22 September 2016

How Fast Does He Ride To Work?

This morning I was running late.  I worried: I didn't want to be late to a still-new job.  Still, I took the time to talk to, and stroke, Marlee and Max before I left my apartment.

Of course, frolicking with my felines didn't buy me any more time.  So, I knew that I'd have to ride at a pretty brisk pace to get to work on time.

If there are bicycle-commuting gods or goddesses, they were definitely on my side today.  I didn't feel as if I'd been pedaling particularly hard or fast, or as if I'd been flying up 29th Street, across the RFK Bridge, through Randall's Island or across Bruckner Boulevard. But, somehow, I managed to make it to the college earlier than I'd been arriving when I left home on time, or even early.

How did that happen?  Well, it had nothing to do with breakfast, because I hadn't had any (except for a cup of green tea).  My legs felt nice and supple, not tense, afterward.  Still, I'm not sure that my pace had anything to do with my conditioning. 

Or with traffic. During a break between classes, I re-ran my commute through my mind. As best as I can recall, I didn't have to stop for any lights--and, no, I didn't run through any red lights!

But I'm not sure that even my luck with traffic signals had much to do with my timing.  One thing I know for sure:  It didn't have to do with my bike.  I was riding my heaviest and slowest machine, the one with the thickest tires ( the LeTour).  And I had a pannier filled with papers, books, small tools, a pump, an inner tube and a few other things.  

Hmm...I wonder how much faster I would have been had I been riding something like this:

Last week, this Aerovelo Eta set a new speed record of 144.18 kilometers per hour (89.59 MPH)  during the International Human Powered Vehicle Association's annual Human Powered Speed Challenge.  Contestants rode a course along State Route 305 just outside of Battle Mountain, Nevada.  The route included an 8 kilometer  (5 mile) acceleration zone followed by a 200-meter "speed trap" at an altitude of 1408 meters (4619 feet).   The contest was held in this setting for the 18th year in a row.

Eta's pilot broke the record he set last year. Todd Reichert, a Canadian cyclist who holds a PhD in Aeronautical Engineering, also designed the machine--and co-founded Aerovelo.  His specialty is in the design of aircraft as well as land streamlined land-based vehicles, and says he is specifically interested in "blending the functional with the beautiful".  

I won't dispute that he has achieved those goals with the Eta.  But, as the saying goes, beauty must suffer.    Or, more precisely, someone suffers for it:  In this case, I think it was Dr. Reichert himself, when he was inside that capsule!

As much as I admire both his design and his ride, I simply cannot imagine myself inside that cockpit with my rear end hovering just a couple of inches above East 138th Street!  And--as someone who was once in his position, in another manner of speaking, I have to wonder how he felt about riding with his "family jewels" only a few hairs' breadth away from a wheel spinning at nearly 90 MPH! 

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