Supporters

LIVERPOOL UNIVERSITY VELOICPEDE TEAM – ULVTeam

  1. Who are you?

We are the University of Liverpool’s Velocipede. A small group of enthusiastic Mechanical Engineering students with the ambition to design build and test the worlds fastest human powered vehicles.

  1. What do you do?

We are 4th year Masters students who have spent the past 2 years developing the ARION4, a human arm powered tricycle as part of our degree alongside our studies and other work. 

  1. How did you meet Ken?

We met Ken when he approached us after our female rider Karen posted an advertisement asking for any male rider interest in the project. Ken contacted the team and showed his interest from the start, a knowledgeable person who was eager to get involved in the Human Powered Scene himself hence this project was the perfect opportunity for him to make that step. Ken was enthusiastic, friendly and very dedicated to focusing his training and time to maximising his performance. 

  1. What did you think of Ken’s idea to break the handcycle world speed record?

At first we believed the current world record was extremely difficult to accomplish, due to the previous attempts being far off the current record this seemed like it would stay for a while. After development began and the team combined their design work, engineering science and aerodynamic modelling data together, it was realised that this record is something we shouldn’t write off and the team and Ken can definitely achieve.

  1. How have you helped to shape Ken’s progress?

Ken has been extremely dedicated putting in several hours every week focusing on high intensity training with help from his coach to really focus on developing the strength and fitness most relevant for this type of competition. I think Ken has shown he can motivate himself without the team having to give him that push but regular updates of the design progress and meeting with Ken in person has helped increase the passion he has for this record.

  1. What do you think of Ken’s progress so far?

Ken has shown us how his fitness and strength has increased throughout his training program, with power numbers showing impressive results. The team is happy with the work he’s putting in and the results he has gotten from fitness tests. These are a testament to the hard work required to attempt a world record.

  1. What do you think of Ken’s chances of breaking the speed record?

The team is optimistic, with everything we know about Ken and what he can do on a Handcycle we know that as long as we continue with our work and build the best vehicle we possibly can that a record is on the table and there to be broken!

  1. Anything you’d like to add?

The team is excited to finish the Hand-cycle and travel to Battle Mountain, Nevada, to compete at the WHPSC. I would like to thank all our sponsors which are too many to list, without their support our project could not run so successfully every year like it has done since ARION1. The University of Liverpool has created a platform for a group of passionate engineers to pursue the project of a lifetime, giving us all the knowledge and experience to allow us to leave as not only grow as engineers but as people.

 

My thoughts: LIVERPOOL UNIVERSITY VELOICPEDE TEAM – ULVTeam

I first came to know ULVTeam when I rediscovered the World Human Powered Speed Challenge (WHPSC) back in September 2017. I was impressed by their success and the effort they appeared to have put into their bike and attempt, but at the time, they were a team just like any other.

Once I started looking more into the challenge I discovered the “arms only” category and I knew that it was something I had to take a shot at. I’d seen a number of the handcycling teams that had attempted the record before but rather than look at approaching one of them, I opted to look into taking on the challenge on my own. Not only did I start a dedicated training programme but I also began working on a design for my own bike, and found a builder with some experience in the area. Now, it’s no easy task to design and construct such a specialist bike as those used at Battle Mountain.

During this process I came across a post on Facebook from the Liverpool University Velocipede Team saying they were looking for a male rider, so I messaged immediately. The timing was impeccable and I thought it might be a dream so I bookmarked the page to check it later to be sure. But later, the post seemed to have disappeared. About the next day, I saw a similar post from Karen Darke, the team’s female ride. I knew then that the original one had to be real yet I bookmarked this new one to check it later. Again, later that post too seemed to have disappeared.

I waited in anticipation to hear back and it seemed like I had waited forever. Luckily I did hear back, but I was rather surprised at what I’d heard. From the message I got back it seemed that the post was a mistake and that they actually weren’t looking for a male rider. I was so disappointed. But the team leader, Stephen, went on to say that they weren’t looking for a male rider due to the distraction of designing the bike. Stephen was interested in what I had to say and my background a suggested a phone call, and so we did.

