Human-powered machines show their speed

GALLERY Weird and wonderful contraptions were put through their paces at a former Suffolk RAF base - with world titles up for grabs.

John Howard

WEIRD and wonderful contraptions were put through their paces at a former Suffolk RAF base - with world titles up for grabs.

The Human Powered Vehicles Association World Championships was held at Bentwaters Parks, near Woodbridge, over the weekend.

The colourful event saw all manner of strange pedal-powered vehicles dotted about the former airbase, with competitors travelling from around Europe to take part.

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“Sometimes people think it is a bit geeky, a bit beard and sandals,” said enthusiast and former ladies' UK recumbent racing champion Denise Wilson, 42, from south London.

“But there is a younger generation coming through who are more into extreme machines and there are some really flashy vehicles.

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“I am an adrenalin junkie and love having my bum close to the ground racing at a ridiculous speed. Everyone here has scars to show from racing, but once you are bitten by the bug you cannot let it go.”

The machines on show were a mixture of those that were commercially manufactured, to those that were homemade out of the same material estate agents use on For Sale notice boards.

Harry Lieben, who travelled from the north of Holland by ferry to be at the championships, was among the competitors at the event with his futuristic-looking £4,500 Velomobiel machine.

“I like speed,” said the 45-year-old. “You are so low to the ground it gives you tremendous feeling of going really fast.”

Most of the 100 plus competitors - who had come from 11 countries including France, Italy, Finland, Belgium and Slovenia - were camping near the site from Thursday to Sunday, although a few stayed locally at bed and breakfasts.

The championship, organised by the BHPC (British Human Powered Club), saw a new record set on Saturday evening for the fastest person on British soil taking part in such an event, clocking up 85km per hour.

Ian Fardoe, a spokesman for the club, said: “Some of these bikes are like bullets and we have had all manner of races, from, the fastest over 200 metres to a three hour race. There have been lots of very happy people here.”

Enthusiasts are passionate about powering vehicles themselves and said there is even a lightweight plane that needs nothing more than the driver to stay in the air.

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