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Vineyard Dave: Mild Mannered Velomobile Maniac

by Ted Johnson

Strictly speaking, “Vineyard Dave” is not a bike commuter. Dave is a full-time caretaker for his two teenage daughters who both have Autism Spectrum Disorder, and he uses his Quest velomobile to run day-to-day utilitarian trips.

Vinyard Dave

Utterly Practical

Dave lives on Martha’s Vineyard, MA.

My point of reference for Martha’s Vinyard is that it was the filming location for the movie Jaws, in which a quaint New England village is terrorized by a sleek and efficient predator. I saw Jaws about 20 times when I was a kid. But I digress. Or do I?

Since buying the velomobile less than one-and-a-half years ago, Dave has put more than 9,500 miles on the nine-and-a half foot machine.

The Quest was initially designed and built by Velomobiel in The Netherlands, beginning in 1999.

Dave’s Quest is only the ninth to be made in North America–serial number QB009–built by Bluevelo in Toronto Canada

We began a correspondence after Dave left a comment about the lights on his velomobile. I asked for a photo, and got back a whole lot more.

Dave is a gear geek.

It came with tail light, brake light, turn signals, running lights, an Inoled Extreme head light in the nose, an interior light to illuminate the control panel and an electric horn. I added Ay Up lights off the front and an Ay Up light that I use as a flasher.

Control Panel

Control panel on the front left wheel well hump

[...]

All three wheels are suspended and are of a one-sided strut design, meaning there is no need to pull a wheel to deal with a flat.

It’s a monocoque design, meaning the body is the frame. Pull all the parts out and you would end up with an empty shell and a pile of unridable parts.

A triple road crank up front and a Shimano XT 11-34 nine-speed cassette in the back.

You cannot see the wheels from the inside. It has a load of storage space and a floor to carry whatever you have.

Vinyard Dave's Quest Velomobile

When Dave was done itemizing all the gear and specs, I got a sense of his competitive side–eviscerating the perception I’d been forming of him as a mild-mannered hippie dad with a funky bike. There’s more to this man-bike relationship than utility.

Plus it is fast. A conventional road bike cannot keep up with it. Fifteen-pound Merlin, Cervelo, and Trek time-trial specific bikes can’t stay with it–even though it weighs 83 pounds empty.

Vinyard DaveMy first time trial, a five-and-a-half mile triangle with a 90 degree, 180 degree, and another 90 degree turn, I did in 12 minutes and 52 seconds. The top three riders on time trial and conventional road bikes were 28, 32, and 36 seconds slower than I was–and I was carrying tools, a spare tire, a 100-ounce Camelback and a stainless steel thermos full of coffee. The top road rider was 35 years younger than me.

These things are a blast.

He’s not Matt Hooper–Richard Dreyfuss’ bearded, gear geek character in Jaws. Vineyard Dave is the damn shark!

 
BOB Trailer Sale

23 Responses to “Vineyard Dave: Mild Mannered Velomobile Maniac”

  1. airmoose says:

    Well-written, the world needs more velomobiles! Once you tried one, a regular bike seems so boring.

    Go Dave!

  2. Kate Pleasant says:

    I knew Dave all through Elementary school, Middle school, and High school! I always knew he was Special! I enjoyed reading about him!

  3. Daveat says:

    Nice article, we need more velomobiles and I have been preparing to embark on building one, but as a side bar, let’s discuss the price in these articles about velomobiles. I too am a gear head, but I would have to win the lottery to buy one. In addition I would not have enough to buy any gear. Additionally let’s talk about location M.V. I grew up in ma and have a aunt and uncle who live out there year round. For some of the readers who don’t know this area rivaled Thailand for it’s moped riders, needless to say it was a amalgam of European cars and bikes of all sorts, all going way too fast. Lastly I want to inform all that the medium apron. Price for houses on the vineyard is $300,000 to start, for a shack.

