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HPV World Championships. Brighton 2001.

Between August 2nd and 5th 2001, the Human Powered Vehicles world championships was held in Brighton, England. This was a chance to see a lot of unusual recumbent bikes and trikes being ridden at speed.

At the time a group of us from Cambridge were doing quite a bit of racing of recumbent bicycles with the BHPC (British Human Power Club). None of us had previously had the opportunity to take part in a World Championship of anything. Simon Nuttall and myself (David Hembrow) decided to go along to race. Judy and the children came with us to camp for a few days and have a look around Brighton.

Along with most of the other competitors we camped on Kemptown Racetrack. This meant that occasionally we'd see horses flying past at a considerable pace ! The racetrack is on the top of a very steep hill. It was just as well that I had a good range of gears on the bike.

Cycling in Brighton turned out to be a bit of a challenge. The roads near the front were both busy and pot-holed, not a great combination when you're new and trying to find your way around. This also made me wary of front fairings for use on the street. You can't see potholes when there is a fairing in the way, so unless you live somewhere with perfect roads they are not much fun to ride with.

At the time I was racing a very early Speed Ross recumbent bike. This was one of Peter Ross's first designs with a fibreglass seat which was more upright than later Ross bikes with a mesh seat. Peter also designed the first Trice recumbent trikes.

My bike had a bit of a troubled past, having needed to be brazed back together a few times. I'd mounted a copy of a Kingcycle fairing on the front and also had a rear fairing made of waterproofed corrugated cardboard (no expense spared!). This was more practical than it might sound and also doubled to transport supplies and spares to the courses and our take-aways back to the campsite in the evening.

While not as competitive as later versions of the Speed Ross, it was still a fairly quick bike, and had showed great promise a few weeks before when I first fitted the fairing and ridden around in Cambridgeshire with it. However, it turned out I was not so quick this week. The previous week I'd been on Bike Culture Week in Lincoln with the Company of Cyclists (they organise excellent holidays) and I'd unfortunately managed to sprain my ankle rather badly. I was out of action for a day before deciding I might as well try riding a bike, which seemed to relieve the pain a bit. As it was getting better this week and the swelling was going down, I decided I'd better go ahead and take part in this "world championship" as it might be my only chance to do so !

August 2nd - 1 km time trial, Preston Park

The first race was on the unusually shaped velodrome at Preston Park in Brighton.

Two weeks before the event, I'd fitted a brand new (and expensive) IRC roadlite front tyre on my bike as this was the highest performance 451 size tyre available. It had been ridden a total of around 80 km, including the ride from the campsite to the track. As I completed my first practice lap before the first ride of the event, the tyre exploded off the rim. This was far from my first experience of exploding IRC roadlite tyres. I went and bought the only replacement I could find to fit, a Michelin shopper bike tyre.

The photo on the left shows me preparing for the race. Note the different front tyre to the photo of the bike on its own above. The photo on the right shows Simon just about to cross the line on his BikeE.


The race winner was Sean Costin. Unfortunately, I don't have a photo of him. The riders to the left on the Flevobike Rug-aan-Rug (back to back) tandem are Allert Jacobs & John Poot of the Netherlands who took second place.

Unfortunately the weather turned dreadful, the track was slippery, and a lot of people could not safely race on the track.

Full results from this race are here.


August 3rd - Criterium, Hove Park

The path around Hove Park is not usually a racing circuit, so events here were occasionally interrupted by people walking dogs, or just strolling around the park and refusing to take any notice at all of the bikes passing them sometimes at speeds in excess of 60 km/h on the downhill sections. We all took turns at marshalling while others raced, which could be rather trying at times.

Unfortunately, both Simon and I went out in the first round of the criterium. However, that gave more time for marshalling, and at least it didn't rain today !

At least two competitors ended up in hospital after leaving the path and hitting the rather unpleasant posts that were at the side of the paths through most of the park.

