Saturday, October 13, 2012

Tour de Fat, Tempe, Ariz. – Oct. 6, 2012

By Mike Eliasohn

I had already purchased my airline tickets to (and from) Phoenix, Ariz., when I discovered that the Tour de Fat was taking place in Tempe, Ariz., on Saturday, Oct. 6, my day of arrival. The site, a park on the edge of downtown Tempe, was only a couple of miles off my usual route from the airport to my hotel and then my ultimate destination in Mesa, to see family, so how could I not go?
In 2012, there were 15 Tour de Fat events around the country, sponsored by employee-owned New Belgium Brewing ( in Fort Collins, Colo., as part of its marketing efforts. The first was June 2 and the last will be/was Oct. 20. The only TdFs in the Midwest are in Chicago, Milwaukee and Minneapolis.
The "Fat" in Tour de Fat refers to fat-tired cruisers – one is pictured in New Belgium's logo – but presumably any type of bike is welcome. Though other than various types of cruisers, the only bikes I noticed were some skinny-tired "fixies" (fixed gear single speed road bikes). 

Two stretch cruisers.

The day's events in Tempe started with a morning parade – with wearing of costumes by riders encouraged – followed by music and other entertainment, bicycle contests and, of course, New Belgium beer, in the park.
In a preview article in the local College Times newspaper, Matt Kowal of New Belgium said, "We are a bike festival  first and beer festival second. We really want to make sure that people have the chance to taste our beers, but also come in lucid and be able to get inspired about bikes."
But I did observe a young lady, who may have had a few too many brews, pushing off on her bike with difficulty, to put it politely. A man sitting on a stretch cruiser also saw her and joked she was guilty of BUI (bicycling under the influence.)

Two more stretch cruisers, apparently homebuilt. The front "triangles" appear to be from regular road bikes.

It should be noted that Tempe is a college town (Arizona State University), and with temperatures ranging from warm to hot and flat terrain in the Phoenix area, is ideal for cruisers, which typically have only one or three speeds.
Unfortunately, by the time I got to the TdF in mid-afternoon, it was winding down. There were still plenty of bikes, but as I approached in my rental car, cyclists were leaving in droves, so I saw plenty of interesting bikes before I got there.
And by the time I got there, time was getting tight and I didn't want to be too late to my final destination. I found an empty parking space on the street, paid for 20 minutes of time on the meter, and made a quick tour. I took as many photos as I could, but didn't have time to talk to anyone, sit on any bikes or go on any test rides.

This rider is on a Driftwood Cruiser, with, as the name suggests, a wood frame. Driftwood Cruisers are made in nearby Mesa, Ariz., by Preston Brown and his helpers. If you want to buy one, and even if you don't, but want to see more, go to

How many bikes were at the Tour de Fat in Tempe? A safe guess is more than a thousand, and maybe thousands.

According to the College Times article, the TdF event in Temple is the second largest, behind only the one in New Belgium's home base in Fort Collins, Colo.
"We're just there to share in the celebration of the greatest invention of all time," Kowal said in the article. "It's not just a festival about beer and bicycles, but about people-powered transportation and people-powered fun."

Many low-racers seen at Human Powered Race - America events have front-wheel drive and front-wheel steering.  This bike also has FWD and FWS, but it's obviously not for racing. Presumably the pegs hanging below the seat are for the riders' feet, so he can coast. (Fixed gear, maybe?)  (Update: I later learned this bike, the swing bike below and some other interesting two-wheelers are made by Jon's Big Bikes in Peoria, Ariz.,

This is what's known as a swing bike; both the front and rear wheels steer. The axle for the cranks runs through the rear wheel. Very nicely built, be it homemade or by a professional.

