Mike Burrows was proudly showing off the new fairing for his Windcheetah and, together with Ian Borwell and the irrepressible Andy Pegg, we set off. A fine sight it was, too: three Speedies and an Avatar recumbent bicycle guaranteed to arouse interest amongst cycle-conscious Netherlanders.
With a wind at our back, we were soon scooting along the well built cyclepaths. There are so many alternative routes for cycles ifs quite easy to get lost. If only Britain were like that!
Zandvoort is on the coast, and for most of the ride we were on a smooth paved track running through a national park free of motorised traffic. Sheer bliss.
The weekend's events, which were sponsored by Fiets, a Dutch publication similar to Bicycle Magazine, took place on a 2.5 mile motor racing track with lots of curves and a long straight. The bane of HPV racing is hills; thankfully there was nothing major of that sort on the course. As it turned out wind and rain were to prove the telling factor in the racing. The only part of the circuit that didn't seem to lead into the teeth of a howling gale was the straight.
Our Dutch hosts and fellow competitors were very pleased to see a large British turnout. There were vehicles from as far apart as Spain, Germany and Scotland.
Cold, wet and windy Sunday mornings are hardly prime spectator time for any sporting event, let alone a minority sport such as HPV racing. Yet would you believe that at Zandvoort at 9.30am there were in excess of 500 hardy souls braving the elements in the stands? Heartening stuff. This was the first wet HPV event anyone could remember and it showed up a number of flaws in some of the machines, Having wheels inside the body shell is great for speed, but the spray from wet roads tends to be thrown onto the screen and obscures the rider's vision.
For the sprint event legal records were out of the question, due to the typhoon-like winds blowing competitors along the straight. Some very respectable times were turned in, though. As was expected, the German Vector team posted the. highest speed with 46.75 mph. Halfords' Dark Horse, the only two-rider vehicle present, churned down the misty straight at 46mph and had a lot of trouble stopping in the limited distance before the curve. Duncan Lawrie's Mobey Slick, basically a standard bicycle with a fully enclosed fairing, recorded 41.29mph before being blown over just outside the timing traps. In common with most of the other competitors, Dave Marsh in Poppy Flier had trouble seeing where he was going and could only manage 41.1 mph.
The rain eased and by the start of the road race had stopped completely, but the track was still damp. After a mildly chaotic start, the field soon spread out. Coming down the straight at the end of the first of five laps, it was Trevor Bul1 and Dave Sinar in Dark Horse who had powered their way to a handy lead.
Screams and whoops of ecstasy erupted from the pits when the Glen Sprocket Team's Dragonfly came past next ahead of the Vector. Not by much mind you, but it was leading. A thrilling spectacle with only a few metres separating them.
And that's the way it stayed for much of the race. Unfortunately Dave Jones in Dragonfly didn't have anything left to respond to the sprint finish and so Gerhardt Scheller in the Vector pipped him on the last straight. Multicoloured Andy Pegg, as usual a hit with the spectators, carne next in the faired Windcheetah, followed by yet another British competitor, Simon Sanderson in his rear-wheel steering Panzer. Dave Marsh Snr in Pace International put in a creditable performance and would have eclipsed any competition had there been a veterans class. Poppy Flier had mechanical problems (again!) and had to retire after one lap.
Although it wasn't among the prizes, the Dutch recumbent bicycle, Roulandt (pronounced roo-lant with a richly rounded 'r'), certainly caught my eye. With 300 sold and another 500 in production, it could be that recumbents are about to catch on in a big way in Holland.
Spaniard Joseph Mora's faired bicycle had the most mystifying cable drive system I've ever seen and most of the engineers present had trouble understanding it too. He also suffered from stability problems in the severe winds.
So, apart from the lousy weather, a successful
first event for all involved and one that augurs well for the future. If
it stays in its mid-September time-slot, it will fit nicely into the proposed
international circuit of HPV racing.
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