Thursday, September 28, 2017

Iowa HPV races - Sept. 16-17, 2017

Words and photos by Mike Eliasohn

Dennis Grelk has been conducting HPV races at Hawkdown Downs Speedway in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, every year since 2006. 
That also apparently is the first year he raced at the Michigan HPV Rally. He's made the long drive every year since from Donnellson, Iowa, to Waterford Hills, first with his parents and then with his wife.
For too long, I (Mike) have been saying, "One of these years I should go to Cedar Rapids," and then finding excuses not to.  This year, I ignored everything else I could have/should have done and at 6:15 on Saturday morning, Sept. 16, I was on the road.  334.5 miles later, I arrived at the speedway about noon Iowa time (1 p.m. in Michigan), in time for the start of the first race.
There were at most 20 HPVs racing, but I quickly noticed that most of them were homebuilt, though not necessarily raced by the builder, as opposed to manufactured.
Many of the homebuilts have been seen at the Michigan HPV Rally, so for this report, I'm focusing on the ones I hadn't seen. 
Among those in the "previously seen" category were Dan and Amanda Zolyniak, who made the long drive from Toronto, Ontario – about 1,200km (746 miles), Amanda said.  Amanda raced the carbon fiber low-racer she and her husband built, while Dan was in the streamliner they also built.
Hawkeye Downs consists of a quarter-mile oval inside a half-mile oval, with the front strraightaway serving both tracks.  Some of the HPV events used both ovals, with vehicles making a sharp turn off the big oval onto the quarter-mile track and another sharp turn back onto the half-mile.
Wanting to get an early start back to St. Joseph, Mich., I skipped the Sunday events.
My one regret is that, instead of doing it all in a weekend, I didn't take an extra day or two to do some sightseeing along the way to or from Cedar Rapids.  Maybe next year.

       Results of some events at Hawkeye Downs can be seen at, then click on "2017 results."

The South Dakota State University HPV racing team came from Brookings with two vehicles, faculty adviser Greg Michna, six students and one alumnus. They've competed in American Society of Mechanical Engineers competitions for three years, but this was their first time at Cedar Rapids.  Students took turns racing this streamliner – the fairing is carbon fiber – and an unfaired trike.  

Here's the SDSU unfaired trike. With the streamliner, the Jackrabbits were the only college to compete this year in the ASME western states competition March 17-20 in Las Vegas, where they finished third overall and eastern states competition April 21-23 in Cookeville, Tenn., where they finished second. A new vehicle will be designed and built for 2018.

(To read more about the team, go to, then under "University News" on the home page, find the article dated April 27, 2017, "Fast Wheels/SDSU engineering students pedal to victory.")

David Sommerfeld of Orange City, Iowa, designed and built his bike with inspiration from a Cruzbike. He used the same head tube angle to achieve proper handling, but designed the rest of the bike himself using CAD (computer aided design).  "It's designed to fit me," that is, neither the seat or bottom bracket position is adjustable to fit various size riders. The frame is made of 4130 aircraft grade chromoly.  David even made the rear triangle.  Wheels are 700c.  Weight is about 26 pounds.

David started construction of the YellowJacket in April, rode it for the first time June 2 and as of Sept. 16, had ridden it about 1,500 miles – including RAGBRAI (402.7 miles), the annual seven-day cross Iowa ride in July. At Cedar Rapids, he finished second in the one-hour race for unfaired vehicles, at an average speed of 23.133 mph, and second in the "big horseshoe" race for unfaired vehicles.  This was the 13th HPV he's built, including ones he built and then radically altered.  (Scroll down to the bottom of this article to see another of David's creations.)

Three low-racers built by Rick Gritters of Pella, Iowa.  The red one is his latest and the one he raced.  He also raced his streamliner, with the fairing made of aircraft fabric over a tubing framework.

Aaron Stiles, who lives near Waterloo, Iowa, built this partially-faired/superstock bike in the early 2000s and has raced previously at Hawkeye Downs and ridden it in RAGBRAI.  The frame tubing is mostly stainless steel; the fairing is made of corrugated plastic, plus tape.  The rear wheel is 650c; front is 20-inch.

In addition to this low racer, Aaron also has built other recumbents, upright bikes for racing time trials, propellors for human-powered boats and fiberglass boats.

Bruce Gordon (above) of Buchanan, on his TerraTrike Zoomer, and Tedd Wheeler of Reed City, on his Rick Gritters-built low racer were the only Michiganians competing at Hawkeye Downs.

Entrants line up for the start of the 1-hour race for unfaired vehicles, on Saturday afternoon.  Event organizer Dennis Grelk of Donnellson, Iowa, on a bike he built, is on the front row, second from left.  He won, riding 58 laps at an average speed of 27.061 mph.

Lining up Saturday for the start of the 25-lap race on the half-mile oval for faired vehicles. Dennis Grelk, second from left in his Warren Beauchamp-built Barracuda, did the 12.5 miles in a time of 20:09.311, at an average speed of 34.979 mph.

What do HPVers do when they're not racing?  Stand around or sit and talk about HPVs, of course.  The bike is one of Rick Gritters' low racers.

David Sommerfeld's low racer

During our conversation at Hawkeye Downs, David mentioned that among the other bikes he has built is a low racer.  At my request, he sent me photos and a description.

The lowracer is a fairly conventional design.The main chassis is carbon fiber tape wrapped around a pink insulation foam core. It rides on a 700c rear, and 20" front wheel. The rear wheel is driven by 13 feet of chain, which runs over four idlers (two on the drive side and two on the return side), with a 60 tooth chainring providing the gearing.
I would have raced it at Hawkeye Downs, but the lowracer has a front brake only, rather than the two brakes required by HPRA rules. The front end is still a bit flexible, too. (I suspect the YellowJacket with wheel covers would have been faster, anyway.)

Note:  The Michigan Human Powered Vehicle Association was formed in July 1984 and officially came to an end Sept. 30, 2016, due to a lack of active members willing to run the organization. However, for the foreseeable future, the Michigan Human Powered Vehicle Rally will continue (the 2018 rally will be the 34th annual), as will this blog, website ( and Facebook page (
Articles for this blog are always welcome and needed.  E-mail me at             Mike Eliasohn, editor

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

33rd Michigan HPV Rally - June 24-25, 2017

Complete results can be seen at
Many more photos can be seen at, the blog of Jun Nogami, faculty adviser to the University of Toronto HPV team.  Scroll down to entries for June 23, 24 and 25.
Photos by Rob Lloyd are at

Mark and Sally Archibald, riding a tandem that Mark built,  were the only competitors in the multi-rider class, but still competed in all the events for HPRA points, plus the urban transportation contest.   Mark is a professor of mechanical engineering at Grove City College and adviser to its HPV team.

Text and photos by Mike Eliasohn

The 33rd annual Michigan Human Powered Vehicle Rally June 24-25– the 30th at the Waterford Hills sports car racing track in Clarkston – drew a big turnout, despite several regulars being absent.
    There were 40 competitors, coming from as far as Massachusetts, Tennessee and Iowa, as well as Michigan and nearby states, plus Ontario.
First-time competitor Mike Denninger drove about 810 miles from Bedford, Mass., which Ishtey Amminger and his father, Peter, drove slightly farther, from Memphis, Tenn. And since Ishtey is 14, Peter did the driving.
The youngest (and first-time) competitor was Conor Moorhead, 11, of Terre Haute, Ind., while the oldest was long-time competitor Rich Myers, 80, of Xenia, Ohio.
The University of Toronto was back for the eighth year with 10 riders, four streamliners (one of them a “camera bike” they only brought for testing) and two manufactured low-racers.

Lining up for the Sunday morning road race. The front row consists of Ted Peer, Ankeny, Iowa, DF velomobile; Dennis Grelk, Donnellson, Iowa, Barracuda streamliner, and Michael and Linnae Hinterseher, Farmington Hills, in a Milan SL and four-wheel Quattro Velo respectively.  

Grove City College, from Grove City, Pa., was at the rally for the first time, with eight people – four students, two recent graduates and HPV team adviser and professor of mechanical engineering Mark Archibald and his wife, Sally. Two students competed on student-built bikes; one recent grad competed on his own (upright) bikes; and the Archibalds competed on the tandem Mark built several years ago.
Mark said GCC has had an HPV team for “probably” 12 years. “We built a few bikes before we raced anywhere,” at American Society of Mechanical Engineers HPV competitions and elsewhere.

