Thursday, October 10, 2013

Tour de Fat, Tempe, Ariz. - Oct. 5, 2013

Bikes, bikes and more bikes. It was a steady flow of two (and a few three-wheelers and at least one four-wheeler) into Tempe Beach Park for the Tour de Fat. Wearing of costumes by participants was encouraged. There even were some decorated bikes.

Words and photos by Mike Eliasohn

After my 20-minute visit to the Tour de Fat in Tempe, Ariz., in 2012 (see story below posted Oct. 13, 2012), for my annual family visit to Arizona this year, I decided to go on Friday, rather than my usual Saturday flight, so I could spend more time at the event, on Saturday, Oct. 5, and still have time for my "official" reason for visiting.
The Tempe event was the last of 12 Tours de Fat this year sponsored by employee-owned New Belgium Brewing as part of its marketing efforts. The first was May 11 in Atlanta, Ga., and the others were in Washington, D.C.; Durham N.C.; Nashville; Chicago; Minneapolis; Boise, Idaho; Fort Collins, Colo. (where New Belgium is based); Denver; San Francisco; and San Diego.
The "Fat" in Tour de Fat refers to fat-tired cruisers – one is pictured in New Belgium's logo – but any type of bike is welcome. Most were store-bought cruisers, but there also were some  some skinny-tired "fixies" (fixed gear single speed road bikes); discount store bikes; and homebuilt creations. I even saw two Brompton folding bikes (made in England and considered by some to be the ultimate folders). 
There certainly were at least a thousand bikes there, and maybe a couple thousand, so I didn't see everything in my approximately 90 minutes there.
Supposedly there was a parade starting at 11 a.m. and I got there shortly before 11.  I saw many bikes being ridden on blocked-off streets, but nothing resembling a parade.
Not being a beer drinker, I avoided the long line (or lines, I forget if there was more than one) for New Belgium's products. The official theme was "Beer, bikes & bemusement," so in addition to beer and bicycles, several music acts performed.
Proceeds from the event benefitted four Arizona bicycle organizations, though since admission was free for cyclists and spectators, and my impression was the beer samples were free, so I'm not sure where the "proceeds" came from.
ERIC KROGH of Mesa creates sculptures, furniture and paintings for a living and as a long-time cyclist, "I did this because I wanted to build a bike." He first drew it to scale, then made full-size drawings to use as a guide in bending the mild-steel tubing.  Coming up with the correct head angle for the BMX fork took planning – and some educated guessing. But it  came out right; coasting downhill at 35 mph, he said, "It's very stable." Krogh "finished" the bike two years ago, but didn't keep riding it. He got it back on the road for the Tour de Fat, so now plans to finish it. Still to come are a front deraileur mount, so he can use all 14 gears; capping open tube ends; mounting a headlight at the end of the "stalk" extending from the head tube; paint; and replacing the bicycle saddle with something more comfortable.
Parts for Eric Krogh's creation came from at least three bicycles. It has a 26-inch rear wheel and 20-inch in front. Another view of the bike can be seen on his website,

The rider of this stretch cruiser said he and a friend built it in four hours the day before the Tour de Fat.

Not sure if this was a homebuilt stretch cruiser, or manufactured. Regardless, with all the curves, a stylish machine.
An interesting four-wheeler. Again, not sure if it was homebuilt or bought from a manufacturer.

I'm not sure what this was, other than a bunch of weird, obviously homebuilt bikes, in a fenced-off corral, with two security guards at the gate. Later, and seemingly all at once, the bikes were being ridden, which wasn't necessarily easy on the grass. One interesting bike, second from right, was a side-by-side tandem upright two wheeler.
Action in the corral. Apparently on this bike, the rider doing the steering pedals in a normal manner, while the rider in the rear pedals "backwards."

Friday, August 23, 2013

Chris Evans wins Black Bear in record time

Dave Johnson (left), who won the Black Bear Bicycle Tour four times, finished second this year to Chris Evans, who won in a record time of 3:36.09 for the 102 miles. Both are standing behind Chris' carbon fiber Quest; Dave's Great White is behind them. Photo was taken after they finished.

Thanks to Tedd Wheeler for providing some of the information and to Donna Wheeler for taking the photo

