Tag Archives: bicycle drag racing

Yehuda Moon moves out from behind the paywall, and other news on Wreck-free Sunday

I have been meaning to mention this for a couple of weeks, but Yehuda Moon has moved from behind the paywall. When their old comments software went down and was no longer supported they had a choice: lose 4 years of comments or lose the paywall. Since the paywall has been as popular as a porcupine in a nudist colony, and the comments section has been the primary reason people were paying to read the comic, we have today’s headline.

As some of you might know I love cars when they are on a closed track all going the same direction, and not driving around me. Today we have two of those going on TV, the Grand Am Rolex series in Sonoma, and the NHRA Nationals (The Big Go) from Indianapolis. I haven’t been able to follow the NHRA points battles as well as I would like, the “regular job” of this blog kind of monopolizing my time and evening services at church coming at the same time as the ESPN2 broadcast of the races. Having been a road racer from back when Reagan was president, and a hard-working SCCA member (I still have an award plaque from working every event in an entire season back in the 1980’s) I’m very interested in the Grand Am event. I’m a nuts and bolts kind of road racer, I like restrictive rules that encourage design innovations, like Formula Ford. I’m not quite as enamored of rules packages like Daytona prototypes that while they have lots of different engines the rest of the cars are nearly identical in geometry and appearance by rules rather than by evolution. The Gen3 cars have only 2 aero packages that look almost identical, to go with the Gen2 pair of aero packages. So you have 3 or 4 chassis makers that have 2 sets of bodywork that have to interchange as the aero package is tied to the engine manufacturers. The Corvette package is only for use by the GM engine cars, while the other aero package is for the Ford, Porsche, and BMW engines and aside from the side pods and the tail light panel I can’t tell them apart, similar to the Gen2 packages that had a common windshield (I think, they looked almost the same).

Now if you want to talk about a simple, restrictive but open rules book you don’t need to look any further than the ISMA rules for Supermodified racers for oval tracks. Maximum wheelbase, no minimum, maximum width, a near spec-engine rule (cast iron Chevy big-block of 470 Cu. In.) very few engine location rules (the front 2/3 of the wheelbase) a spec tire rule with a choice of left rear tires to adapt the cars for different radius turns (basically everyone is going to use the same left rear tire because stagger is such an important variable and the size gaps between allowed tires are large enough that only one combination will work per track). If I was still building oval track cars this is the rules package I would be building under.

Now a rules package I’m not too fond of as a builder is the Sprint Cup rules that are such that you can change a Dodge Charger to a Toyota Camry with an engine swap and swapping the nose cap, tail cap, and window pillars. For the teams this is great, because it really reduces costs, but for us nuts and bolts geeks it is utter purgatory.

That’s the reason why I like building bikes. Actually I like building recumbent bikes, not those hyper-regulated UCI things that have rules for everything including the rider’s shoes for aerodynamic parity. And the aggravating thing is the bikes are so highly regulated under the UCI that finding any edge requires cubic $ expended in wind tunnels to tune the rider position while the unfaired recumbents we just lay the rider back as far as he can still see what’s out front and call it good. The faired bikes you have to use CFD and wind tunnels to get that last MPH out of it for IHPVA records and WHPSC championships, but for HPRa and WRRA races you can “eyeball” it and call it good and still win races. You can run an entire season with a new bike in HPRa for less than the cost of wind tunnel testing for a single rider in the UCI, and win races if you’re a good enough rider. The thing is that even in the HPRa a good rider on a mediocre bike will beat a mediocre rider on a great bike. You need a great rider on a great bike to be sure of winning, but because this is not a pro series the riders are the biggest variable to deal with. The design of the unfaired (“Stock” class) bikes has pretty much evolved to a fully reclined SWB bike with a small front wheel and lots of chain and leg overlap of the front wheel. The other classes are not so evolved and there are many different variations of what works and what wins in each class, with what works best for the rider being the biggest factor. What works for one rider is trash for another, which makes for some interesting racing, both from the “read about it later” and the “watch it while it happens” points of view.

And that’s what has been running through my mind today (and this week).

PSA, Opus

Some of the problems being a bicycle rider in a car-driving world, Wreck-Free Sunday

I know what some of you might be thinking, but there will be no reports on interactions with motor vehicles in this post. No, not that either. This is a post about… underwear.

OK while you put your heads back on your necks from the psychic whiplash, this post is about white cotton briefs and the problems you can have with them if you’re a bike rider, even if you don’t wear underwear with your bike shorts. OK I just saw heads going the other way, I’ll hold up while you recover from the other psychic whiplash (or the first one after I made that other abrupt reversal).

OK are you sitting comfortably with plenty of neck support? This post is about why men’s underwear doesn’t fit bike riders natural proportions. There, that wasn’t so bad, was it? I have been training for a couple of things I want(ed) to do this summer. You know all about BikeMS, that charity ride I was going to do but that fell through. Well I have another thing that I’m working on, some shorter rides. Real short rides. Of about 1/4 mile each. Very quickly. That would be drag racing for the uninitiated. The current record for the standing 1/4 mile as recognized by the IHPVA is just over 27 seconds. I think I can do better if I make a purpose-built vehicle for this, that I have been working on for about 3 years now trying to make it hold together when I shift from low gear to high. I mention that part because it leads to the issue I got started on at the beginning of this post, underwear.

Anyway part of the reason I can’t get the drag racing vehicle to survive a shift from low to high gear is I make this shift under full power and part of it is I’m working with crap parts that have rather loose tolerances and large clearances and I can’t afford to buy good stuff, and things get twisted out of shape when I apply maximum effort, and I have been training to apply even more effort than what has been breaking the bike before.

Can you see where this one is going yet? Large amounts of power and working to be able to make more power? And just where would that power come from? You in the back doing the Horshack impression, stop waving your hand, you’re right, it’s from leg muscles. BIG leg muscles. No, bigger than that. BIG leg muscles. Are we getting the picture yet? Or are you still wondering what the heck this has to do with my underwear?

I had to get new underwear recently because the center seam in my shorts has been sawing a split down the center of the seat of my underwear. I got the size that fits my waist just fine, but it takes me a few minutes to get the leg holes over my thighs either pulling them on or taking them off before I go to bed as I have to work then gently around the quads and hamstrings until I can pull the underwear up over my waist. The waistband is comfortably snug, the leg holes likewise after I get the underwear completely on. It’s just the getting on part that is a pain in the tookus. Car drivers rarely have big quads, unless they have a 4BBL carburetor on the engine, so they don’t need to have big leg holes or lots of elastic on the leg holes in their underwear. Bike riders on the other hand do have big quads and hammies and hip adductors that require big leg holes in their briefs. I think the only other group that has a similar problem would be professional body builders. I’m not quite to those proportions yet, but with this drag race training program I might be soon be in those levels of development.

Now part of the problem is where I have to buy my underwear, the local dollar store. China-made underwear is not built for people like me, they make underwear for people with fat butts and big waists and skinny legs that only get used walking from the house to the car, from the desk to the refrigerator, and from the bedroom to the kitchen. IOW hardly at all. These people need underwear with waistbands that are much larger in proportion to their leg holes than people that ride bikes as transportation, and those people vastly outnumber people like me.

So, you see my dilemma. I can buy my dollar store underwear to fit my legs, or I can buy it to fit everything else underwear fits over. For the moment I buy it to fit my waist, because they don’t mark the packages with the size of the leg holes and I haven’t figured out what waist size would have leg holes big enough to get on easily. Probably by the time I got leg holes that big the underwear would just fall off if I stood up too quickly anyway.

PSA, Opus