Team Cygnus has developed a fully faired recumbent bicycle that can compete with the fastest recumbents in the world. The main goal is to use an optimum man-machine combination to break world records. The Cygnus team consists of technical specialists from various disciplines. Between them they have many years of experience with fully faired recumbents both in racing and in designing. All Cygnus team members are racers at the highest level. Every year they compete in national and international competitions such as Battle Mountain, the European Championship, the World Championship, and the Michigan Human Powered Speed Challenge, but they also attempt to break records on the tracks of RDW, DEKRA and Opel.

zaterdag 29 september 2012

Back home after Battle Mountain

We have returned from Battle Mountain and our "normal" lives have been taken up again. We are going to take a break for a month before we will start working on the cygnus project again.

An huge number of volunteers have made this event possible. We would like to mention some of the people who have made the World Human Powered Speed Challenge a success.

Our sponsors, have a look at our sponsor page.
Al & Alice Krause as organizers of this event.
Chris Broome as starter and technical inspector.
Bill Gaines, Brad & Debora Teuber, Marieke Ligtvoet, Paul Gracey, Jun Nogami, Jonathan Woolrich, Adrian Gotts, Vicky Johnson as timing committee. This was quite a feat because of the enormous number of competitors and runs.
The catching crew. A variable group of people that has caught our bike at the finish and prevented it from being scratched or otherwise damaged.
Team Varna, our source of inspiration.
Arnold Ligtvoet for his moral support and for making some chase runs.
Mr. Wessels for his unprecedented hospitality during all our weekends of working on the cygnus project.
And, of course, our other team members, who could not come along: Jan van Steeg, Pieter Pas, Hans Wessels en Arjen van Noordenne.

The Cygnus photo album and youtube section will be updated during the next few weeks:
Cygnus at Picasa
Cygnus at Youtube

donderdag 20 september 2012

Battle Mountain - Our journey home

Packing all our stuff on Sunday morning went well. At half past twelve the fuel tank of the car has also been filled up, and we are on our way. Around three o'clock we arrive in Reno. It is time to stretch our legs and eat something. As usual we go to the Fuddruckers. This hamburger chain is near the highway and the burgers taste good.

After this long break we travel on to Sacramento. It is time for another short stop. We feel like having a milkshake or a smoothie. We get those in Greenfield. The fuel tank is also filled up again, so we can continue to San Francisco. When we arrive there, we head for the Presido Inn immediately. We also stayed in this motel last year on our way back. We have something to eat before we go to sleep. The Wifi connection on the third floor is not good enough to make skype contact with home.

The next morning we walk to the IHOP for breakfast. Then we get into the car and drive to the airport. Would we have a normal chair this flight? As usual it is very busy at the customs on the airport in San Francisco. It takes a lot of time before we succeed to reach the gate. The plane appears to be very crowded again, so the ground crew contacts the cabin crew to check if we can be on this flight. Then the senior purser himself comes to the desk. It is the same senior purser as on our flight to the US and he appeaars to have recognized our names. We can go on this flight and we can even sit in normal chairs this time. After a flight of more than nine and a half hours, we arrive at Schiphol Airport. We have soon gathered most of our luggage, but the box with Davids top and some of his clothes is missing. After a long wait, David fills in the requested paperwork. The box is supposed to be delivered on his doorstep soon.

Then we pass the doors to the arrivals hall. We say goodbye to each other and agree on taking a cygnus break for a month. After that we will pick up the cygnus project again for Battle Mountain 2013 and, of course, also for the record attempts of the other team members.

maandag 17 september 2012

Battle Mountain pictures

During the World Human Powered Speed Challenge 2012 in Battle Mountain last week, a lot of pictures have been made. A number of people, who made pictures are, in no particular order: Dave Larrington, Jonathan Woolrich, Jun Nogami, Ben Goodall, Tom Adams, Bas de Meijer, Mike Mowett and Wim Schermer. There will even be a lot more people who made pictures, but these I can link to. Thank you very much for posting pictures. Some of their pictures have been borrowed to liven up blog posts on this blog. We would like to give them the credit they deserve. Thanks to all of them, a lot of people who weren't there did get the chance to feel as if they were. So thank you.