Chris Evans, 45, of Flint, riding his carbon fiber Quest velomobile, "won" the Avita Water Black Bear Bicycle Tour July 28, 2013, finishing the 102 miles between Grayling and Oscoda in a record time of 3 hours, 36 minutes and 9 seconds.
Second fastest was David Johnson, 56, of Olivet in his Great White two-wheel streamliner, 3:43.25. It was the fifth time Dave has run the Black Bear and the first time he didn't win. He held the previous record of 3:37.39, set in 2004, which was the first year he participated.
Officially, there's no overall winner and no special award or trophy for being the fastest overall. Chris won the recumbent class and Dave finished second.  The only other rider in the recumbent class was Tedd Wheeler of Reed City, who rode his Alleweder velomobile, finishing in a time of 5:20.41.
Third fastest overall was Joshua Forsyth, 22, of Chesaning, who won the men's age 18-30 class in a time of 4:09.33 and fourth fastest was Rob Selley, 62, of Grand Blanc, who won the men's age 61-70 class only 2 seconds slower, 4:09:35. There were 267 riders.
Chris also rode his Quest in 2012, winning the recumbent class in 3:49.1. In prior years, he rode his NoCom low racer, but never was able break 4 hours.
Quest velomobiles are made in the Netherlands and by Bluevelo in Toronto, Ontario, which made Chris' vehicle. Dave's Great White streamliner was built many years ago by Rick Wianecki of Okemos.
Here's Chris' account of this year's Black Bear, from the Bentrideronline discussion group:
Yes, Dave and I stayed together all the way to McKinley which is roughly half way. I set the pace as requested by Dave. We were smoking past paceline after paceline like they were planted to the ground.
We both started at 8:25 a.m. The first riders in groups of 10 started at 8 a.m. We both passed everyone well before reaching Glennie. I started pulling away from Dave on the uphill grade leaving McKinley and continued to pull away at a speed of 27 mph until the grade flattened out again and it was back to a solid 30 mph until the downhill grade started, which ended up being a solid 43 mph until the first large climb, which I believe is "heartbreak hill." That hill was 6 mph all the way up.
Dave said he saw me cresting the hill when he was just getting to the climb. After that he didn't see me again. When I hit the final left turn onto River Road, the time was showing just over 3 hours elapsed time with a little over 15 miles to go. I cranked it up to 32 mph with some speed bursts of 34 mph and held it the entire way with exception of the downhill going by Old Orchard Campground, which was 52 mph top speed.
The distance traveled was 102.48 miles, with an elapsed time of 3:36:09. That is the fastest 100 miler I've ever done. There was a slight quartering tailwind of up to 10 mph later in the race, but I don't think enough to have made much of a difference. I'm chalking up the better time this year to a better rear tire selection, cooler temperatures, Osmo hydration and a combination of GNC drink mixes. I felt awesome during and after the ride..... not tired or whipped feeling at all.
The GPS showed an average speed of 28.45 mph.

You can read more at:

And here's Dave's account:

Start time 8:25 a.m. was nice that Chris and I both had the same start time. I hope future rides can have the same 8:25 a.m. start time.
I remember the first 50 miles going by quickly because I was just having fun riding behind Chris. On some downhills I would have to brake a little to keep from passing. Sometimes I would be eating or not be paying attention and he would begin to pull away until I pushed hard and caught up. 
Then outside McKinley I developed a leg cramp and had trouble pedaling. Going thru McKinley, a gap opened up that I could not close. From that point on I could only see specs of white on the long straightaways. My leg cramps continued to get worse whenever I had to pedal hard.
I've decided this is from not enough miles in Great White this year, only having done Calvin's, Waterford and several rides from the house. I have more miles on single bike and weekly spinning classes at the gym.
On the two large uphills my legs went into total spasm, but for some reason with both legs feeling like they would lock up and shut down, I was able to climb the hills, in pain, at a 6 mile per hour pace, same pace as other years. 
On the last stretch of River Road, I was only able to maintain about 26-28 mph. After seeing Chris topping the last major hill I knew he would finish really close to the course record. When I finished 5 minutes off the record and Chris was already in, I knew he had the new record. This was the fifth BB for me, finishing in 3:43:45, which is four seconds slower than the last time I did it in 2010. The first time I did it was in 2004, with a time of 3:37. Looking forward to next year...

Sunday, July 21, 2013

HPV races - Northbrook, Ill., July 13, 2013

THE START of the 100-lap race for streamliners at the velodrome in Northbrook. Sean Costin, event organizer and competitor in this race, said the 13 streamliners was the most ever. (Photos and captions by Mike Eliasohn.)

TODD REICHERT in a University of Toronto streamliner gets/give a high-five after winning the streamliner race by three laps over second place Warren Beauchamp of Elgin, Ill., and four laps over third place Sean Costin, of Arlington Heights, Ill. Todd averaged 36.6 mph for the 100 laps - 23.68 miles. (The track is 382 meters/.237 mile.)  In the rear, getting out of his vehicle, is Rick Gritters of Pella, Iowa, who finished sixth.  Dave Johnson of Olivet finished ninth.

Congratulations to Todd and Cameron Robertson of AeroVelo in Toronto for winning the $250,000 Sikorsky Prize for designing/building the first human-powered helicopter to maintain a height of at least 9.8 feet (3 meters) for at least 60 seconds, while the center of the craft stays within 33 square feet.  Todd was the pilot/powerplant on the successful flight on June 13, 2013. You can see the flight and read more at Todd and Cameron have both competed at Michigan HPV Rallies as part of the Univ. of Toronto team, members of which assisted with the helicopter project.