A day or two later Stephen and I talked on the phone, him sharing his and the Uni’s history with Battle Mountain and I sharing my training and research into what it would take to break the speed record. In what was a rather long conversation we continued to delve deeper discussing the merits of different design aspects for a successful bike. It seemed to be a perfect match as we both understood quite well how critical every aspect of the process would be to achieve the speed target.

Over the next few weeks Stephen and I messaged back and forth with various questions and thoughts, even going so far as taking measurements to see if I would actually fit inside the proposed design. After all, as the bike had been designed initially with Karen in mind, if I wasn’t going to fit, it probably could have been senseless to consider the idea.

Eventually we worked out a plan to meet in Liverpool to talk in person. Sitting in a coffee shop outside the Engineering building I wasn’t sure what to expect. Stephen and I had chatted enough that it seemed like it was a natural fit to work together but nothing was set in stone, and I was expecting a rather intense interview.

Stephen, with a couple of team members popped over to the coffee shop and another joined us shortly after and we had a great talk getting to know each other and the potential plan. We then popped over to the Engineering building and I got a tour of the previous ARION bikes (as well as a photo) and the team took me to see some of the CADD designs with them walking me through the concepts and then showing me the fantastic seat they had built.

Still, we hadn’t broached the topic of whether it was really going to happen and it wasn’t until a bit later when we decided to take more measurements that the topic finally came up. I’m not entirely sure what they expected from me, but it seemed that working together had come so naturally that it had been a done deal well before we talked about it!

What I had expected to be a rather intense short interview turned in to a great, and long visit with a great team. Those that I met seemed really dedicated to the project and very keen to understand more about handcycling so that they could finesse the best out of the design.

I don’t know about Stephen and the others but, I left that feeling very excited indeed, and proud to be part of a team that not only had a great history working towards the speed record at Battle Mountain, but also was excited about taking on the challenge of breaking the handcycling record.

 

PAUL SMITH – CARDIFF MET

1. Who are you?
My name is Paul Smith and I have a PhD in Exercise Physiology, with a niche interest in upper-body exercise and the Paracycling sport of Handcycling…

2. What do you do?
I’m a University Lecturer and I work within the School of Sport & Health Sciences at Cardiff Metropolitan University.
I’ve been involved in handcycling within the UK and Europe for more than a decade. I was previously a Trustee and Treasurer of the UK Handcycling Association, and a UK representative on the European Handcycling Federation. I’ve supported domestic handcyclists by running physiological tests on them, and by accompanying some to a few European Handcycle Circuit races.

I also formed an integral part of two support crews that helped two groups of eight, wounded, injured and sick military veterans complete the gruelling, 3000+ miles Race Across America (RAAM) in 2012 and 2017. Each of these teams consisted of several handcyclists, mostly double amputees, but we also had a very strong triple amputee on the RAAM Team in 2017.

The sport of handcycling provides individuals with a chronic, physical disability with such feelings of, speed and liberation. There’s so much that could be done to further our understanding of the sport and to promote it within the UK: hopefully my chance meeting with Ken will lead to future projects that will enable us to make a few, good steps forward in this regard.

3. How did you meet Ken?
Ken was introduced to me back in October 2017 by a colleague and close friend of mine, Professor Richard Davison. Ken was undertaking a Level 2 coaching course through British Cycling and Richard was one of the senior coach educators, facilitating the course.

4. What did you think of Ken’s idea to break the handcycle world speed record?
I think Ken’s ambition to break the speed record for a human, arm-powered vehicle is fantastic – I just hope he’s fully aware of what he’s become involved with…

5. How have you helped to shape Ken’s progress?
I haven’t had that much to do with Ken’s progress to date. We’ve had many exchanges of email correspondences and, more recently, Ken popped down to Cardiff to complete a couple of basic exercise testing protocols. However, the challenge he faces at Battle Mountain in Utah in Sept 2018 is rather unique, and completely different that a typical handcyclist would face during a typical mass start road race or individual time trial. To use a recent quote from another colleague:
“Ken’s gonna need to be as strong as a bear in order to turn a crank fast enough, with a gear that’s big enough to achieve the required speed of 50-52 mph.”

