Sunday, November 30, 2008

Back to the Flevo

After logging a few hundred miles on the Barcroft back to back, Liz and I decided to get a few more miles on the Flevo for comparison purposes. We haven't ridden the Flevo in a few weeks so we did a few short refamiliarization rides before heading out to Fulshear this past Saturday. We were joined by Ken, Danny, George, Marty and his friend Harry on a DF. It was chilly and a healthy wind was blowing.

Liz has been clipping in as tail gunner on the Barcroft. That bike is low so it's pretty easy to hold her up for starting and stopping while she's clipped in. She prefers clipping in now and decided to give it a try on the Flevo. The Flevo is higher and much longer so I wondered how much of a challenge it would be to balance Liz while she was clipped in. In fact, it wasn't much of a problem at all. Thanks to our practice on the Barcroft B2B, we were able to push off on the Flevo with Liz already clipped. We didn't have one false start all day.

The cool temps and the northerly wind made for a chilly ride. I had my windbreaker on, but I neglected to use my gloves. They were in the pockets of my windbreaker, but I took them out and stowed them in the truck before we left the parking lot. Big mistake!

I'd forgotten how much the Flevo likes headwinds. Pushing north on 359 and later on 1489, we pulled away from everyone with ease. It makes me wonder what this bike could do with fairings between the riders or perhaps a nose fairing. I had some discussion with Karl at Zzipper a few months ago about a custom fairing. I think I'll explore that option further.

We only logged 30 miles. Liz and I felt great and could have gone further. We decamped with the rest of the crew, however, so as not to miss the group lunch at Blake's, the best burger joint in town, in my humble opinion. I don't know what makes them so good, but they are unbeatable.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Mass In Motion

Most recumbent riders know that while their bikes may be a little slower than DF's while climbing, they are faster on the descent. The downhill advantage is greater on a tandem and even greater on a recumbent tandem. Check out this video from FlevoMartin illustrating the point. The Effendi lowracer has the advantage until the descent begins:

Friday, November 21, 2008

Hybrid Flevo Tandems

John Vrielink's remarkable Flevobike gave rise not only to a host of variations in single bikes, but also to several experimental tandems. I've never seen a Flevobike, much less one of these interesting tandems. My friend Adam down at Planetary Cyles is the only person I know who's tried to ride a Flevo. I gather that even the most accomplished cyclist needs lots of time to acclimate to the Flevo leg steering system. Adam gave up after half an hour. The difficulty must be compunded on a tandem. Here are a few Dutch homebuilt tandems using a Flevo front end:

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Soaring with HATS

I've been a member of the Houston Area Tandem Society (HATS) for two or three years, but my stoker and I have never managed to get together with them on one of their rides. So, when the HATS newsletter announced a Saturday ride in Fulshear, I though we'd give it a try. After all, Fulshear is our usual riding venue on Saturday. This wasn't to be an ordinary ride though. Kevin Shaw of HATS is a soaring instructor and flies regularly out of the soaring filed near Wallis, Texas. Kevin arranged introductory glider rides for any HATS member who wanted to go up.

Since Teambent was riding from the City Hall parking lot at 8am and the HATS ride didn't start until 8:30, we unlimbered the XBike at the City Hall lot and said hello to David, Danny and Ken. Then we cruised over the HATS ride start. There we met, Hugh and Becky, Kevin and Jo, and Mike. All rode beautiful upright machines.

It's a quick 13 miles over to the Greater Houston Soaring Association field just outside of Wallis. I am a licensed pilot but I haven't flown in 20 years or so. The last flying I did was a few glider rides. I decided not to go up, but did convince Liz that she might enjoy the ride.

Jo, Becky and Liz watch while Kevin gives us a tour of what's in the hanger.

It's close quarters in the glider.

Here's the Soaring Field seen from 3000 feet.

Wallis, Texas seen from the air.
We had great fun on this trip and enjoyed meeting new tandem friends. I'll probably follow up with Kevin, our instructor, for a few lessons and maybe certification. We did find that our DF friends suffered under the same misapprehensions as most DFer's. One of them remarked that "One day all Boomers will end up on recumbents." Maybe we can change their perceptions if we continue to ride with them from time to time.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


As we get the XBike more dialed in for our riding preferences we've discovered a few other advantages of this wonderful "back to back" machine. For one thing, it's an excellent camera platform for the stoker. With her 180 degree view in the back, Liz has unparalleled opportunities to grab some great shots. Here are just a few of the shots she made this past Saturday in Fulshear. The weather was foggy and cool, but that just made the pics more interesting.