MHPVA President Mike Mowett of St. Clair Shores on his Morciglio M1 won the 50-lap race for unfaired vehicles at an average speed of 28.35 mph, finishing about three-fourths of a lap over Dennis Grelk of Donnellson, Iowa, with Todd Reichert third.  On Sunday at the velodrome in Kenosha, Mike won the 30-lap race for unfaired vehicles at average speed of 28.7 mph. Results of both days' races, plus photos and videos, can be seen at

Sixteen vehicles line up for the start of the 50-lap race for non-faired vehicles. In addition to Mike Mowett, the winner, other Michigan competitors were Brian Stevens of Grand Rapids, 7th, and Tedd Wheeler of Reed City, 9th. Brian also won the 10-lap tricycle race over two other competitors.

Back in 2010, when I (Mike E.) last attended the Northbrook HPV races, Todd Beary of Oswego, Ill., raced this recumbent (above photo) that he built on his apartment patio, when living in California, using a MAPP gas torch to do the brazing. In 2011, he added a fairing he made from corrugated plastic. Todd raced a different bike last year, then returned this year with the streamliner, but with a new front half that he got from Steve Spencer (left, below). It was the original fairing from Warren Beauchamp's Barracuda. Since Todd was looking through the nose, not over it, he added the windows. He noticed other streamliners had a more upright head tube angle, so he switched from the original 20-inch (451mm) rear wheel to a 700c rear wheel. The original 451 front-drive wheel remains. Unfortunately for Todd, during the streamliner race, a loose drive chain derailed twice when he had to brake hard. The result was 13th (last) place with only 50 laps completed. In the flying start 200-meters, his speed was 26.64 mph; in 2010, it was 26.31 mph.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Ken Stolpmann builds two interesting bikes

Ken Stolpmann of Charlevoix and his wood fixie Owen Bike.  My photos didn't do it justice, so the photo below comes from the site, which in turn got it from Ken. Do an internet search of his name and you'll find more photos, most taken before he added the wood handlebars and bottle cages.
 Words and photos by Mike Eliasohn

Ken Stolpmann of Charlevoix came for the first time to the Michigan HPV Rally in 2013 with two bikes he built himself – one a work of art and the other a work-in-progress.
The work of art was an upright wood bike; the work-in-progress was a carbon fiber low racer, which he raced at Waterford.
By profession, Stolpmann is a builder of wood boats, a trade he learned in his native New Zealand as an apprentice to Owen Woolley, hence the name Owen Bikes. (Ken's now former wife is from Michigan, which is how he ended up living here.)
“At the moment, it's a hobby I enjoy,” he said at the rally, though he exhibited this bike at the the North American Handmade Bicycle Show in Denver last February with the goal of creating and selling more bikes. He also showed it at the Detroit Bike City show at Cobo Hall in March.
The main beam of the bike (the dark wood) is mahogany around a honeycomb core; the seat beams and stays are hickory. The dropouts, head tube and seat post were machined from aluminum. The dropouts are glued and bolted to the frame.
He used mostly WEST SYSTEM expoxy (manufactured by Gougeon Brothers Inc. of Bay City) to glue the wood pieces together. The frame was finished with three coats of clear epoxy and then three coats of a clear automotive finish.
This was the second wood bike Stolpmann has built. “It was a fun bike to build,” he said. Despite it's “for show only” appearance, as of the rally, he had ridden it about 2,000 miles, using mostly the fixed gear side of the flip-flop hub. (Pull the wheel, turn it around and remount it and it's a single-speed freewheel.)
In addition to the wood frame, Stolpmann made the handlebars from Douglas fir and two water bottle cages from wood, which he is thinking of making and selling separately. They would make nice additions to some classic steel frame bikes.
He's also planning to make wood deep aero rims, which would lace to the hubs with conventional steel spokes, and four-spoke all wood wheels.
An article on the site quotes Stolpmann that having him build a similar wood bike ffor a customer would cost “around the $6,500 mark.”

Ken Stolpmann on his homebuilt carbon fiber low racer, waiting to begin the standing-start half-mile at the Michigan HPV Rally.

As for the carbon fiber low racer, he said, “I always wanted a recumbent. I built it to see if I could do it.”
He first started building a recumbent from wood, but it wasn't light enough, so he built the carbon fiber bike last winter.
Unfortunately, with its moving bottom bracket front-wheel-drive, handling was not what Stolpmann desired. Here's what he wrote in an e-mail to me (Mike E.) following the rally:
“The latest on the low racer. I had a lot of fun at the Waterford race and met a lot of interesting people with valuable input.
“I really went in the deep end learning to ride the bike during the one-hour time trial and crashed on the finish line. After talking to (recumbent builder) John Morciglio, I persevered with riding the bike, but had another good crash and lost a lot of skin and decided for a few reasons to not pursue the moving bottom bracket design.
“I want to be able to ride with just one hand if I so desire and be a bit more relaxed than what the current design allows. I talked to John Morciglio again and decided to sell the front subframe and build a more conventional low racer.
“At this stage I haven't touched the bike since Waterford as I have been working almost without a break since the start of summer. The plan is to cut the frame off behind the steering head and build a boom much like John's M1.”
Stolpmann can be contacted at or

Due to his experiences at the Michigan HPV Rally with the moving bottom bracket, Ken has given up on the design. He's planning to rebuild the bike by cutting off the frame behind the steering head and replacing it with a boom and stationary bottom bracket. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

29th annual Michigan HPV Rally

SEAN COSTIN completed the fairing last year, which fits over the NoCom carbon fiber low racer he raced previously. The forward holes provide clearance for his knees; one knee can be seen protruding in the above photo. The chainring that can be seen in the photo below is 104 teeth, which is "way too big a gear," Sean said.