Tricycles were also seen at the Tour de Fat, but not of the recumbent variety.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mich. Recumbent Rally - West, Sept. 8, 2012

THE MICHIGAN RECUMBENT RALLY - WEST, organized by Paul Pancella, took place Sept. 8 in the parking lot of the College of Engineering building on the Western Michigan University Parkview Campus in Kalamazoo. That's a WizWheelz (now TerraTrike) tandem in the foreground, which was for sale. 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. Photos and captions by Mike Eliasohn

JOHN MISHLER of Richland brought his ICE Sprint FS, which he bought in September 2011 from SPIN bicycle shop in Lansing. Custom-ordered from the factory in England, the rear wheel folds forward and the seat is easily removable, resulting in a compact package that fits in the rear of John's Ford Focus hatchback. There's suspension on all three wheels. According to the SPIN blog, it also sells Catrike recumbent tricycles and Rans recumbents and crank-forwards, as well as upright bikes. It's at 206 E. Grand River Ave.; phone 517-372-3000.

KEITH VANDERBERGH of Wayland (that's him, minus his head) had his Rans Rocket Saturn-V for sale for $400. It was purchased in 2000 and has Magura hydraulic rim brakes on both wheels. As of Oct. 10, he still had it for sale. E-mail or call 269-792-6324.

DAN WILSON of Bridgman tries Mike Eliasohn's Sun EZ Classic compact long wheelbase recumbent. This is the current version of what was the EZ-1. John Mathieson of Breakaway Bicycles and Fitness in Portage came to the rally with two recumbents and the news that in addition to Bacchetta and Sun, it will be selling TerraTrike recumbent tricycles. Breakaway, which also sells upright bikes, also has shops in Muskegon and Grand Haven ( The Portage store is at 185 Romence Road, phone 269-324-5555.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Great Lakes Independence Ride 2012

Words and photos by Mike Eliasohn

The sixth annual Great Lakes Independence Ride, otherwise known as IRIDE (, started Aug. 2 in St. Joseph and ended four days and 240 miles later in Ann Arbor.
The ride is a project of the Center for Independent Living in Ann Arbor,  "a nonprofit organization dedicated to the success of children, youth and adults with disabilities at home, at school, at work and in the community," to quote from its website (
Glen Ashlock, the center's director of sports and recreation and a ride participant, said 52 riders pedaled  the entire distance, while another 10 to 12 rode at least one day. About eight riders were on hand cycles and two or three with visual impairments rode on the back of tandems.  The longest single day stretch was 63 miles.
The ride also was a fund raiser for the Disability Network/Michigan and the Centers for Independent Living in the state.
Prior to the start of the ride on Aug. 2 in St. Joseph, Jim Nieters (on ground) works on the Invacare Top End Force R handcycle of Bryan Wilkinson (in wheelchair) of Howell.  The Invacare Top End Force 2 handcycle of Brad Baumann of Zeeland is in the foreground. Jim was a rider and mechanic on IRIDE.

A closeup of the Invacare Top End Excelerator XLT Pro ridden by Tom Hoatlin of South Lyon. It has 27 speeds. Notice the upside down deraileurs for the triple chainrings and 9-speed cassette and two brakes on the front wheel.
This Invacare Force R, ridden by Bryan Wilkinson, also has 27 speeds, and a disk brake on the front wheel. No rear brakes.
Departing from the offices of the Area Agency on Aging and Disability Network/Southwest Michigan, these two handcycle riders show very different riding positions.  Above is Tom Hoatlin and below is Brad Baumann. Glen Ashlock said the riding position is determined partially by rider preference and partially by disability. For instance, the upright position enables the rider to use his or her trunk muscles more.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Some interesting bikes & people

