Check out the article a local newspaper did on my Velo and me!http://www.pipestoneflyer.com/Article.asp?id=2030
The page is not completely visible so here is the print copy:
It's a bird, it's plane, it's a...
No! It's a Velomobile! Huh? "A what?", you might ask? Well, it looks like some sort of futuristic car, possibly pulled from the pages of a Jetsons cartoon, but what a velomobile actually is, is a lightweight shell enclosing a recumbent bicycle, that can have a lot of the accoutrements that a car has, using no more fuel than the rider can supply with his/her legs.
Larry Hager, owner of Renu Cycle in Leduc, is a huge proponent of the vehicles. As a matter of fact, if you ever see one of these funky bikes go streaking by you in Calmar, Leduc or any point in between, chances are it's Larry pedaling away inside his "yellow torpedo".
He just received his velomobile in January of 2012, but this coming August will be 10 years that Larry has been riding recumbent bikes. "I first saw a recumbent bike on tv and I thought they were kinda cool looking." said Larry. Then on a family vacation down in Bentley, they happened to be present during the Bentley Days Parade where Larry finally saw a recumbent in person. He immediately drove down to Bentley Cycle where they had one recumbent in stock, and took it out for a test ride. He was hooked.
"I am a big guy who was really out of shape at the time, and I just wanted to lose weight and get healthier. Riding a conventional bike was quite painful for me but a recumbent took those issues away." shared Larry. "I was so out of shape though, that when I first climbed on I couldn't ride it to the end of the block without being winded, and if I tried to ride to the end of town I couldn't breathe." However, within only two weeks, Larry biked from his home in Calmar into his business in Leduc. "My wife had to come and get me and bring me home." laughed Larry, "But it was a milestone in my life."
Now Larry has lost 65 pounds and regularly rides 100 kms a day, and can do up to double that in a single day.
Since starting, biking on recumbents has become a driving force in his life. "My wife now rides a recumbent as well, and we have been known to book our vacations around different rides and riding opportunities." said Larry, with a smile.
Riding has taken Larry to Sacramento where he rode the American River Bike Trail, which is 90 kms long and ridden over two days. He has also been to Kellogg, Idaho where he took part in the "Trikes Optional Tour". This is a fun tour for bike enthusiasts of all sorts, that travels 300 kilometers in five days. Riders with bikes, trikes, recumbents and velomobiles gather together for what is akin to an unmotorized Sturgis.
Currently, Larry is looking forward to the "Tour De Alberta", which is a one day recreational ride that takes place on July 22, 2012, beginning in Morinville, AB, and has categories for every level of rider. Organizers are hoping to see 1200 riders taking part this year.
When asked what made him switch from a regular recumbent cycle to a velomobile, Larry replied with a grin, "Speed!" A self described speed freak, Larry is always looking for ways to go faster on his bikes. "The velo is a great machine for speed." he said. "Being completely enclosed in the aerodynamic velo body drops your wind resistance and enables you to go faster using less energy than a regular recumbent." Larry's top speed riding the velomobile so far has been clocked at 72 km/h, with his daily average commuting speed being 28 km/h.
"It's also much more comfortable, stable and maneuverable than a regular bike." said Larry. "To be perfectly honest, as a biker, on the road you are typically viewed as an annoyance. Riding the velo, drivers treat me like another car."
Another perk to riding a velomobile is protection from Alberta's notoriously fast changing weather. On nice days you can ride with the top open and the wind in your face, or on inclement days you can invest in a removable wind screen and cover that will keep you warm and dry. You can also accessorize a velomobile almost as well as a car. There are attachments available for lights, a horn, cell phones, sound systems, water bottles, odometers, and a flat tire kit with a pump, amongst other things.
"They are already really big in Europe." said Larry, "But they are really just starting to be seen over here. With such an interest in ecologically friendly transportation taking off in this country, it doesn't get any friendlier than this! There is no fuel used what-so-ever which is also really easy on your wallet. Plus the fact that people are looking for ways to get healthier at the same time, so this is a natural fit. The inventor of the velomobile is 75 years old and still rides his over 1000 kms a month!"
Larry shared that living in this area is also a bonus for velo riders. He said that Leduc was a great place to ride almost year round as the roads and multiways are cleared very quickly after snowfalls, which enables him to continue riding even in winter. With the mild winter we had this last year, Larry began riding his velo in February, and except for a couple of heavy snowfalls we received in late winter, he has been riding ever since.
As a matter of fact, it was his love of biking that started his new business venture, Renu Cycle. Already a small business owner, running the Crack Masters and U-Haul franchises in Leduc, Larry realized that there was no one around that did bike repairs anymore. Since he had been working on his own bikes for years it was a natural progression when friends began asking him to fix their rides. Working out of the same building as Crack Masters and U-Haul, Renu Cycle is starting to really take off. So much so, that between the business and Larry's love of recumbents, he is also working towards becoming a dealer of velomobiles.
These last 10 years have been so much more than just enjoying himself and riding bikes for Larry. "It has almost become a lifestyle now." he confessed. "Really, I started out just being a fat guy that wanted to get healthier. These bikes let me do that while having a lot of fun."
To encourage anyone interested in trying out a velomobile, Larry generously offered to allow anyone interested to get in touch with him at his shop, and come on down for a spin on his "Yellow Torpedo".
If you want to learn more about these interesting vehicles before climbing on, you can also go to Larry's blog at www.velorydr.blogspot.ca, where you will find a wealth of information on velomobiles, and many links to other sites sharing info on velos and recumbents.