6. What do you think of Ken’s progress so far?
I don’t think I’m best placed to comment on this – perhaps you should ask me again in ~3 months’ time…!

7. What do you think of Ken’s chances of breaking the speed record?
Honesty is always the best policy: I really don’t know enough details of the project yet, but I know the challenge that lies ahead is probably as big as Battle Mountain. I hope Ken does himself and the team at Liverpool University proud in Sept 2018, but it’s very much an unknown. How will Ken do… I’m pleading the 5th at the moment…!?

8. Anything you’d like to add?
The project Ken is involved with is very a baby, and owned by the University of Liverpool, #Velocipede Team #UVLTeam. They sound like a fantastic group of young and ambitious mechanical engineers and have already had a great deal of success with land speed records at #BattleMountain. However, the requirements of a handcyclist and her/his functional capacity is very different to that of a conventional/upright rider. In order to optimise the Team’s chances, a multi-disciplinary approach is certainly required. This certainly includes engineers, but others may also be required. For example, a cycling coach, a strength and conditioning coach, a sport psychologist, a nutritionist, and an exercise physiologist – one like me ;-). Irrespective of what happens this year, hopefully the project will continue into 2019 and beyond.

My thoughts: Paul Smith

I came to be in touch with Paul Smith in late 2017. By a stroke of good fortune, I happened to be on a British Cycling coaching course and struck up a conversation with Richard Davison, the course instructor. At that point, the idea of doing the world speed record was just an idea, albeit one that I really wanted to shoot for, but I had no idea the level of work it would entail.

As luck would have it, Richard said that he knew Paul Smith from Cardiff Metropolitan University, and he told me Paul had an extensive background working with handcyclists and that he might know what sort of physical requirements I might be facing taking on the challenge.

Paul and I then began to chat over email and through a couple of phone calls where we talked about a number of topics form seat position, nutrition, strength, armagometry, strategies for implementing power and much, much more. From this and the information gained from others, I began devising a plan of action. At about that same time I began my targeted training programme.

Through my many conversations with Paul, I made small adjustments to how I was training, and how I was looking at the world speed record attempt. Having started independently with an online training programme, I was able to take some of the elements that Paul and I had discussed to try them out to see how they affected my training. I was also able to make more significant changes to my lifestyle, transitioning from more of an amateur casual rider to that of a dedicated athlete. But that was only the beginning.

From the detailed information that Paul provided both about specific training and handcycling elements, in conjunction with his experiences working directly with high calibre handcyclist, I was able to work out that the training I had started with, whist useful at creating a good foundation, was not going to be the end all. In a roundabout way, Paul let me know how big of a target I’d taken on.

From his advice, I then sought out a dedicated cycling coach and strength coach, just about the same time my self-directed training had moved on to a “more advanced” stage. But it wasn’t until after starting with these dedicated coaches that I saw how my self-directed training had begun to take me away from my target.

All the while, Paul and I had also talked about testing and measuring. But, our chats had been based more on a long term concept. There was the potential for trying for the speed record in 2018, but the likelihood was more for an attempt in 2019. That is, until I came across the Liverpool University Velocipede Team.

Over a number of weeks I was talking with the Liverpool University Team Leader, Stephen, and I came to realise that an attempt might, in fact, happen sooner than I expected. At that point Paul and I also began talking about getting together for some testing and measuring. And so we did.

Paul tested my Metabolic Threshold and VO2 Max, and we talked about training, targets, and how to work towards optimising a training regime, and importantly, how specific and critical the final target for the record will be. From my own self-directed plan, Paul helped me to see the importance of bringing on board outside perspectives and people with experience so that I could get the best performance out of myself. Since then, we have talked about an even more inclusive multi-disciplinary approach to training to make sure that every opportunity is taken to gain every watt of power possible because, honestly, I’ll need every watt I can get.

Now, Paul says above that he hasn’t had much to do with my progress to date, but our conversations were critical in helping me establishing a starting point on the correct path. Further, those conversations caused me to look beyond myself to find people that can take everything I’m giving, and make it even more.

Sometimes the seemingly least significant contributions have some of the biggest impacts.

