A Dutch team is aiming to break the world speed record at the World Human Powered Speed Challenge in Battle Mountain, Nevada this week. The record is currently 82.819mph (133.28km/h), set by Sam Whittingham at this event in 2009.
The team comprises former world champion recumbent cyclist Sebastiaan Bowier and former world skating champion Jan Bos, who will be taking turns in the super streamlined VeloX2 vehicle that's been designed and built by students at Delft University of Technology.
The team got close to the record last year in VeloX1, clocking 80.5mph (129.6km/h) on the Battle Mountain course. Over the course of the past year they've tweaked the design of the machine to make it more aerodynamic, with a sharper nose and a new oval pedalling system to better fit inside the shell. Now it's up to their pilots Bowier and Bos to produce the goods this week.
While they wouldn't reveal the specifics of their CdA (coefficient of drag x frontal area), project leader Paul Denissen told BikeRadar that it was lower than 0.03, which is the "standard average for a streamlined bike."
That's less than a 10th of the drag of a typical road cyclist, which is why these vehicles can travel so fast off relatively low power.
The Delft University of Technology team with VeloX2 and pilots Sebastiaan Bowier and Jan Bos
A crash on Monday didn't stop VeloX2 from posting a 76.22mph (122.66km/h) run on Tuesday evening, the second fastest speed in the competition so far. Another Dutch team, Cygnus Beta driven by Jan-Marcel van Dijken, clocked 77.66 mph (124.98 km/h) on the same evening.
Team press officer Michel van Baal said that Sebastiaan Bowier wasn't hurt in the crash (caused by a flat tyre) and they were able to repair the machine with a back up shell in time for Tuesday.
Van Baal told BikeRadar that they're looking forward to more attempts this week: "Better weather is expected, and they hope and believe they can go faster still in the upcoming days," he said.
The news will be of interest to Graeme Obree, who is planning his own assault on the HPV speed record. He was unable to get to Battle Mountain however, and is planning on an attempt somewhere in the UK in the next couple of months.
Getting a push start. That camera at the top is how they navigate...