My RAGBRAI Team LIVESTRONG Fundraising Page

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Avery Dicycle

This entry is about explaining what a dicycle is and also gives you a link to vote for my brother Jim's creation in the Boca Bearings Innovation Competition.  If you just want to go vote for Jim's project, which will help him get it to Burning Man later this summer as well as to expand his shop and take on mentees, then GO VOTE FOR JIM'S PROJECT HERE.

And now for the full story:
A dicycle (also known as a diwheel) is a vehicle with two wheels side by side, unlike single-track vehicles such as motorcycles and bicycles, which have one wheel followed by another.  The diwheel design has the two large outer wheels completely encompassing an inner frame. The inner frame is free to rotate within the wheels, and is typically supported by a common axle or idlers which roll on the wheels (see figure).  (Source:
image from Wikipedia
Ok.  What does this have to do with my adventures on a bicycle?  Nothing.  But it does have to a lot to do with my genius brother, Jim.  (And I don't throw that word around lightly.  He is a genius.)

You see, Jim decided that he wanted to build something cool and unique to take to the Burning Man Festival in Nevada this year.  (Follow that link to learn more about it if you're interested.) So, he designed what he originally called the "Avery Tandem," a 12' wide cycle with the wheels (and two riders sitting) side-by-side. 
Original computer design
The wheels were 12' (yes, twelve feet) in diameter.  The riders sit inside the giant wheels and pedal a single-geared drive system.  Using two riders allows for turning - one pedals and the other doesn't.  It's hard to picture in this image where exactly the spokes are going and how the riders are inside the wheels.

Over the last several months, when he wasn't busy making and installing custom wrought iron decorative fencing he was working on building this cycle in his shop.  Because of space limitations, he did have to adjust the size, shrinking it to 11' high by 11' wide.  And even that was too big to get out the dock door.

On Father's Day the big unveiling.  (At our Dad's request, they did measure clearance to wires on the telephone poles, just to be safe.)  And here it is - the Jim Avery Dicycle:
Jim is in the seat nearest to the camera.
They rolled it out and rode it for a bit.  It was quite the site (wish I had been there to see it live).  And here it is:

While it needs a little tweeking, the Avery Dicycle is ready for Burning Man.  Now to get it from Iowa to Nevada.

Jim has also applied to the Boca Bearing Innovation Projects competition.  The prize is $10,000, which he wants to expand his operations to include a studio and to mentor other aspiring metal working artists.  If you could go here and vote for Jim's project, he would greatly appreciate your support.  There is another video there as well as some more information about his project.

Interesting side note: After he began construction of this dicycle, I was given a link to a collection of cycles at the Smithsonian.  I was clicking through and found this - a monocycle patented in 1869 that the operator rides inside the 8' wheel.  It should be noted though, that unlike the Avery Dicycle, this monocycle "crashed badly on its first trial run, and proved to be unsatisfactory."

Support Jim in his quest to get to Burning Man. Click here to see his entry page for the 2012 BOCA Bearing Innovation Competition, then scroll to the middle of the page and Vote for Jim!THANKS!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

UPAF Ride for the Arts

So this past Sunday, I was one of 7200 cyclists who took part in the UPAF Ride for the Arts in Milwaukee.  For the last thirty-one years, the United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF) has hosted this ride in Beer City.  The UPAF is a  a nonprofit, umbrella organization that supports 36 performing arts groups in Southeastern Wisconsin through its annual fundraising campaign.  This year's bike ride raised over $500,000.  Very cool!

So, the ride organizers have multiple routes available for cyclists to choose from: a 5-mile family ride, a 12 mile route, a 25-mi with two options at the start - over the Hoan Bridge or through the Third Ward, and both a 50 and 75 mile route which also go over the Hoan.  The Hoan is part of I-794 along the lakefront in Milwaukee. Last year was the first year, as getting approval to send cyclists over it was tied up in bureaucratic rules and safety concerns.

This was my third year doing this ride.  In 2010, I rode a 65-mi route (that has since been discontinued) and last year, I rode the 50-miler.  This year, I registered for the 75 mile route.  My goal was to finish the route in under 4 hours 30 minutes of ride time (ave 16.7 mph).  I figured a couple stops along the way would add another 30 minutes, max.  There is a stop at Concordia in Mequon (where Ryan goes to college) at the 25 and the 50 mi marks.  And Ryan was in town to help his girlfriend get moved out of the dorms.

