It was exciting, once more, to be flying through the dunes in a pair of wooden ‘aircraft’, and once there I raced both machines. The Mk1 is smaller , lighter and with derailleur drive to the rear wheel it is noticeably quicker than the Mk 2 with its hub gear intermediate drive (although now, with 900+ miles on it, the hub is freeing up somewhat). The best feature of the hub gear is being able to select any gear at any time: really very useful, especially when loaded up. The suspension is a great improvement too, especially on fast bends with a rough surface: very reassuring.
Velomobiles can be very comfortable daily transport, but towards the end of the three hour race, having averaged over 22 mph, I was getting a little sore and was relieved to finish.
CONCLUSION Well, velomobiles have proved to be a practical, sustainable form of personal transport, particularly when the weather is inclement. Although big hills can be a slow hard climb, that is when strength and fitness develops. Most other conditions, especially undulating, swoopy, smooth roads can be a delight.
I have now travelled 10000 miles in a Quest, 6000 in the Mk1 and 900 in the Mk2, most of which was in moderately hilly West Wales for business and pleasure. Nowadays I feel quite lost if I have not got a velomobile to use, and more to the point my neck suffers if I use drops on a road bike. Generally drivers treat me better when I’m in a velomobile. So if you have the opportunity to try out a velomobile, do so! Better still, go to CycleVision in 2009, which also incorporates the HPV World Championship. It really is an experience not to be missed, so don’t leave it too long!
Photos: Sjaak Bloemberg, Eva Navrátilová and Friend Wood
ABOVE: The WoodVM Mk2 incorporates rear suspension and Rohloff hub gear transmission.
BELOW: Friend Wood (left, in Mk1) and Jon at the CycleVision campsite, a great venue to share velomobile experiences.
CycleVision 2009 will be held at Tilburg, Netherlands on the 3rd-5th July 2009. See www.cyclevision.nl for more details (not much there as we go to press, but info in several languages is expected to be added shortly)
VELOVISION ISSUE 32 DECEMBER 2008