Battle Mountain - Day 6 - Award Dinner

A quick shower, a change of clothes and then we head to The Owl's Club, which is one of the two steakhouses in town. It is already pretty busy when we enter. We shake hands, sign posters and find a place to sit. Dinner is reasonable good today. Beside the salad bar they even serve warm vegetables and the taste of the lasagne is pretty good too. When everybody has finished eating, Mike Mowett is called forward. Mike is the one who manages the speed list. He notes down all results and surveys the results of the fastest sprinters and endurance riders in this country and abroad. He also manages the list of results in Battle Mountain. Mike calls forward all 35 competitors one by one. Special circumstances are mentioned and everybody receives a certificate with his or hers personal results of the previous week. Extra attention is given to the new record holders, Tom Amick and Phil Plat with the tandem and Gareth Hanks with the trike.

David finished 12th, Thomas 5th just behind Aurélien Bonneteau. That is a very good result when you come to realize that Aurélien is the current world record holder on the hour in the unfaired catagory. Now we have got to the fastest three of this week. The room is as quiet as a mouse. Did they register a time for Jan-Marcel or... Mike explains that only speeds are interesting to him. And even though the racing committee could not officially measure a time, they were however able to make a very conservative estimate of his speed by using the bikes video. On that basis Jan-Marcels speed is determined to be at least 79.4 mph. That is why Jan Bos is called forward first, then Jan-Marcel en as fastest Sebastiaan Bowier.

Then it is time for the official part of the evening. All volunteers are thanked warmly with a standing ovation and a medal. Then everybody, where applicable, gets his or her new hat. All three Cygnus riders get a new one. David gets a 65 mph, Thomas is very lucky and gets both the 70 and the 75 mph hat and Jan-Marcel also gets his 75 mph one. Then the three fastest women and men are called forward. Kira Prokopakis is third, Ellen van Vugt, second and Barbara Buatois is first. Jan-Marcel ends on a third place in the mens category, Jan Bos second, and Sebastiaan is the unrivalled champion of the World Human Powered Speed Challange 2012.

Then it is time to say goodbye. We shake hands, congatulate people and are being congratulated. It's time to get some sleep. We will pack our belongings tomorrow and be off. We will then be on our way home.

Battle Mountain - Day 6 - Evening runs

While we put the bike outside, everyone is startled by a police car with flashing lights and siren that enters the terrain of the hotel. It's Arthur Aten, the State Trooper who we have often seen at the races. He has come to "arrest" Sebastiaan and to book everyone who has exceeded the speedlimit of 70 mph that is valid on the SR305. These are real speeding tickets. He has made an arrangement with the local judge that these tickets will be dismissed. What a wonderful stunt!

When the tickets have been signed, further details still have to be filled in and the tickets will be given at the award dinner, the bikes are set up and pictures of the group are made. The team of Annecy manages to arrive when everything is done. This is yet another time that they unpleasantly surprise everybody. Earlier this week, they rode on the SR305 without permission. Thanks to the intervention of the organisation, they weren't arrested on that occassion.

After the pictures have been made, we prepare the bike and take some rest. We arrive at the start with plenty of time to spare. Thomas has got the time to warm-up properly. The bike is checked for the last time by the rest of the team, and we have a chance to chat up with other teams, the starters and Arthur. He is present again. His presence becomes funny when a car driver starts to argue with one of the ladies that take care of the road block. The State Trooper isn't even halfway to the scene, when the car driver backs away and sullenly heads back to his car.

