That first night ride in my velomobile

in travel •  10 months ago

47A96240-F048-4E33-996A-2EBC6072F86F.jpeg Not sure why but I hopped in the Velo at 6:30 last night, wanting to go from my house in Farmington down to a campground I googled in Belleville (27 miles), to try out this tent hammock I bought last week from REI. Seemed like a cool idea at the time. Got all the way down to Michigan Avenue within a mile of Belleville Road by around 9ish. Even though I have lights and a very loud horn, those cars and trucks are scary when you’re on roads you haven’t scouted, especially at night.... So, decided to turn around (Better part of valor type stuff...). Got home around 11:30ish - but was so tired, not sure what the time was really. It was a glorious ride though. I feel like one of those astronauts from Apollo 13...

Went farther down the 275 path than I’ve been before. I did not know the rest stop coming off the highway, north of Mich Ave, is also connected to the trail. I stopped there twice, exchanging words with the attendant, a man who looked to be in his sixties, as I stretched my legs and hydrated a bit. The second time through, which was after dusk, he shared two stories - one was about a guy who broke his neck riding his bike on the trail at night - he hit a tree he didn’t see because he had no lights. And the other was how the attendant himself had almost died at 14 when a car hit him while he was on his bike delivering newspapers (I’ll spare you the gruesome details of his injuries.). Cautionary tales designed to motivate me I suppose... Well, I made it back, am grateful for the attendant’s concern....

With his perspective in mind, I was surprised at the number of riders I passed in the dark, all but one had lights to guide them. Most were holding plastic bags filled with groceries, presumably they were much closer to home. Interesting to discover the night culture of the 275 bike trail.

Of course, the trail was just one aspect. There were several crossings and roads where I had to avoid traffic. Ford and Lotz was the most dangerous. (I had to get out and take the crosswalk, dragging the Velo behind me, with the pedestrian signal, to make sure the drivers would not turn or do anything crazy - there was a lot of traffic at that intersection...). Hines to Stark wasn’t bad, but once I was on Stark (which is a very nice track - two lanes and very smooth), I pedaled hard to get north of 96, which is where the speed limit drops from 40 to 25mph.

Stark turns into Lyndon, left on Hubbard and then I zigzagged north on neighborhood streets to eight mile and Merriman. Can’t take Merriman (which turns into Orchard Lake) north of eight mile road because it narrows up as one gets to Freedom Road, so I took Randall, a street just east of Merriman that runs parallel to get to Freedom, where the signals would give me the right of way to Grand River intersection, which basically gets me home.

I noticed there were a few parties as I rode through the neighborhoods and was tempted a couple times to stop and crash in, figuring the novelty factor might earn me a drink and a couple phone numbers (better part of valor again). One of the parties, on Randall, spilled into the street, where the revelers were smoking and relaxing next to their cars parked on both sides of the road, a kind of hedonistic gauntlet. As I whisked by with my quiet lights, I heard variations of ‘What was that?’, ‘Did you see that, dude?’, ‘What the...?’.

Somebody in a truck decided to follow me for a few blocks, just to observe....

The great irony is that my neighbor had a few of her girlfriends over and when I pulled into the driveway, they came over to ask about the Velo and then invited me to join them at their fire pit. What a night!

(The preceding was an excerpt from a Facebook status update I made on July 26th, 2014, approximately three weeks after having received delivery of my velomobile.)

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Wow haha, these things sure look like a lot of fun! I hope to get the chance to ride one someday.

The story is very good.
It is a fun adventure.

Great post. As an avid UK cyclist and occasional cycling campaigner, I'll be following your posts with interest! I'm not sure how I'd feel being so low to the ground in traffic but the velomobile looks amazing!

I'm sure that's one heck of a great experience isn't it?

Your story is very funny I read it It is very good to have stories There is so much fun to be really great. I am joining you today, please follow me.

Such a great experience! Hopefully I can ride one!

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THat is real amazing car. I could imagine so much fun in it.
Thank you for sharing your story. It is very nioce from you.

Can you please explain more about this vehicle?
from where did you purchase it?
i just don't know.. lol..
thank you

I always wondered what it would be like to ride in a banana. Thanks for sharing!

Looks like a lot of fun but it would frighten the hell out of me. I'll make sure I'll bring an extra pair of underpants!


Yes! I’ve had it up to 60-65 kmh and can tell you - thoughts of whether or not my affairs are in order and significant passages of my life pass before my eyes simultaneously when going that fast on what is essentially a bicycle. Also, the cars, trucks, SUVs and busses are always lurking. It’s like swimming when you know there is a great white shark lurking around, which could come at you from any angle... (and no I’m not kidding - that’s how it feels...).

Thank you for checking out my post!


Really is seat of your pants stuff , frightening but exhilarating both at the same time. Great post!


What kind of vehicle is rhis velomobile? It look cute. Is it powered by engine or a motor? My orher concern is its roadworthiness rating or is it just like bicycles that have registration.
I like it an really curious how did you build it. I do hope you can share.


The Velo is a recumbent tricycle with a carbon fiber faring, which reduces wind drag. Mine is completely human powered, but there are models that include a battery assist (with a significant trade off on one’s range). It is categorized legally as a ‘bicycle’, which in most US jurisdictions allows a rider the right side of the road...

(Whether or not driver’s respect the rider’s legal right to be on the road is another matter...😁)

It was built for me by and shipped from the Netherlands to the US...

I’ve gone on several lengthy trips or tours... Because it is a recumbent and has a significantly reduced wind resistance, a person of average to above average fitness can go quite a distance. I’ve travelled 125 miles in a single day and 65-85 miles on consecutive days without too much distress... And been able to pack significant cargo - tent, sleeping bag or (on one occasion) a set of golf clubs...

It isn’t cheap but will tell you - I’ve never been less than thrilled that I bought it! There are times when it feels like gliding on air...


Thank you spending your time explain your Velo ride. Its just my curiousity and ignorance. I really like it and do more research on recumbent velo. Keep on posting.

Thanks for your post!
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cool ride! looks like a lot fun! :)

Once in a lifetime experience. A little too cramped for my style

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