Monday, October 10, 2011

Michigan Recumbent Rally - West

THE MICHIGAN RECUMBENT RALLY - WEST, organized by Paul Pancella, took place Sept. 10 in the parking lot of the College of Engineering building on the Western Michigan University Parkview Campus in Kalamazoo. There were perhaps 20 recumbents there during the day and 30 participants, who came from as far as Grand Rapids and Kalamzoo. There's been a recumbent rally in west Michigan every year since 1997, always on the day before the Vineyard Classic Bicycle Tour in the Paw Paw area.

JOHN MATHIESON of Breakaway Bicycles & Fitness in Portage came to the rally with three bikes for people to try and buy: A Bacchetta Bellandare long wheelbase recumbent, Bacchetta Giro shortwheelbase and a Sun EZ Tri Classic three-wheeler. Breakaway also has shops in Muskegon and Grand Haven (

MIKE ELIASOHN of St. Joseph had the only homebuilt recumbent at the rally, built with some paid-for help (welding, some fabrication and electro-coating). It met the goal of fitting in the back of his Ford Focus station wagon without having to remove wheels or anything else, but the unintended weight of 40 or so pounds reduces its portability. (Paul Pancella photo)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Recumbent rally in Kalmazoo - Saturday, Sept. 10

Michigan Recumbent Rally - West

The annual Michigan Recumbent Rally - West takes place Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011, from 10 a.m to 2:30 p.m. at the Western Michigan University College of Engineering parking lot on the Parkview Campus in Kalamazoo. If it rains, we will use the lower (and dry) level of the adjacent parking structure.
Join other recumbent fans for test rides and information on recumbent bikes and trikes.
Enthusiasts are welcome, along with anyone who is curious about these cycles. Hard to find in bike shops, this free event will feature a variety of recumbent pedal-powered machines, most available for test rides on the low-traffic campus road network. If you are a recumbent owner in the area, please bring it and share your experiences.
To get a flier, which includes a map, go to, then scroll down to "special events."
Many attending the rally will participate on Sunday in the Vineyard Classic Bicycle Tour, which starts in nearby Paw Paw and is part of that community's annual Wine and Harvest Festival.
Registration is from 7 to 9 a.m. and participants have a choice of 20, 40 or 60-mile routes. For more information, go to
For more information about the rally, contact Paul Pancella at (269) 373-5413 or

Monday, August 22, 2011

Roaming across America by velomobile

HASSE HOEJLAND of Denmark in his yellow Quest (made in the Netherlands) and Frans Van Der Merwe of Oklahoma City in his self-built Pterovelo prepare to exit their velomobiles at Indiana Dunes State Park near Chesterton, where the Roll Over America participants camped the night of Aug. 17. They traveled that day from Evanston, Ill..

Article and photos by Mike Eliasohn

Coast-to-coast bicycle tours aren't unusual, even if they aren't common.
But Roll Over America was unusual.
On July 28, 52 velomobiles (enclosed three-wheel recumbents) left Portland, Oregon, headed for Washington, D.C. Of those, 22 were from Europe.
The 5,000 kilometer (3,107 miles) journey, titled Roll Over America, ended Thursday, Aug. 25. (The website, which includes profiles and photos of all the participants, most with their velomobiles, is
The group camped Wednesday night, Aug. 17, at Indiana Dunes State Park near Chesterton. Since that's only 53 miles from St. Joseph, where I live, and even closer for fellow MHPVA member Bruce Gordon of Buchanan, we drove to Indiana Dunes to spend a couple of hours talking to some of the ROAMers.
There were two participants with Michigan links, both riding Quests.
John Abbey lived in Kalamazoo before spending seven years in China. He moved back to the U.S. last year, I think, and now lives in Tucson, Ariz.
When Bruce and I arrived at Indiana Dunes, John's Quest was on its side and in need of surgery. That day's ride had started in Evanston, Ill., about 100 km (62 miles) miles away, and when braking for a stoplight, with the suspension fully compressed, a front wheel slid into a pothole, causing structural damage.
John rode only a couple of miles more, then apparently he and the Quest went the rest of the way to Indiana Dunes by motor vehicle. At the campgrounds, he and other ROAMers were trying to determine if temporary repairs could be made so John could pedal the rest of the way to Washington.
Bruce and I then wandered off to talk to others and when we returned, John had disappeared, so I wasn't able to confirm some of the details and find out if his Quest could be repaired. (Update: John's pedal-powered journey ended at Indiana Dunes. He rode the rest of the way to Washington in a sag - that is, motor - vehicle.)

JOHN ABBEY (standing) and Frans Van Der Merwe examine John's damaged Quest to determine if it can be repaired.

The other ROAMer with a Michigan connection was Mike Woelmer of Milan. Unfortunately he wasn't at his assigned campsite or nearby when we were there, so we never talked to him. As Bruce and I were leaving in Bruce's car, Mike went by in the opposite direction, but since we didn't know what his Quest looked like at the time, didn't realize it was him.
I'm hoping to get John and Mike to write accounts of their ROAM journeys for this blog .
ROAM was the brainchild of Josef Janning of Bonn, Germany, who as an international relations expert spends a lot of time in the United States. He said he got the idea for ROAM in March of last year, which has meant a lot of planning and organizing in a relatively short time.
European participant was limited to 24 velomobiles because that was the number that would fit into the two shipping containers. Ultimately, 22 participated.
The velomobiles had to be in Groningen, the Netherlands, on June 4 to be packed into shipping crates (one per crate), then hauled to Bremerhaven, Germany, to be loaded on a ship., which took them to Oakland, Calif.,From there, they were taken by train to Portland.
The empty crates then had to be taken to Washington. After loading into shipping containers, they will be then loaded on a ship in Baltimore for the return trip to Europe. (Each crate consist of a cardboard box on top of a wood pallet.)
“A hard, fun trip, I would say,” Janning said at Indiana Dunes, in describing ROAM. “But then again, it is not impossible. You don't have to be a special person to do this.”
As of when he was at Indiana Dunes, Janning's carbon fiber 65-pound Quest had experienced five flat tires, the result of having to ride on road shoulders littered with broken glass and wire from exploded truck tires.