  4. My Son, a 15 year old Sophmore in High school, has been doing a Biking mentorship with David this whole school year, My son has taken such an interest in Davids adventures that he is soon to become (this summer) The Youngest Velomobile owner to date. He has been working with his Father pumping Septics for a year to save for the pricey Mobile, and will continue to work off the rest, and has also decided to forgo a car as he will be turning 16 this summer, and use only this man powered Bike year round as his only mode of transpotation. ( as he pointed out, he could always borrow ours if he really needed.)
    So David used to be the “weird homeless looking guy with the long bike and feather in his helmet”, but we have gotten to know him and guess what? He’s NOT Crazy or even homeless!
    He has been a Great mentor to my son, eager to share his experience and knowlege with the islands youth and whole community.
    He is an invaluable teacher, leading by example of a what it looks like to be a responsible steward of the Earth with his man powered transportaion, and free spirited Joy in which he rides.
    He has a “live and let live”….but have fun along the way Vibe about him.
    We are proud to call him a Great freind!
    Go Vineyard Dave!

  5. Vineyard Dave says:

    WOW Daveat.

    Interesting points you have made there. When was the last time you were actually lived here? I’ve only lived here year round for 28 years.

    I remember being at a meeting. We had a telephone conference with someone from Mass Highway. The guy from Mass highway made a comment about how rich we all were. The room just about exploded.

    Mopeds rivaling Thailand? That is so far from reality I don’t know what to say.
    It’s just not true. Even years ago when they were more popular it was no where near what you describe.

    The miles that I ride, I’m on the road a great deal of the time. I can’t remember seeing more than a dozen or so mopeds in any given Summer. I do remember the 3 mopeds I chased down last Summer, passing them in my Velomobile, just for fun.

    There is motor vehicle gridlock in places here on Island during the Summer. Finding a parking space is a joke. It’s faster traveling by bicycle and Velomobile. In the off season I can get to the post office faster in my Velomobile than if I were to drive my only motor vehicle, a 1948 Willys Jeep.

    I’m a member of the Joint Transportation Committee representing the interests of cyclists and pedestrians. I’ve been on the JTC for over 18 years. We are getting the word out to the motoring populace and this place is becoming a much better place to cycle than it once was.

    16 years ago I was a stay at home dad with a baby on my hip, playing general contractor to build our house. It was $110,000.00 including the half acer lot to build a 1,700 sq. ft home with an unfinished 2nd floor.

    Three years ago I qualified to get a $30,000.00 low income grant to finally finish off my house. It’s a 15 year grant, meaning it will go away in 15 years.

    I refinanced my home a few years back to a much lower interest rate and pulled out some equity to buy my velomobile.

    The town values my home well over half a million.

    I owe $80,000.00 on my house with a $800.00 a month mortgage. A house like this would rent out at 3 to 4 times that amount, a month.
    If I sold our home we would be off the island and I can’t think of any other place I would want to live despite the cost.

    Housing is about 100% higher than the mainland. Food, close to 60%.
    It ain’t a cheap place to live. We live very frugally.

    Dukes County which includes Martha’s Vineyard and Gosnold Islands, has the highest rate of folks on welfare that any other county in the State of Massachusetts.

    There are rich and famous folks who own property here but but very few that live here year round. There are many more who are struggling just to survive here. Hard working folks who make this community a wonderful place to live.

    It’s hard making a go here but this is a very special place.

    I can’t imagine living else where.

  6. Vineyard Dave says:

    Kristen

    Thank you for your very kind words.

    Spending time with your son has been a great honor and privilege. I can’t wait for him to get his Velomobile.
    It’s going to be a blast.

    I have been hearing that rumor about me being homeless for years now.
    I’m not sure just how it got started but I guess it all comes from being middle aged man choosing to get around with his kids on a bicycle built for three rather than driving.

    One question that I hear alot in regards to my velomobile is, where do my girls ride?….LOL

  7. Pedalcarpusher says:

    Velomobiles are a blast! When considering the cost, one should keep in mind what one will gain in health, community, peace of mind, and all around kick-in-the-pants! These things are a gas. get some!

  8. daveat says:

    Okay okay, I apologize I was generalizing, and of course extremly jealous of your ownership of a velo, as I am chomping at the bit, and yes it has been 8 years since living in MA. Amesbury that is. We left under circumstance of being priced out of our town and all the surrounding towns. We didn’t want to leave Gloucester either. S we are here in upstate NY. where at least there is wayyy less traffic and cheaper housing, ….(More time with kids. Given the area, I plan to use a velo-mobile type with covered enclosure due to the weather, being just horrible. It has been raining here for the past two weeks. I speak of the mopeds from a view of my uncle of which he does not speak of kindly in the past, and once you get knocked off your bike by one you have a dim veiw of them. I too built worked on a house out there it was a garage with apt on the top, weird roof was a un-equal pitch worked on it with Joppa Design out of Newburyport, as I had grown tired of the healthcare racket. Worked for the Mass. Brain injury association.
    Ironically now I do woodworking equipment adaptation and direct a assistive technology lending library free to the public infant to adult. Thanks for slapping me upside the head and again hope to see more posts
    D

  9. BluesCat says:

    Ahem!

    I need y’all to notice that a Velomobile is nothing more than a recumbent trike with a pretty skin job for a frame!

    My steel-framed Sun EZ-Sport two-wheeled recumbent, at 40 pounds, doesn’t weigh anywhere near the 83 pounds of Vineyard Dave’s velo. And a lot of DF riders are really surprised about how fast it is.

    I’ve often thought about putting a fairing on it so I can go even faster, but then I’d have to deal with the emotional problems of watching some thirty-something commit seppuku after I’ve blown by him on his $10,000 Cervélo!

  10. I have have followed Dave’s Velo-Mania from the very beginning…He has a completely bent attitude!

    Some posts from my blog!
    http://urbanmobilityproject.blogspot.com/2011/02/future.html

    Try and catch him!

    Great stuff Dave

    Shelly
    http://urbanmobilityproject.blogspot.com/

  11. Ted Johnson says:

    After I sent Dave a draft of this post, he sent me this photo of a Quest (not his) airbrushed as a shark:

  12. Tim says:

    30 inches wide and 34 inches tall at 48 pounds is not a hill climber in a bike lane during the afternoon commute. All of these photos show V-Dave going downhill. If I were a flatlander this would be really cool. This is a great design. Dave looks like he is having a the time of his life. This is a thumbs up for those who don’t know gravity. Go Dave!

  13. Tim says:

    The highest point on that island is 311 feet. That is 214 feet less than a climb home for a Puget Sound bicycle commuter like myself. Washington state is blessed with steep hills. Go Dave! I am so jealous.

  14. Daveat says:

    that shark is awesome, and the vela is a recumbent trike but way more, then that. It is self contained as in more then adequately weather tight from under, put a hood on it and you have a wicked machine, in practicality and cool looks the only big sacrifice is turning radius.

  15. Vineyard Dave says:

    There are two ways to approach a hill with a velomobile.
    the first way is slowly and spin your way on up or hit it with everything you got. The second way is far more fun and will have you asking your self, what hill?

    I tend to go up hills pretty quick with this machine. I have a very fast cadence.

    Shelly Mossey is by far the faster guy on a recumbent that I have ever met. PERIOD.

    Just ask Shelly about following me up Middle Rd last October.

    Bluescat

    Did you read the article above? This is far more than a trike with a pretty skin. It is most likely the most technologically advanced human powered vehicle may ever see.

    You can go ahead and put a fairing on your Sun EZ Sport 2 wheel recumbent and you will still be a fast fading spec in my rear view mirror, up hill or down hill. I’ll even give you a head start.

    Show up for our Velomobile and Recumbent gathering in June and show me what you (think you) got.

    Daveat

    Do you have a recumbent? We are having a little gathering here in June. It is a great place to ride.