Michael Moorhead, riding a Performer, and son Conor, on a Motobecane Mirage, came from Terre Haute, Ind. At 11, Conor was the youngest competitor.  Michael is an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and adviser to its HPV team, which won the American Society of Mechanical Engineers HPV competition in April with a leaning tricycle.  With students doing summer internships all over, it's difficult to get them together to participate at the Michigan HPV Rally or other events, he said.

Tedd and Donna Wheeler of Reed City organized and ran the rally for the first time. Other helpers included Bruce Gordon of Buchanan, who handled the online registration, ran the timing equipment and compiled and posted the results and Terry Gerweck of Monroe, who did the technical inspections and other tasks. Some of the Grove City College and University of Toronto students also helped. (Apologies to any other helpers we missed.)
Following are the top three competitors in each class:
Streamliners (7 entries) – 1), Dan Zolyniak, Toronto, Ont.,340 points; 2) Dennis Grelk, Donnellson, Iowa, 335; 3) John Simon, Portland, 260.
Streetliner (3 entries, all velomobiles) – 1) Michael Hinterseher, Farmington Hills, Milan SL velomobile; 2) Ted Peer, Ankeny, Iowa, DF velomobile, ; 3) Linnae Hinterseher, Farmington Hills, Quattro Velo.
Stock (18 entries) – 1) Dennis Grelk, homebuilt low racer, 340; 2) Ron Wyatt, Venetia, Pa., Lightning R84, 283; Samuel Mills, Tyrone, Pa., Specialized, 266.
Women (4 entries) – 1) Amanda Zolyniak, Toronto, homebuilt Raptor low racer, 180; 2) Amanda Bolen, Grove City College, 160; 3) Laura Reiner, GCC, 145.
Tricycles (4 entries) – 1) Bruce Gordon, Buchanan, Greenspeed SLR, 350; 2) Dennis Grelk, Hase Kettwiesel, 3) Eric Penn, Detroit, HP Velotechnik Gekko, 105.
Junior (2 entries) – 1) Ishtey Amminger, Memphis, Tenn., Rotator Tiger, 360; 2) Conor Moorhead, Terre Haute, Ind., Motobecane Mirage, 275.
Multi-rider (1 entry) – Mark and Sally Archibald, Grove City, Pa., homebuilt tandem, 360.
Following are the results of each HPRA points event, plus the urban transportation contest.

As usual, Dennis Grelk of Donnellson, Iowa, was a very busy competitor.  He won the stock class on this low racer that he built; finished second in the streamliner class in his Barracuda (built by Warren Beauchamp); and also raced a Hase Kettwiesel in the tricycle class.

Saturday events:
One-hour time trial: Streamliner – 1) Dennis Grelk, 2) Dan Zolyniak. Streetliner – 1) Michael Hinterseher, 2) Ted Peer. Stock – 1) Dennis Grelk, 2) Mike Mowett, Detroit. Women – 1) Amanda Zolyniak, 2) Christina Grelk, Donnellson, Iowa, recumbent tricycle – 1) Bruce Gordon, 2) Eric Penn. Junior – Ishtey Amminger, 2) Conner Moorhead. Multi-rider – 1) Mark/Sally Archibald.

The University of Toronto HPV team, at the rally for the eighth straight year, came with 10 people, four student-built streamliners (one of them for testing only) and two manufactured recumbent bikes. Team adviser Jun Nogami, professor and chairman of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, is in the orange shirt.

Hill climb: Streamliner – 1) John Simon, 2) Dan Z. Streetliner – 1) Michael H. (only entrant), . Stock – 1) Cyrus Furbush, Tecumseh, 2) Ron Wyatt. Women – no one competed. Tricycle – 1) Dennis Grelk, 2) Bruce Gordon.  Junior – 1) Ishtey A., 2) Conner M. Multi-rider – 1) Mark/Sally A.
Coast down: Streamliner– 1) Dan Z., 2) Dennis G.. Streetliner – 1) Michael H. (only entrant). Stock – 1) Dennis G., 2) Cyrus F. Women – no one competed. Tricycle – 1) Bruce G., 2) Dennis G. Junior – 1) Ishtey A., 2) Conner M. Multi-rider – 1) Mark/Sally A.
Hot lap (one lap of .44 mile course, not including hill): Streamliner – 1) Dan Z., 57.342 seconds, 2) Dennis G. Streetliner – 1) Michael H., 59.84, 2) Ted Peer. Stock – 1) Cyrus F., 50.886 (fastest overall), 2) Dennis G. Women – no one competed. Tricycle – 1) Gordon, 1:22.836, 2) Dennis G. Junior – 1) Ishtey A., 1:06.506, 2) Conner M. Multi-rider – 1) Mark/Sally A., 1:18.756.

At age 80, Rich Myers of Xenia, Ohio, was the oldest competitor.  He was racing a MiniMoby streamliner built many years ago by Terry Hreno.

Urban transportation contest (non-points event). There were only three competitors, whose scores were a compilation of where they placed in the hill climb and coast down, their time running an obstacle course and points awarded for practical features on their bikes, including fenders, lights, cargo carrying capacity, security against theft and carrying tools, tire pump and spare inner tube or patch kit. 1) Mark and Sally Archibald, homebuilt tandem, 27 points; 2) Wally Kiehler, Grosse Pointe Woods, Lightning P-38, 23; 3) Terry Gerweck, Monroe, homebuilt long wheelbase recumbent, 21.
Results weren't kept for the afternoon non-points "fun" events.

Rachel Bolen (shown here) and Laura Reiner were the two members of the Grove City College HPV team racing student-built recumbent bicycles.  Rachel finished second in the women's class and Laura was third.

Sunday events
200-foot flying start sprint: Streamlner – 1) Dan Z., 42.43 mph, 2) Dennis G. Streetliner – 1) Ted Peer, 36.62 mph, 2) Linnae Hinterseher, Farmington Hills, Quattro Velo.
Stock – 1) Dennis G., 38.79 mph, 2) Mike Mowett, 38.75 mph. Women – 1) Amanda Z., 30.61, 2) Rachel Bolen. Tricycle – 1) Bruce G., 26.94 mph, 2) Dennis G. Junior – 1) Ishtey A., 27.54 mph, 2) Conor M. Multi-rider – Mark/Sally A., 26.98 mph.
Both road races were on a .44 mile course (no hill).
Streamliners/streetliner (27 laps/11.88 miles)– Streamliners – 1) Dennis G., 25.108 mph average, 2) John Simon. Streetliner – 1) Michael H., 23.926 mph, 2) Ted Peer.
Unfaired classes (First lap not counted because timer wasn’t turned on, so 26 laps/11.44 miles): Stock – 1) Dennis Grelk, 24.949 mph, 2) Mike M. Women – 1) Amanda Z., 19.116 mph, 2) Rachel B. Junior – 1) Ishtey A. (only competitor), 16.393 mph. Multi-rider – Mark/Sally A., 15.566 mph
Tricycle race (three laps of course on paddock roads, distance not measured): 1) Dennis G., Hase Kettwiesel, 2) Bruce G.

Mike Mowett of Detroit raced his John Morciglio-built M1 low racer to 6th in the stock class, then for fun also raced his Cervelo (below) in the 200-foot flying start sprints.  In that event, he went 38.76 mph on the M1.  On the Cervelo, his speed was about 32.5 mph. 

Ted Peer and his wife, Jill, drove from Ankeny, Iowa (about 1,200 miles round-trip) with his DF velomobile, made in the Netherlands. He finished second in the streetliner class.  Purchased in December 2015, he commutes to work in it, 25 miles there and 30 miles returning home. "I average 15 mph when I'm going to work," he said, which takes him about 1 hour and 45 minutes. 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Two nice homebuilts at the Michigan HPV Rally

Rob Lloyd of Whitmore Lake and his long-wheelbase recumbent. He started construction in December 2015 and rode it for the first time on Jan. 2, 2017.

Words and photos by Mike Eliasohn

There were two interesting homebuilt cycles at the 33rd annual Michigan HPV Rally, both raced by their builders.
Mike Denninger drove all the way from Bedford, Mass. (about 1,640 miles round-trip) with his short-wheelbase creation. In contrast, Rob Lloyd came from Whitmore Lake, north of Ann Arbor, with his long wheelbase bike.

Mike Denninger of Bedford, Mass., started construction of his bike in October 2016 and finished in March 2017.

