11
Jan
10

We Need A Cannonball

As I’ve been thinking up new ways to spread the idea of a Biomimetic Bicycle it occurred to me that racing has been one of the biggest drivers of technology and design the world over.  Automobiles have benefited enormously from races such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans to the multi-million dollar circus that is Formula One.  Some of the fruits of these racing efforts have been everything from windshield wipers, headlights, seat-belts, to aerodynamic everything, to KERS systems.  The engineering prowess of generations applied to the simple question of: How do we go faster?  Has changed the world…for cars.  Where do you think the buttons on your cars steering wheel came from?   Racing.

So why can’t the creativity and passion of engineers and cyclists be applied to racing?  Well, it has.  Bicycle manufacturers work non stop, year after year, to maximize the performance of their top-end bikes for top level racing.  However one of the hiccups in this process is that the rules that govern different racing categories limits the amount and kind of technology that finds it way into top tier road bicycles.  The UCI minimum weight limit is a prime example of this.  Some of the fastest, commercially available bicycles have been designed to get as close to the limit of what the rules for professional racing allow as opposed to what it would be possible to create.  Fine.  What I’m proposing is a race that would allow for a greater exploration of how technology can redefine the way we think about cycling and bicycles.

Solution:  The Cannonball Run!

Yes.  Only Burt Reynolds can help us solve the problems of global warming, traffic congestion, and of course producing the worlds first Biomimetic bicycle.  Coast to coast, as fast as you can.  Those are the rules.  Everything else is up to human power and technological creativity.  At this point you may be thinking: “Hey Aaron!  Don’t they already do the RAAM?”  And you would be right.  But the RAAM, while an amazing and under-appreciated test of human endurance, is simply not set up as a testing ground for new bicycle technology .  At least not to the extent I am imagining.  The current RAAM record was set by the incomparable Michael Secrest of Flint, MI.  He raced from Huntington Beach, CA to New York, NY in June of 1990 in 7 Days, 23 hours, and 16 minutes.   That is amazing.  I say we dedicate ourselves to the goal of cutting that time in half.

A Biomimetic bicycle should be able to do the Cannonball Run in 4 days or less.  It should be done in as few stops as possible.  The majority of the ride should be done under human power.  I think parameters would have to be set for KERS systems and Electric assist motors.  We want to push the technology but we don’t want it to turn into an electric motorcycle race.

I’m excited for 2010.  I think if we can continue to spread the word about the unparalleled promise of Biomimicry by stuffing that promise into a symbol to which people can relate than we can change the world.  I can’t think of a better symbol than the bicycle.  Let’s go Cannonballers!!

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1 Response to “We Need A Cannonball”


  1. January 12, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    Hello Aaron:

    My friend, Frank Fedel, forwarded this to me; he has a Google alert anytime my name is mentioned. To set the record straight, RAAMer’s will be upset with your stating that this ride was during RAAM. It was not. It was a solo attempt. That settled, I contact you because I am the answer to your dilemma! Please go to my website and check-out The Impossible Ride. I’ve been trying to get anyone to get behind my TWO-DAY coast-to-coast ride, drafting behind a truck since 1990; when I went 1216 miles in 24-hours at Phx. Int. Raceway doing the same. I’m in the process of completely revising the site, as I will soon be putting a DVD on YouTube called “TheGuyOnTheBike.” The first half will show the aforemntioned PIR ride. The second half is dedicated to addressing the problem of obesity in this country. I put out a call to action for people, as a start, commit to riding a bike one day a week. They can take it a step further by committing to replace their motor vehicles with a bicycle one day a week; a way to reduce carbon emmissions and our dependence on foreign oil. Modern US people need something dramatic and grandiose to attract and hold their attention: think “Bubble Bo.” Aaron, everyone will think that TIR is just a publicity stunt when I begin in San Diego. When they awaken on that Sunday morning, turn on their tv’s, and see that I’m in San Antonio, the whole US media and citizens will be glued to their tv’s following me to the finish in Florida! Not to be boastful, but I think you will agree that TIR will greatly eclipse, in people’s view, the miraculous seven Tours de France by Lance. No disrespect to Lance, but TIR is uniquely American in nature and grandiosity. I’m not familiar with biomimitics, and the only change required for my bike was a huge chainring, re-designed right seatstay and re-designed steering geometry for stability at high speed. So, I’m not sure that this ride can neccessarily create newer improvements that are already being designed; but what this ride CAN do is to bring attention to the bicycle as a means of viable transportation and a way for the nation, as a whole, drop some much-needed pounds! What do you think Aaron? Hope to hear from you soon.

    Most sincerely,

    Michael Secrest


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