Cyclists rarely come under the spotlight except for peace campaigns and cross-continental journeys and certainly not for speed records as their manual machines have certain limits to what they can achieve. However, this is not always the case. Now a Canadian cyclist, Ted Reichart, has claimed a new record of 85 mph while cycling on a recumbent bike in the desert of Nevada. Interestingly, he left the annual human-powered speed competition to achieve this feat in the desert.
Reichart and his team Aerovelo engineering were confident of beating this previously set record since last June when they decided to go against the previous record set by Dutch rider named Sebastian Bowler. Aerovelo’s excellence in human-powered has been unparalleled in the world as they already held the record for a college-built human powered vehicle with their vortex bike. They achieved a speed of 72.6 mph with that and soon they began to build the first every human powered helicopter that they completed in 2013, winning the Sikorsky Prize for it.
After the early success, SeroVelo began to target the world record of human powered speed record. It was ingeniously named Eta or the engineering symbol for efficiency. They first made such a bike in 2012 which they named Bluenose and Eta is basically an upgrade of the same bike. The Eta has a recumbent seating design with the feet of the cyclist in front of their bodies. They fit inside an enclosed capsule since it is all about the aerodynamics of the vehicle. A visual monitor inside shows the view ahead and not a standard windscreen. According to the team’s simulations, the new tech would improve their maximum speed by a factor of one percent.
Despite all the planning, Eta’s first drive didn’t go as well as planned. It toppled over at launch in the first try and damaged its front fairing. Now that the repairs had been made, the second attempt didn’t happen due to these repairs and finally on the third run, it made history. The track consists of a 5 mile pre-run that allows the cyclist to gain momentum with the help of gravity. Once they gain maximum speed, they are judged by a small section of 218 meters. Reichart covered this distance in just 5.22 seconds and beat maximum speed record by 2.58 mph. Surely, this is no mean feat since this record is the earliest kind of speed record known to mankind since it is achieved with the help of muscles and some cool mechanical engineering.