 

Davie Lines – Espresso Cycle Coaching

1. Who are you?
David Lines.  I’m a former Commonwealth Games Cyclist on the Road and Track and hold a number of Scottish National  Road, Criterium, Track, Cyclocross and Mountain Bike medals and titles including a British Championship MTB Masters title.

2. What do you do?
Along with my long time friend, team mate and business partner Gary Hand,  I run Espresso Cycle Coaching.  We provide bespoke training programs, training camps, skills days and events.

3. How did you meet Ken?
I was introduced to Ken through a mutual friend that I coach, Anthony Robson.   After a short while, Anthony had recorded some significant improvements and asked if I would be interested having a chat with Ken.

4. What did you think of Ken’s idea to break the handcycle world speed record?
World records are obviously going to be extremely hard to break and not knowing a lot about the world of hand cycling I was a bit surprised, but really interested to find out more about the numbers, equipment and challenge.

5. How have you helped to shape Ken’s progress?
Looking at what Ken had been doing previously in his training, we re-structured the whole lot.  Most of Ken’s training had been rides of 2hrs which were building unnecessary fatigue and not really relevant to the challenge ahead.  The power data from his previous system was a fair bit out to the new SRM that he had so we had to make sure we had up to date numbers from that.  We have reduced the time on the bike and added in more intensity.  For the first couple of blocks we looked to get some accurate power data and lift Ken’s FTP to help sustain his power for longer.  Once we had a decent increase, we did some field testing to get some real life power data over certain periods of time that would be similar to the record attempt and now we are working on improving these.

6. What do you think of Ken’s progress so far?
I’m blown away with the improvement!  Ken has adapted extremely well to the structure and along with the gym work he is doing with Bob, we seem to have a really good balance without overly fatiguing him.

7. What do you think of Ken’s chances of breaking the speed record?
Looking at the numbers he is doing at the moment, I think he has a really good chance! Obviously, with all record attempts, there are a lot of other factors to take into account, like aerodynamics, weather, mechanics etc but we just have to do the best we can to get everything in place for some good runs.

8. Anything you’d like to add?
The commitment Ken has shown to this record attempt is that of a true professional!  Never a missed session and 110% in each one!  It’s been a pleasure so far to be involved with this project.

My thoughts: Espresso Cycle Coaching

I first “met” Davie Lines watching him as a Cyclocross Racer in Scotland. I say “met” but it was more like watching him in passing as I’d been attending a number of Cyclocross races with my good friend, Anthony. Anthony was well versed in the Scottish Cyclocross racing scene and had told me of Davie’s exploits and that he was also a coach. Of course this was just superfluous information as, at the time, I wasn’t even cycling. Who knew I’d come to find this information very useful years later.

During the time I was going to watch the Cyclocross racing, I ended up returning to cycling through another stroke of luck involving Anthony, Scottish Cyclocross, and Clyde Muirshiel Regional Parks where I got to take on handcycling. Of course my fitness was abysmal and I actually met someone who helped to push me back on my first ride.

Once I decided to take on the World Speed Challenge I realised that very specifically targeted training was going to be the key. So, the obvious choice was to go at the training on my own. Really, that’s what I thought. After finding some handcycling training suggestions that were good but not for my target, I then moved on to an online training programme. Initially this proved to be pretty decent and challenged me quite a bit. But when it came to the end of the initial training block and I noticed that my FTP had not changed at all, other than the cadence I was holding during the test, I realised I needed something more.

By this time, Anthony had been working with Davie at Espresso Cycle Coaching and he was getting good results. I took the gamble and had Anthony check to see if Davie would be willing to take on a handcyclist and he was receptive enough that we set up a first meeting. I met with Davie somewhat concerned as the handcycling is fairly different to leg cycling but my concerns were soon put to rest once Davie saw what he would be working with.

Davie was quick to translate his training experience into something that would be compatible with handcycling, and he took on board the advisories that had been suggested to me about critical differences between arm and leg training. Davie walked me through some of his sessions and explained the process and how things would develop. Then we discussed potential approached to the Speed Challenge and how different riding style would be affected by the training, and vice versa.

