Friday 4 January 2013

Oliebollentocht 2012

At the start
Last Saturday, the 29th of December, was the day of the Oliebollentocht. This is an annual social ride for velomobilists, around 60 km in length. This year it the circular route started from Zwolle and it attracted 157 velomobiles which was enough for a new world record. 157 is about 1/10th of the total number of velomobiles in the Netherlands, though quite a lot of participants were not from the Netherlands but from Germany, Belgium and France. One guy rode his velomobile all the way from Austria to take part.

I started making a video, but several other people made better videos than mine. I've picked out two of them.

Harry captures the fun in part by playing around with speeds and mixing up the order of the event:

The Questchen's video also shows the ride well and because he was in the same group as me (we rode in four groups of about 40, meeting up halfway and at the end), I appear in this video at about 7:20:

Going home, lighting up the cycle-path
Almost the entire distance between here
and Zwolle was covered on cycle-paths
of this quality.
Zwolle is 70 km South from Assen, I rode there on my own on the morning of the ride and rode back again afterwards with Peter. Quite a lot of the riding was in darkness at both ends of the day, and I again supplemented my inbuilt B+M light with a Philips headlight which lit up the road very well indeed. Roughly half of the total distance was covered on cycle-paths, and the other half on minor country roads which mostly don't function as through roads for drivers.

Wide, smooth cycle-path in Zwolle
with priority over the road. Zwolle,
like all Dutch cities, has a
comprehensive network of
good quality cycle paths.
By the end of the day I'd covered a total of 202 km at an average speed of 27.5 km/h, including all the slow-downs which occur when riding in a large group, wheeling the Mango through parking areas, slowing down and stopping to read the map on the way there and back etc. Such an average doesn't break any records, but it's a perfectly respectable touring speed and as I've pointed out before, providing another example how it's perfectly possible to keep up a good speed on Dutch cycle-paths.

Traffic stopped, crossing as a group
The entire day was a pleasure, and as ever, the infrastructure helped to make it so. Where else in the world could such a mass ride take place with a lot of people riding rather larger than average bicycles, often two abreast, at a good speed, with no problems due to motor vehicles ?

Finally, thank-you to all those involved with organising the Oliebollentocht, especially Paulus den Boer who hosted the event and the many volunteer verkeersregelaars who gave up a day to direct traffic and by doing so made things go very smoothly indeed.

How efficient is it ?
I calculated a while back that a strong person doing a manual job probably generates about 1 kWh of energy in an eight hour working day. I cycled for less than eight hours, so this journey was probably made on less than 1 kWh of energy. It's remarkable how efficient cycling is, and a velomobile is even more efficient than a normal bicycle.


Bob said...

I sort of lost my mind when you mentioned that some chap rode all the way from Austria!
Crikey, it's over 10 hours by car, I can't quite imagine pedalling all that way. Kudos to whomever it was.

Clark Nikolai said...

The first video I found interesting and was watching it fairly calmly but when it got to the separated path that goes over a bridge and to the next intersection (starting around 7:40), I got a little choked up as to what we could have here and don't.
I envy what the Dutch have built and want some of the same.

KruidigMeisje said...

The austria guy took 4 days off 300 km each. And he rode in before Xmas, and went back after the oliebollentocht (5 days later), so he was nicely rested. But these kind of rides are feasible in a velomobile: your butt isn't a pinchpoint in these cases. Only your shape/fitness.

Frits B said...

Considering that both Austria and Germany don't excel in having long distance bike paths, the participant from Austria deserves praise for his courage alone.

As for long distance pedalling, there is this story on the Van Raam website about a 72 year old granny from Münich who cycled 1262 km (about 800 miles) from Münich to the isle of Rügen on the Baltic coast on a threewheeler, with her dachshund in a basket. Took her 49 days and she had electric assist, but still quite an achievement as she didn't have the weather protection a velomobile offers.
Story and video are here: