Graeme Obree is at it again, but this time, building a bike that he hopes to smash the current world speed record and reach 100mph.
Graeme, the former world champion cyclist, is hoping that the homemade bike that he’s building from recycled parts will be enough to break the land speed record for pedal power.
The grand design is being constructed in the kitchen of his one bedroom flat in Saltcoats, North Ayrshire. Almost like a series off Scrapheap Challenge, he’s assembling it from completely recycled parts, and even the shoulder rests have been made from an old saucepan.
The 46 year-old is due to attempt the record in September 2012, on a long stretch of flat road near Battle Mountain, in Nevada. If he does reach the 100mph target, then he won’t just break, but destroy the current record of 82.8mph set in the same location in 2009 by Sam Whittingham.
Obree is taking on this project without a vast support team to help other than his 18-year-old son, Jamie. They’re also building a backup vehicle in case the main bike develops a problem. The only other team member that Obree has is a manager who is still trying to gather up support for the big event just four months away!
For him to reach its optimum speed, he will have to pedal in a gear that’s around three times bigger than the hardest gear on a usual road bike. The energy transfer will go through two different chains, doubling the power of a conventional bike allowing him to reach that all-important 100mph mark.
Most speed cyclists will ride in a reclining position where their head is at the back of the bike and legs pedalling at the front, but not Obree. He’s switched it around so he’s lying horizontally, head first. To maximize the aerodynamics of the bike he will also surround himself by a carbon shell, reinforced with bullet proof Kevlar, or “the skin” as he calls it. This strong but light exterior shell will give an almost torpedo-looking bike and offer extreme protection in case things take a turn for the worst.
Obree has revolutionised cycling before, not once but twice! In 1993, he broke the record for the furthest distance travelled in one hour on a homemade bike, which among other things, contained bearings from an old dishwasher. In 1995 he then returned with a new riding style that he called the ‘superman’ position, which he used to set yet another world individual pursuit championship.
Obree said, “My biggest fear is not crashing on a bike and losing some skin. It’s sitting in a chair at 90 and saying, ‘I wish I had done more’. I don’t know if I will break the record but I will give it the best punt I can.”
Some might say Graeme Obree is crazy to even try something like this, but to him, it’s a way of life. He wants to inspire other people and relay a message that it’s OK to have a vision and just go for it, something a lot of people don’t do for the fear of not managing it.
I think I speak for everyone when I say good luck Graeme Obree!