Words and photos by Mike Eliasohn

In the March 1994 MHPVA newsletter (printed on paper) was a report on a new recumbent bicycle, the Brampton Bike, being manufactured by Tom Bell Jr. in Brampton, near Gladstone. Eighteen years later, I (Mike) finally traveled to the Upper Peninsula in August 2012 and met Tom, saw the bike and found out "whatever happened to ..."
The 1994 flier called it "a high quality, high performance recumbent bicycle at a low affordable price. Perfect for commuting." The price was $549.
After building some prototypes, including this final one shown in the photos, Tom built three bikes which he sold. But he started thinking, "I don't want to build the same bike over and over again," he said, so he stopped. He then started Brampton Bike & Ski in downtown Gladstone, which remains in business, although Tom no longer owns it. He now works as a paramedic.
Tom made the bikes in his garage. The only things he didn't do himself were the paint and upholstery. The main frame tube is 1x2-inch mild steel; the rear stays are 1x1-1/2; and the cross tubes connecting the stays are 1x1. Tom bought parts from J&B Importers/Sun Bicycles. The three bikes sold used Shimano Tourney components, had triple chainrings and seven-speed freewheels.  The bike shown here has some different components than on the production bikes, including the handlebars from Sun/J&B. Tom bent the handlebars on the production bikes from galvanized tubing.
The wheels are 26-inch in the rear, 20-inch in the front, with aluminum rims. Three frame sizes were to be available: 63, 66 and 69-inch wheelbase. Weight was about 45 pounds. A single quick release allowed easy adjustment of the seat position.
The Brampton Bike is obviously simple, but Tom's worksmanship is very nice. It makes me wonder if a small welding/machine/fabricating shop when its normal business is slow could produce similar bikes.
On my way to the Upper Peninsula, I stopped in Empire to see Reuben Chapman. Back in 1982, Reuben was living in Ann Arbor and publishing Getting There by Bicycle 10 times a year. The October 1982 issue had an article by Reuben about the first recumbent gathering in Michigan, on July 11 of that year, organized by me and Terry Gerweck in conjunction with the River Raisin Tour in the Monroe area. Six recumbents were there, which led to the creation of the Michigan Human Powered Vehicle Association and the annual Michigan HPV Rally. Reuben and his wife, Mary Ann, have lived in Empire, west of Traverse City, since 1999. He still rides his Lightning, shown here, and other bikes.

In the bicycle world, there are low racers and low riders – and tall bikes. At the Ann Arbor Classic Bicycle Show April 29, 2012, Joseph VanLoozen was showing and promoting his Very Big Bike, which he is manufacturing. A 7-speed bike costs $1,395; frame sets are $750. The website is, which includes a video of how one gets on the thing to get started. On Sept. 15, VanLoozen and his brother, Pat, who make up VanLoozen Brothers Bicycles in Levering (south of Mackinaw City), each rode one of their bikes 31 miles in the Tour de Troit in Detroit. The frames are manufactured by BSM Technologies in Romulus, powder coated and then assembled by the brothers. Joseph built his first tall bike in 1978 in a school shop class. So far, he said, about 20 bikes have been completed and seven have been sold. A single-speed for the rental market and "twenty-niner" (mountain bike with 29-inch wheels) are now under development with BSM.

Also at the Ann Arbor Classic Bicycle show was this interesting bike owned by Brian Pikielek, owner of Bike Tech in Detroit. He told me in September the bike was built by Andy Toth, who operated Andy's Bike Shop in Melvindale from the 1940s to the mid 1990s. Brian also owns two other bikes Toth built, neither a recumbent.  The remote steering using a shaft resembles recumbents made in the 1930s in Europe, but they used a universal joint to link the shaft to the fork, rather than the bevel gear on this bike. Bike Tech, at 18401 E. Warren in Detroit, sells new and interesting/unique old bikes. In addition to the usual bicycle repairs, it also does frame repairs (that is, brazing). The website is and the phone number is 313-884-2453.

This interesting stretch cruiser is owned by Jim Baney, owner of Jim's Vintage Bicycles, 6656 S. M-139, Berrien Springs, ph: 269-408-0430. He said he bought it at the Ann Arbor Classic Bicycle Show, but didn't know anything about the builder. Notice the use of a rear swing arm, presumably from a mountain bike. Jim sells and restores vintage bicycles, as well as more modern used bikes.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

28th annual Michigan HPV Rally May 19-20, 2012

THE START of the 25-lap race for the faster vehicles on Sunday morning was won by Rick Gritters (white vehicle, second from right) at an average speed of 25.62 mph for the 10.8 miles. (Mike Eliasohn photo)

IN THE SECOND road race Sunday morning, for slower vehicles, Bill Lozowski on his M5 lowracer is ahead of Tedd Wheeler on his Gritters lowracer and Brian Stevens on his Morciglio ViperBlue in the rear. (Mike Eliasohn photo)

By Mike Eliasohn

The 28th annual Michigan Human Powered Vehicle Rally – the 25th at the Waterford Hills sports car racing track in Clarkston – on May 19-20 drew about 40 competitors and vehicles.
That was about 10 more competitors than attended the 2011 rally. It would be interesting to know if the increase was due to the change from the normal June rally dates to May, which we had to do because the track was booked every weekend in June for automotive events.

THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO HPV team, seen here unloading Saturday morning, came with 11 team members and four vehicles, three of them streamliners. (Terry Gerweck photo)

For the third straight year, turnout was boosted by the team from the University of Toronto, which this year came with four vehicles – three of them streamliners – and 11 team members.
As usual, the stock class drew the most entries, 19, with MHPVA President Mike Mowett of St. Clair Shores, riding a John Morciglio-built M1 lowracer, coming out on top with 330 points. Second was Warren Beauchamp of Elgin, Ill., on a Velokraft NoCom low racer, 275 points; 3) Thom Ollinger, West Milton, Ohio, homebuilt Nirvana lowracer, 252; 4) Brian Stevens, Grand Rapids, Morciglio ViperBlue M2, 248; and 5) Bill Lozowski, Springfield, Ind.; M5 lowracer, 227.

MHPVA PRESIDENT MIKE MOWETT, seen here during the 200-foot sprints Sunday morning, won the stock class on his John Morciglio built M1. In his class, he was second fastest in the top-speed event, 39.5 mph. (Mike Eliasohn photo)

The top three in the rest of the classes were:
Streamliner (6 entries): Rick Gritters, who was absent the last two years, returned from Pella, Iowa, with his homebuilt streamliner with a fairing made of aircraft fabric over a tubing framework and won the class with 355 points. 2) Dave Johnson, Olivet, Rick Wianecki-built Great White, 315; 3) Rich Myers, Xenia, Ohio, Terry Hreno built Mini Moby, 300.

RICK GRITTERS, winner of the streamliner class, ran in the Sunday morning road race without the canopy. He rebuilt his fairing so that it now comes apart in two pieces – the vertical seam is just behind the front edge of the opening – so that both parts and the canopy now fit inside his very compact Honda Fit. He then transports the bare bike plus his stock class entry on a rear rack. Rick's trip from his home in Pella, Iowa, to Clarkston and return totaled about 1,300 miles. (Mike Eliasohn photo)

College: With some University of Toronto students riding more than one vehicle, and with each vehicle being ridden by more than one rider, they were given their own class. Trefor Evans in the Ace streamliner scored the most points, 175, and Cameron Robertson in the Vortex streamliner had 160. But Trefor also scored 115 points in the Vortex and Cameron had 100 in the Ace.
Super street (3 entries): 1) Wally Kiehler, Grosse Point Woods, Lightning F40, 345 points; 2) Tedd Wheeler, Reed City, Alleweder velomobile, 180; 3) Garrie Hill, Granville, Ohio, WOW velomobile, 55.

THOM OLLINGER, riding his homebuilt Nirvana, finished third in the stock class. He's shown here during the Sunday morning road race. (Mike Eliasohn photo)

Super stock (3 entries): 1) Chris Cortez, Chicago, Gritters lowracer with tailbox, 355; 2) Bruce Gordon, Buchanan, Zox 20x20, 320; 3) Jim Iwaskow, Richmond Hill, Ontario, Challenge Jester, 315.
Women: Mary Vernau of Troy, Ohio, riding an upright bike, was the lone entry, 360.
Tricycles (2 entries): Jeff Hunn, North Manchester, Ind., 235; 2) Chris Cortez, 225. Both raced Catrike Speeds.
A total of $230 in prize money was distributed. No course records were set this year.

