Fastest legs in the world

Cana­dian hits 137,9 km/h in a re­cum­bent bike

The Witness - Wheels - - FRONT PAGE - AL­WYN VILJOEN

DE­SPITE fall­ing over in his pod dur­ing the first heat and miss­ing the sec­ond heat while the pod was be­ing re­paired, Cana­dian Todd Re­ichart be­came the fastest man in the third heat of the 16th an­nual hu­man-pow­ered ve­hi­cle races in Ne­vada last week.

Com­pet­ing against cy­clists from Eng­land, the Nether­lands, Slo­vakia, Italy and the U.S., the 33-year-old ath­lete set a top speed of 137,9 km/h in the an­nual World Hu­man Pow­ered Speed Chal­lenge in Ne­vada last week.

He was ped­alling in a re­cum­bent bike de­signed and built by Aerov­elo en­gi­neer­ing.

Re­ichart shat­tered the pre­vi­ous record of 133,8 km/h, set by 26-year-old Dutch cy­clist Se­bas­ti­aan Bowler, just as Aerov­elo said they would when they an­nounced their in­ten­tion to com­pete last year. He ped­alled an eight-kilo­me­tre run-up to build up speed be­fore en­ter­ing the 200 me­tre stretch on what Ne­vada’s Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion billed as the flat­test and smoothest roads in the world.

Re­cum­bents.com re­port this high­way was repaved in 2009, with “spe­cial con­sid­er­a­tion for this par­tic­u­lar sec­tion of road to en­sure ut­most smooth­ness” for the sen­si­tive re­cum­bent bikes.

Ped­alling at an al­ti­tude of 1 408 me­tres, Re­ichart shot over these two rugby fields in 5,22 sec­onds to beat Bowler’s record by 4,152 km/h.

It is not Aerov­elo’s first record, with the sil­ver­ware in their cup­board in­clud­ing a land speed record for col­lege-built and col­lege-pi­loted ve­hi­cles in 2011 (116,9 km/h) and the At­las hu­man-pow­ered he­li­copter that won the Siko­rsky Prize in 2013.

The tiny tear-drop shaped re­cum­bent bike in which Re­ichart put his back into it is called Eta, which cut through the air one per­cent faster than the team’s 2012 bike called Bluenose.

Like the other top com­peti­tors, the latest re­cum­bent bikes do not make any al­lowances for the hu­man shape in a quest for the low­est pos­si­ble wind re­sis­tance. Re­ichart could only view the road ahead us­ing a Go Pro cam­era in the nose, linked to a video mon­i­tor mounted above his head.

The Nether­land com­peti­tors did go home with hon­our, how­ever, as Ellen van Vugt set a new trike record of 87,63 km/h.

PHOTO: AEROV­ELO

The mem­bers of Team Aerov­elo who made the world’s fastest leg-pow­ered ma­chine (from left) Tomek Bartczek, Alex Selwa, Vic­tor Ra­gusila, Todd Re­ichert (the rider), Cameron Robert­son and Tre­for Evans. The pod has no win­dow, in­stead us­ing a cam­era in the nose and screen above the rider’s head.

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