Both started with existing designs, which they then modified. Rob’s inspiration was the Rans Xstream, “but some things about the geometry I don’t like.” The Xsteam is a long-wheelbase (69.375 or 73.375 inches) wheelbase, with big (650c ) wheels at both ends and direct steering, with swept-back handlebars.
The result of that design, Rob said, is a lot of wheel flop, which he doesn’t care for. “I wanted more traditional geometry,” which he got with remote steering. His creation has a 68 degree head tube angle and 2 inches of trail.

Rob during the Sunday morning road race.

All of the chromoly tubing, purchased from Aircraft Spruce & Specialty (, is .035 inch wall except for the bottom bracket (.028). He bought the seat from Power-On Cycling (, with the grooved foam padding coming from Don Smith of Chesterfield ( The carbon fiber fork was manufactured in China, purchased via eBay. “It had the rake I wanted, so I started with that.”
Rob said he started designing his bike in October 2015 and started construction around that Christmas. His first ride was on Jan. 2, 2017.
But his work on the bike has continued. As raced at Waterford Hills, it had its third set of handlebars and second version of rear seat stays. The first rear stays allowed a lot of horizontal seat flex, which affected the handling. “When I firmed up the seat, the handling got instantly better.”
Still to come are reducing the weight of some components and paint, though some at the rally thought Rob should clear-coat the frame, to show off his beautifully finished brazed joints. He said he used a combination of filing, grinding, sanding and a Dremel rotary tool to finish the joints. 

A closeup view of some of Rob's immaculately finished brazed frame joints.

The wheelbase is 68 inches. Weight is an estimated 35 pounds. Rob started with a 26/20 wheel combination, but wheels are now 700c in the rear and large size 20-inch (451) in the front. There’s disk brakes front and rear.
“This is the first bike I ever finished,” Rob said. He previously started building a prone-position bike.  

Mike Denninger talks to Wally Kiehler before the start of Saturday's hillclimb/coast down.

       Mike Denninger started with plans for the Atomic Zombie TomaHawk design (plans for it and other designs can be purchased at and used the fabrication techniques outlined in the plans. But made changes in the geometry, in accordance with the writings of Steve Robson. (
The main frame is 1-1/2x3/4 inch, rectangular chromoly tubing, .049 wall, purchased from Aircraft Spruce & Specialty. Mike did his own MIG welding. "It's all fabricated in my basement and garage," he said.
The wheelbase is 44 inches and the weight is approximately 27 pounds.  Wheels are 26 inch (559 size) and 16 inch (349). The TomaHawk design uses a 20-inch front wheel, so one change Mike made was the smaller front wheel.  Paint is spray can orange.

 In the stock class, Rob finished 9th and Mike was 13th.    

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Grove City College HPV team to be at Michigan rally

     The Grove City College HPV racing team will be participating in this year's Michigan HPV Rally, June 24-25, for the first time. 
      The University of Toronto, which has competed at the Michigan rally every year since 2010, will be back, so at least two college teams will be participating.     
    Grove City College (, founded in 1876, is a Christian liberal arts college in Grove City in northwestern Pennsylvania.  The Department of Mechanical Engineering is part of its Hopeman School of Science, Engineering and Mathematics.   
      According to Dr. Mark Archibald, faculty adviser to the team, likely eight students will be coming to the rally. He said in an e-mail that the team usually builds a vehicle each year. However, this year was an exception, so they will be bringing some of their older bikes.

This is the Grove City College team at the 2015 American Society of Mechanical Engineers HPV competition in San Jose Calif. "Shark Bike" used a conventional rotary crank, driving the rear wheel.  The partial fairing was made from Ceconite aircraft covering fabric.  It  wasn't economical to ship SharkBike back to Grove City from California, so the frame was left with a team member’s mom, who lives in Washington state.  So "Shark Bike" won't be at the Michigan rally.

In addition to student team, members Prof. Archibald and his wife, Sally, expect to compete on this tandem he built.  He and son Max and the bike are shown during a tour of the Blue Ridge Parkway in 2010.