JOHN MORCIGLIO of nearby Waterford inflates the tires on his Arrowhead mid-racer prior to the start of the Sunday morning events. Below, he rides it in the 200-foot sprints to a speed of 32.9 mph – fifth place. John has built numerous carbon fiber pedal-powered vehicles, mostly recumbents, for customers. His website is (Mike Eliasohn photos)

Here's the top two in each class in each event. Complete results, plus lots of photos in addition to those shown here, can be seen at
One-hour time trial: Streamliner – 1) Rick Gritters, 31 miles;, 2) Dave Johnson, 25.5 miles. College – rider swaps were made during the hour. SuperStreet – 1) Wally Kiehler, 21.5 miles (only rider to complete the hour). SuperStock – 1) Chris Cortez, 20.3 miles; 2) Bruce Gordon, 17.9 miles. Stock – 1) Mike Mowett, 26.1 miles; 2) Warren Beauchamp, 24.3 miles. Women – Mary Vernau, 15.4 miles.

PAUL PANCELLA waves the green flat to start the one-hour time trial Saturday morning for the stock class competitors. (Terry Gerweck photo)

Hill climb: Streamliner – 1) Gritters, 24.6 sec.; 2) Johnson, 28.1 sec. College – 1) Cameron Robertson in Vortex, 22.5 sec.; 2) Trefor Evans in Ace, 23.73 sec. SuperStreet – 1) Kiehler, 22.1 sec.; 2) Wheeler, 28.1 sec. SuperStock – 1) Jim Iwaskow, 23.5 sec.; 2) Cortez, 27.0 sec. Stock – 1) Mowett, 20.5 sec.; 2) Rick Gritters, Gritters lowracer, 21.6 sec. Women – Vernau, 29.4 sec. Tricycles – 1) Jeff Hunn, 26.8 sec.; 2) Cortez, 28.96 sec.
Coast down : Streamliner – 1) Myers; 2) Gritters. College – 1) Evans in Ace; 2) Victor Ragulisa in Ace. SuperStreet – 1) Wheeler; 2) Kiehler. SuperStock – 1) Cortez; 2) Gordon. Stock – 1) Ollinger; 2) John Foltz, Haslett, M5 Carbon highracer. Women – Vernau. Tricycles – 1) Cortez; 2) Hunn.
Standing start kilometer: Streamliner – 1) Gritters, 1 minute, 12.5 sec. = 30.9 mph.; 2) Johnson, 1:27.2 = 25.6 mph. College – 1) Evans, 1:15.6 = 29.6 mph; 2) Robertson, 1:17.9 = 28.7 mph. SuperStreet – 1) Kiehler, 1:34.9= 23.6 mph (only competitor). SuperStock – 1) Cortez, 1:35.6 = 23.4 mph; 2) Gordon, 1:45.3 sec = 21.2 mph. Stock – 1) Mowett, 1:15.4 = 29.7 mph; 2) Costin, 1:15.6 = 29.6 mph. Women – Vernau, 2:01.3 = 18.4 mph. Tricycles – 1) Hunn, 1:48.6 = 20.6 mph.; 2) Cortez, 1:54.4 = 19.5 mph.

Sprints (running start before 200-foot timing trap): Streamliner – 1) Gritters, 44.1 mph; 2) John Simon, Portland, Moby, 42.2 mph. College – 1) Evans, 44.9 mph in Ace; 2) Evans, 44.6 in Vortex. SuperStreet – 1) Wheeler, 34.0 mph; 2) Kiehler, 31.9 mph. SuperStock – 1) Cortez, 33.9 mph; 2) Gordon, 32.2 mph. Stock – 1) Costin, 41.96 mph; 2) Mowett, 39.5 mph. Women – Vernau, 24.05 mph.
Road race (each lap = .431 mile ) – Streamliner – both 25 laps, 1) Gritters, 25 laps, 25.6 mph; 2) Simon, 25.3 mph. College – Results unclear as to who the riders were. SuperStreet – 1) Kiehler, 21 laps, 21.3 mph (only competitor). SuperStock – both 20 laps, 1) Cortez, 20.1 mph; 2) Gordon, 19.7 mph. Stock – 1) Sean Costin, Arlington Heights, Ill., Velokraft NoCom low racer, 25 laps, 24.8 mph; 2) Beauchamp, 24 laps, 23.7 mph. Women – Vernau, 15 laps, 15.5 mph.