Then it is time for the runs. We prepare the bike, inline skates are donned and the garmin is turned on. The GPS signal is turned off, because there isn't any signal inside a fairing made of carbon fibre. The sensor in the wheel will register the speed. Thomas has a perfect start. We follow in the chase car. It looks good. The wind that was too high in the first heat has dropped to a probably legal speed. Thomas' speed increases very gradually. He is doing a great job. He comes through the traps with a high speed. Just a good catch now, and he also succeeds in that. When Thomas comes out of the bike he is completely drained; we guide him to a chair, and hand him some water and dextrose. All we can do now is wait for the speeds. When we finally hear that the wind was legal and his speed was 75.78 mph, we really go crazy. Who could have thought that possible before we left home?
We are still ecstatic when we head back to the hotel. Just the Awards Dinner later on and then it's done.


zondag 16 september 2012

Battle Mountain - Day 6 - Morning runs

This morning is the last chance for David to try and make a legal speed run. In the morning it is more likely to have legal wind than in the evening, that is why David will run this morning. He would love to get a 70+ speed run to his name. Everybody is convinced that his speed is good enough to be able to do so. Until now the winds have always been too strong to make a legal run. When we arrive at the start, the wind is also pretty strong. It does not look promising, but this is the SR305 and we have had strange circumstances before. Wind at the start does not mean that it is also windy at the finish, and vice versa. The terrain along the road is strewn with little hills and the distance between start and finish is 8 kilometers.

Davids start is good. It is clear that there is wind, but will there also be wind around the time traps? The bike accelerates away from the car a couple of times, but the speed does not get really high as yet. The wind is clearly bothering him. At the 1 mile marker he accelerates again, but hits the brakes soon after. At the timing traps the wind is stil apparent and David comes through with a speed of 63.71 mph. With 803 foot/minute the wind is far beyond the maximum legal speed of 328 foot/minute. Sadly David did not make a fast legal run this year. That is disappointing, but we all know that it has not been his fault. Now it is time to get ready for the evening runs.

zaterdag 15 september 2012

Battle Mountain - Day 5 - Evening runs

We took it easy after Davids crash yesterday evening, see yesterdays blog post. We could stay in bed a bit longer, have a relaxed breakfast and work on the bike after that. The scratches have been filled up and sanded as good as possible to make the fairing smooth again. Thomas, David and Frans put the bike together agsin in the afternoon and Jan-Marcel got the chance to get some extra rest. At half past four the car had been packed and we could leave for the starting area. Nice in time, we need not to hurry, had time for warming-up and some talks with a few local people at the road block, and also with the State Trooper. The police agent has been here to watch a number of times this week. Not only to see that everything is according to the rules, but also to fine some hot-headed local people. But ALSO because he is interested. At the first heat the wind was way above legal. Some teams decided not to run. At the second run, the wind decreased strongly and was even below the legal value for the beginning of the third heat. The entire team was excited, now was the time. The start was perfect and the build-up of the race was acording to schedule. The chase vehicle sometimes had trouble to keep up with the acceleration of the bike. 78 mph according to the cars speed-o-meter, and a bike that is moving away even further, that is promising for a very high speed at the finish. The catch went perfect as well, and Jan-Marcel stepped out of the bike exhausted. According to his own measuring device he had a run of 127 km/h. That would be an enourmous improvement of his personal record earlier this week.


But the disappontment for the team came with the anouncement of the speeds. For some reason Jan-Marcels time had not been measured, so no official time. That is SO disappointing. Jan Bos managed to up his personal record to 126.5 km/h; a wonderful achievement. We started to ponder on an opportunity to somehow find out how fast Jan-Marcels run has been. The race had been filmed from the bike itself. We went to Neil with that sd-card. Neil is working, together with Claudia, on a documentary film of the World Human Speed Challenge. He looked at the video and made calculations on that basis to get the time needed for the 200 meters. By starting the calculations when the starting line is still visible and finish when the finish line is no longer visible, we can be sure that the time needed can not be more than 5.633 seconds. By starting the measuring before the start and ending after the finish, the actual time can only be less. The timing committee and the organisation will let us know what will happen next. We now have the confirmation that the speed was indeed above 127 km/h.

