Crossing the Channel on a bike?

Jezston

Über Member
Location
London
Just had a rather silly conversation with a colleague, and it made me wonder - has anyone done this? And if not - could it be done?

Lets say we attach a couple of floats to the side of a bicycle for boyancy and balance purposes, and attach some waterwheel-esque flappy bits to the wheels, with calm weather would it be possible to 'ride' across the english channel?

I get the feeling it would be quite feasible - if my ropey theories are correct it would actually be quite easy compared to swimming as if you got tired you could easily rest. I'd imagine you'd need pretty mild weather do be able to do it so you don't just get blown the wrong way.

Had a google about and the only similar attempt I could find was someone attempting such a crossing in a pedal-powered airship, which they failed due to the wind.

Surely someone has attempted what I've suggested before, and if they haven't - any reason *I* couldn't?
 

andym

Über Member
Just had a rather silly conversation with a colleague, and it made me wonder - has anyone done this? And if not - could it be done?

Lets say we attach a couple of floats to the side of a bicycle for boyancy and balance purposes, and attach some waterwheel-esque flappy bits to the wheels, with calm weather would it be possible to 'ride' across the english channel?

I get the feeling it would be quite feasible - if my ropey theories are correct it would actually be quite easy compared to swimming as if you got tired you could easily rest. I'd imagine you'd need pretty mild weather do be able to do it so you don't just get blown the wrong way.

Had a google about and the only similar attempt I could find was someone attempting such a crossing in a pedal-powered airship, which they failed due to the wind.

Surely someone has attempted what I've suggested before, and if they haven't - any reason *I* couldn't?

Have search around on this forum - there was a thread on here a while ago. Let's just say the issue of who made the first crossing is a wee bit controversial.
 

Wobbly John

Veteran
I'm pretty sure it was done,just as you say, with an adapted bike with floats, back in the 1890's or early 1900's. I remember reading an article in New Cyclist magazine.

It was done in a pedal boat in about 2002.

If you tried lashing some floats on your bike and riding it across in these days of elf & safety, you'll probably attract the attention of the coastguard and men in white coats. :biggrin:
 

Brains

Legendary Member
Location
Greenwich
Such "vessels" do exist, as the Scouts water activity base at Marlowe has one, but realistically it's "range" is the width of the Thames at that point (about 50m!)
I seem to remember you have to pedal like mad to get sufficient paddle speed to move forward and the steering is at the wrong end (the rudder is on the end of the forks)

There is a reason why most HPV's (Human Powered Vessels) are based on the Pedalo design. It works.
 

Arch

Married to Night Train
Location
Salford, UK
Channel? Pah. These guys are going for the Atlantic...

http://www.torpedalo.com/

I expect it could be done on a bike with floats (the channel, not the Atlantic), but it would be hard work. Paddle wheels are not efficient, they spend at least half their time out of the water. A propellor is better.

And the CoG is quite high - I reckon it would be easy to get tipped over in any swell. A recumbent postion would be better.

There are a few designs to be seen in my Cycling the Medina report for Velo Vision.

http://www.velovision.co.uk/cgi-bin/show_comments.pl?storynum=740

Of those, the ones I'd think most likely to make it across the channel are the recumbent catameran, and possibly my Ratty, on a very calm day.
 

vernon

Harder than Ronnie Pickering
Location
Meanwood, Leeds
Surely someone has attempted what I've suggested before, and if they haven't - any reason *I* couldn't?
Yes it has been done. A disgruntled chap who claimed to be the first has a web site somewhere outlining his ride and how it was not deemed to be a legitimate crossing. I think he posted about the crossing here and the CTC forums.
 

andym

Über Member
Yes it has been done. A disgruntled chap who claimed to be the first has a web site somewhere outlining his ride and how it was not deemed to be a legitimate crossing. I think he posted about the crossing here and the CTC forums.
Yep, and if I remember rightly the grounds for saying he hadn't made the first crossing weere that he had crossed from Normandy to the South Coast rather than from Calais to Dover. I think he had every right to feel aggrieved: imagine if someone were to claim that Hilary and Tensing weren't the first to climb Everest because the Guinness Book of Records hadn't been there to make it official.
 

I remember that crossing the Solent for the Folding Conference at Ventnor
 

andrew_s

Guru
Location
Gloucester
Numbnuts image is of the Shuttle Bike Kit
IIRC there was an Audax UK member resident in Guernsey who had one - he got a better workout on the water than doing laps of the island.

If you want one you've probably got to go direct to the company in Italy: http://www.shuttlebike.com/
Site with video of crossing the Straits of Gibraltar here: http://www.sbkkit.com/index.php. As stated, the Channel has been done, as has the Straits of Messina (Italy to Sicily)
 

slowmotion

Quite dreadful
Location
lost somewhere
Paddle wheels are bad news as regards the physics. You need a slim-hulled craft. Maybe a converted canoe with an outrigger to keep you upright. I suspect that a drive chain running a propellor would be a whole lot better than some paddle steamer.


TM slowmotion, but not yet patented....
 

PaulSB

Legendary Member
Surely someone has attempted what I've suggested before, and if they haven't - any reason *I* couldn't?
I don't know about the Channel but I lived in York between 1976 - 80 and we always entered a team in the annual River Ouse Raft Race. Our design included two bikes mounted on two floats to drive a propellor located between the floats. As I recall we won one year and sank another, so yes it's been done a long time ago.
 

Hilldodger

Über Member
Location
sunny Leicester
The first crossing of the English Channel by a pedal powered craft was done before 1890 and there were several others before 1914. These were between Dover and Calais. I'd have to dig through my notes to fine the details given to me by the CCA and Dover Museum Service

In 2003 a 59 year old chap used one of our Nauticraft Escapades to do the crossing there and back in a day. This was recognised as a record by the Channel Crossing Association and Guinness.

The American/Canadian man who crossed the Western Channel complained to everyone including Guinness for not recognising his crossing even though he hadn't crossed the channel at a point recognised by the CCA and Guinness.

He then became very abusive to everyone including me for something Nauticraft wrote, quiet correctly, on their website claiming a Guinness World Record.
 
Paddle wheels are bad news as regards the physics. You need a slim-hulled craft. Maybe a converted canoe with an outrigger to keep you upright. I suspect that a drive chain running a propellor would be a whole lot better than some paddle steamer.


TM slowmotion, but not yet patented....
... and I give you "Decavitator"

flying_fairing.gif


in 1991 it held the world record at 18.5 knots
 
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