Last night when I went to bed it had started raining. I’ve been watching the weather forecast for the last few days hopping it would be just a one day affair, but after a couple of days of southerly winds gusting to 40 mph and bringing tons of warm moist air up from the gulf coast and a little cool front moving through East Texas we’ll have a few days of rain. Of course if I had a velomobile it wouldn’t be a big deal, I’d just enjoy my rides anyway. But as I’ve stated before, I’m a fair weather rider, so I’ll just wait until a break in the rain and try to fit my rides in then. Maybe later in the day.
In the meantime I’ve been surfing and reading this morning for several hours. Following so many links that I don’t even remember how I got to the new International Human Powered Vehicle Association! site. I know they have been in a political upheaval for some time, but they are now sporting the old masthead again, so I guess things are now back to business as usual. From the IHPVA site I was directed to a Master of Science Thesis written by Frederik Van De Walle. The Velomobile as a Vehicle for more Sustainable Transportation, Reshaping the social construction of cycling technology. I don’t know how I’ve missed this document for so long, but it is a great read of bicycle history, where we are now and in theory, where it can take us. His point is that even if the velomobile is not the end, it will surly influence what is to follow.
During my early days as a ham radio operator, during the cold war, I used to often talk with Russians and other members of the Soviet Block as they operated from their club stations. One of their favorite topics of discussion was man hours vs product. In other words, how many hours do you work each month for your dwelling, how many man hours for a loaf of bread or how many man hours for transportation. This put things in prospective for both sides and made for better understanding of our standards of living.
One thing that helps put things in perspective for me when comparing one mode of transportation against another is the watt. In other words how many watts does it take to pedal a DF vs recumbent vs fairings vs velomobile. This is the one common thing that helps me make a decision as to the value of upgrading from one mode to another.
I know there are other factors, like they make you look really cool, they keep you dry and warm. Only down side I see is no room for all the chicks that follow you.
Take a look at this chart from Mr. Van De Walle’s thesis and you may decide that a velomobile might be in your future. Next rainy day you have, go back and read his excellent history of the bicycle and what got us here.
This is not a short read, so allow some time for it. It took me about four hours. If you really in a time bind, start on chapter 3.
Click on the image for a larger view.