Fastest legs in the world
Canadian hits 137,9 km/h in a recumbent bike
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.
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.