Words and photos by Mike Eliasohn

The 29th annual Michigan HPV Rally May 18-19 attracted 38 riders and 29 vehicles (if my counting is correct) to the Waterford Hills sports car racing track in Clarkston.
Of those, five vehicles and seven riders came from the University of Toronto – back for the fourth straight year – and three vehicles and riders from “Team Kowalik.”
THE KOWALIK KIDS line up for the start of the 25-lap road race on Sunday morning. From left are Genevieve, 8 (held by Sean Costin), Cecilia, 10, and Florian, 14 (both held by their father, Fran). 

Fran Kowalik from Deerfield, Ill., brought three of his kids, who composed the entire junior class. Genevieve, 8, probably our youngest competitor ever, was riding a vintage upright Gitane 3-speed; Cecilia, 10, was on an Earth Cycles Sunset low racer; and Florian, 14, was on an M5 low racer.
DOUG GROSSJEAN, who does not own a car, pedaled his Lightning F40 from his home in Dearborn 35 miles to the track on Friday, camped overnight, competed Saturday and then pedaled home. 

As usual, the stock class drew the most entries, 13. The top three were Dennis Grelk, Donnellson, Iowa, on his homebuilt low racer, 330 points; 2) Warren Beauchamp, Elgin, Ill., NoCom low racer, 317; and 3) newcomer Eric Winn, Brighton, on his front-wheel drive, front-wheels steering (moving bottom bracket) Cruzbike Vendetta, 274.

ERIC WINN of Brighton competed for the first time at the Michigan HPV Rally with his new CruzBike Vendetta and finished third in the stock class.

The top three in the remaining classes were:
Streamliners (7 vehicles)– 1) Dennis Grelk, Barracuda (built by Warren Beauchamp), 304 points; 2) Cameron Robertson, U-T Vortex, 285; and 3) Dan Glatch, Franklin, Wis., Milwaukee Flyer (built by Wimpe van der Merwe of South Africa, who brought it to the U.S. in 1993), 220.
Streetliner (4) – 1) Rich Myers, Xenia, Ohio, "Chiquita Banana" (it's yellow), 335; 2) Bob Krezewinski, Ypsilanti, F40, 170; and 3) newcomer Doug Grossjean, 165. Doug, who doesn't own a car, rode his F40 35 miles from Dearborn on Friday, camped overnight at the track, and then pedaled it home Saturday afternoon, The 35 miles Friday took him about two hours. Bob K. also competed only on Saturday. Mention should also be made of fourth place finisher Andrew Gierz, who brought the Ferris State University HPV team's enclosed tricycle, which competed a few weeks earlier in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers student HPV competition, which Ferris hosted. (See article below). He also only competed on Saturday, and left with 140 points.
Women – Dora Cortez of Chicago, on her Rick Gritters-built low racer, was the only competitor, 300 points.
Tricycles (7 vehicles) – 1) Brian Stevens, Grand Rapids, Catrike 700; 330; 2) Jeff Hunn, North Manchester, Ind., Black Max leaning trike built by Tim Hicks of Barrie, Ont., 315 points, and 3) Dennis Grelk on his front-wheel-drive low racer, fitted with his tilting two-wheels-in-the-rear conversion, 295.
Junior – 1) Cecilia Kowalik, 340; 2) Genevieve Kowaki, 310; and 3) Florian Kowalik, who experienced two flat tires during the competition, 290.
Tandem – Three teams competed, all married couples: 1) Chris and Dora Cortez, Chicago, on an upright Cannondale, 360; 2) Tedd and Donna Wheeler, Reed City, BikeE E2 they bought from Bruce Gordon, 320; and 3) Bruce and Linda Gordon, Organic Engines Troika tricycle, 310.
CHRIS AND DORA CORTEZ from Chicago, shown here getting underway in the standing start half-mile on Saturday won the tandem class over two other married couples. Chris also competed in the stock and tricycle classes and Dora was the lone entrant in the women's class.

There was no urban transportation contest this year because Paul Pancella, who runs it, was unable to attend.
Following are the top two in each class in each event. Complete results are available at, then click on "racing results and pictures."


One-hour time trial: Streamliner – 1) Dennis Grelk, 23 laps at average speed of 31.56 mph; 2) Dave Johnson, Olivet, Great White, 20 laps at 27.24 mph. Streetliner – 1) Doug Grossjean, 16 laps at 21.27 mph; 2) Bob Krezewinski , 15 laps at 20.21 mph. Stock – 1) Warren Beauchamp, 18 laps at 25.12 mph; 2) Dennis Grelk, 18 laps at 23.80 mph. Women – 1) Dora Cortez, 11 laps at 13.85 mph. Tricycle – Jeff Hunn, 15 laps at 19.85 mph; 2) Brian Stevens, 13 laps at 17.90 mph. Junior – 1) Florian Kowalik, 15 laps at 20.301 mph; 2) Cecilia Kowalik, 11 laps at 14.92 mph. Tandem – 1) Chris and Dora Cortez, 13 laps at 16.71 mph; 2) Tedd and Donna Wheeler, 11 laps at 14.95 mph.

