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B.C. Bike Designers Pedal to World Speed Record

By CTV News Staff, CTV News website (September 14, 2002).

Two British Columbia men continue to astound the cycling world. With little more than hard work and ingenuity, they have reached the pinnacle of pedal power by developing bikes that have reached world-record speeds nearing 130 kilometres an hour.

Last October, the Varna Diablo, designed by George Georgiev and pedaled by Sam Whittingham, became the fastest human-powered craft on the planet.

After 10 years in a workshop on B.C.'s Gabriola Island and with only a few thousand dollars and no sponsors, they beat well-funded teams from all over the world.

"It's like when you're a kid and you get on a bike and you ride down a hill, and you're going a little bit faster than you know you should and you're pretty sure you're not going to make it. It's like that every time we do it," said Whittingham.

Georgiev, a sculptor who has no training in physics or aerodynamics, wanted to answer a basic question: How fast can a human being go under his own power?

Without computers or wind tunnels, Georgiev came up with a teardrop design that left the other bikes in the dust.

"It took us ten years, but we are there and the rest of them are trying to catch us," Georgiev said.

On Oct. 5, 2001, at the World Human Powered Speed Challenge, Whittingham became the first human to pedal past 80 miles an hour with a final clocking of 80.55 miles an hour, or 129.63 km/h. Next month in Nevada, the duo will defend their title.

"We're doing something that people haven't done before," Whittingham said. "We're going speeds that people haven't done before."


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