TREFOR EVANS (I think) IN THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO Bluenose competes in a Sunday morning road race. The newest U-T streamliner is made of carbon fiber and has dual 20-inch (406mm) wheels and front wheel drive. The goal is to be competitive at the World Human Powered Speed Challenge at Battle Mountain, Nev., in September, but early teething problems include instability, especially at slow speeds (Mike Eliasohn photo).

BY Paul Pancella, organizer

This year there were five entries in the Urban Transportation Contest on Saturday, most of whom were new participants. Here are the entrants in order of finish:
1) Bill Lozowski, Springfield, Ind., 68.0 points, entered his wife’s folding upright bike, a Dahon Mu-24 model, which uses 24-inch wheels.
2) Longtime racer Dave Johnson of Olivet, 67.0 points, entered his 1985 Specialized StumpJumper mountain bike, well equipped for commuting. His lighting systems were especially impressive
3) Tim Potter of Lansing, 65.1 points, brought the 1983 Nishiki upright that he uses for daily commuting.
4) UTC veteran Wally Kiehler, 64.1 points, again campaigned with his Lightning P-38. Wally’s was the only recumbent bike entered in the UTC this year.
5) Brian Beard, Franklin, 62.7 points, entered one of his unusual StrideCore bicycles, a vehicle with no seat and no traditional pedaling mechanism. These bikes are propelled by stepping up and down on platforms, in a motion similar to climbing stairs. They have just been brought to market by a Michigan company, StrideSports. Unfortunately, Brian did not bring any of his lights or carrying accessories, and so was unable to score points in some areas.
Points were awarded in the following categories: Aerodynamics (measured by results in the coast-down that was part of the regular rally competition); weight; rider vision; daytime and night time visibility; vehicle size (smaller is better); maneuverability (turning radius); grocery run; braking; weather protection; rider comfort; tools/lock/spares; uphill hauling (low gear); and
passenger bonus. The simulated grocery run tests several relevant aspects of an urban transportation vehicle, which is why its score carries a relatively large weight.
As you can see, there was not much spread in the scores this year, with some similar bikes in a fairly small field. Despite a very poor coast-down distance, the Dahon folding bike took the $20 first prize by edging out Dave Johnson with a faster grocery run.
Thanks to all the folks who entered, and to Jun Nogami who helped with the setup and running of the event.

SEAN COSTIN PUSHED SO HARD IN THE HILLCLIMB that he twisted the chainring on his Velokraft NoCom, so lost points in that event and the coast-down. He borrowed Mike Mowett's Morciglio lowracer for the kilometer sprint, and riding it for the first time, went nearly the same speed as Mike. Sean got the chainwheel straightened in time to resume competition Sunday on his NoCom. (Terry Gerweck photo

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Michigan HPV Rally - May 19-20, 2012

The 28th annual Michigan Human Powered Vehicle Rally will be Saturday and Sunday, May 19-20, 2012, 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 League of Michigan Bicyclists. Test ride pass, $10, which includes MHPVA membership. 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 may 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.


Registration and technical inspection starts at 8 a.m.
One-hour time trial (streamliner, streetliner classes) - 9:30-10:30 a.m
One-hour time trial (stock, superstock, junior, women, tandem) - 11 a.m.-noon
Lunch (bring your own food or eat at nearby restaurant).
Hill climb/coast down (all classes) - 1:30-2:30 p.m.
Urban transportation contest - in afternoon (see details below).
Standing start kilometer (all classes) - 3-4 p.m.
Dinner - Steak fry at Sportsmen's Club lodge or at nearby Big Boy's - 6 p.m.