DENNIS GRELK of Donnellson, Iowa, won the streamliner class in his Barracuda, built many years ago by Warren Beauchamp. He also won the stock class on the low racer he built and, fitted with his two-wheels-in-the-rear conversion, finished third in the tricycle class.

Hill climb: Streamliner – 1) Cameron Robertson, 25.06 sec., 2) Alfie Tham, Univ. of Toronto Celero tricycle, 25.68 sec. Streetliner – 1) Bob Krezewinski, 24.81 sec., 2) Doug Grossjean, 27.46 sec. Stock – 1) Warren Beauchamp, 21.89 sec. 2) Jim Iwaskow, Richmond Hill, Ont., Challenge Jester, 23.50 sec. Women – 1) Dora Cortez, 33.59 sec. Tricycle – 1) Brian Stevens, 24.31 sec., 2) Dennis Grelk, 26.59 sec. Junior – 1) Florian Kowalik, 21.87 sec. (quickest time of all competitors), 2) Cecelia Kowalik, 37.12 sec. Tandem – 1) Chris and Dora Cortez, 29.72 sec., 2) Bruce and Linda Gordon, 35.72 sec.

DAN GLATCH of Franklin, Wis., finished third in the streamliner class in the Milwaukee Flyer. The front-wheel-driver liner was built by Wimpe van der Merwe of South Africa, who brought it to the U.S. in 1993 to compete in the International Human Powered Speed Championships.

Coast down (combined with the hill climb; when riders reach the top of the hill, they stop pedaling and then coast): Streamliners – 1) Cameron Robertson, 2) Sean Costin, Arlington Heights, Ill., The Swift. Streetliner – 1) Rich Myers, 2) Bob Krezewinki. Stock – 1) Dennis Grelk, 2) Warren Beauchamp. Women – 1) Dora Cortez. Tricycle – 1) Dennis Grelk, 2) Brian Stevens. Junior – 1) Florian Kowalik, 2) Cecilia Kowalik. Tandem – 1) Chris and Dora Cortez, 2) Bruce and Linda Gordon.
Standing start half-mile time trial: Streamliner – 1) Cameron Robertson, 1:01.5 min., 2) Trefor Evans, Unv. of Toronto Vortex, 1:07.3 min. Streetliner – 1) Rich Myers (only competitor), 1:26.4 min. Stock – 1) Mike Mowett, St. Clair Shores, Morciglio M1 low racer, 1:07.2 min., 2) Dennis Grelk, 1:10.4 min. Women – 1) Dora Cortez, 1:28.5 min. Tricycle – 1) Dennis Grelk, 1:15.7 min.; 2) Jeff Hunn, 1:21.0 min. Junior – 1) Cecelia Kowalik, 1:39.4 min., 2) Genevieve Kowalki, 2:02.1 min. Tandem – Chris and Dora Cortez, 1:29.7 min., 2) Tedd and Donna Wheeler, 1:40.3 min.

FIVE UNIVERSITY of TORONTO students took turns racing their sleek new Celero trike during the weekend.  Interior view, showing the monocoque construction, is below.


200 foot sprints: Streamliner – 1) Trefor Evans, Univ. of Toronto Vortex, 46.97 mph; 2) Cameron Robertson, Vortex, 46.46 mph. Streetliner – 1) Rich Myers (only competitor), 32.94 mph. Stock – 1) Mike Mowett, 39.73 mph; 2) Dennis Grelk, 33.37 mph. Women – 1) Dora Cortez, 28.46 mph. Tricycle – 1) Dennis Grelk, 31.92 mph, 2) Brian Stevens, 31.12 mph. Junior – 1) Florian Kowalik, 33.50 mph; 2) Cecelia Kowalik, 20.48 mph. Tandem – 1) Chris and Dora Cortez, 27.83 mph, 2) Tedd and Donna Wheeler, 27.19 mph.
Tricycle race: After the sprints and before the start of the road races, the four tricyclists conducted their own race in the parking/pit area. Times were not recorded, only finishing order: 1) Dennis Grelk, 2) Brian Stevens, 3) Jeff Hunn, 4) Chris Cortez.
25-lap road races (two races were conducted around the .431 mile course, which did not include the hill): Streamliner – 1) Dennis Grelk, 24.41 min., 26.19 mph average speed, 2) Sean Costin, 24.85 mph. Streetliner – 1) Rich Myers , 19.86 mph. Stock – 1) Dennis Grelk, 24.91 mph, 2) Mike Mowett, 24.57 mph. Women – no competitors. Tricycle – 1) Trefor Evans, 23.99 mph, 2) Jeff Hunn, 19.90 mph. Junior – 1) Cecilia Kowalik, 14.80 mph, 2) Genevieve Kowalik, 13.81 mph. Tandem – Chris and Dora Cortez, 16.56 mph, 2) Tedd and Donna Wheeler, 14.88 mph.
JEFF HUNN, waiting for the start of the standing-start half-mile, raced a Black Max front-wheel drive leaning tricycle built by Tim Hicks of Barrie, Ont. Jeff, from North Manchester, Ind., finished second in the tricycle class. The leaning mechanism is show below. For more on Black Max and other HPVs built by Tim, go to

