Roll Over America

Photo © Roll Over America

Most Americans have never heard of, much less seen, a velomobile. That’s going to change in 2011 when Josef Janning leads his group of 24 European velomobilists across the country from Portland to Washington D.C. on the “Roll Over America” tour.

In Europe, velomobiles are used for commuting, grocery shopping, running errands, and everything we use our bicycles for here in the U.S. They have yet to catch on here at all, but they are supremely practical vehicles given the proper conditions. Here’s more from Wikipedia:

A velomobile or bicycle car is a human-powered vehicle, enclosed for aerodynamic advantage and protection from weather and collisions. They are virtually always single-passenger vehicles. They are derived from recumbent bicycles and tricycles, with the addition of a full fairing (aerodynamic shell). There are few manufacturers of velomobiles; some are homebuilt. Some models have the operator’s head exposed; this has the advantage of giving the operator unobstructed vision, hearing, and some cooling, with the disadvantage of being more exposed to weather. Similar vehicles that are not human-powered are instead called microcars.

The group plans to embark at the end of July 2011 and make the trip in approximately 30 days. They’ll be crossing the northern part of the country and covering approximately 200km per day. It’s sounds like a fun and ambitious ride!

Roll Over America

11 Responses to “Roll Over America”

  • Rob Mackenzie says:

    Josef would say “Danke” I’m sure… being a Canadian I’ll just say “Thanks eh?”

  • John Kelso says:

    Thanks for posting this. I’d love to go up to DC to see them arrive. 30 days seems like a pretty aggressive agenda. I hope they can pull it off.

    One has to wonder how much the airline will charge to ship a velomobile.

    John, Blacksburg, VA

  • John Kelso says:

    Now I see…

    From their web site:

    “The velomobiles will be shipped to the West Coast by container and back to Europe from the East Coast. That will be organized. You will be required to deliver your VM at a specified date to the loading station. We will strap the VMs firmly into the container or build crates to transport them. Decision will be based on the experiences of the shipping agent and of VM builders like Bluevelo or Sinner.”

  • bongobike says:

    Sounds like a very cool ride! I have seen some velomobiles in Austin during Easy Street Recumbents’ “Bent Event”. I have yet to ride one, but hope someone will let me borrow one at the next event.

  • Don says:

    This is like my inner 12-year-old’s dream, with the difference being that mine would already be covered with stickers and other cool stuff. I can’t imagine covering that kind of distance, though, particularly with regard to road conditions this time of year. I wonder how stable one is on a long descent, too. I wish them well!

  • Val says:

    This is great, but the real news is that the Quest velomobile is now being manufactured in Canada, and has a US importer. Until now, anyone in this country wanting one had to actually travel to europe and ship it back themselves. Now we can just talk to these fine folks: Perhaps this will contribute to their future popularity. I love it.

  • Zyzzyx says:

    I’ve been a Quest pilot for a bit over a year now, still having lots of fun with it. Since I got it I’ve had the idea of taking it across country. I’m not committing to this event yet, but its definitely something I’m thinking about. (though I did start saving for it as of last night)

    I’ve always thought that when the time comes for me to a do a cross country ride that I’d want to do it solo, at my own pace, and my own path. And I still may do that sometime. But this, this just looks like too much of a great experience to pass up.

  • Val says:

    Little did I know, there is also this: Could this be the decade of the velomobile?

  • Phil says:

    For those interested, there’s a Toronto based supplier of velomobiles as well I test rode one 2 springs ago and they are definitely fun to ride, not to mention fast. There’s tonnes of youtube footage from races worth checking out. My only issue is how low they are to the ground when it comes to visibility in traffic.

  • Barbara Kilts says:

    John Williams was part of a four man recumbent team (RAO Speedwagen) that competed in Race Across Oregon several years ago. He piloted a Quest and did all the downhill sections. He went
    over 70mph – day and night – on dark windy roads with the chase car barely keeping up with him.


    The Roll Over America gang will make up some time flying down the Rockies!

  • bongobike says:

    70 mph?!?!?!?!? That is nuts!

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