The race was eventually won by Ian Chattington who managed an average of nearly 49 km/h around the hilly course. His fully faired bike is shown on the right.

Full results are available here.

August 4th - 200 m sprint, Hove Promenade

Today we all queued up for a considerable time to ride a short distance. The idea being to take the long run up to the timed section so that you reach it at a very high speed and can achieve your maximum during the 200 m timed section. This is more difficult than it might sound ! One rider takes on the course at a time, so this took a long time.

The location, right next to the sea, couldn't have looked better. However, this also resulted in a lot of very variable wind.


The photos show two views of the start of the event, it being impossible to take photos of the event itself while being in the queue of riders.

The world record for this event is around 130 km/h (81 mph) set by Sam Whittingham, but this happens under rather special conditions at a higher altitude with less wind. Today's best was 73.5 km/h (45.5 mph ) by Ian Chattington. Sam Whittingham came 8th, though on a lesser bike than he set the record. As for me, a not terribly impressive 48 km/h.

Full results from this event are here.

After this race we had a huge meal of pasta which I understand was cooked entirely by the very kindly Sherri and Steve Donaldson, washed down with rather a lot of beer and wine. An ideal way to prepare for what was to come tomorrow...

August 5th - Road Race, Goodwood motor racing circuit

We all took the bus today to get to the Goodwood circuit for a 2 hour race. At the time, this was the longest race I'd ever entered (that changed in 2002, and more dramatically in 2006)

The start of the race.

Left: Ian Chattington and myself. We were not seen together for long. In this photo I'm being lapped - this happened quite a few times ! He came first in the race, managing 29 laps and an average of 56 km/h (35 mph) while I did 17 laps at an average of 31.5 km/h ( 20 mph ).

Right: Simon Nuttall in the top left corner as well as myself and other competitors.

Sadly, by the end of this race it was obvious that something had gone "soft" behind my seat and that the frame of my rather fragile bike was again in trouble. Somehow my right hand pedal also managed to part company with the crank and my foot injured the week before was again giving me trouble.

Others were doing better. Ian Chattington came first for 3 days running and deservedly went away as World Champion.

Full results of this race can be found here.

The final standings can be found here.

Velomobiles !

 

I'd never before seen a velomobile. However, several Dutch competitors had ridden them to the event, which impressed me no end. These things were not only incredibly fast, but also very practical. More than ten years passed before I got to ride one of my own.

After the races

After this, we had one more rainy night in the tent before heading home.

On inspecting the bike at home, I discovered that it really was in serious trouble again with a crack of the main tube under the seat. The cardboard fairing had outlasted the bike. The old Ross had lasted just long enough that I had not had to use the Pashley PDQ I'd taken with me with me in case the Ross had broken. The PDQ is an exceptionally comfortable touring bike, but it's not really quite quick enough to be a racing bike.

For next year's racing season I got a new bike. This was an Orbit Crystal, a licensed Speed Ross copy, which I bought as a frameset and built up with many of the same components. It had a more reclined mesh seat and turned out to be considerably quicker despite not having a front fairing. You can see this bike in the web page about the trip to Cyclevision. I had this second Ross for several years and it never let me down at all. An excellent bike which I regretfully had to sell when we decided to emigrate.

Video

Carol and Rob Hague made a video of the event, which is now available on youtube:


Other pages which might be of interest:

In 2000, my wife and I went on a recumbent cycle tour of Lincolnshire.

In 2002 and 2003, Simon and I along with a few others cycled from Cambridge to Lelystad in the Netherlands to take part in the Dutch Cyclevision recumbent racing event. You can read about the ride to and from the event and the races themselves by clicking here.

Along with Terry Clark, I rode from Land's End to John o'Groats on the Pashley PDQ in 2006. This was also an excellent adventure.

Or perhaps you'd be interested in a review of the Speed Ross or Pashley PDQ recumbents ?

Or return to the bicycles index for more articles.


Netherlands Cycling Holiday