Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Fun with Aero

I used to like doing little experiments with bicycle aerodynamics. When I was doing club ITTs in the early 90s, I had the wheel cover and clip on aerobars. In trying to get more aero, I invented an "aero glove" prototype. It was made from a milk carton and shaped into a fairing (I didn't know this was illegal) that would flow the air around my shoulders and head. I sewed the fuzzy half of Velcro on the knuckle of my left glove, and attached the fairing on the glove that way. I tested it by riding up a hill and coasting down watching my speedometer. I did multiple runs without and with the glove, then averaged. My conclusion was the fairing worked. I coasted faster with the glove than without. I showed up at the next ITT with it, and they wouldn't let me use it. These weren't sanctioned races, but wanted them to be fair. Before I could make the right side glove, I abandoned the idea because it was illegal. 

But before that, way back in the early 80s, I once made a fairing for the front of my Univega* (when it was my only bike) for a non-sanctioned bike race from Columbus, NM (at the border) to Deming, NM (30 miles N on I-10). This was part of the Deming Duck Races, called the Great American Bicycle and Canoe Race. They wanted participants to decorate their bike so I made the fairing out of the aluminum sheeting from the newspaper printing press. It is heavy enough to shape. I then found an aluminum rod and made a frame which I attached to the front rack. The bullet shape fairing was held together with tape since I didn't have a rivet gun. I even made a lower fairing on the struts of the rack. It was all inspired by looking at a Honda Goldwing. I painted the fairing with aluminum paint then used electric tape to make P-40 Flying Tigers shark mouth on the front. It looked cool! I used cardboard and made a boat tail rear fairing on the rear rack but it looked silly so I didn't use it.

Anyway after all that work, I show up at the starting line of this silly race and the "official" looked at my bike and said it wasn't fair. I said that they encouraged to decorate the bikes and this was my decoration. I was the only one who thought about decorating his bike. It was a hokey race, but people were serious about it. About a 2 or 3 miles after the start I flatted and actually stopped and PATCHED my tube. I still came in 3rd place. That shows you the caliber of riders that were in the race. They didn't want to give me a trophy because of the bike...basically I was DQed. Oh well!

*Note:The Univega is a touring bike with straight gauge tubing and cantilever brakes. It had front and rear racks, and probably weight at least 30 lbs. at the start line...not that it mattered.

1 comment:

nierman said...

Need pics of the Univega!!! Cool story.