ROLL OVER AMERICA was the idea of Josef Janning of Bonn, Germany, seen sitting on his carbon fiber Quest. He had it on order from the Dutch company for three years, before getting it in April. It weighs 65 pounds, 20 pounds less than his previous fiberglass Quest.

On 15 days, riders had to pedal more than 200km (124 miles), with the longest day being 268km (167 miles). The shortest day will be the final one, only 40km (25 miles).
The ride from Evanston to Indiana Dunes was 104 km (65 miles). “So that was a rest day we had today,” Janning said.
As of Aug. 17, 36 riders remained, including all 22 Europeans. Many of the Americans only rode for two weeks, Abbey explained, because that was all the vacation time they could get from work. A few dropped out for other reasons, including one rollover, which hurt the velomobile and rider, Janning said.
The Europeans, of course, had no choice but to continue to the end of the journey, in Washington.
Each rider was responsible for his or her own food each day (there was only one female rider, Nina Mohrmann of Germany) and navigation, using GPS. They had to carry everything needed for the day, while one of the accompanying motor vehicles carried tents and sleeping bags.
One of the riders I talked to was Hasse Heojland of Vandel, Denmark, who borrowed the money from a bank to buy his Quest and pay for the journey.
He said there were many days when riders left at 6 to 6:30 in the morning and, at least some, didn't arrive until 7 or 8 in the evening. “Some of my friends said it was going to be a nice holiday trip,” Hoejland said in disagreement. “It's hard work.”
He said he started riding recumbent bicycles in 2005, got his Quest in May, then after shipping, bought a used one so he could continue training.
Joerg Bammesberger of Munich, Germany, races a fully-faired recumbent two-wheeler, so bought his Go-One Evo R, because, “I wanted a bike to train in winter.”
At Indiana Dunes, he said he had averaged 20 mph since leaving Portland. His fastest daily average was 25 mph in Montana; his slowest, 7 mph on that day's leg because of traffic in Chicago.
Perhaps aiding his average was the tires on his Go-One, a 26-inch (559mm) rear Schwalbe Marathon Evolution with a flat tread, designed for tricycles and wheelchair racers, and in front, experimental Schwalbe Trykers, also with a flat tread. He said the Evolutions are not available in bicycle shops and the Trykers aren't available, at least not yet, for purchase. He said Schwalbe made 100 sets, of which ROAM participants got fives.
Other than a right front tire blowout while riding on the shoulder of an interstate highway, Bammesberger said the only problem he had encountered was some items vibrated loose due to bumpy pavement, which he attributed to pedaling a tricycle with a stiffer ride designed for racing, rather than touring.
Most of the velomobiles were “store-bought,” but among the exceptions was the Pterovelo (ptero = feather or wing + velo = cycle) built by Frans Van Der Merwe. Originally from South Africa, he has lived in Oklahoma City for 10 years.
“This is the first one, I'm hoping to make more.” Since finishing construction of Pterovelo last August, he said, he's ridden it 7,300 miles.
Pterovelo has a 700c rear wheel and 18-inch wheels in front. There's no suspension. As can be seen in the photo and on Van Der Merwe's website,, it has a canopy.
There was one four-wheel velomobile on ROAM, built and ridden by well-known British HPV builder Miles Kingsbury.
The oldest rider was David Eggleston, 75, managing partner of VelomobileUSA LLC in Midland, Texas, which sells them. I didn't get a chance to talk to him., but Janning said Eggleston has been pedaling about half of each day.

JOERG BAMMESBERGER of Germany with his Go-One Evo R, made in Germany. The canopy made it very warm inside, so he tried riding Aug. 17 without a shirt. Sunburn was the result.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Cycle speedway - fast action in 45 seconds

ACTION AT the Dave Blinston Memorial Trophy races, May 7, 2011, at Stockport (England) Cycle Speedway Club. (All photos taken by author at this event.)


“All riders ready,” the referee shouts. “Under starter's orders.”
Then the cloth tapes that form the starting gate lift, four riders push down on their pedals and they're off.
Four quick laps of a short oval track and perhaps 45 seconds later, it's over – until the next heat.
Cycle speedway contains elements of velodrome and BMX racing, with a bit of roller derby thrown in. Using one's shoulder to get past an opponent is allowable, for instance, and spills sometimes happen.
When rounding the corners, riders take their foot off the inside pedal and hold their left leg out, just above and sometimes touching the paved inner perimeter of the track.
Each heat consists of four laps, counter clockwise, of an oval tracks from 64 to 92 meters (210 to 302 feet) around the inner perimeter. Banking is slight and the surface is unpaved, usually shale.

The official website for cycle speedway in the United Kingdom, the predominate country for the sport, says, “Top riders are explosive sprinters - but they also have stamina to enable them to keep going through a long match. Skill levels are high with slick starting, cornering and passing techniques essential. Strength is also required during contact with other riders.”
The bicycles are unique. Steel or aluminum tubing, straight forks in line with the head tubes (that is, no offset), one- speed freewheels, no brakes, narrow upright handlebars and flat pedals with non-slip surface – clipless and rat-trap pedals and toe clips and straps are banned.
Cranks are 175mm for leverage, the seating position is low enough that the rider can put his feet on the ground while seated, and gearing is very low. Cycle speedway equipment supplier Archie Wilkinson lists 32 and 33-tooth chainrings and freewheels with 16, 17, 18 or 19 teeth. With the standard 26x1-3/8 inch knobby speedway tires, that works out to gearing options ranging from 45 to 54 inches.
Cycle speedway is a mostly British sport, but also takes place in Ireland, Poland, Australia, the Netherlands, Sweden, the Ukraine and Russia.