After waking up at 4:00 and being on the road by 5:15, I arrived at the Summerfest grounds, where the ride starts, at about 6:40.  This gave me 20 minutes to get ready and get to the start line.  Plenty of time.  After the National Anthem, beautifully sung by one of the many artists supported by UPAF, we rolled out at 7:00. 
Ready to Roll!
The ride could basically be broken into four parts: the Hoan; to Concordia; Concordia to Port Washington and back; and from Concordia back to Summerfest.  The start line was immediately below the Hoan, which is about 100' high at its peak.  The span is about 3 miles in each direction, so we heading south and went up for a mile and a half, then down, exited the bridge and turned around and did it again, this time northbound. 
Heading back north on the Hoan as riders come from the Summerfest grounds.
Looking over at Lake Michigan from on top of the Hoan.
From there, we rode out of Milwaukee, through the streets of Shorewood, Whitefish Bay, Fox Point, Bayside and Mequon until we arrived at Concordia.  Pretty quickly into the ride, I had settled on a pace and found myself in a small pack of riders.  There were two riders in front who did all the pulling for our group (THANKS!).  I ran second wheel next to a guy named Jeff.  We cruised along pretty quickly without a lot of effort (at least not for those of us not in the front of the group).  Turns out we were cranking out splits of between 19 and 20 mph.  Which is very fast for me, especially for such a long haul (for 10 miles).

We arrived at Concordia - the 25 mile mark - at 8:20.  I arranged to meet with Ryan and Karli there, so I broke off from the group.  Jeff stopped too, but he got back on the road a couple minutes before I did.  It was great seeing the kids.  Karli had recently graduated and I didn't make it to the ceremony (Olivia had a dance contest), so I got to say "Congrats!"

After 12 minutes, I took off to head north.  I rode solo for the next third of the ride.  After a pretty flat first third of the ride, it got a little hilly near Port Wash.   
Riding on the Bike path in Port Wash on a beautiful June morning.
Though nothing too challenging.  And certainly nothing like the climb up County Hwy F into Blue Mounds. I was able to maintain a 17-19 mph pace on the way to Port Washington.  And with the exception of a couple little climbs, I even sped up 18-21 on the return from Port Wash through Grafton to Mequon, including on the Ozaukee Interurban Trail. 
The Ozaukee Interurban Trail Bridge over I-43 near Grafton.
At this point in the ride, it was a little fuzzy. But if I just focused on the goal ahead....
I passed the turn to go back to the Concordia campus at the 51.5 mile mark, having decided to ride on and not stop.  I caught a large group of riders at a red light just south of Concordia and passed them as the light turned green.  One of the riders was Jeff.  He caught back up to me and we chatted and rode together.  We rode hard the last 15 miles, averaging between 18-22 mph.  We were hammering it.  (Well, I was.  But, compared to guys who race, the hammer was really just a tack hammer.  Though it felt like big steel mallet to me!  Jeff was riding on my wheel for most of the way.  He did pull for about a mile, before cramping up in last couple miles.)  I really pushed it hard those last few miles.  And it felt great, blocking out the pain and pushing on. 

We passed a lot of riders on that last leg.  Most were semi-casual riders doing the 50 mile route (to Concordia and back).  A few riders passed me.  But not many.  I was really happy with how I rode - how fast, how long, and how hard.  It was a great ride!

As for my goal: I finished at 3:46:02, with an average speed of 18.6 mph. I finished 44 minutes under my goal and averaged almost 2 mph faster! And, instead of two rests totaling 30 minutes, I only stopped once for 12, when I met up with Ryan and Karli. Oh, it does turn out that the route is only 70.15 miles.  
#BOMBSAUCE ride! Thrilled with that effort.
And hats off to the organizers and volunteers for the UPAF.  There were people at all the major intersections making sure we were safe.  And to the local law enforcement, too.  Thanks guys! Gret job everyone.  Fantastic event.

At the finish line, we were greeted by a woman on stilts giving "high" fives (well, she was giving low fives, the riders were giving high fives).  
Then it was into the bike corral (again, well done organizers!) and into Summerfest to enjoy some food and beer.
I found a tree to lean against, a "beer" to enjoy, and a The Who cover band to listen to.  A great reward after 70 miles of work.  (My only complaint is that the only beer selections were MGD, Lite, and Coors Light, when Miller also owns Leinies.  Really? Two light beers?!?  I suppose it was the plastic bottle thing, but still....)
I can't say enough about this ride.  Great event, worthy cause, lots of fun.  Mark your calendars - first Sunday in June, 2013.  Why don't you join me? 

UPDATE: Photos from the official UPAF Ride photographer, Red Hammer Photography, are on-line.  Go check out their facebook page for the link to all the pics! 

With permission, here are three images of me on the Hoan:
That's me on the left, in the black and yellow Team LIVESTRONG jersey.
Of course, I HAD to talk to this guy.  He's ridden RAGBRAI 19 times and will be there in July.  Maybe I'll see him again.
Coming back north on the Hoan.  The start of a beautiful ride.