Right from the get go, Davie was clearly working on a plan to optimise the training to hit the target I’d set. Not only that, he quickly adapted things to fit a completely different riding style. Of course, it was still going to be a new experience for both of us and while there were some rough edges to work through, our regular phone chats helped to finesse the training sessions but also did wonders to keep me in check, to prevent over training and burnout.

Working with Davie and Espresso Cycle Coaching has been a massive benefit as I’ve been on training sessions that have really pushed my limits and others that have encompassed a number of things that I might not have considered without the external perspective. It’s helped me push each session to the maximum without going too far, which is all too easy for me, and it allows me the huge luxury of focusing on getting the most out of the training without being distracted by working out how to plan the training.

It’s a huge change going from watching someone ride around getting covered in mud to trying to match their skill, using their knowledge and experience, and it was certainly not something that I foresaw. Sometimes what you need is found in the least expected places.

 

#BOBSGARAGE

1. Who are you?
My name is Rob Clark and I am a personal trainer and I run a personalised small group training gym in Edinburgh called #BOBSGARAGE

2. What do you do?
I train Ken on a 1-2-1 basis and cover his strength training

3. How did you meet Ken?
I was referred to him by one of my other members I train and we ended up meeting for coffee to discuss if I could help him.

4. What did you think of Ken’s idea to break the handcycle world speed record?
I thought it was amazing and inspiring and commended him on his bold efforts to dare to dream to achieve something so big and make so much of the life that he has.

5. How have you helped to shape Ken’s progress?
We work on Kens strength 3 times a week and help him get his strength to the best it can be for his training efforts, we work on his nutrition, make sure he is eating enough and of the right stuff. We also work on his movement and have an objective perspective to make sure he recovers and pulls back when he needs to and not do things that detract from his main goal.

6. What do you think of Ken’s progress so far?
So far I don’t think we could have hoped for better progress and training has gone really well. Such a complicated injury and circumstance meant we weren’t really sure what we were able to achieve but the results have surprised us both and continue to do so. This is as a result of Ken’s excellent mindset and is truly one of the strongest characters I have had the pleasure to work and help.

7. What do you think of Ken’s chances of breaking the speed record?
I think they are definitely very positive but that he has a steep hill to climb and it will take every ounce of his being to focus and dedicate himself to achieving this massive world record but I believe if anyone can do it, it’s someone with the grit and determination shown by Ken.

8. Anything you’d like to add?
Just that I hope that reading about Kens efforts inspires you, makes you take yourself out of your comfort zone, off the sofa, out of those plateaux’s, lose that fat and get shredded or get stronger and fitter than you ever have before or finally dedicate yourself to those goals you have always wished you could achieve. Learn to endure like Ken, learn to put the work in, to suffer and to be disciplined, consistent and dedicated and finally achieve your goals or challenges.

My thoughts: #BOBSGARAGE:

I’ve been working with Bob (Rob) since the beginning of February, 2018 as I’d been advised by Paul Smith (Cardiff Met) to take on some weight training to build my strength beyond cycling. Having visited a handful of commercial gyms and spoken with personal trainers, I left feeling like they were unsure about how to work with a disabled individual. So, I planned on purchasing some weights and going at it alone.

A good friend of mine, Lisa, had raved about the experiences that she’d had with her gym so I thought she might be able to use her experience to give me some tips so I could work on the weight training solo. This was going to be a win-win. I’ve never been a gym rat and could never justify any form of weight training and I wasn’t even sure how much it would help. Plus, having seen the reaction to working with a disabled person in a gym, I thought it would be easier on my own.

Luckily, Lisa suggested that it might be more sensible to meet with Bob and to actually do things properly. So, I went with an open mind and met with Bob. I was not only impressed by how receptive he was to my idea of the speed record and working with a disabled person for the first time, but I was also impressed with how quickly he came to understand what I might need after showing him some handcycles and explaining how they are ridden. Bob came up with a preliminary plan and we agreed to work on some sessions together.

While waiting for the sessions at #BOBSGARAGE to start, I received a rough training plan from Jonpaul Nevin (Help for Hero’s), a gentleman who I’d been advised had an extensive background working with handcyclists. When I saw that Bob’s preliminary training plan coincided with JP’s. I knew I had to be on the right track.