A videoclip from the film can be found here

vrijdag 14 september 2012

Battle Mountain - Day 5 - Friday

Just a short update, more elaborate later. Jan-Marcel made a speed run, but without official time because the timing traps had some trouble. The gps/timing device in the cygnus measured 127 km/h. Last time the 124 km/h on the gps was equal to the official 124.98 km/h. The timing officials are deliberating what they can do.

donderdag 13 september 2012

Battle Mountain - Day 4 - Evening runs

We can be fairly short this time. David and Jan-Marcel were supposed to ride tonight. The circumstances appeared to be perfect. The team was ready to make some fast runs. Davids start looked good, but after about 300 meters he made a strange sweeping movement off the road into the bush. Luckily his speed was not high yet. David was not hurt when he got out of the bike. At the first inspection of the bike the front wheel fairing appeared damaged. This is tricky, because of the chance to blow a tire. We decided not to run anymore tonight. We will check the bike completely again tomorrow morning and make repairs where necessary. We will therefore not make any speed runs on friday morning. Now we will get a good nights rest; we have got enough to do tomorrow.

Battle Mountain - Day 4 - Morning runs

We all got up early this morning to be in time for the morning runs. Packing all the stuff we need in the car becomes more of a routine and we had time to spare before the start of the 5 mile runs in the morning. The weather was really good this morning. The temperature rose fast and there was hardly any wind. Only two of all the morning runs had illegal wind. Thomas already knew during the warming-up that his chances were very good now. The clouds of dust made by the trucks, kept hanging in the air for minutes. The start went well and his build-up of the race was perfect. His speed was about 111 km/h at the 1 mile marker. Then he could even increase his speed further to be able to leave the time-traps with 119 km/h. A new personal record and legal wind! He finally got rid of his "pointy hat". Tonight it is Davids and Jan-Marcels turn again. It's time for lunch now and then time to relax.

Battle Mountain - Day 3 - Evening Runs

Just a short message before we are off to bed. This evening both David and Jan-Marcel made a speed run. David in the first heat, Jan-Marcel in the third heat. The circumstances tonight were okay but not really good. David in the first heat, had too much wind and did not go flat out. He still managed to nearly reach 65 mph. Jan Bos made a wonderful run and finished with 76+ mph. The winds were legal in the second and third heat, and a number of (personal) records have been broken. Ellen improved her personal record and Larry and Phil broke the tandem record that Tom and Phil set earlier. The sun lowered behind the mountains at the beginning of the third heat and the temperature fell. This heat should have started 20 minutes earlier. All runs went smoothly. Jan-Marcel managed a 76.3 mph, just below his personal record. Sebastiaan did extremely well and set a speed of 80.18 mph. This is the fastest run this week until now. Now it is bed-time. Tomorrow will have an early start as well for Thomas' speed run.

Nice article at bikeradar: dutch-team-aiming-to-break-human-powered-speed-record

woensdag 12 september 2012

Battle Mountain - Day 3 - Morning runs

We got up early this morning to be in time for Thomas' speed run. The temperature was low this morning and the wind was stronger than usual. The run went without any problems. Even though there was a strong head wind, Thomas could build up his run nicely. He had forgotten to put his heart rate monitor belt on, so it was a bit tricky to go flat out at the right moment. It should therefore be possible to reach higher speeds than the 71.44 mph he achieved this morning.

Battle Mountain - Day 2 Tuesday

Today Team Cygnus got the chance to sleep in. We did not enter for the morning runs, but instead checked the bike completely. The bike does not have any damage to its structure. We replaced the rear tire and sanded the scratches after applying some plaster. This all took a lot of time, so we had to skip the Show and Tell in the Civic Center. The circumstances for this evening were fine. There was some wind, but not really a lot. David was scheduled in the first heat, Jan-Marcel in the third. Davids start was a bit troublesome. His foot came loose from the pedal and it took him some time to get it back in place. His run went very well. He passed the finish with a speed of 70.5 mph. Sadly the wind was too strong to make it a legal run, but he was faster than a number of the other riders. Jan-Marcels run went even better. The wind fell and everything settled into its right place. His speed kept increasing and he could start his final sprint when he was already going above 110 km/h. After the finish he even noticed that there was 124 km/h on the screen. This is not a new record, but the fastest run till now. More people were successful this evening. Tom and Phil set a new tandem record and Gareth set a new trike record. The team will try to get a good nights rest. Tomorrow Thomas will make a speed run and see if he can also set a speed above 70 mph.

dinsdag 11 september 2012

Battle Mountain 2012 - Day 1 - Speed Runs

The first speed runs have taken place. The cirmumstances were not so good, the wind was very strong. The organisation wanted to have the 10 fastest and the two ladies to start. So there were three heats. Jan-Marcel was in the first heat, Thomas in the second, David in the third and last. The wind was too strong to go flat out. About six deer crossed the road during his run. It did not really bother Jan-Marcel, but it gave him a bit of a startle. Thomas also noticed a deer crossing the road during his run. And talking about the wildlife, this morning they noticed a snake in the entrance of a badgers sett, just next to the car. It retreated immediately when it noticed humans. No idea what kind of snake that could have been. While loading the bike back into the car, Jan-Marcel hit his head hard against the trunk lid. This resulted into a little cut that was bleeding heavily, but it does not bother him as yet. Pictures of his blood-stained head will probably turn up on the internet, but it looks worse than it is. Thomas and Frans dressed the cut properly in the hotel. Maybe he should try not to turn too much in his sleep tonight :-) Thomas took it easy during his run, because of the wind. And David had a flat tire just behind the finish line. He crashed, but was not hurt at all. Tomorrow morning we will check the bike completely. It is most probable that the tire was pushed against the fairing due to the strong wind. Speeds: Jan-Marcel 69... mph, Thomas 62... mph, and David 62.5 mph. Sebastiaan crashed but is not hurt, Jan Bos did not run.

maandag 10 september 2012

Battle Mountain 2012 - Day 1 - Qualifying Runs

Battle Mountain was buzzing this morning with so many teams present. In total there were 29 riders at the start, divided into 6 heats. David was the fourth rider in the first heat. Frans took care of the chase together with Arnold Ligtvoet. David really went for it and improved his personal best in this first ride. He went 105.57 km/h. Then we had a break for two heats after which Jan-Marcel had his turn. Frans and Arnold again in the chase vehicle. After the terrific result of David, he also wanted to set a good speed. A personal best during the qualifications wasn't an option, because the wind was already blowing too strong. It did turn out to be good time though. But it lasted until the meeting in the Civic Centre until it was made known. It turned out to be the fastest quailifying run of the day and even the fastest qualifying run ever with 110.8 km/h. It was Thomas' his turn in the next heat. He was also determined to set a good time. And he did. He was a bit faster than David with a speed of 105.6 km/h. The entire team ended up in the top five.


zondag 9 september 2012

Battle Mountain - The journey

After a bit of a slow start, we arrived at Schiphol Airport nicely on time. Checking in went fairly smooth. After that it got exciting, because the plane turned out to be fully booked. The ground and cabin crew were very helpful and we did get to travel on the plane we had hoped to get. The flight itself was without any problems. Picking up the rental car did turn out to be more troublesome than expected. The booked pickup was not ready for us. Even worse, they did not even have one. The personnel behind the desk was not very helpful and so we went to look for a better car in the garage. Finally we found a beter rental company. They did not have a pickup, so we are driving a Ford Expedition now. We travelled savely to Reno where we spent the night. On Sunday we travelled on to Battle Mountain where we were welcomed warmly at the Super 8 Motel. Some of the teams were already present, most of the other teams will probably arrive today. We are going to have some breakfast and then we will put the bike back together again.