Just a fortnight after Flying Scotsman Graeme Obree revealed plans to attempt to break the world human powered vehicle speed record, a competing bid has been launched by Dutch former speed skater Jan Bos – raising the prospect of a battle similar to that involving Obree and Chris Boardman, among others, for the Hour record during the 1990s.
The current record of 82.819mph (133.28kph) was set by Sam Whittingham of Canada at Battle Mountain, Nevada, in September 2009. Whittingham first broke the record in 1999 at the same location, and has done so on five subsequent occasions.
Speeds, ratified by the International Human Powered Vehicle Association, are taken over a 200-metre distance following a flying start.
This year, a team of students from Delft University of Technology and the VU University Amsterdam reached a speed of 129kph at Battle Mountain with their fully-faired recumbent bike, VeloX.
The team has produced a video showing the design, construction and testing of Velox that gives a fascinating insight into what lies beneath the fairing.
As the team’s website acknowledges, “The challenge of reaching world record speeds is highly multidisciplinary. It is not only about making a vehicle that is highly aerodynamic, efficient and lightweight but also about getting the most out of a cyclist by selection and training.”
Bos, best known as a speed skater – he won silver medals at the Winter Olympics in Nagano and Salt Lake City, and is a two-time world champion – is also an accomplished cyclist.
Together with his brother Theo, now riding for Rabobank, and Teun Mulder, Bos was part of the Dutch team sprint squad that finished sixth at the Athens Olympics in 2004.
The 2012 World Human Powered Speed Challenge takes place at Battle Mountain from 10-15 September.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.