World record cycling

Between September 9 and 14 2013, TU Delft and VU University Amsterdam teamed up to challenge a world record with a hightech recumbent bike VeloX3. The attempt was tried in the World Human Powered Speed Challenge and the team came out victorious, bettering the old record with a maximum speed of 133.7

8 km/hour.

The Human Power Team Delft and Amsterdam cyclist Sebastiaan Bowier beat the previous record by 0.6 km/hr to claim the title of fastest man on earth. Wil Baselmans, another rider for team, became the third fastest man on earth with a speed of 127.43 km/hr. Former Olympic speed skater Jan Bos, who also competed in the event, said ”I’m really happy for the University. That’s great Dutch engineering!”

Beating the world record was a team effort. Movement Science students from VU University Amsterdam prepared the cyclists and racing strategies while the TU Delft students perfected the recumbent VeloX3 complete with an aerodynamic shell. The team manager Wouter Lion boasted that, ”Compared to an ordinary bicycle, our design only has one tenth of the air resistance.”

The World Human Powered Speed Challenge took place in Battle Mountain, Nevada, USA. The race track was mapped out on an eigh km stretch of flat road on Highway 305. The cyclists had five km to accelerate, then 200 meters where their top speed was measured, followed by two km to slow down. For the attempt to be legal, the windspeed could not exceed six km/h in any direction.

The competition took place over six days with the first morning as a qualification round. Bowier and Baselmans needed to qualify with speeds in the top ten in order to make the next rounds where the world record speeds could be attempted. Both riders easily passed the qualification rounds and were then ready for their attempts at breaking the world record. The cyclist were allotted two attempts per day with one in the early morning and the other at dusk.

The competition held many challenges. There were weather problems of high winds and rain. There were also some technical difficulties that had the team up long into the night working on a solution. Finally, when the team had the VeloX3 in perfect condition and Bowier had high confidence and was in top form, the world record was bested. Lion summed up the experience, “When you break the record, after three evenings of bad weather, at the last possible chance, it feels incredible.”

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