Nick Hein and his velomobile experiences


Title: Nick Hein and his velomobile experiences

Author: Nick Hein





I'm Nick, I'm a velomobile addict and this is my story.


I've been interested in efficient pedaled vehicles since the 70's when I first learned about the IHPVA competitions that were being held at the time. I first got into recumbents in the 1990's when I moved to Seattle and joined an intrepid group of DIYers (the only way then to get a streamliner or velomobile). It wasn't until 2018 when I was able to buy my first velomobile - a used Quest from someone in Green Bay WI who was unable to continue riding due to injuries and health issues. I would regularly commute on that velo in all kinds of weather that would keep other cyclists home (or in cars). I was mystified by cyclists who would dress up in winter gear that looked like it was more suited for a spacewalk than a bike ride.


One year our local bike advocacy held a "fashion show" so cyclists could model their outfits. I got up on stage in my regular indoor clothes and pulled a cover off my velo, saying "My bike wears the Winter clothes so I don't have to do as much laundry."


I now have a Strada that I've ridden extensively, including several 3-7 day camping tours in which I was able to carry all my gear and supplies behind the seat. I've ridden to the EAA Airventure Fly-in (90 miles in 4.5 hrs) where I volunteer for the week several times, and to the MREA Renewable energy fair (120 miles/6 hours). It feels great to get to these events entirely under my own power - especially the renewable energy fair.


The airshow is fun because it turns lots of heads, at a place where there's plenty of other amazing things to look at. I'm also rehabbing a used Katanga WAW to sell, but the little bit of riding I've done on it impresses me with how different two similar vehicles can be.


I'll also sell the Strada soon to make room for the Alpha 9.2 that I'll be getting in the Spring, along with about 35 other lucky new velomobile owners. I hope we can have a group ride in Minneapolis when they arrive. Up until now, mine have been the only velomobiles seen here in Madison recently. Today I was at a bike shop in Northern WI showing a picture of my Strada to the shop employee, and she had seen it posted on social media Sunday when I had been riding it around. It's nice to be noticed for being unique, but I'd much rather be sharing the road with lots of these (and fewer cars).


I've had a couple of misadventures in my travels. A few times I've been pulled over by police when they thought I had a motor. As soon as they realize I don't they usually give a friendly wave and drive away. The one exception was when I was coming home from Oshkosh the last time. I was stopped by the State Patrol for riding in the roadway (on an empty state highway). The officers explained (falsely) that I was required to stay within 2 feet of the edge of the road and not permitted to obstruct traffic in any way. I was riding in the traffic lane because the paved shoulder (as is typical in cold climates) was a moonscape of broken pavement and potholes that threatened to shake the wheels of at the speed I needed to be going to get home before dark. They made me wait a half hour while they took my drivers license and bike serial number to supposedly check to see if I was legal or the vehicle was stolen - a clear case of unreasonable search and seizure. I later learned that they didn't do anything during this except waste my time.


I've rarely had any mechanical problems or flat tires while riding. However, since I spend so much time working on the velos at home, my wife insists that I get a new bike that I can spend all my time riding in the years I have remaining. I love my wife!


I've also really enjoyed getting to know the people that I meet and ride with here in the Midwest. I hope to be able to travel to more distant places next summer.



Author: Nick Hein (EN version)

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