Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on July 26th, 2011 at 3:05 pm
(Photos: Ted Buehler)
Portland is being invaded by velomobiles as we speak.
This Thursday, over 50, (nearly) fully-enclosed, pedal-powered machines will launch from Portland on a coast-to-coast tour. Organizers of the Roll Over America (ROAM) say it's the first cross-country, group velomobile ride ever and it will, "be so unique that its participants will find it virtually impossible to escape public attention."
Velomobiles are three-wheeled recumbents wrapped in an extremely aerodynamic shell made of fiberglass, carbon fiber or aluminum. They might look like rocket ships, but they're street legal and meant for everyday use. The bright paint is a way to increase visibility — something they need being so close to the ground.
"If you are shy, riding a velomobile will be a bad idea," says ROAM tour organizer Josef Janning.
They are definitely hard to miss. A few of them rolled out to Portland International Raceway last night and instantly drew a crowd...
ROAM riders hail from all over Europe and America. Their journey will take them through 15 states and they plan to cover the 3,000-plus mile distance in four weeks at an average of about 125 miles per day. They'll cruise along at speeds between 20-30 miles an hour without even breaking a sweat.
Beyond just a display of physical prowess, the tour is also about promoting the idea of velomobiles and the vast potential they offer for the future of human-powered transport.
Just ask U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer. In a statement from ROAM organizers, Blumenauer called the event, "An exciting tour that will showcase the benefits and practicalities of velomobiles for long-distance travel as it brings national visibility to the health, fuel-efficient, and environmental value of human-powered vehicles."
Velomobile advocate Craig Johnsen says that as energy prices rise, "human powered vehicles could become a more-usual sight on American roads and trails."
On Thursday, all 50 of the ROAM tour participants will roll en masse down to the Salmon Street Fountain. They expect to arrive between 10:30 and 11:00. They'll stick around for an a few hours to take questions and pose for photos. As for test rides? I wouldn't count on it; but maybe if you ask very nicely.
If all goes according to plan, they'll be presented with an official proclamation of "Velomobile Day" by the City of Portland Office of Transportation.
You can learn more about the ROAM tour and follow updates RollOverAmerica.eu.