TEDD and DONNA WHEELER of Reed City finished second in the tandem class on their BikeE E2 they bought from Bruce Gordon. Tedd also competed in the stock class on his Rick Gritters-built low racer, finishing ninth.

BRUCE and LINDA GORDON of Buchanan finished third in the tandem class on their Organic Engines Troika trike.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Student HPV competition at Ferris State

The Ferris State University HPV team poses with its entry in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers eastern region competition, which Ferris State hosted for the first time. This was the fifth year the university has entered; with all of its vehicles being tricycles. (Ferris State Univ. photo)

Words and photos (except one) by Mike Eliasohn 

Twenty-five college and university HPV teams were in Big Rapids April 26-28, competing in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers eastern region student Human Powered Vehicle Challenge, hosted by the Ferris State University College of Engineering Technology.
      Teams came from as far as Florida, Missouri and New Hampshire.
      The Ferris State entry, a fully faired recumbent tricycle, was the only one from Michigan. 

In the ASME competition, vehicles have to accommodate various size riders, male and female. Ferris State's solution for quick rider changes was a bottom bracket that could be pivoted back and forth, made possible by having the chain go from the single chainring to an idler/pivot point beneath. (The low-tech method some teams used was easily removable seat padding; the shorter the rider, the thicker the pad.)

    There were 31 teams entered, but five no-shows, one of them being a senior engineering project from Calvin College in Grand Rapids. Other no-shows, according to Mark Archibald, chairman of  HPV competition for the ASME, included a team from Cairo University in Egypt, who couldn't get their visas in time, and one from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., which lost its funding due to the federal budget sequester. 
       Vehicles were scored in four  areas:  Design, speed event, innovation (new this year) and the 2.5 hour endurance race.

The entry from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Ind., shown here during the speed event, finished first overall. On the handlebars are a control to lower the left side landing gear, turn signals, horn and headlight switch. The wheel, which has an anti-lock brake, bolts directly to the fairing, not to a separate frame.

Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla finished second at Big Rapids. Its entry is shown here during the speed event.

The University of Toronto tricycle finished third.  It and the team and four other vehicles were back in the state May 18-19 for the Michigan HPV Rally.

      “Design” factors, with most of the score based on written reports submitted a month prior to the competition, included the overall design, analysis, testing, safety and aesthetics.
      The speed event on Saturday morning took place at Roben-Hood Airport, north of Big Rapids, with vehicles racing side-by-side 400 meters down a runway, from a standing start.        Each team had to compete with a male and female rider, with separate scoring for each.     Placings were determined on a double elimination basis, after an initial qualification run. That is, a team had to lose twice to be eliminated.
      Innovation judging took place Saturday afternoon at the airport. Each team had to show/demonstrate/explain their vehicle in front of  a panel of five judges, who evaluated capability, innovation and effectiveness and also could add to the score at their own discretion.

During the innovation judging, the team from the University of Florida in Gainesville demonstrates their InstaGator, all of which can be transported in the blue case. (The 18-inch wheels will fit inside, with the rest of the disassembled bike, but spokes might get bent, so the wheels were carried separately.)
When finished, the result is this front-wheel-drive recumbent, with rear-wheel steering (and two outrigger wheels). Holding everything together are eight torque couplings, two of which are necessary to hold the ASME-required rollbar. "A lot of our fun is trying new designs," said team member Daniel Ross of Merritt Island, Fla. The InstaGator earned second place in the innovation judging and ninth overall.

Each of the InstaGator's custom designed and machined couplings weighs 2.3 pounds. The frame is made from 1.5 inch .065 inch wall 4130 chromoly tubing. Fourteen U-F team team members made the 22-hour drive from Gainesville.

      The Sunday morning endurance event took place on a approximately 1.8 km course on the Ferris State campus. The course included a slalom zone, a hairpin turn and a mandatory stop sign. Changing riders was mandatory and at least one of the riders had to be female. They also had to stop five times during the race to pick up groceries.
     When the competition was over, Rose-Human Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Ind., was first, with 87.24 points.  Second was the Missouri Institute of Science and Technology in Rolla, 79.35. Third was the University of Toronto with its new streamlined tricycle, 69.52; fourth, Kansas State University in Manhattan, 68.60, and fifth, Ohio Northern University in Ada, 67.85.
      Ferris State, in its fifth year of competing, finished sixth with 66.30 points – fifth in design (73.1 points); fifth in innovation (19.1); 9th in the speed events (43.51), and 12th in the endurance race, with 23 laps completed. The University of Toronto tricycle finished first in that event with 33 laps.

