The Rapid Wheelmen is a bicycle club based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Club strives to promote fun, safe cycling for all through rides, races, tours, and advocacy.

We welcome riders of all ages and offer rides for all levels - from beginners to experienced cyclists. If you enjoy cycling, want to develop good riding skills, or are looking for a fun and healthy group activity, then become a member today!


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Time Trial Results

June 8, 2020

The adventures with the choppy pavement on Grand River continued again this week, and to just perfect weather for riding a bike. If you enjoy 40 minutes of pain anyway. Like I do - ;-)

We had 19 riders, up from 13 last week. The word is slowly leaking out that the Time Trials are back on, although with a skeleton crew. I like it that way for starters so we can control the mongering masses later with more experience with the social distancing routines.

We had two riders in the new Beryl Burton class tonight, braving the course sans aero bars. Judy Crankshaw rode harder than she had all year to take top honors over newcomer Nikki Macedo. Congrats to both. Speaking of Judy, she's a proud founding member of "The Old Geezer's Club", which includes John Crankshaw and Cal Hekman. They claim they look really good out riding together when 70+ year old Dave Ryskamp is NOT around. (Dave makes all 70+ year old riders look bad with his usually sub-40 minute rides on our course). But I think the three of them have been hanging around together way too long. Not only are they starting to look like each other, but their times are almost the same at about 49:30! They really need to get out of the house and meet other people.

We had the culmination of a several month smack-down occur this week. Jason Carpenter on his steel Vintage bike had been challenging Jill Martinek to a duel on the road, winner takes all. Jill wasn't going to take any of that baloney and told him "bring it on!". Now, Jill is pretty fast on her TT bike, but Jason claimed he was in the best shape of his life after staying home for months on end. Knowing the challenge was on, I fueled the fire by putting Jason 30 seconds behind Jill at the start. Well, somewhere before the turn around, Jason catches Jill. I would believe there would have been some fireworks or other shenanigans when he passed her, but all our attempts at finding webcam footage of the incident have mysteriously come up missing. Police are now interviewing witnesses. Although no physical harm came to either one, this is not likely over anytime soon.

On a more serious note, Ralph Buckingham continued his quest to set the Men's amateur course record, previously set in 1996 at 30:27 by Jason Swiatlowski. Thanks to Michael Walenta's help, I was able to send a turn around person to the halfway point for verification of the turn. But even with better weather conditions, Ralph's outstanding time of 31:37 is still about a minute off. Now, a minute doesn't sound like much, does it? But at 28 mph+, a minute is very difficult to eliminate. The largest enemy to going faster for elite riders is overcoming the wind resistance. Because wind resistance increases not in a linear fashion, but exponentially, the amount of wattage to overcome that resistance (all other things being equal) has to also increase almost exponentially. A good online calculator I found is at: https://www.gribble.org/cycling/power_v_speed.html . The graphs represent the amount of power needed to go various speeds. You can see that to go from 20 mph to 25 mph requires about an extra 146 watts of power. To go from 25 mph to 30 mph requires a whopping extra 214 watts! Now in Ralph's case, he's already moving at 28.5 mph, producing about 466 watts average. To tie the record, he needs just 1 more mph speed. The calculator says he'll need to produce 514 watts, or an extra 48 watts. That's a tall order for sure!

But there are other ways to increase speed without plain upping the wattage. A lightweight bike helps with disc wheels, etc., but the biggest bang for the buck is rider position and clothing. Aerodynamic drag of the rider is the largest enemy at those speeds. Fine tuning the clothing, helmet, shoe covers, hand position, body position, and comfort all contribute to high performance.

And then there's the road surface. I told Ralph that I had been around this course long enough to remember several times when new smooth pavement went down, and the times dramatically improved. In about 1986 the course had brand new smooth tarmac end to end, and a call went out to the current state time trial champion, Randy Dickerson from the Breakaway (Muskegon) Bike Club, to come and set a record on the course, since "there was never going to be a better time to try". Sure enough, a sub 35 minute time was recorded with his regular steel road bike (no TT bikes in those days). The record stood for several years. I told Ralph this story, almost to apologize for the poor current condition of the tarmac. I really think it's one of the things keeping him from breaking the record.

Little did I know, but just tonight I found out that the course will be cold milled and have 2 new layers of asphalt from Segwun to Snow Avenue over the next several weeks. Hope - springs eternal. 

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Events and Group Rides

Group Ride Paces:

Easy: 9-11mph, Casual: 11-13mph, Moderate: 13-15mph, Good: 15-17mph, Fast: 17-19mph, Fast+: 19+mph

For more info about our club rides, check out the club ride page.