This past weekend, a lot of the team and I traveled to Northbrook and Kenosha in Illinois and Wisconsin, respectively. There, we raced on two velodromes. The races were rather casual, and everyone was there to have fun. Everyone was able to ride their bikes on the course, and almost everyone got a ride in the streamliners. We brought the whole fleet of bikes: Ace, Vortex, and this year’s Bluenose.
The velodromes were a great opportunity to test out the bikes at high speed, and test them we did. By the end of the weekend, each streamliner had been broken in some way or another. Ace broke first, at Northbrook; its strong aluminum frame apparently wasnt very fracture resistant, and the frame split while Calvin was racing. Amazingly, he managed to keep from crashing by doing a pull-up on the handlebars to prevent the wheel rubbing. Later that same day, after Todd had already capsized the bike twice while cornering, Bluenose decided to give in. For some reason the bottom bracket broke out of the carbon fibre drivetrain. It was a rough first day, with two of three streamliners broken. We focused on getting Bluenose running, since it is the one we need the most experience on. Vortex was its usual self, stable and reliable.
At Kenosha, we had two bikes running: Bluenose and Vortex. Everyone did the 1k sprint in Vortex, to keep Bluenose fresh. In the 100 lap endurance race, I was going to be in Vortex and Trefor was in Bluenose. I got a good start, and was going fast enough to keep up with most other people. I was going around the track, all the corners were feeling really smooth and I wasnt very tired at this point, so I figured I should push a bit faster. After passing the finish line on my 18th lap, the bike wobbled a bit going into the turn. I didnt have enough time to stop myself from flopping over and then smashing into the fence around the outside of the track. WHAM. Both the front canopy as well as the rear wheel fairing popped off, and I slid down the corner of the velodrome. It was a pretty high-speed crash, yet the fairing saved me from any serious harm. Sadly, I broke the tail of the bike, which we will have to fix. After the race, Trefor told me “Man, you were going FAST!”. It didnt seem very fast, which proves the amazing aerodynamics I guess.
After examining what happened, I think it was the combination of too much speed, lack of experience and a slight crosswind that caused the crash. I have been interested in bicycle stability, and this has only increased my interest. I am hoping I can design the bike to be even more stable at high speed, and make it better around corners. Currently, our bikes are fast in a straight line but only average around corners, which needs to change if we want to win races on velodromes and the ASME Human Powered Vehicle Challenge in the future.