On a drizzly Winter’s day the other week, something quite remarkable happened. More than 20 people pedalled furiously inside Stirling University’s Atrium, yet travelled precisely nowhere.
Yet in a different sense they travelled huge distances. To a point, in fact, where they literally saw the light.
How did this happen?
On our Power Bike, of course! A place where people cycle hard and fast but go nowhere because the back wheel is lifted off the ground to power a generator, which is attached to a row of light bulbs and a power meter.
That’s me warming the bike up. Note the legs: a blur of action (or is that camera shake?)
Individual prowess is determined not by distance travelled but by how many Watt Hours can be generated in 60 seconds. 60 agonisingly slow seconds. Most slowed down after about 40 and some didn’t finish at all. The better riders paced themselves and kept the power steady and strong for the full minute. All felt a sense of accomplishment for trying.
The winners are shown below alongside their power totals. The numbers highlight just how difficult it would be to generate meaningful amounts of power using human hamster wheels, which is a shame as that was one of my big ideas.
On a serious note, although the Power Bike Challenge uses human power rather than oil, coal or nuclear energy, the principle is much the same. Just think how much coal/gas we have to burn to make the pistons go round in our power stations to generate power for the whole of Scotland! Anything we can do to reduce your energy use will mean fewer fossil fuels get burned, so fewer CO2 emissions are released, and the planet will warm slightly less.
Anyway, back to the winners:
1st (£50 prize winner): Andrew Wilson (8.6 Watt hours) – almost a world record!
2nd (£25 prize): Martin Verbeke (7.3 Wh)
3rd (£10 prize): Rob Wilkins (7.2 Wh)
1st (£50 prize winner): Kirsty Howatson (5.6 Watt hours)
2nd (£25 prize): Jennifer Murray (3.6 Wh)
3rd (£10 prize): Margaret Angell (2.8 Wh)
The prizes are e-vouchers (for the eco-website www.greenrewards.co.uk)
Some more photos of the event:
David Duckett, the University's Head of Sustainability, tries a different stance.
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