200-Foot Sprints (all classes, flying start) - 8:30-9:30 a.m.
Tricycle race (infield parking lot) - 10 a.m.
Road race 1 (faster vehicles, 20 laps, 12 miles, no hill) - 10:30 a.m.
Road race 2 (slower Vehicles, 15 laps, 9 miles, no hill) - 11 a.m.
Awards ceremony by 1 p.m. (hopefully)

Location: Oakland County Sportsmen's Club: 4770 Waterford Road, Clarkston, MI 48346. For a map of the competition 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.

By Paul Pancella, UTC coordinator

We will include the Urban Transportation Contest (UTC) at Waterford this year, in the “traditional” format. It will start on Saturday afternoon and run simultaneously with the hill climb/coast down event. In fact, the coast down is one of three phases of the UTC, so the more aerodynamic the vehicle, the better. The other two phases are static measurements and some dynamic testing. The dynamic tests include a measure of the turning radius, braking distance, and a run on a short curvy course carrying some simulated groceries.

This contest is open to all competitors entered at the rally at no extra charge. The results will not be included in the HPRA points series, but there will be prizes for the top finishers. Vehicles will have to pass the same technical requirements as for the rest of the rally, with the exception that rearview mirrors will earn points, but are not a requirement for UTC participation. UTC vehicles must have more than one wheel.

Points will be awarded more or less equally in three areas:
Utility -- The basic ability to do the job, and do it efficiently.
Safety -- Mostly of the operator, but including security against theft.
Convenience -- The ideal urban vehicle is fun and easy to use. Here I will include items that affect operator comfort, as well as vehicle storage capacity.

To compete in the UTC, register on Saturday morning like everyone else. There will be some additional paperwork to fill out for the UTC. If you enter a separate vehicle in the UTC, get an official vehicle number from me, then be sure to run it in the hill climb/coast down in addition to your primary racing vehicle. I need to have your UTC forms by about 11 a.m. The contest will start in the parking lot when I get back from lunch.

So bring your lights, tools, and whatever else you think makes your vehicle more practical on the streets (or a whole different vehicle) and see how it stacks up.


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.

Clarkston - Olde Mill Inn of Clarkston, 5835 Dixie Hwy., 248-623-0300. Across Dixie Highway from Waterford Road leading to track. This is the closest motel to the track.

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, 877-786-9480, 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.


Groveland Oaks County Park, 5990 Grange Hall Road, northeast of Holly, 248-634-9811.


Monday, March 26, 2012

MHPVA annual meeting - March 10, 2012

RICK WIANECKI of Okemos, shown here climbing out, brought his homebuilt velomobile with electric assist to the MHPVA meeting. It has suspension on all three wheels, can go about 24 mph using only the motor (faster if Rick also is pedaling) and has a range (electric motor only) of about 20 miles. To see the entire design and building process, go to, then click on "HPV projects and research," the "fairing building projects," then "Rick Wianecki's velomobile project."

Article and photos by Mike Eliasohn

The Michigan Human Powered Vehicle Association annual meeting took place Saturday, March 10, 2012, in the Western Michigan University College of Engineering building, Room D-115, on the Parkview Campus in Kalamazoo. About 15 people attended. Seven HPVs were brought for show-and-tell.
All officers and board members were reelected, with one exception: 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, Don Smith, Chesterfield, and Bruce Gordon, Buchanan, who replaced Terry Gerweck of Monroe.

ALAN D' AUGUSTINE of Grosse Pointe Park showed his carbon fiber M5 (above) and titanium Easy Racer TI Rush. The M5, made in the Netherlands, weighs 23 pounds. The custom Zotefoam seat pad was made by Don Smith. The made-in-California Easy Racer, with carbon fiber fork, weighs a little over 24 pounds. (In addition to seat pads, Don modifies Rotor System cranks to reduce rotating drag and does other specialty work for HPVs. Contact him at