    See link below.

    http://www.recumbentblog.com/2010/11/29/first-annual-marthas-vineyard-velomobile-gathering/

    http://tinyurl.com/36tr4yd

  16. Daveat says:

    Not yet I have a few things that have prevented me, 1. Human services pay
    2. A 9 year old with nod that likes sports, we mountain bike together
    3 a 5 year old girl who knows much more then she let’s on and likes ponies
    A beautiful wife who was wondering why I sold our fix it up boat last year when she told me we should sell it. Also rebuilding a 1940′s Kay archtop acoustic guitar, making theneck and turning into a flat top. also converting a old windsurfer into a sit down style bic or laser sail to use up in Clayton,Ny

    I was hoping to get a recumbent and then build the fairings. I have lots of parts that I could use and build the bent, which would be a blast so I am undecided
    D

  17. Ben says:

    Erm… ~13 minutes for a 5 mile course? Given that on a 12 mile TT leg during triathlons I’m running in the 27 range on my road bike (as a 15 year old Junior) We have a pro tri dork that is usually ~25 minutes and I’m sure the local Cat 1 is in the low 20′s. I seriously question the fitness of riders in his area. Nonwithstanding: he’s a really cool guy with a freaking fast & cool velomobile.

  18. Vineyard Dave says:

    Here are a couple of videos done with a funky hand held camera.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3u-ibWqBqY

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-A5p3ADr7Y

  19. BluesCat says:

    Vineyard Dave – Oh, now I’m WELL aware of the advantages of a fully enclosed HPV! Make sure ya understand that when I say a Velomobile is “nothing more” than a recumbent trike with a pretty skin, it’s like saying the Space Shuttle is “nothing more” than a glider! BOTH statements are perfectly accurate, and are a beginning step for describing those vehicles, and how they work, to the uninitiated. But those two descriptions OBVIOUSLY are not meant to be comprehensive descriptions of those vehicles.

    As far as showing up in June … well, unfortunately, I gotta work for a living, Dave. But I’ll make ya a deal; I’ll buy a lottery ticket this Saturday. If I hit the jackpot I’ll do two things: (1) I’ll buy YOU a brand new Velomobiel Strada, and (2) I’ll personally deliver it in June so we can race together! Deal?

    (Oh, chuckle, BTW, I’LL be showing up with a brand new Lightning F-40!)

  20. Ted Johnson says:

    Civility Alert

    I’ve been on forums where skittish moderators pull the plug before I’ve even noticed that things were testy.

    I’ve been on forums where the discourse got really nasty and the moderators never did a thing.

    This is a blog, not a forum. And so far I’ve approved every comment on this post. But I’ve become concerned that the tone of the discussion is tilting towards the icky.

    The fact that we’ve integrated bikes into our lives is what this site is about. So let’s celebrate that, rather than descend any further into bike-type zealotry.

    I see dickishness just over the horizon, and I don’t want to pedal in that direction.

  21. BluesCat says:

    Whoops! Okay, Ted.

    Lest anybody misinterpret what I was sayin’ (and since it was right after MY last post that you posted your caution), let me set the record straight:

    I am a BIG fan of …
    Bicycles (all shapes and sizes)
    Bicycling (all types: sport, touring, commuting, errand running, recreation riding, etc.)

    I am an EXTRA SPECIAL BIG FAN of …
    Recumbent Bikes (that includes Velomobiles)
    Commute by Bike (the web site)
    Commuting by Bike (the activity)

    Put it all together and it means I’m a fan of Vineyard Dave, and everybody else who has commented here. Sorry if I didn’t make that clear at the start.

  22. Vineyard Dave says:

    A little update on my Velomobile. A couple of shots from above were from the 2010 MS Ride. This year for the 2011 MS Ride, a slightly different and longer course, I rode 64 miles in just over 3 hours, 5 minutes, 56 seconds at an average speed of 20.65 mph and a maximum of 44 mph. The funny thing is that my time on last years 62 mile course was within seconds of this years but covering two more extra miles than last year with my average 19.9 mph.

    Second update. I passed the 10,000 mile mark on my Velomobile yesterday in 76 weeks and one day.

    Still running strong and smooth.

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