Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Recalibrating to Velomobile speeds

One thing I expected from the rotovelo was to go faster. Which has definitely been happening.

I normally ride about 300km each week, at about 30kph on flat roads, averaging about 25kph over the week. On the upright I've been riding Moonee Ponds Creek cycleway (shared path) and through Docklands to Port Melbourne where I work. It's about 25km round trip, and takes about 30 minutes there (downhill) and 40 minutes home. Those are door to door times, not riding times. What matters is the time I have to get out of bed :)

With rotovelo on the same route the overall time is about the same. Mostly because the bike path doesn't really suit going any faster. There's a couple of decent stretches where I can cruise along at 35-45kph for a kilometre or more, which is nice. But the back streets between home and the bike path are mixed - if I take the direct route it's faster but that end of the bike path is slower with a couple of blind corners, but if I wander the back streets more to avoid the slow part of the bike path I have extra corners and speed bumps. The bike path at the bottom end is just bad - narrow, bumpy and lots of stops.

So I've started exploring the on-road routes to work. There's a nice run through Royal Park and through the CBD where I can cruise along at 40kph most of the way. Being able to keep up with rush hour motorists when they're moving, and still being narrow enough to filter through gaps is brilliant. To overtake cyclists in the bike lane I have taken to moving out into motor traffic rather than slow down, wait for a chance, then overtake. As I get more confident I'm riding in traffic more.

At traffic lights I do accelerate more slowly than athletic cyclists, but if I let them get past me I just have to pass them again (sort of like car drivers feel about cyclists). So I've taken to going really hard out of the lights to stay ahead of them, which leads to entertainment when someone tries to chase me. One guy on a single speed stayed with me at 40kph for nearly a kilometre the other day. 40kph is not bad at all for a single speed! I wasn't working anywhere near as hard as he was once I got rolling :)

Through the CBD grid of streets is quite fun. It's generally downhill, and I need to move a couple of blocks to the right as I go through the grid (Australia drives on the left). So I do the cyclist trick of making right hand turns at red lights (with the pedestrians), then leaping back onto the road when the lights change to keep ahead of the pedestrians.

There's a section at the end of the CBD run where there's no bike lanes, 3 or 4 lanes of traffic and it's all moving 40-50kph. There is an alternative route for bikes, but it's longer and slower. So I just mix it up with the cars and that works pretty well. When I get lucky with the lights I can get to work in a little over 20 minutes, about 2/3rds my best time on the upright.

While I'm complaining about bike paths, here's the worst spot on the Moonee Ponds Creek path (for cyclists, anyway):,144.936929&z=21&t=h&nmd=20100711 Note that the right hand side as you come out from under the bridge is a good 3 or 4 metres lower than the left hand exit. The right hand turn coming out from under the bridge is also viciously off camber, and leads into a short, steep climb. Or you can go straight ahead at that point - I posted video the other day of me coming the other way and exiting up the ramp and under the bridge. But the low route is slippery (there's water trickling down and moss on the path), and if you slide you end up in the water. On the upright I take the longer, higher route. On the velomobile... it's much more fun.

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