Students from Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering in Needham, Mass., work on their vehicle April 27 at the airport.A goal in its design and construction was to save weight over Olin's previous vehicle, which weighed 70 pounds; the new one is 15 pounds lighter. Olin is an engineering-only college that started in the fall of 2002. It has about 350 students.

      The event at Ferris State marks 30 years that the ASME has sponsored student human powered vehicle competitions. The west region event this year was held at San Jose State University in California. There also was a Latin America competition at Universidad Simon Bolivar in Venezuela.  And starting later this year will be the first such competition in India.
     With perhaps 200+ student engineers competing at Ferris State, what's in it for them?  After all, the bicycle manufacturing industry employs relatively few engineers compared to many other industries, so presumably few, if any, will end up designing bicycles for a living. (Though I did talk in Big Rapids to the mother of University of Florida co-ed who was doing an internship at Specialized in California, which makes bicycles, equipment and rider gear. But she wasn't necessarily designing bicycles.

The University of Central Florida entry was the only one not using some form of rotary drive. The linear drive "pedals" move in unison, pulling on the non-continous belt, which makes the pulley go round. A chainring on the other side of the pulley drives a 3-speed hub, which runs to the 9-speed cassette on the rear drive wheel. This was the first year UCF has entered the ASME competition. For the five students on the team, it was a 1,300-mile drive from Orlando to Big Rapids.
    “Most employers seeing  any project like this see it very favorably,”
said Archibald, the ASME HPV competition chairman and a  professor of mechanical engineering at Grove City (Pa.) College, which had an entry in the competition. He said an ASME study showed the trait most important to employers is being able to work with others. The HPV competition obviously requires team members to work with fellow students to design and  build and then compete with their HPVs. 
     He said employers also like to see hands-on experience by prospective employees, which the HPV competition demonstrates.
     The ASME rules require participants to be engineering students, but they don't have to be studying mechanical engineering. Riders have to have been involved in the design or building of the bike. The purpose, Archibald explained, is to prevent a team from using riders who are studying non-engineering topics, who happen to also be bicycle racers.

The City College of New York entry had a carbon fiber frame, front wheel drive and rear wheel supported on one side only. There also was front fairing. Minus the fairings, it weighed 42 pounds.

      The HPVs competing showed a wide range, from very sophisticated to simple, reflecting how long the schools have been building HPVs and competing and budgets. Some vehicles were built of carbon fiber and others from rectangular steel tubing; some had full fairings and others, no streamlining at all.
      Each team also had to decide what approach to use – designing something they know will work or trying the experimental. For instance, the linear drive tricycle from the University of Central Florida in Orlando was the only entry not using conventional rotary drive. 
      “To be different,” UCF team member Jeremy Porta of Titusville replied when asked why they chose linear drive, And secondly, linear drive has a theoretical advantage over rotary drive, since it eliminates top- and bottom-dead-center. That is, with linear and lever drive, one foot is always pushing down, while the other is pulling up (if clipless pedals or toe clips are being used).
      However, with the UCF entry, both feet push down or pull up at the same time, rather than alternating.
The College of New Jersey (in Ewing) entry featured push-pull lever steering. The drive system consisted of triple chainrings in the front, a crossover drive and 8-speed internal hub as the final drive. The fairing consisted of inner and outer layers of fiberglass, with an 1/8th foam layer in-between.

    Although all the entries were recumbents, I found it interesting that the bikes I saw students riding when not competing were all conventional uprights.
In a follow-up e-mail, after reviewing a draft copy of this article, Archibald wrote:
"For your interest, we have had upright bikes compete, including a bamboo frame and some very nice carbon frames. In general, the uprights do well, but they are just not fast enough to win the races. I have seen some exciting drag races between the recumbents and uprights. Our length of 400 meters is long enough that the improved aerodynamics makes the difference, and the faired recumbents win in the end.
In addition to the schools already mentioned, also competing were Union College, Schenectady, N.Y.; Daniel Webster College, Webster, N.Y.; Central Piedmont Community College, Charlotte, N.C.; University of Missouri - Kansas City; University of Wisconsin - Madison; Mississippi State University; SOuthern Illinois University - Edwardsville; University of Southern Indiana; Virginia Tech; University of Kansas; West Virginia University; University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee; Ohio Northern University; and Southern Polytechnic State University, Marietta, Ga.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

MHPVA annual meeting - March 2, 2013


TERRY GERWECK of Monroe shows his recently completed 20-inch wheel stretch cruiser at the MHPVA annual meeting. Terry is a co-founder of the organization.