TWO POSTS (one at left out of sight) mark the starting line. The cloth tapes are held in place with pins, attached to ropes. The starter (back to camera) pulls on the ropes, releasing the pins, then elastic cords pull the starting tapes to the top of the posts.

WITH THE starting tapes at the top of the posts, riders push down on their 175mm cranks and they're off for four quick laps.

Cycle speedway in the U.S.A.
There's only one cycle speedway track in the United States, in Edenton, N.C., which in April 2011 hosted the world championships, with riders competing from the U.K. Ireland, Australia, Poland and the U.S.
There's interest in creating a track in Portland, Ore., according to Brian White, creator of the Edenton track and U.S Cycle Speedway founder and president. A track in Prescott Valley, Ariz., lasted from 2004-09.
So how did cycle speedway find a home in the remote corner of northeastern North Carolina? According to the U.S. Cycle Speedway website (, it started in 1990, when White, only 6 years old, attended a stock car race and decided if he was too young to race cars, he would race his bicycle. He started organizing Saturday morning races for the neighborhood kids, using his parents' front lawn.
After several years, the races moved to non-busy neighborhood streets, and finally in 1997 to a track built on donated land.
White and his fellow racers didn't know about cycle speedway, so their track was larger and their races longer. But word about the racing in Edenton made its way across the Atlantic, and in 2001, they were contracted by Rod Witham, then British Cycle Speedway national chairman. The following year, two top British riders visited Edenton, and changes started to make the track and races to conform with international standards. In 2003, the first competitors from Edenton participated in the junior world championships in Poland and the senior world championships in England.
In 2004, the races moved to a new track at Northeastern Regional Airport in Edenton, where there is an international track, 88 meters, and an endurance track, 101 meters.
Cycle speedway, fashioned after motorcycle speedway, traces its origins to Britain just after World War II, when cyclists started racing their bikes around craters created by Nazi bombs. There were more than 200 cycle speedway clubs in East London alone by 1950, according to a Wikipedia reference.
Unfortunately, the numbers have been declining since. When the press and publicity officer of the Cycle Speedway Council wrote a chapter about the sport for The Bicycling Book, published in 1982, there were almost 100 clubs and 75 tracks in the U.K.
The British Cycling Cycle Speedway Directory for 2011 lists 30 clubs and tracks. (Cycle speedway in the U.K. is now administered by British Cycling, which is the governing body for most forms of bicycle sport in that country. The Cycle Speedway Commission, advises on racing rules and competitions.)
Except for some sponsorships, cycle speedway is an amateur sport, according to Alan Taylor, a former racer and 30-year veteran of the sport, who was doing the announcing at the May 7, 2011, races at the track at Stockport, England. He said the only prize money may be at the national championships.
The winner of the Dave Blinston Memorial Trophy that day won a set of wheels and second and third place each won a set of tires – all donated by Archie Wilkinson (, the biggest supplier of cycle speedway cycles and equipment. (Blinston, who died in 2005, devoted 50 years to the sport, as a racer, club officer, team manager and league and national committee member.)

THIS CYCLE speedway bike is a Polish-build Mielec ( Aluminum frame, rear facing dropouts, one-speed freewheel and no brakes.

AN UPSIDE VIEW shows the Schwalbe 26x1-3/8 tires, made specifically for cycle speedway, and pedals with non-slip surface. Clipless and rat-trap pedals are banned.

Cycle speedway is a family sport. The Dave Blinston event was organized by Julie Higham, Stockport Cycle Speedway Club secretary. Her father, Derek Garnett, is five-time British champion. Her son, Ben Higham, finished third that day.
Another competitor was Dylan Radcliffe, 16, who started racing at age 8 or 9, his father, Jeff, said. After Dylan started, Jeff raced for a while, as did Jeff's father, Maurice, that is, Dylan's grandfather. Both were spectators at the Dave Blinston event.
The event was open to all ages, with 23 riders competing, with at least one of them female.
Each raced in five four-lap heats, with the top 16 then racing in another set of five heats to determine the top three. But at the end, there was a tie between Chris Timms of the Birmingham club and Lee Aris of the Wednesfield club, so those riders raced another four laps to determine the winner. Timms won. (Scoring is 4 points for first in each heat, 3 points for second, 2 for third and 1 for fourth, but no points if lapped.)
The Dave Blinston event was a competition for individuals, but “cycle speedway is essentially a club sport, with inter-club matches within leagues the mainstay of the sport,” according to the official British website. “Each match normally consists of between 16 and 20 races. There are also individual championships, including a world championship and some inter-country series, including regular contests between England and Australia.”
Riders can start competing the year of their 8th birthday. The super veteran class is for the oldest riders, 60 and older.
As a suggestion from the writer of this article, cyclists interested in trying cycle speedway could organize races by setting up traffic cones on a parking lot or some other surface, using regular bikes. (In Britain, they race indoors in winter on gymnasium floors, so a special surface isn't essential.) Instead of a starting gate, use duct tape for a starting line and have a starter shout, “One, two, three, go!”
If enough interest develops, then a more formal track could be built and cycles modified to more closely resemble those built specifically for the sport.

Numerous cycle speedway matches are on posted on YouTube. Type in “cycle speedway.”

