By: News And Star
A cyclist will tackle the hills of Cumbria just days after the Tour of Britain athletes – but instead of pedalling the latest carbon-fibre bike, he’ll be cycling a wooden one.
It took Richard Harris, 42, of Skiddaw Road, off Wigton Road, Carlisle, about a year to make the wooden bicycle from scratch using more than 150 pieces of wood.
He now plans on cycling it tomorrow along a Coast to Coast route, from Anthorn to Whitley Bay. He and four friends aim to complete the route in about eight hours.
Mr Harris, a joiner by trade, took up the challenge about this time last year as he said he was looking for a project to keep him busy through the long, dark winter. He had seen a few wooden bicycle before online and set about making a wooden frame.
Mr Harris said: “Because there’s not many of them about, you can’t buy the components and you can’t find information on how they work, so a little bit of it’s guess work.”
He sourced recycled timber for the bicycle from various places, including Rebike Cumbria in Water Street, Carlisle city centre, and wood stripped out of Trinity School’s science labs when they were being upgraded on Strand Road in the city.
He added: “The frame is made up of eight laminated frames glued together. [The bicycle] is made in two halves, four frames in each half.”
Over 150 pieces of wood were glued and laminated together to give the bicycle strength.
Once he had the bare bones of the bicycle, he contact Bike7 in Longtown where bike builder Levi Van Belzen, 33, made the frame into a working bicycle.
Mr Van Belzen said: “He made a beautiful job of [the
frame] but from a mechanical side of things, I had to make it a working job.”
Using his seven years of bike building experience, Mr Van Belzen found ways to put fixtures onto parts that turn, spin and change gear and to fit cables onto the bicycle.
He said: “Obviously Richard is ecstatic with how the frame looks and I’m happy that from a frame we have made it into a complete bike and got all the parts on.”
Mr Van Belzen said it was quite a challenge but he hopes it will inspire others to take on similar projects.
Mr Harris took up cycling about five years ago and said like most cyclists, he tried it out when fear of injury turned him away from other sports.
He has been part of Border City Wheelers for the last three years and coaches children.
Building the wooden bicycle turned into a real labour of love as Mr Harris estimates he worked for about 200 hours on the bike.
Although it is a little bit heavier than other road bikes, Mr Harris kept the weight down by using carbon-fibre for the front fork.
The wheels are also not wooden but just standard bike wheels.
When he first mounted his wooden bicycle, Mr Harris said he felt like a kid at Christmas.
Mr Van Belzen said: “He sent me a message saying, ‘I have been on a 20 mile bike ride and the only problem is I can’t stop smiling. It’s all working and it’s really good’.”
Mr Harris has done the Coast to Coast challenge before but does not think any cyclist has completed it on a wooden bike before.
He said he was very excited to give the wooden bike its first real challenge.
He is cycling the route with Mark Harris, Dave Milligan, Lee Davidson and Jon Harris.
By: News And Star