Redlands conquers 24 hour Human Powered Vehicle Challenge
In 2016, students from the Redlands District Special School (RDSS) first got involved with TRACTION. It was fantastic to have Travis, Jessy, Owen and others supported by Principal Andrew through the TRACTION Bike Build program in the workshop. What was fantastic to see was participants from other schools, including Capalaba State College, helping out servicing 15 bicycles and tricycles from RDSS that were in desperate need of repair. The bikes, purpose-built for those with physical disabilities, were put back to service at the school after being stored in a shed. Click HERE for the back story.
Since then, our relationship with RDSS has blossomed, and the project for 2017 has been building a recumbent bicycle for a team of students from RDSS to race in a 24 hour, human powered vehicle challenge in Maryborough. The Fraser Coast Technology Challenge was held over the weekend of 8-10 September and it was a privilege for TRACTION to be the pit crew for the RDSS team at the event.
The bike featured a lightweight but strong design, cambered front wheels for safe and swift cornering, a roll cage and other safety features to ensure it passed official scrutineering inspections. As with any project time was tight and there were ideas, tweaks and modifications to squeeze extra performance from the bike that remained on the wish list, so naming the beast “Unfinished Business” seemed appropriate. In the end, the bike’s robust and sensible design proved to be an advantage on the track. Aside from rider rotations, only 2 pit stops were required to made adjustments to repair and fine-tune the bike and get it back on track!
The race featured an array of vehicles, many of which featured aerodynamic foils and hybrid electric-human powered engines propelling some down the straight at speeds clocked at 70 km/hr. It was hectic through the chicanes and keeping out of harm’s way of these rockets was a challenge for the RDSS team at times, however the students had a ball, did a fantastic job in the race and all of them displayed excellent behaviour all weekend.
Message from Principal Andrew
“RDSS caters for students who have been diagnosed with a verified Intellectual Disability. These young people face many challenges in life academically, socially, personally and often physically. At RDSS we have a broad curriculum that attempts to develop the whole child so that they can participate in, and contribute to society to their fullest. We look at curriculum and programs that will develop the academic, vocational, personal and physical aspect of every child. This often includes developing partnerships with others outside the school. These partnerships enhance the offerings to our students.
TRACTION is one such partnership. TRACTION has enabled some of our students to do things they would not have been able to within the school campus. It has also allowed them to interact with adults other than school staff. This is a critical part of their social development and gets them ready for employment opportunities upon graduation.
Resilience is another area where our students often fail, they lack the cognitive capacity to be able to push through or take on challenges unfamiliar to them. This then leads to them not trying or giving up quickly. The Human Vehicle Challenge was an ideal opportunity to test the resilience of our students and push them to limits they had not encountered before. The notion of a 24 hour bike ride was a daunting prospect to them and they could not perceive the endurance they would need.
I knew this was going to be a massive challenge and had no idea how far they might push themselves or if they would at all. It was possible they might throw in the towel early into the event as it was all too hard. In my mind I was hoping that we would ride through to around 8.00pm Saturday night, have several hours sleep and rejoin the event some time Sunday morning.
Well, I was blown away by what these boys achieved! The last rider for the night pulled into the pits at 1.45am Sunday morning after completing 11 consecutive laps of the course. The boys were awake at 6.30am keen to get started again and were back on the bike by 7.15am to ride through to 12noon, completing a total of 140 laps, equating to 215 kms. An achievement well beyond my expectations!
Every rider pushed themselves well beyond what I thought they might and did not consider giving up when asked if they could complete another lap. I am so proud of their efforts and will remind them of how far they pushed themselves when in the future they say something is too hard.
Needless to say no if this would have been possible if it were not for the support and encouragement of the TRACTION Team. Their work in the construction of the bike, the expertise in the pits during the event and general care for the boys made the event possible. I cannot thank Sandy, Richard and Luke enough for their help and support along with Karl and Dan for the hours he put into the design and construction. The partnership between Redlands Special School and TRACTION is one I value and will ensure continues well into the future.”