The Team

Human Power TeamThe Human Power Team is a student team co-operative between the Delft University of Technology and the VU University of Amsterdam, with the objective to design and build an aerodynamic recumbent that is meant to break the world speed record.

The team was founded in September 2010, and in September 2011 it obtained a European and student record with a speed of 129 km/h, and in September 2013 that new world record was placed at 133.78 km/h, both by the cyclist Sebastiaan Bowier. This happened at the yearly World Human Powered Speed Challenge event in Battle Mountain, Nevada, United States of America.

At this moment, the fourth team of students is preparing for the new world record attempt with a new high-tech recumbent: the VeloX IV. The technical part of the project is in the hands of the students from the TU. Just as important, is the guidance and training of the cyclists, which is in the hands of the VU students. This co-operation makes the Human Power Team a unique student team.

How are our cyclists doing?

To begin with, it is time for an update about our female cyclist, because some things have changed in the past few weeks.

Unfortunately Irene has told us last week that, due to personal circumstances, she is not able to continue with her training to beat the world hour- and speed records for women.

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Luckily we were able to find a replacement for her in that same week. Christien Veelenturf! She was born September 14 1988 in Schoonhoven. After years of horse-riding she traded her horse for a bicycle at age 18. Since then it has been hard to get her off her bike! Christien has taken part in various competitions during the past few years. Besides that she also explored the mountains by taking in part in La Marmotte, Trois Ballons and Dolomieten Marathon. Last winter she was active as a cross-country cyclist in the uniform of Restore. This summer she would have been standing at the start as Elite lady for Restore as well.

Christien joined the rider qualifications earlier this year and she was still very eager to ride the VeloX IV. During the rider qualifications she had shown us that she has good potential to break the records.

She has the motivation, but above all it is now time to train! She started immediately. It seems she has a talent for riding a recumbent, because she has made significant progress in the past week! In the meantime she cycled lots of kilometres already on her Raptobike. Because of this the team has gained some trust again in breaking the records for women (even though there was very little preparation time).

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Meanwhile Rik Houwers is still doing really well. Past Wednesday it was the first time he trained in the climate room of the VU of Amsterdam in order to let his body get used to the high temperatures that he has to endure in the VeloX IV during the record attempts. In the upcoming weeks he will be doing this more often. Soon Christien will also start with acclimatizing in the climate room.

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Keep following us to see how the cyclists are doing!

 

Safety Construction VeloX IV

After three weeks of hard work at DASML it was about time to return to our familiar workshop back at the Dreamhall of the TU Delft. A lot of machining and lay-up work still needed to be done for the vehicle. In the past two weeks the safety construction of the VeloX IV took centre stage in the production, let’s have a look at how it’s made

By safety construction is meant all parts that protect the driver during a crash. The driver’s safety is the main point of concern within the team, to us, it’s the most important part of the vehicle. Of course we’d like to break the world record, this means however that the bicycle has to achieve speeds in excess of 130 km/h. A couple of structural elements that protect the driver needed to be added to the VeloX IV in order to make sure that the vehicle can be driven safely at such speeds

First of all there’s the body of the vehicle, which, besides its aerodynamic function, serves as a protective shell surrounding the cyclist. In this year’s design the body is split horizontally, therefore the body on its own is not strong enough to provide sufficient protection for the driver. Besides, the top shell has to be removable so that the driver can enter and exit the vehicle. But what if this top shell would fly off during a crash? It is not an option to secure this top shell with bolts because the driver has to be able to get out very quickly in case of trouble. It’s exactly for this reason that the VeloX IV is built such that it is safe to drive, even when the top shell would not be on it.

Rik in de fiets!Schot

The bulkhead is probably the most important component of the safety construction of the VeloX IV. The bulkhead is an extremely stiff and strong plate that is mounted directly to the back of the driver. This two centimetre thick plate is covered with ultra-high modulus TeXtreme® fibres, in this way the weight is reduced and it looks awesome. All of this is necessary to protect the driver from heavy side-impacts. Most of all the bulkhead provides protection for the upper body of cyclist. A secondary bulkhead will be installed later on, this one will be situated below the driver.

Rollboog

Another crucial part of the safety construction is the rollbar (see picture above). This arch shaped structure is built for the sole purpose to protect the cyclist when the vehicle is sliding or rolling after the top shell would’ve come off. It will be fixed to the front wheel frame as well, making it capable of carrying a weight of over half a ton! TexTreme® fibres are applied here as well, strengthening the structure.

There are many more elements that will protect our driver in the VeloX IV, such as another rollbar near his or her head, shoulder protectors attached to the seat, a four-point seatbelt and of course a crash helmet. All of this will make sure that we are certain that we can put a safe vehicle at the starting line and that we can race it carefree towards a record!

In the meanwhile we are busy making the front wheel frame, it is near to completion. Keep following us and read more about it next week!

 

Progress of the Cyclists

Since the presentation of the riders at the VU University in Amsterdam, the riders, as well as the members of the team, have been working hard. Last week both riders came to the VU University to determine their anaerobic threshold. Both riders showed great progress and can only get better in their preparation for the hour and sprint records. Although there is quite some overlap between both riders' training programs, there are a lot of variables we have to take in account. For instance, think about differences between the two riders: the sex, cardiorespiratory fitness, recovery capability, load capability, the experience in recumbent cycling, the experience in training methods, adapting ability etc.

Last Sunday Rik started with a new phase in his training program in which he did his first sprint training. In the next months Rik will extend the sprints from 20 seconds to 60 seconds. Of course he still continues his endurance training. Besides these exercises, he started his first specific strength training on the recumbent bicycle kindly provided by RaptoBike. In this strength training, he drives with a low speed of about 5 km/h in a relatively high gear and then accelerates as fast as possible. By doing this the resistance he feels is maximised. Not only does this increase a rider's strength, it is also a good practice in stability, because at low velocities the recumbent bicycle is quite unstable. To guard for overload, Rik finished his last strength training of the year at the sport centre of Delft University of Technology, where he could train for free, thanks for that!

Rik_Ligfiets

Meanwhile Irene also received a beautiful mid-racer with all kinds of awesome gadgets from RaptoBike. This weekend Irene will start her first specific strength training and in the meantime she still continues the endurance training. The endurance training will be expanded in the coming months. During the endurance training she specifically practices agility exercises. For example, she slaloms between the lines from the bicycle-route. Irene has to go on with the strength training at the gym for a while. Her first sprint training is postponed, we first want to be sure that the basic level of fitness is stable and of acceptable level.

Irene_Ligfiets

Besides the training guidance, we are currently busy with the research of various warming up methods, nutrition, clothing, pacing-strategies, acclimatisation and different training methods.

We will keep you informed on the progress via website, Facebook and Twitter!

 

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