If you need any further convincing on the impact of wind drag on vehicle efficiency, try this on for size: a British fellow just hopped on a pushbike and went 149 mph (240 km/h) while slipstreaming a Porsche. Neil "Soupy" Campbell now holds the European bicycle speed record, but not the world one – yet.
Naturally, it was no normal bicycle Soupy was riding. It was custom-built by Moss Bikes out of Cheshire for attempts like this one, featuring carbon construction, 3D-printed bits and pieces, a stretched-out shape, a tow bar, and the kinds of tires, forks and brakes you'd generally find on a small motorcycle.
Yes, a tow bar. Soupy's attempt was at last weekend's Straightliners event at Elvington Airstrip, North Yorkshire, so he had very limited space to get up to speed on the two-mile (3.2-km) runway. Thus, he tucked himself in behind a kitted-out Porsche Cayenne Turbo with a big windscreen at the back, which towed him up past 100 mph (161 km/h). At this point, he released the tow strap and started pedaling for his life.
"We've got so little space that it was essential that we got up to speed as quickly as possible," says Campbell. "The acceleration of the Cayenne was incredible – it was like being strapped to a rocket. I was pedaling throughout, harder and harder, before I released from the car at just over 100 mph and got my head down and gave it all I could. All the time the Cayenne was right ahead of me, clearing the air – it was so stable.
"I look back on the pictures and think 'what was I thinking' but I was focused I didn't really take it all in. It's an incredible feeling – to get 149 mph on such a short runway is beyond anything I expected. We're within touching distance of the world record. I can't thank my team and supporters enough for the help and confidence they've given me."
Wikipedia tells us the outright record is 166.9 mph (268.831 km/h), achieved in 1995 by a Fred Rompelberg, behind a dragster on the salt flats of Bonneville. Let's hope Soupy, an architect by day, gets the chance to take a stab at the world record on a longer piece of road in the not-too-distant future.
Also notable at the Straightliners event were Tom Ellis on his HA WC Mk1 Toilet, who hit 73.26 mph (117.9 km/h), Kevin Nicks in a shed powered by a 2.8-liter Volkswagen V6 that hit 104.12 mph (167.56 km/h), and Matt McKeown, who took his gas turbine shopping trolley to 91.55 mph (147.33 km/h).
Check out Soupy's run in the video below.
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