     Earlier this year, the ASME presented its Prof. Archibald with its Dedicated Service Award.  From the GCC website:
     The award comes in recognition of Archibald’s volunteer efforts on behalf of the society, particularly his work in the field of human-powered vehicles, which is marked by “outstanding performance, demonstrated effective leadership, prolonged and committed service, devotion, enthusiasm, and faithfulness,” the society said.
    The award was formally presented to Archibald by Dr. Michelle Claus ’83, chair of the GCC Department of Mechanical Engineering. She called it an honor and hailed Archibald’s dedication to his discipline and his students. Archibald has advised many students as they worked on human-powered land and water vehicles and worked for many years with ASME’s Human-Powered Vehicle Challenge.
      “He has served as a student advisor, a competition host, a competition judge, a global chief judge, the chair of the Human Powered Vehicle Challenge Committee and as an expert in the field of human powered vehicles. The award is presented on behalf of the Human Powered Vehicle Challenge (HPVC) Committee members and ASME in appreciation for his contributions to the HPVC community and students,” Clauss said.
     Archibald has been a member of the GCC faculty since 1996. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

33rd annual Michigan HPV Rally - June 24-25, 2017

The rally will be held at the Waterford Hills sports car racing track on the Oakland County Sportsmen's Club grounds in Clarkston, near Pontiac - the location since 1986. The oldest such event in North America is open to riders of all human powered vehicles — recumbents, streamliners, 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 (, then under "recumbent racing," click on "Human Powered Race America," then on "racing 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. Sunday races use a shorter course without the hill.
Prize money will be awarded to top finishers in each class. Even if you don't want to compete, come and see some unusual and some very fast bicycles and tricycles. 

Schedule of events (subject to change):

Registration and tech inspection starts 8 am
1-hour time trial (faired classes) - 9:30 am
1-hour time trial (unfaired classes) - 11 am
Lunch and 1/4 mile hot laps (new event: ride as many laps as you want; your fastest lap counts), noon - 1:30 pm
Hill climb/coast down - 1:30-2:30 pm
Tricycle relay race, rally races (fun events, no points awarded) - 3 pm
Urban transportation contest - in afternoon.
6 p.m. (approximate) – eat at local restaurants.

200-foot sprints, flying start - 8:30-9:30 am
Tricycle race - 9:30 am
Road race (faster bikes, 50 laps, 12 miles) –10 am
Road race (fast bikes 50 laps, 12 miles) –11 am

Awards ceremony follows the last race, expected before 1 p.m.

Entry fees: $20 for one day, $35 for two days. For multi-rider college or high school or other teams, $20/$35 for first vehicle/rider; $10 for each additional vehicle/rider. Spectators free.
Register online at and save time when you arrive.

For additional information, contact:

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

TO GET TO THE RALLY:  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.


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.

STATE CAMPGROUNDS (, then click on "camping andrecreation," then "make a reservation.
Highland Recreation Area, 5200 E. Highland Road (M-59), White Lake, 248-889-3750. Two miles east of Highland.
Holly Recreation Area, 8100 Grand 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, Waterford, 248-666-1020. Closest to Waterford Hills track, about 4 miles west.
OAKLAND COUNTY:  Groveland Oaks County Park, 14555 Dixie Hwy., Holly, northeast of Holly, 248-634-9811.
PRIVATE CAMPGROUNDS ( Detroit Sportsmen's Congress Horseshoe Lake Campground, 1050 E. Oakwood Road, Oxford, 248-628-3859, e-mail

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 – Quality Inn and Suites, 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.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

A cycle trip to England


In 2011 I visited England, my second trip there.  My first visit was in 1980.
After my return, I wrote an article for this blog about cycle speedway (Aug. 7, 2011) and a brief story about joining the British Human Power Club (Feb/ 5, 2012), but until now, I didn't write about the rest of my trip.  (Two updates:  The one cycle speedway track in the U.S. as of when I wrote that article, in Edenton, N.C., apparently is no more. There no longer is a website.  BHPC dues remain £20, which includes its quarterly magazine, LaidBackCyclist, but now there's also an electronic membership for £6, which, I think, includes online access to the magazine.
   This story is headlined "A cycle trip," rather than a "A cycling trip," because although I saw LOTS of cycles there, I didn't ride them, for reasons I will explain.  
I flew from O'Hare International Airport near Chicago to Manchester (direct flight), arriving on Saturday, April 30.  I then took a train to  Newark on Trent, to visit long-time friends Martin and Alison Purser, who live in nearby Grassthorpe.
The Pursers, whom I visited in 1980, were active then and still are in the Tricycle Association (, which has about 500 (mostly British) members, most of whom ride lightweight upright tricycles with the two wheels in the rear.

Martin Purser has a large collection of tricycles and here I am on one of them. Unfortunately, I am very un-used to dropped handlebars, which for me require a very awkward position to reach the brake levers.  Plus the Pursers' driveway is unpaved, with quite a slope, so I was pedaling (sort-of) at an angle while trying to reach the brake levers.  So I staggered to reach the end of the driveway and back, which was the extent of my pedaling in England.  But I did a lot of walking.

On Sunday, Martin took me to see Eric Coles and his very large collection of cycles, in Dragonby, near Scunthorpe.  Eric owns/owned more than 110 bicycles and 12 tricycles.

Eric Coles bought this vintage recumbent in 1979.  It was built around 1933 by Charlie Thompson, who owned an auto repair shop in Scunthorpe.  It originally had 14-inch wheels and one speed.  In addition to restoring the bike, Eric converted it to 20-inch wheels (451mm) and three speeds.


This Peter Ross-manufactured bike which Eric owns dates to 1990.  He (Eric) made some modifications, including strengthening the frame where it was flexing, and had ridden it as much as 120 miles in a day.  He also owns/owned three other Ross-built cycles.  Peter Ross died in 2013; the company he started morphed into what is now ICE. (Inspired Cycle Engineering).

This bike – owned by Eric – was built by Guy Tigwell around 2006, who then raced it.  The frame comes apart in two pieces.  It's front-wheel-drive. Both wheels are 16-inch (I think).

There are two makers in the U.K. of quality upright tricycles with the two wheels in the rear (Trykit/Geoff Booker and Longstaff and one who builds them with the two wheels in front (Roman Road Cycles/Austin Shackles).  Eric Coles owns this one. For links to all three builders, go to the TA website.

Monday, May 2, was a bank holiday (Whit Monday or Pentecost Monday), which meant most people had the day off. And for TA members in the North Eastern Region, there was the 25th Mike Dixie Memorial 10-mile time trial near Newport.  Martin Purser was the organizer, so with Alison and two tricycles in or on their station wagon (one of them a tandem), off we went. (Alison competed on the tricycle with another rider.)

The course was along the edge of a four-lane divided limited access highway(!) Go 5 miles, then up the exit ramp to the turnaround, cross over to the other two lanes, down the entry ramp and then return.  BUT, the parking/gathering/registration area was at a town hall 5 miles from the start, so competitors actually had to pedal 20 miles.

With only one big turn, the turnaround, competitors in the Mike Dixie Memorial, didn't have to do much leaning.  But when making sharp turns, tricyclists trying to maintain their speed have to lean A LOT to stay upright.  (There are some TA members who ride recumbent tricycles, but this event was limited only to upright trikes.) Look close and you will see two rim brakes on the front wheel.  For reasons of simplicity and lightness, such British trikes traditionally have two rim brakes on the front wheel, but NO brakes on the rear wheels.

This is the axle of a traditional British trike – one-wheel-drive driving the left wheel.  The axle housing is part of the frame; it doesn't detach.  To transport them in a small car, all three wheels are removed.

Both Longstaff and Geoff Booker now make trikes with two-wheel-drive, such as this one.  Instead of a differential, their axles incorporate two freewheels.  When going in a straight line, both wheels are driving.  But going around a corner, the outer wheel is driving while the inner wheel is freewheeling.

One of the Mike Dixie 10 competitors brought this beautiful Reg Harris bike to show.  The rear hub is a rare Sturmey-Archer 3-speed fixed gear (no freewheel).  My notes say "1964," but I don't know if that's the year the bike or the hub was made, or both.  (Old S-A hubs have the year of manufacturing on them.)  Harris (1920-92) won the world sprint  (velodrome) championship four times. His bicycle manufacturing business lasted only three years.