By Paul Pancella, secretary

The recording secretary (me) did not arrive in time for the tour of the MSU Bikes shop, which was given by our host, Tim Potter, starting around 12:30.  I caught up with the group in a small conference room in the MSU Surplus Store and Recycling Center on the south part of campus around 1 p.m..
Tim Potter was finishing his description of what services are available at the  Surplus Store and Recycling Center.  This was followed by everyone present introducing themselves, at the invitation of our president, Mike Mowett.
Dave Johnson of Olivet has made a good recovery from hip replacement surgery.  He filled us in on the continued success of his family business, Too Cool T-shirt Quilts, which has even allowed him to do some traveling for business (bringing bikes along, of course).  Rick Wianecki brought pictures of a cedar-stripped fairing project he helped design, which was very impressive.
At 1:25  Rich Moeller, League of Michigan Bicyclists executive director, arrived.  His main theme was that LMB is slowly having success increasing the clout of the bicycling community with the state government in Lansing.  There has been some progress on legislation to allow a right turn to be signaled with the right arm, to protect cyclists as vulnerable road users similar to the way highway workers are protected, and to proceed through intersections legally when they are controlled by sensors which fail to register the presence of a cycle.  LMB is constantly working with law enforcement organizations to make sure officers on the street are aware of the rights of cyclists.  A new ‘Share the Road’ campaign is about to kick off.
The LMB annual meeting will take place on May 22 in Lansing and will again be combined with Advocacy Day, when members will be able to lobby their own representatives at the capitol.
Rich stayed for about 15 minutes of questions and discussion with the members present, much of which focused on “rumble strips”.  He can always be reached by email at  Anyone who does not already get the monthly e-mail alerts can request them by contacting 
Treasurer Bill Frey distributed his report of financial activity for the 2012 calendar year.  Once again, his stewardship has kept our association financially sound.  The small negative net change in our general fund can be traced to an advanced payment in support of the transponder system, and our reserve is sufficient to survive more than a year of operations with no income.
Copies of the report on last year’s winter meeting were distributed and approved as the minutes.
In general discussion of the scheduling for the 29th annual Michigan HPV Rally, May 18-19,  members present expressed preference for a weekend in May rather than June, acknowledging, of course, the constraints  due to other users of the tracky.
A proposal to add a separate event for arm-powered vehicles got a lot of discussion.  There was some uncertainty about whether enough competitors would actually show up for such an event.  The general recommendation was that race directors could be flexible on this point, offering competitors the choice to participate in our regular events and/or stage a separate event around lunch time on Saturday.
We did take a vote on replacing the kilometer time trial of recent years with a 1/8th mile drag race in the afternoon, which was approved.  The proposal was not for pairwise elimination heats for the whole field, but that everyone get a single run for  time, then if time permits, pair  the top four in two elimination rounds at the end.
President Mowett will look into having a steak fry at the lodge on Saturday evening.  Members were also supportive of having the concession facility open during the weekend.
Saturday May 18, 2013 Events (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
One-hour time trial  (two runs)
Hill climb / coast down 
Urban transportation contest,  if there is sufficient interest
HAND CYCLE  RACE (new event, depending on participation
1/8 MILE DRAG RACE (new event)  on back straightaway going opposite direction
Dinner at lodge or at local restaurant to be determined
200-Foot Speed Sprints (start on top the hill)
25-Lap Road Races (use last year’s new course: no passing through the wall as in previous years, no hill, a lap is about .43 mile, so 10.7 mile race, have two races)
Tricycle race (also depending on the number of competitors)

The following slate was offered and elected by unanimous consent:
President: Mike Mowett, St. Clair Shores
Vice-president: Mike Eliasohn, St. Joseph
Secretary: Paul Pancella, Kalamazoo
Treasurer: Bill Frey, Grosse Pointe Farms
At large: Rick Wianecki, Okemos, and Bruce Gordon, Buchanan.

In addition, members expressed appreciation and encouragement for two important volunteer positions, Blog editor Mike Eliasohn and webmaster Bob Krzewinski, hoping both will continue their good work for the Association.  
We then heard a brief report about the recent HPRA event in Florida.  Mike Mowett won.  That was followed by discussion on the aging transponder system, but no action was taken.  President Mowett presented an overview of recumbent cycling events in the Great Lakes area, which was distributed with the agenda.  A brief, informal show-and-tell session started at about 3:40, with Terry Gerweck showing his homebuilt stretch cruiser and Mike Mowett showing his John Morciglio-built low racer.

Meeting adjourned at 4 p.m.

Monday, April 8, 2013

29th Michigan HPV Rally - May 18-19, 2013

The 29th annual Michigan Human Powered Vehicle Rally will be Saturday and Sunday, May 18-19, 2013, 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, tandems and handcycles. 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 a mirror or 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. 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.
1/8th mile drag races (all classes) - 3-4 p.m.
Urban transportation contest - in afternoon (cancelled due to event coordinator Paul Pancella being unable to attend rally)
Dinner at nearby restaurant - 6 p.m.


200-Foot Sprints (all classes, flying start) - 8:30-9:30 a.m.
Tricycle race - 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)

Concession stand will be open for lunch both days and possibly Sunday breakfast.
Location: Oakland County Sportsmen's Club: 4770 Waterford Road, Clarkston, MI 48346. For a 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.

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, 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. 


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


Detroit Sportsmen's Congress Campground, 10150 E. Oakwood Road, Oxford, 248-628-3859, e-mail,