THIS PHOTO of the ceremony for the 16 finalists at the Dave Blinston Memorial Trophy, prior to the start of the second round of heats, shows the size of the track in Stockport, 75.5 meters. Tracks can be from 64 to 92 meters around (210 to 302 feet.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

27th Michigan HPV Rally - June 11-12, 2011

PRIOR TO THE START of Sunday morning's first 10-lap, 6.24-mile road race, Jim Iwaskow (from left), Dennis Grelk and Bruce Gordon share a laugh. Dennis won the streamliner class, and lapped the nine other competitors at least once, while Jim and Bruce finished second in the superstreet and superstock classes respectively.

Article and photos by Mike Eliasohn

Dennis Grelk, Mike Mowett, Wally Kiehler and Warren Beauchamp were the winners of classes in which there was significant competition at the 27th annual Michigan Human Powered Vehicle Rally June 11-12.
The competition at the Waterford Hills sports car racing track in Clarkston attracted about 30 competitors, of which 10 came from the University of Toronto.
Two significant records were set.
On Saturday morning, Dennis Grelk, 31, of Donnellson, Iowa, in his Barracuda streamliner went the farthest distance ever in a one-hour time trial, 32.515 miles, breaking the previous record set by Rick Gritters of Pella, Iowa. It also should be noted that for Dennis and his parents, Dwayne and Mary, it's about a 12-hour drive to the rally and again back home.)
On Sunday morning, Todd Reichert, a 29-year-old U-T graduate student studying aerodynamics and aerospace, powered its student-built Vortex streamliner to 48.02 mph, breaking the record he set last year of 47.02 mph. However, he was aided by a 10-15 mph tailwind.
The U-T HPV team came with 10 students, all of whom competed, and three vehicles, two student-built streamliners and a manufactured HP Velotechnik Speedmachine short wheelbase two-wheeler. They borrowed three additional vehicles to race.

AFTER GETTING BEAT UP PHYSICALLY on a rough section of the course when riding his streamliner and leaning trike low-racer l in the first two races Sunday morning, Dennis Grelk chose to ride his cyclocross bike in the final road Sunday morning. Before the start, he towered over Brian Stevens of Grand Rapids on his carbon fiber Morciglio Viper. But when standing, Brian also is tall. In the stock class in the 6.24-mile race, Dennis finished third and Brian was fifth.

Here's the top two in each class and the number of competitors in the class. Complete results are posted at, including metric conversions of speeds and distances.
Streamliner (14 competitors) – 1) Grelk, 320 points; 2) Cameron Robertson, U-T, 275.
Superstreet (5) – 1) Wally Kiehler, Grosse Pointe Woods, Lightning F-40, 345; 2) Chris Cortez, Chicago, Go-One velomobile, 265.
Superstock (3) – 1) Warren Beauchamp, Elgin, Ill., NoCom low racer with tailbox, 355; 2) Bruce Gordon, newly moved from Centralia, Ill., to Buchanan, Mich., Zox 20x20 lowracer, 320.
Stock (15) – 1) Mike Mowett, St. Clair Shores, Challenge lowracer, 335; 2) Dennis Grelk, homebuilt front-wheel-drivelowracer, 280.
Women (2) – 1) Amanda Chu, Dennis Grelk-built rear-wheel-drive lowracer (not the one he raced), U-T, 350; 2) Dora Cortez, Chicago, Rick Gritters-built lowracer, 340.
Junior – Nick Myers, Holly, on a Trek upright bike was the lone junior competitor, 300.
Tricycles (6) – 1) Dennis Grelk, homebuilt leaning low-racer, 300, 2) Chris Cortez, Catrike, 275.

MHPVA PRESIDENT MIKE MOWETT of St. Clair Shores finished first overall in the stock class on his Challenge lowracer. He's seen here during Saturday's one-hour time trial. He finished second in class with 23.8 miles.

Here's the top two in each event:
One-hour time trial: Streamliner – 1) Grelk, 32.515 miles; 2) Reichert, 30.041 miles, despite stopping due to a crash. Stock – 1) Grelk, homebuilt low racer, 25.464 miles (Dennis ran the streamliner in the first one-hour time trial and his stock class low racer in the second one-hour); 2) Mowett, 23.834 miles. Superstock – 1) Beauchamp, 24.088 miles; 2) Jim Iwaskow, Richmond Hill, Ontario, Challenge lowracer with tailbox, 18.456 miles. Superstreet – 1) Bob Krzewinski, Ypsilanti, Lightning F-40, 21.226 miles; 2) Kiehler, 20.273 miles. Junior – 1) Myers, 19.229 miles. Women – Cortez, 17.757 miles; 2) Chu, 12.789 miles. Tricycle – 1) Mike O'Donnell, Hastings, TerraTrike, 16.106 miles; 2) Alfie Tham, U-T, Hase, 11.042.

AFTER HAVING LAST RACED at the 2007 rally, Frank "Franknspeed" Geyer of Brighton returned to race his Challenge Jester, but only on Saturday. In the stock class, he finished third in the one-hour time trial, hill climb and standing-start kilometer and fourth in the coast down.

Hill climb – Streamliner – 1) Reichert in the U-T Vortex, 20.06 seconds (record time for a streamliner); 2) Grelk, 22.16. Junior – 1) Myers, 21.06 seconds. Stock – 1) Mowett, 21.19 seconds, 2) Grelk, Gary Fisher cyclocross upright bike, 21.84 seconds. Superstock – Iwaskow, 22.43 seconds; 2) Beauchamp, 24.19 seconds. Superstreet – 1) Krzewinski, 24.5 seconds.; 2) Kiehler, 27.94 seconds. Tricycles – 1) Grelk, 24.62 seconds; 2) Chris Cortez, Catrike Speed, 28.35 seconds. Women – 1) Chu, 29.06 seconds; 2) Dora Cortez, 31.09 seconds.