Next on my list was to visit Brooklands, west of London, which when it opened in 1907 was the first purpose-built auto racing track in the world.  Before then, racing was done on roads and horse racing tracks.
But after leaving the Pursers, I would have an extra day or two to kill, so in planning my trip, I e-mailed British Human Power Club Chairman Richard Ballantine, who lived in London:  "Can I come visit?"  (
Ballantine was the author of several books about bicycles, including Richard's Bicycle Book, of which there were several editions (the first in 1972), which in total sold more than 1 million copies worldwide, and (with co-writer Richard Grant), Richards' Ultimate Bicycle Book (1992).
He also started two British cycling magazines and imported the first 20 mountain bikes into the U.K.
He not only was nice enough to agree to meet, he and his wife, Sherry (both Americans), invited me to dinner, at their home so I got to see his personal cycle collection – many of them built by Mike Burrows. That was on Tuesday evening.  (My bed and breakfast was within walking distance of their home.)
Then on Wednesday, Richard and I rode a bus to Bikefix, a shop in central London that sells many interesting bikes, including recumbents and folders.  There, we met Mike Burrows, who took the train from Norfolk just to meet  us.

Mike Burrows (left) and Richard Ballantine outside Bikefix in central London.  Mike took his 2D bicycle on the train from Norfolk, then rode it to the shop.  The 2D is made of carbon fiber and aluminum and has one speed, a fully-enclosed chain and dual hub brakes.  It weighs 22 pounds. Notice the single blade front fork, typical of many Burrows designs. 

A promotional flier for Burrows' newest book (co-written with Tony Hadland), From Bicycle to Superbike, describes him as "Britain's most innovative, most successful and most opinionated cycle designer."
We spent time talking to Bikefix owner Stuart Dennison, then enjoyed lunch at a nearby Italian restaurant. (There were bikes at Bikefix I would have liked to test ride, of course, but since I obviously wasn't going to buy anything, I didn't think it was polite to ask, so I didn't.)
Sadly, Richard Ballantine died of cancer in May 2013 at age 72.  Mike Burrows is now 73 or 74 and still designing and building bikes and racing his creations in BHPC events.

Spotted in London:  The Itera was a injection molded plastic bicycle manufactured in Sweden from 1983-85. About 30,000 were produced.

Then on Thursday, it was off (by train) to Brooklands, southwest of London. The last auto races were held there in 1939.  In addition to auto racing, Brooklands was the hub of early aviation in England – the first flight from there was in 1909 – and the site of airplane manufacturing from 1908-87.

The main circuit at Brooklands was an approximate oval shape about 2.75 miles around. The lap record of 143.44 mph was set in 1935.  The track was never rebuilt for racing after World War II, but this section was restored as part of the creation of the Brooklands Museum.  (

The buildings, track, etc., devoted to auto racing deteriorated, until a trust was created to restore the buildings and part of the track.  The Brooklands Museum opened in 1991.
In addition to old race cars and airplanes on display, bicycle racing took place there from 1907 into the 1980s, so there's also bicycles on display.

Alberto Santos-Dumont, from Brazil, was a pioneer in early aviation, flying dirigibles (steerable, powered airships) and then airplanes in Europe.  This is a 1999 recreation of Demoiselle, built by Santo-Dumont in 1909 of wood and bamboo.  Wingspan was under 17 feet. Various engines were used, including a 20 hp two-cylinder.   Look close and you can see where he sat, the seat spanning the two lower fuselage tubes, behind the wheels. 

At Brooklands:  The three-wheel Sinclair C5 was an effort by Clive Sinclair to bring efficient transportation to the masses.  Propulsion was by pedal power and an electric motor. He had visions of selling 100,000 C5, but only 12,000-14,000 were made in 1985 before the company went bust. And of those produced, according to Wikipedia, only about 5,000 were sold.

At Brooklands:  A record you didn't know existed.  Bruce Bursford pedaled this bicycle to a world record speed of 207.9 mph ON ROLLERS in 1988,  breaking the old record of 153 mph.  The obvious question:  Since the only part of Bursford that was moving was his legs, aerodynamics was not a factor, so why did he need such a bike.  Couldn't he have gone as fast on an old Raleigh fitted with a BIG chainring and aerodynamic wheels?

There will always be an England.  The Stockport Grammar School was near the bed-and-breakfast where I stayed in Stockport. Notice the founding date. I attended a cycle speedway race in Stockport on my final full day in England. and returned home on Sunday, May 8.