There was discussion about the Michigan HPV Rally. Due to the unavailability of the Waterford Hills track in June, our usual month, this year's rally, the 28th annual, will be May 19-20. The schedule of events likely will be the same or similar to last year. More information will be coming soon on the website and this blog.
The entry fee will remain the same as last year - $40 for both days, or $30 for one day, of which $10 will be for MHPVA membership dues. The one change is the test ride pass, which used to cost $5, will now be $10, which also will include MHPVA membership.
Mike Mowett reported there is one change in the Human Powered Race America classes for this year. "Streetliner" replaces the former "superstreet" class, with special provisions allowing velomobiles, defined as having three wheels, providing weather protection allowing the rider to commute in street clothes and the ability to carry at least three or more grocery bags. (Editor: The rules don't specify the bags - paper or plastic - have to be full of groceries, but perhaps that is presumed.) Two-wheelers s are allowed "any amount of fairing," which must have an open bottom so the rider can put his/her feet on the ground for starting and stopping.
All the HPRA rules, including full definitions of all the classes, can be seen at

TWO VIEWS of the Blue Velo Quest bought by Chris Evans of Flint last August. In the photo below, Dave Johnson is inside the Quest and talking to Chris. Don Smith modified the three-wheel suspension so there's now five settings, from "lockout" (no suspension) to ultra soft. Chris installed a stereo system. Blue Velo, in Toronto, Ontario, sells five velomobile models (

ROBERT ALWAY'S Lightfoot tricycle was too wide to come through the door, so for show-and-tell, he parked it outside, while some people looked through the window and others came outside. It's the second Lightfoot trike the Otsego resident has owned. As can be seen in the photo below, there's space for carrying lots of stuff. Lightfoot Cycles ( in Darby, Mont., makes five models of trikes, plus recumbent two- and four-wheelers and velomobiles.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

LaidBack Cyclist seeking subscribers


Sure, there's lots of information about human powered vehicles to be found on the Internet, but long-time HPV junkies like me fondly remember when we read about the latest creations and innovations on paper in publications that came in the mail.
The International Human Powered Vehicle Association published HPV News and Human Power on a regular basis, and there also was Recumbent Cyclist News, published five or six times a year.
But there's still one publication for HPV junkies, LaidBack Cyclist, published quarterly, and the British Human Power Club last year lowered the price and beefed up the content in an effort to attract more overseas subscribers.
The rate is 20 pounds, which as of this writing in early February was $31.63 U.S. and $31.70 Canadian. Subscriptions can be made with payment via PayPal. Go to The club's website is
I started subscribing after a visit to England in May 2011, which included a visit with BHPC Chairman Richard Ballantine, author of several books about HPVs, and well-known cycle designer, builder and writer Mike Burrows, who has the title of LaidBack Cyclist commissioning editor.
Since subscribing, I've received four issues, with from 28 to 64 pages (including covers).
Common to all issues are reports and photos of BHPC races, of which there are several each year.
But there's lots more. Issue No. 106 includes a 13-page report by two BHPC members about the World Human Powered Speed Challenge in September at Battle Mountain, Nev.
There also was part 3 of Miles Kingsbury's report on his building of Quattro, a velomobile with suspension on all four wheels, front-wheel-drive and four-wheel-steering. He rode it in the 3,100-mile Roll Over America ride for velomobiles in the summer of 2011 from Portland, Oregon, to Washington, D.C.
There's also cycle reviews, including the Munzo TT tilting tricycle from the Netherlands in issue No. 106, a Raptobike lowracer in issue No. 105 and an M5 Carbon High Racer in No. 103.
Of interest to homebuilders are the technical articles.
In issue No. 106, Dave Tigwell described how he builds front-wheel-drive forks. Issue No. 104 had an article, translated from Dutch, on building of wood velomobile, mostly from red cedar. In No. 103, Lee Wakefield described the building of his front-wheel-drive streamliner.
LaidBack Cyclist also is seeking articles from overseas. Issue No. 5 included an article by this writer on the 27th annual Michigan HPV Rally and the Human Powered Race America series.
The BHPC is primarily a racing organization, “formed by a group of people who wanted to race their fast but funny looking bikes and trikes more than once a year,” it says in “Who we are,” included in each LaidBack Cyclist issue. “...but we also have a social side. And individual members will organize touring rides and other non-competitive events.”