DAVE JOHNSON of Olivet competed in his Great White streamliner (built by Rick Wianecki), minus the teeth it used to have, and in the stock class on his DeFelice long-wheelbase recumbent with under-seat steering. He finished third overall in the streamliner class and ninth overall in the stock class, where he was at a disadvantge competing against the low racers.

Coast down: Streamliner – As usual, John Simon of Portland in his Moby coasted the farthest, about 3 feet farther than Grelk in his Barracuda. The first seven vehicles, that is, those who coasted farthest, were all streamliners. Stock – Grelk on his homebuilt low-racer coasted the farthest of the non-streamliners; 2) Chris Cortez. Superstock – 1) Beauchamp, 2) Gordon. Superstreet – 1) Krzewinski, 2) Kiehler. Tricycles – 1) Grelk, 2) Chris Cortez. Women – 1) Dora Cortez, 2) Chu. Junior – Myers.
Standing start 1-kilometer: Streamliner – 1) Simon, 31.16 mph , 2) Reichert, 30.5 mph. Stock – 1) Mowett, 27.00 mph; 2) Grelk, 26.18 mph. Tricycle – 1) Grelk – 25.35 mph; 2) Chris Cortez, 19.38 mph. Superstock – 1) Beauchamp, 24.56 mph, 2) Gordon, 22.20 mph. Superstreet – 1) Kiehler, 23.54 mph, 2) Chris Cortez, GoOne velomobile, 18.68 mph. Junior – 1) Myers, 23.51 mph. Women – 1) Chu, 23.23 mph, 2) Dora Cortez, 21.99 mph.

THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO No. 70 Vortex streamliner had more "drivers" than some rental cars. In the 200-foot sprints, seven HPV team members made runs, with Todd Reichert setting a record of 48.02 mph. The Vortex was new this year.

Urban transportation contest
In the absence of Paul Pancella, who has organized the UTC in the past, Mike Eliasohn came up with some simplified rules for this year's contest. Scoring was based on the the hill climb and coast down, as in the past; time for an “obstacle” course that included a U-turn and braking to a complete stop; and evaluation, with points awarded for such things as lights, fenders, cargo-carrying capacity; horn or bell; weather protection; and security against theft.
The result was a tie between Dennis Grelk with his upright Gary Fisher cyclocross bike (which Dennis races in cyclocross events) and Bob Krzewinski with his Lightning F-40, a short wheelbase recumbent with fairing (nose cone and fabric sides).
The other competitors were Dave Johnson of Olivet on his long wheelbase DeFelice recumbent with under-seat steering and Chris Cortez of Chicago in Garrie Hill's Go-One velomobile.


200-foot sprints: The three fastest speeds were set by U-T team members riding the same No. 70 Vortex streamliner. As mentioned previously, Todd Reichert, set a record of 48.02 mph. Second was Cameron Robertson, 44.56 mph; and third was Dan Zolyniak, who made two runs, the fastest 43.57 mph.
But those weren't all of the U-T team members to ride No. 70 in the 200-foot sprints. Victor Ragusila went 41.96 mph (6th in streamliner class), Amanda Chu, 41.07, Alfie Tham, 37.26 mph, and Marissa Goldsmith, 35.51 mph.
Fastest of the non-Canadians and 4th in the streamliner class was Dennis Grelk, 42.75 mph.
The other classes were: Stock – 1) Grelk, 39.30 on his lowracer, 2) Mowett, 37.36 mph. Superstock – 1) Beauchamp, 36.08 mph, 2) Gordon, 30.71 mph. Superstreet – Kiehler, 33.84 mph, 2) Chris Cortez, Go-One velomobile, 30.92 mph. Junior – 1) Myers, 33.34 mph. Women – 1) Amanda Chu, Grelk lowracer, 34.61 mph, 2) Dora Cortez, 32.09 mph. Tricycle – 1) Grelk, 35.79 mph, 2) Chris Cortez, Catrike, 28.35 mph.
Tricycle road race (10 laps, 0.220 mile per lap) – 1) Grelk, 10 laps at average speed of 16.871 mph, 2) Chris Cortez, nine laps at 14.431 mph.
Two 10-lap road races were held on a 0.624-mile course, which did not include the hill.
First race: Streamliner – 1) Grelk, 10 laps at 27.60 mph, 2) Dave Johnson, Olivet, nine laps at 24.531 mph. Super stock – 1) Beauchamp, 9 laps at 24.533 mph, 2) Gordon, 7 laps at 18.193 mph. Superstreet – 1) Kiehler, 8 laps at 20.875 mph, 2) Iwaskow, 7 laps at 17.984 mph.

IN THE SECOND 6.24- mile road race Sunday morning, Todd Reichert of the University of Toronto trails Dennis Grelk, but not for long. Todd passed Dennis, then on the 10th and final lap passed Mike Mowett, who had led up till then, for the win. Mike finished second and Dennis third, all in the stock class.

Second race – This was an exciting race. Mike Mowett led nine laps on his Challenge lowracer, before being passed on the last lap by Todd Reichert on a borrowed Cannondale upright bike for the stock class win at 24.078 mph. Mowett was second at 24.009. Earlier, Reichert passed Grelk, who was riding his Gary Fisher cyclocross bike and finished third at 23.555 mph. Carbon fiber bicycle builder John Morciglio rode one of his creations to fourth in the stock class, also completing 10 laps, at 22.325 mph. Women (both completed 9 laps) – 1) Chu, 20.428 mph, 2) Dora Cortez, 19.633 mph.

