Sometimes we put engineering to work to help us do stuff just for fun. Like going really fast on a bicycle. Today, on Engineering Works!
Lots of us ride bicycles: for fun, to save energy, to be healthy. But you’ve probably never ridden a bike like this. Down a steep snow-covered mountain slope at almost 120 miles an hour. Neither would we. But for French 50-something cycling daredevil Eric Barone, it’s just the thing.
Barone came out of retirement a while ago to take a crack at breaking his own world record for downhill cycling 220 kilometers, or about 118 miles, an hour. To get ready, he and his team designed and built foam streamlining that made his legs more aerodynamic, and a cowling of fiberglass and Kevlar that fit over his conventional cycling helmet.
The cowling was as much for safety as for streamlining. Ten years ago, Barone was nearly killed when he crashed during a record attempt down the outside of a volcano in Nicaragua.
They tested the whole assembly in a wind tunnel in St. Cyr, France, and simulated the forces he faced coming down the 76-percent slope of the mountain.
In the end, Barone came up a little short, even with the high-tech help. But he’s still ready to take another shot at it.
We’re not going to be hitting speeds anything like that on our way home. See you next time.
Engineering Works! is made possible by Texas A&M Engineering and produced by KAMU-FM in College Station. Learn more about engineering. Visit us on the World Wide Web.
Start the discussion: We don’t usually think about engineering being involved in daredevil stunts, but it is. When you think about it, it almost has to be involved if the daredevil wants to survive.