Check out the honkin' big chain ring on the above bike. Looks almost surreal, doesn't it? Like it should be a clown bike pedaling around the big ring (pun intended).
Well, in 1962, the above bike was pedaled by José Meiffret to an astounding speed of 127 mph. Yes, you read that right, one hundred twenty seven miles per hour. The chain ring had an incredible 130 teeth on it (your road bike might have 52 or 53 teeth on it, or if you have a compact crankset, 48 or 50), the bike was equipped with wooden rims to prevent overheating (now there's a novel solution to the carbon rims they are making nowadays that tend to overheat), and the whole package weighed 45 pounds.
I'll be honest, I get a little nervous cruising down hills at 45+ mph on my road bike. Going 100 mph in a car had my whole body taut. Doing 127 on a bike, I'd probably be proverbially (or quite possibly figuratively) shitting in my lycra. Imagine: just the smallest crack, a little stone, heck a sneeze and you're done for. Game over.
Head over to Grist to read the whole story about it.
Reading the article made me think about another speed world record (at the time), that set by 'Mile-a-Minute' Murphy in 1899 (that's him to the right). Just as his nickname suggests, Murphy was the first cyclist to break the magical 60 mph barrier, which at the time was quite the feat. Technically speaking, he did it in 57.8 seconds, but 'Mile-a-fifty seven point eight' Murphy didn't have quite the same ring to it.
While 60 mph on a bike might not seem like all that an impressive feat, consider the fact that Murphy was riding a Tribune “Blue Streak” fixed-gear, manufactured by the Pope Manufacturing Company of Hartford, Connecticut, a steel bike that certainly weighed at least twice that of today's lightweight steeds. The Blue Streak was one of those new fangled "safety bicycles" which had really just come into vogue roughly 14 years before with John Kemp Starley's Rover bike. Starley's was the first recognizably modern bike whose form we still use today, a bike with two wheels of identical diameter, unlike the iconic penny-farthing with its two very dissimilar wheels. (Incidentally, Starley's company would later produce cars after his death and was the same company that went on to produce the iconic safari vehicle, the Land Rover - but that's a story for another day!)
Getting back to our man Murphy, to achieve his world record, the Long Island railroad laid down two miles of wooden boards between a straight expanse of track and specially fit a steam locomotive and a passenger car with a fairing extended off the back for him to ride within its slipstream.
Think of it as a primitive drafting set-up, working on the same principle as the peloton or NASCAR. Keep in mind that locomotives of the day were neither reliable or all that speedy themselves. Amazingly, all of Murphy's stars aligned though, and on his seventh attempt he set the record that his nickname would lay claim to for the remainder of his life, and indeed to this day.
And you thought YOU were fast!
Read the entire story over at Podium Cafe.
"Unfortunately, many well-motivated people have been led to believe that all fats are bad and that foods loaded with white flour and sugar are healthy choices. This has clearly contributed to the epidemic of diabetes we are experiencing and premature death for many."
The Huffington Post has an interested article titled Fat-Free Half-and-Half? explaining why fat isn't the enemy it's been made out to be and why going fat-free is actually a much worse choice.
Normally I'm not all that up on automotive technology, but a recent article concerning Volvo caught my attention. Volvo has always been a leader in the automotive safety field since the 40's: standard 3-point seat belts, crumple zones, rearward–facing child safety seats, pedestrian airbags (yes, pedestrian, not passenger), etc., etc., etc. Now they can add another technological leap to their already impressive resume.
Volvo has just unveiled their “Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection with full auto brake” system (yes the name is a mouthful, but trust me, it lives up to the hype). Basically, how it works is that there are sensors/radars/fancy gizmos located behind the grill in the nose of the car that detect motion in front and to the sides of the vehicle. This could be from pedestrians, or in my case more interestingly, cyclists. These sensors, in tandem with a camera to help identify what exactly the objects are and where they are heading, communicate with a processor that takes all of that information in and reacts to any movement that will place the object in the car's path of travel and...get this...automatically engage the brakes, even to the point of completely stopping the vehicle!
(insert Handel's Hallelujah chorus here!)
Unfortunately as of now this will only be an option on certain models, not a standard feature. Even more unfortunate it the fact that American auto brands will probably be as resistant to this technology as they were the 3-point seat belts (even though Volvo made its design free to any company that wanted to adapt it). While this new technology certainly doesn't replace safe cycling skills, it will certainly supplement it and perhaps save a few of us from inattentive drivers.
Read the full story HERE.
"The ride, running an arc of nearly 1,150 miles, would leave Adelaide and head southeast, crossing Victoria before heading northeast into New South Wales, ultimately finishing in Sydney. Chosen for its variety of terrain, the route would take riders up over the Australian Alps, the highest mountain range in the country, and across the sandy wastes of the Coorong. A team of 126 riders was selected for the challenge and subsequently divided into pairs, with each pair riding one of 63 legs. When the final pair arrived in Sydney, the team’s overall time – 69hrs 35mins – was significantly faster than even the most ambitious estimates had thought possible." - via Rapha
Speed & Sprocket Cycle Works is a company with a passion for bikes. We offer in home service on your bike as well as nutritional and training guidance for your body.