Thanks to Mike Mowett, Bill Frey, Bruce Gordon, Warren Beauchamp, Terry Gerweck, Robert Palmer, Wally Kiehler, Mike Eliasohn and everyone else who helped conduct the rally.

DORA CORTEZ of Chicago on her Gritters low racer finished second in the women's class behind Amanda Chu of the University of Toronto, but was the only competitor whose outfit and wheel disks were color-coordinated. She's seen here during the Sunday morning 10-lap, 0.624-mile road race.

IN THE SECOND 10-lap, 6.24-mile road race Sunday morning, John Morciglio of Waterford on one of his carbon fiber lowracers, leads Tedd Wheeler of Reed City on his Rick Gritters-built low racer. John finished fourth in the stock class - his only event of the weekend - at an average speed of 22.325 mph for 10 laps. Tedd finished sixth, completing nine laps at 21.34 mph.

BRUCE GORDON on his Zox front-wheel-driver low racer is about to be passed for the umteenth time by Dennis Grelk in Saturday morning's one-hour time trial. Bruce and his wife recently moved from Illinois to Buchanan in southwest Michigan.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Michigan HPV Rally - the Non-Racers

Note: Results from the 27th annual Michigan Human Powered Vehicle Rally, held June 11-12, 2011, are available on the MHPVA website, A written report on the rally will appear soon. Meanwhile, here's some interesting cycles seen at the rally, which were not raced.

Photos and captions by Mike Eliasohn

JOHN MORCIGLIO of nearby Waterford came on Sunday morning with five of his carbon fiber creations, and also competed in the second road race (10 laps of the 0.624 mile circuit), finishing fourth in the stock class on the silver bike in front. He built his first carbon fiber recumbent in February 2008 and now builds them for a living. He can be contacted at 248-499-9915 or go to

JOHN built this tandem for a customer in Texas. If it's not obvious, the rear of the bike is at left. The "passenger" will face the rear when pedaling.

THIS MORCIGLIO CREATION has front-wheel-drive and front-wheel-steering. Look close and you can see where the head tube is.

DAVE SHAW, 66, of Clarkston, bought this John Morciglio-built Apache in October 2010. It's the first recumbent he has owned, and bought it, he said, after getting saddle sores while riding his upright bike. But he hasn't given up on "wedgee" bikes completely. "I still alternate." He and the Apache were at the rally Saturday, but did not compete.

JIM AND DORA JOHNSON, otherwise known as "Chainsaw" and "Giggles," the royal couple of the Great Lakes chapter of the Freakbike Militia brought some of their own creations to the rally on Saturday, as well as encouraging other freak bikers to bring their own bikes. Among those bringing freak bikes/trikes were MHPVA members Terry Gerweck and Dave Moeller.

TOM ADAMS of Canton built "High Horse," which emulates the style of high wheelers from the late 1800s. The front tire is a Coker 36-inch; the rear is a standard 26-inch. Tom made the frame from two cut-up bicycle frames and some new tubing. He also made the front fork. The seat is about 50 inches above the ground. (Coker Tire, best known for making tires for antique and collectible cars, also makes a cruiser, unicycle and high-wheeler that use its 36-inch tires.

ON SATURDAY EVENING, after the day's competition events and dinner were over, there was an opportunity for HPVers and freak bikers to compare bikes. From left are Terry Gerweck, rally competitors Dave Johnson (on one of Jim Johnson's bikes) and Rich Myers, and Jim and Dora Johnson. Dora is holding "Split Personality," which she built. The side of the bike away from the camera is red. Terry, from Monroe and co-founder of the MHPVA, is on his latest freakbike creation, not quite completed.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Michigan HPV Rally - June 11-12, 2011

The 27th annual Michigan Human Powered Vehicle Rally will be June 11-12, 2011, at the Waterford Hills sports car racing track on the Oakland County Sportsmen's Club grounds in Clarkston, near Pontiac.
The oldest such event in North America is open to riders of all human powered vehicles -- recumbents, regular bicycles and tandems. There are classes for streamlined, unstreamlined cycles, tandems, women, youth and tricycles. The rally is conducted using Human Powered Race - America rules ( Note: HPRA rules require all vehicles to have mirror/mirrors enabling rear vision to both sides.
The track is 1.4 miles around, with nine turns and one hill.

ENTRY FEES: One day only, $30; both days, $40 (includes $10 MHPVA membership. $1 of each entry fee goes to support the work of the League of Michigan Bicyclists). Test ride pass, $5. Spectators free.
Even if you have no interest in racing, come and see some unusual and some very fast bicycles and tricycles. Some members of the Great Lakes chapter of the FreakBike Militia are expected to bring their creative bikes on Saturday to show, not to race, which will mean even more unusual bikes to see.
Prize money will be awarded to top finishers in each class.


Saturday, June 11

8 a.m. - Registration and technical inspection.
9 a.m. - One-hour time trial - Streamlined and superstreet classes.
10:30 a.m. - One-hour time trial - Stock and other classes.
Lunch (bring your own food or eat at a nearby restaurant).
1:30 p.m. - Hill climb/coast-down.
1:30 p.m. - Urban transportation contest. Hill climb/coast-down is part of the UTC. There also will be an obstacle course and scoring by judge for each bike's "practical" features (lights, fenders, cargo carrying capacity, etc.). Entry fee is $30, even if only competing in the UTC.
3 p.m. - 1-kilometer standing start sprints.
6 p.m. - Dinner at nearby Big Boy.


8:30 a.m. - Top speed sprints.
10 a.m. - Tricycle race (infield course).
10:30 am - Road race (faster vehicles).
11 a.m. - Road race (slower vehicles).
Note: Course for Sunday road races does NOT include hill.
Awards ceremony hopefully no later than 1 p.m.

