Posts Tagged speed

Speedhounds Are Chameleons

The ChameleonMs. Speedhound recently announced that she had offered the use of her bike to a friend who is training for a triathalon.  Ms. Speedhound rides a 54 cm frame, which, it turned out, would be too tall for her friend.  We did have a 51 cm Nut Green ONLY ONE that we had shown at NAHBS 2012 and the MIA Bike Night.  It was set up as a fixed-gear with antique track components, including wooden rims, tubular tires, a one-inch pitch chain and no brakes.  A thing of beauty, worthy of much gazing, but a disaster as a trainer.  So what to do?  Switch it over to a road bike, pronto, ready to ride the next day.

I started at 11:00 a.m., stripping the bike of all the retro parts and removing the track-style dropouts.  The split in the drive-side receiver, which allows the use of a belt, is also a great shortcut for removing a chain.  There’s no need to pop the master link or break the chain with a tool.  The next step was to install the vertical derailleur dropouts.  Now the frame was ready to accept all of the racy bits Susan needed to whip herself into shape for the triathlon.  Other than the seatpost, I would be using new components, so there was some prep time to mount the tires and install the cassette, cut cables and housing, set up the brake levers and wrap the bars.  I took a lunch break (chicken and broccoli) and got back to business.  By 5:00 p.m., the transformation from show bike to go bike was complete, and I went out for a test ride.  The wheels felt fast and the bike had that “riding on rails” all-day stability that we designed into the ONLY ONE.  Ms. Speedhound’s friend is going to love it.

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What makes a Speedhound so fast?

OK, this isn’t about our bikes.  It’s about Italian Greyhounds (and our mascot, Cooper).  Italian Greyhounds, like other Greyhounds, take advantage of a “double suspension gait” to reach speeds of up to 45 mph.

Here’s how double suspension gait works:

Double Suspension GaitThe dog’s front legs are in full extension forward while the rear legs are in full extension rearward. Additionally, the dog’s back is folded and attains maximum overreach, or where the rear feet extend in front of the front feet and the front feet extend behind the rear feet. When the feet pass each other, the front feet are inside of the rear feet.

A dog uses its back to attain speed. The back’s most flexible point is just over the loin area and the tuck-up allows for the folding of the under portion of the dog’s body. The rear legs overreach on the outside of the front legs. Essential for a fast dog is the ability to flex its back from a straight position to an arched position. A permanent arch is inflexible and is considered a serious fault. The double suspension gallop is a leaping gait with the hind legs first propelling the dog into the air and then followed by the front legs propelling. The shoulder muscles, the ham muscles and the back muscles are the engines of this motion.

Although speed is gained by animals using this gait endurance will be sacrificed. Sighthounds and some cats can rapidly overtake their prey but if the chase continues for too long then their prey can escape. Dogs with short legs, as well as other short-legged mammals like the weasel, often use this gait.

Here’s a fun video of an Italian Greyhound racing a bike (not a Speedhound, btw).

Italian Greyhound/Bicycle Race

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