8 out of a possible 9 points in turning radius by exploiting a loophole in the rules. While the ordinary turn radius of their 10.5 foot long machine would max out my scoring formula (giving them no points in this column last year) the rules do not specifically forbid reversing direction during the turn demonstration. Thus they were able to execute a ~50-point turn in a space just larger than their overall length! It took a long time (and they used all three attempts), so in the interest of keeping the contest moving, I may have to make another rules adjustment next year.
Doc Pearson of Indiana also improved over his previous score, 62.2 points that earned him third place in 2004 with the same vehicle. Once again, the strengths of the delta trike showed in a very tight turn and excellent braking. Although not part of the scoring formula, it should be noted that this was one of the least expensive vehicles in the contest this year, about a factor of ten cheaper to purchase than the winner or the third place machine.
With so few entries, I had decided early in the contest that I would only make awards to the top two finishers. However, since the second and third place contestants were so close, I ended up giving out three prizes. I don’t claim precision better than + or – 1 point on this roughly 100 point scale, so I consider Doc and Wally to have roughly tied for second place. These were the only two vehicles sporting fairings of any kind, the EZ-3 with a Mueller Windwrap up front, and the F-40 getting top points for weather protection. Not much else to say about president Kiehler’s machine, I think it is extremely well-suited to urban commuting and am not surprised that it scores high (he won the UTC last year with the same vehicle). I appreciate Wally’s support for the UTC over the years. Not only has he entered every time we ran it, he even supplied his offspring to compete on occasion.
As to the rest of the field, Sue Lyons’ upright was done in by relatively poor aerodynamics, as revealed in the coastdown score, and it took her quite a bit of time to pack her groceries. Dennis Grelk entered his training bike, one of three vehicles he brought to Waterford this year. Although more practical than his racers, it was still not set up particularly well for urban transportation. Since he won everything else that weekend, I hope he was not too disappointed with his low finish in the UTC. It was nice to have another high racer to compare with my Volae, and most of our scores were similar. His long stopping distance was probably a fluke, but my vehicle rightfully scored better for the tools and spares carried, the lighting system, and the lower gearing.
So that’s the story from the UTC this year. I think the contestants all had fun, which is the primary goal. Special thanks go to my crew of volunteer helpers, especially chief assistant UTC official Paul Bruneau of Kalamazoo, who handled the simulated grocery run for most of the field. See you next time.