The event address is 4770 Waterford Road, Clarkston MI 48346. For map of the track, visit

For additional information, contact: Mike Mowett, 586-863-3902 or, or Mike Eliasohn, 269-982-4058 or

From I-75, get off at exit 91. Take M-15 south to Dixie Hwy. (US-24). Turn left, continuing south about 1 mile and turn
left onto Waterford Road, then proceed to track.
If coming from the west, take U.S. 23 north (or south) to M-59 (Highland Road). Go east on M-59 to Airport Road, then left
(north) to US-24. Turn left, then immediately right onto Waterford Road. Go about a half-mile to track.


MOTELS (with approximate distances/direction from Waterford Hills track)

Clarkston - Clarkston Motor Inn, 6853 Dixie Hwy. (US-10), 248-625-1522, 12 rooms, 2 miles northeast.

Hartland - Best Western of Hartland, 10087 M-59 at US-23, 810-632-7177, 61 rooms. About 18 miles west.

Waterford – Comfort Inn, 7076 Highland Road (M-59), 248-666-8555, 111 rooms. About 3 miles southwest.

Waterford – Waterford Motel, 2201 Dixie Hwy. at Telegraph Road, 248-338-4061, 50 rooms. About 6 miles southeast.

Waterford – Holiday Inn Express, 4350 Pontiac Lake Road, 248-674-3434, 83 rooms. About 7 miles southwest..

Whitmore Lake - Best Western of Whitmore Lake, 9897 Main St. (off US-23, exit 53), 734-449-2058, 61 rooms. About 33 miles southwest.


Free camping available overnight Friday and Saturday at the Waterford Hills Sportsman Club, site of the HPV rally, starting at 6 p.m. Friday. Restrooms, showers available and possibly electrical hookups.


Highland Recreation Area, 5200 E. Highland Road (M-59), White Lake, 248-889-3750. Two miles east of Highland,

Holly Recreation Area, 8100 Grange Hall Road, Holly, 248-634-8811. Five miles east of Holly.

Ortonville Recreation Area, 5779 Hadley Road, Ortonville, 810-797-4439. Four miles northeast of Ortonville.

Pontiac Lake Recreation Area, 7800 Gale Road, 248-666-1020. Closest to Waterford Hills track, about 4 miles west.


Saturday, April 2, 2011

MHPVA annual meeting - March 12, 2011

By Paul Pancella, secretary. Editing and photos by Mike Eliasohn (unless otherwise mentioned)

The 2011 annual meeting of the Michigan Human Powered Vehicle Association took place March 12 in the community room of the REI store in Ann Arbor. About 25 people attended, including some non-members, possibly attracted by the meeting location and notices in area bike shops prepared and distributed by Bob Krzewinski.
Bob, who also arranged use of the meeting room, started by introducing the WolverBents organization, explaining its goals, structure, and activities. He said some bike shops that previously sold recumbents no longer do so (or went out of business), but Midwest Bike and Tandem in Ann Arbor has started selling recumbents.
Bob then talked about the pros and cons of recumbent cycles, with some useful tips for newcomers interested in buying their first one.

JOHN MORCIGLIO of Waterford shows Arrowhead, which he created for racing in time trials. Seat height is 16 inches; wheels are 650c front and 700c rear; and weight is just under 21 pounds. He completed building it late last fall. "This bike I could sell, but probably won't," he said. But, if he were to sell it, it probably would be about $3,600 for the frame or $5,500 for the complete bike.

JOHN MORCIGLIO shows his Thunderbolt low racer, which weighs 23.75 pounds. The frame sells for $4,750. John built his first carbon fiber recumbent in February 2008 and now builds them for a living. As of the meeting, he had built 20 recumbents and three upright bikes and was building an 11-foot long recumbent tandem, with the riders back-to-back, for a customer in Texas. He can be contacted at 248-499-9915 or go to

Then MHPVA President Mike Mowett briefly described the history and purpose of the organization.
Bill Frey started show-and-tell by showing his 1984 Tour Easy, which he bought new and recently had refinished. "I'm still riding it," he said. "I'm not planning to sell it." He also owns a newer Fold Rush.
Photos and captions describe the other bikes shown at the meeting.
During the business portion of the meeting, last year’s minutes and this year’s treasurer’s report were quickly approved. Treasurer Bill Frey indicated that the board’s plan to increase the available fund balance (after the 2009 Michigan Human Powered Speed Challenge at the Ford Motor Co. proving grounds) has begun to succeed, in that a net increase of about $300 was realized. Another year or two employing the same strategy will bring us to the desired fund balance level, barring unforeseen circumstances.

JOHN FOLTZ (left) of Haslett showed his M5 Carbon High Racer (made in the Netherlands), which he purchased in 2009. Both wheels are 700c and it weighs about 24 pounds. He described it as "amazingly fast." He can cruise 25-26 mph and it's also a good hill-climber. Helping hold the bike is Bill Frey. John also showed his Optima Baron low racer.

Next we discussed the 27th annual Michigan Human Powered Vehicle Rally weekend, scheduled June 11-12, again at the Waterford Hills sports car racing track. With minimal discussion, we agreed to follow the usual schedule and program, including camping availability and steak fry Saturday evening.
Paul Pancella informed the group (with regret) that he will not be able to attend the rally this year, so won't be able to run the urban transportation contest in parallel with the hill-climb/coastdown. The request was made for volunteers to take Paul’s place. So far, no one has volunteered, but anyone interested in running the UTC should contact Paul at
Bill Frey mentioned he has developed an Excel spreadsheet that functions to simulate power demands for the Waterford course, including the hills, with various vehicle and speed parameters as inputs. It also can be adapted for predicting power required for maintaining speed on any grade. He offered to make it available to anyone for the asking.
All officers and board members were reelected: President, Mike Mowett, St. Clair Shores; vice president, Mike Eliasohn, St. Joseph; secretary, Paul Pancella, Kalamazoo; treasurer, Bill Frey, Grosse Pointe Farms; and at large, Terry Gerweck, Monroe, and Don Smith, Chesterfield.

