My history with recumbent type pedal vehicles goes back to the seventies when my brother Randy Schlitter developed street legal sailing machines. A delta trike with the recumbent position. We then developed two recumbents in 1978 under the RANS name. I left the company in 2000 and started another recumbent company called Bacchetta Bikes and now have my own label of Schlitter Bikes. How does this relate or has to do with velomobiles?
I have been a recumbent ultra-cyclist since 2005 with my first recumbent team event in the Race Across America. It was from that point I was pretty much on a mission to prove a recumbent bicycle can be competitive in ultra-races. Many ultra-races and many records were competed and completed over the next decade.
Late 2021 I decided to put my name in on the Tans America Bike Race. Having been the first solo recumbent rider to crack Race Across America in 2008 the TABR (Trans America Bike Race) was my next big challenge in my ultra-cycling. Dave Lewis a 2018 TABR veteran (Milan SL) got wind of it and contacted me and asked if I wanted to ride with him (train) because he was considering doing the race.
So, we started doing rides together he in his Milan and I on my Schlitter Freestyle recumbent. It was soon evident to me that riding together was not possible. I would either be riding at max to stay close to Dave or he would be doing 100 watts riding down to my speeds. This went on for awhile but after a week of watching him go so dam fast I mention to my buddy Troy Timmons that if he see a Milan SL for sell let me know. Well Troy saw one and I bought it!
Dave and I continue our training together and doing races while I made arrangements to get the Milan to me. We both rode the Sebring 12-hour race, Dave did 344 and I did 284.2. Then I said we ought to do the Florida 500 the following weekend. We would ride to Jacksonville for the start race 533 miles to Key West then ride home after a day of recovery. Dave did the Florida 533 miles in 22:21 and I in 28:52. You can see a trend here.
I received my Milan SL about the middle of March and hoped in and went for a 125-mile ride with Dave, then all of sudden we were doing training rides up into the 300 plus mile range pretty quickly and I made the decision to use the Milan SL for my TABR race and Dave was in for the race also. Soon we were running out of different places to ride, and I suggest that we should just ride to the start of TABR somewhere around 3600 miles to get there. I said we should have it all figured out by the time we get there.
Reasons for doing the TABR in the Milan SL were, great average speeds, able to carry what gear needed to be self-supported without increasing the drag on the bike. No worries climbing at slow speed vs climbing a slow speed on a two-wheel loaded recumbent. Riding in a weather protected environment was a plus too!
Ended up being a great learning experience and fun trip. I decided in Kansas near my hometown that I would pull the plug on doing TABR and rolled into Hays Kansas with 1905 miles in ten days of riding. Dave rolled on to Boulder Colorado.
Every time I get into the Milan, I get a giggle because it can be so fast, but I also enjoy just cruising. Just like I do when I ride my two-wheel recumbent, pain free and fast but the velo is a whole step above.
I look forward to sharing my experience as Dave Lewis has been so great in mentoring me in the ways of riding a velomobile, I to want help future velomobile riders.
By the way I’m only 66 years old! My location is in Port Charlotte FL. I do traveling a bit and always travel with a velomobile along, so it is possible I can introduce and show the Bülk to interested parties.
You can visit also my website here.