The 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.
Tuesday, 26 August 2014 19:16
Battle Mountain is coming up soon. We have less than a week to prepare the VeloX IV for the record attempts! During the past few weeks we have been working hard on the final modifications on the bike. Today the bike will be transported to the USA.
During the DEKRA record weekend in Germany in July we figured out that the VeloX IV has more drag than expected. That is why both Rik and Christien were not able to break a record. At first we thought that problem was in the shape of the bike and that we could fix it by creating an elongated tail. Eventually it turned out, however, that the elongated tails made no difference. The problem, or rather said the problems, were somewhere else.
Meanwhile we have been able to win a lot by making a few small adjustments to the bike. For example, we made the air intake of the VeloX much smaller. A wide air intake is not necessary for a speed record (because the sprint only takes 5 minutes). During our test days we came to the conclusion that the amount of drag was now significantly smaller.
After that we made a front wheel enclosure, because it seemed that the flow through the front wheel hole was also causing drag. However, the front wheel hole was also the air exhaust. The exhaust, therefore, needed to be created somewhere else on the bike. It is now in the back of the VeloX. Unfortunately we have not been able to test the last changes we made with the wheel hole, because the weather has not been great. At Battle Mountain we will have to figure out if we have lowered the amount drag even more with this modification.
On the first of September the team will be departing for America. We are looking forward to it!
Tuesday, 19 August 2014 10:19
Two weeks after we made our hour record attempts in Germany (unfortunately without the results we hoped for) it is time to give an update about our cyclists. After having gone all out at DEKRA and having endured the long trip home Rik and Christien took some rest for a few days. They had to recover before they would start with their training for Battle Mountain. At the moment they have already started with this training and they are preparing to break the world speed record.
The main goal for the training for Battle Mountain is to increase their sprint power (the power which the cyclists are able to produce without using oxygen). Therefore they do a lot of training during which they have to use a lot of power from 30 seconds up to 3 minutes. This way their muscles are getting stronger, the muscles will get a bigger buffer against lactic acid buildup, and the cyclists will be able to use much more power during their sprint in Battle Mountain.
Rik and Christien will also be tested at the university in Amsterdam before they will go to America. This way we can analyse their progress. Next to that we also need these tests to be able to write the "ideal" racing protocol for each of them. This will help increase our chances for a record!
The team at the VU Amsterdam will use the rest of the weeks in August to prepare for the race in Battle Mountain. What is the ideal racing protocol? In what way do we need to change the warming up compared to DEKRA? And what will we be doing about pre-cooling? These are the questions we will be answering during the upcoming weeks.
Friday, 08 August 2014 11:24
Last Sunday we had another test day scheduled, this time in Aldenhoven, Germany, which was a new track for us. Team Elan and Daniel Fenn were also there and together we had the whole track for ourselves between 11 am and 6 pm.
Before this test day we have made some adjustments to the bike. For example, the diameter of the air intake had been made smaller in order to improve the aerodynamics of the bike. As a large air intake is not needed for the world speed record in Battle Mountain this will not result in any trouble for Rik and Christien.
As always we started the day with some start stop exercises without the top half of the VeloX, in order for the cyclist to get used to the bike again. During the rest of the test day we did resistance tests with different configurations in order to figure out which configuration has the least amount of drag.
All the tails have been tested at speeds reaching from 50 up to 90 km/h. The hole in the bulkhead had also been closed with tape to stop the airflow. We were able to gather all the data on speed and power through the SRM which we had put in the VeloX IV. In the upcoming days this data will be analysed in order to figure out which configuration is the best and where the current aerodynamics problem comes from.
Besides this Rik also managed to beat his own personal record by cycling 100.3 km/h on the track! We are all very happy with this result. Obviously Rik is in good shape!
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