MIKE MOWETT (left) shows his Challenge Fujin, which he has owned for a few years and has some improvements made by Don Smith (right). Don made the Zotefoam ribbed foam seat padding, which he can make in different colors, patterns and thicknesses, and modified the Rotor System cranks to reduce internal rotating drag. The Rotor system eliminates the "dead spots" when pedaling. For these and other specialty work for HPVs, contact Don at

Jim “Chainsaw” Johnson, president of the Great Lakes chapter of the FreakBike Militia was introduced. He expressed a growing appreciation for important traits that the HPV community has in common with the FreakBike movement, and let us know that the Militia will again be represented at our rally in June.
President Mowett made a brief report on developments at the Human Powered Race America race director’s meeting. He said changes to rules and classes for this year were minimal this year. Anyone interested should go to the HPRA website,
Mike then highlighted some other events recumbent riders are looking forward to this year, including the 100-mile Black Bear Bicycle Tour July 31 from Grayling to Oscoda and Calvin’s Challenge on April 30, a 12-hour event starting in Springfield, Ohio. He also has explored developing a new century ride for the east side of the state, incorporating Belle Isle and some of the Metro parks.
The meeting started at 12:30 p.m. adjourned at 3:20.

MIKE ELIASOHN shows his work-in-progress recumbent, intended for around-town use and for easy transporting in the back of his Ford Focus station wagon. Welding and some fabrication has been done by Precision Welding & Repair of Berrien Springs; the rest by Mike. The "holder" is Bill Frey. (Mike Mowett photo)

PAUL PANCELLA of Kalamazoo showed one of the two ICE B1 folding bikes he and his wife, Anne, bought to take with them when traveling. Unfortunately, ICE, a British company, has since stopped making B1's in order to focus on making its line of recumbent tricycles.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Dragonwood slays at Detroit Autorama

The Detroit Autorama at Cobo Center in downtown Detroit is one of the most prestigious custom car and hot rod shows in the country, but it also includes a competition for custom and customized bicycles, sponsored by Al Petri & Sons Bicycles in Lincoln Park and Woodhaven.
At this year's show, Feb. 25-27, MHPVA member Dave Moeller's Dragonwood won the first place trophy for "most creative" and second place in the "long and low" category.
Dave, who lives in Linden, estimates about 70 pedal-powered creations were entered at this year's show, This year's Autorama was the 59th annual.
For more about Dragonwood, scroll down on this blog to the article posted May 2, 2010.
I (Mike Eliasohn) couldn't find anything on the web about this year's cycle show at Autorama, but you can see lots of photos from the 2010 show at

Friday, February 4, 2011

MHPVA annual meeting - March 12, 2011

Michigan Human Powered Vehicle Association
Annual meeting – Ann Arbor, MI - Saturday, March 12, 2011

The 2011 MHPVA annual meeting will be Saturday, March 12, in the Ann Arbor REI store community room, 970 W. Eisenhower Parkway, just off the Ann Arbor-Saline Road exit off I-94. See map and directions on next page.

For those who want to eat prior to the meeting, there is a Potbelly sandwich shop directly across from REI store and an Old Country Buffet restaurant in the same shopping center. The meeting room opens at noon for socializing. At 12:30 p.m., Bob
Krzewinski of the Wolver-Bents will give a talk about “How to buy your first recumbent.”

At 1 p.m., members will have a chance to talk to the group about their vehicles or latest projects. Those bringing vehicles for display are encouraged to write on a sheet of paper sheet basic information about the vehicle, such as name and manufacturer or builder; owner’s name; year built; used for racing, commuting or recreational riding; fastest speeds, construction materials, weight, etc.

The MHPVA business meeting will follow. A key part will be deciding on events and other details for the 27th Michigan HPV Rally, to be held June 11-12, 2011 at the Waterford Hills sports car racing track in Clarkston. Details will be posted on and htpp://

Tentative meeting schedule:

• Meeting room opens at 12 noon
• 12:30 p.m. - “How to buy your first recumbent,” Bob Krzewinski
• 1 p.m. - “Show and tell” of human powered vehicles brought by owners.
Followed by:
• Call to order and review of agenda
• Secretary’s report - approval of 2010 annual meeting minutes.
• Treasurer’s Report – Members who would like a copy of the treasurer's report and/or membership list should contact Bill Frey at the meeting or at
• Report on 2010 speed championships at Battle Mountain, Nev. – Mike Mowett.
• Discussion of Michigan HPV Rally at Waterford - June 11-12, 2011.
1. President Mike Mowett will report on decisions made at fall Human Powered Race - America meeting.
2. Selection of events to be held at Waterford.
3. Discussion of publicity, prizes and fees.
• Report on MHPVA website
• Election of officers and directors.
• Other 2011 recumbent/HPV events
• Adjournment

Directions: From eastbound or westbound I-94, take Exit 175 (Ann-Arbor Saline Rd.)
and head northeast along Ann Arbor-Saline Road toward Ann Arbor. Cross Eisenhower
Parkway, go past the gas station and notice the shopping center on your right. Turn right into
the shopping center entrance, which is behind the stores. Then drive to the front of the
shopping center, which faces I-94, and you will soon arrive at the REI store.