Over four months later the weight training has continued to progress and what a valuable asset it’s been. We started training two days per week and eventually increased that to three. Starting out required a fair bit of experimenting in how to work around my disability and how to adapt positions and equipment so that I could lift effectively and safely.

Bob does a great job not only encouraging and driving me, but also managing the training programme so that I can focus on completing and maximising the training to gain the most benefit. Bob also constantly shifts weights and equipment around so that I can always perform all the lifts required. Without that kind of support, I can honestly say that I would not have achieved as much in the gym as I have to date.

I started out with the weight training somewhat reluctant and unsure of the benefit. But with the proper support I have come to enjoy the sessions and I’ve seen the benefits first hand. Now, I’ve had many days there I’ve thought I can’t face going in, but each time I’ve come out stronger and feeling refreshed.

Every now and then, a helping hand can help you achieve far more than you could on your own.

 

Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park , Castle Semple Centre

1. Who are you, and what do you do?
I’m David Hill senior instructor @ Castle Semple Centre.

2. How did you meet Ken?
I met you a few years ago now when we started offering hand cycling at the centre and I think I did an ok job of getting you hooked on the sport ! and kind of got you interested in becoming a coach.

3. What did you think of Ken’s idea to break the handcycle world speed record?
I think the idea is great, having a goal like that is a lofty target so it should give you plenty of motivation to train hard.

4. How have you helped to shape Ken’s progress?
(from Ken): David helped me get my start in handcycling by having a great facility and handcycles available to ride as well as coaching so I could ride without crashing.

5. What do you think of Ken’s progress so far?
Progress seems pretty good I think although I’m not sure exactly what training or prep you have been doing .

6. What do you think of Ken’s chances of breaking the speed record?
I think if you dig in hard and do good quality prep you should have a good chance of getting it.

My thoughts: Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park, Castle Semple Centre

While Castle Semple hasn’t provided a direct and regular influence on my work towards the World Speed Challenge, it’s probably provided the most significant. You see, that’s where I first learned to ride a handbike.

Some time after getting injured, I started looking at how I could get back into cycling, or if it was even possible. I’d found various traces about handcycling through various internet searches but it was all pretty elusive and I couldn’t find any places to try a handbike. Given the cost of them, I wasn’t about to blindly buy one and take a chance that it was something I’d like, or could even do.

As luck would have it my Friend Anthony had heard, essentially from a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend… that there was a facility west of Glasgow that had handbikes. After a little bit of work I found they were having an open day and a chance to discuss the future of handcycling in the area.

I popped out to Castle Semple in March of 2016 and we started the day with a chat about where things were at with handcycling and I was rather out of place, not knowing anything about the sport or the state of cycling in Scotland. But, it looked like there was some potential for things to happen and there was a good sized group of people where seemed rather enthusiastic. Some ideas were bounced back and forth and I even had a chance to throw out a couple of my ideas and experiences from upright cycling many years ago and they were welcomed.

After the chat we headed out to try the bikes. While some people had their own bikes, others, like me used some from the fleet that Castle Semple has. After some coaching by Senior Instructor David Hill and some practice runs in the immediate area, I set of down the cycle path for the first time on a handbike.

The experience was truly amazing. To be able to move faster and further than I had in years put such a smile on my face. Immediately, I knew I was hooked and knew I had to get a bike for myself. This I knew even after a short ride where halfway through I met up with Mike, who had turned around to make sure I would make it back, and who helped me with the occasional push from his own handbike.

From that first ride and the people I met, some of us went on to for Handcycling Edinburgh, a handcycling club working to promote and encourage handcycling in Scotland. And we continue to go back to Castle Semple to ride, while I also return to assist with coaching. Seeing the smiles on the faces of people trying handcycling for the first time is amazing, and reminds me of how much joy it brought me when I started.

Had it not been for the efforts of David Hill and Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park, Castle Semple Centre I might not be riding at all. But, not only has it been the riding but also the camaraderie of the friendships that developed out of that, as well as Handcycling Edinburgh where we’ve gone on to meet many more people actively encouraging and promoting cycling for people from all walks of life.