by: Pamela Hunt
The types of bicycles in the transition area of the Wildflower Triathlon are as diverse as the athletes themselves. There are bikes purchased for fifty dollars at a yard sale and top-of-the-line five thousand dollar bikes with high-end components. In the Long Course and Olympic distance races on May 5th and 6th, you will see road bikes that weigh only as much as a gallon of milk and in the off-road sprint on May 5th, you’ll see mountain bikes with tires that look sturdy enough to climb up a tree.
What you don’t expect to see is a bike made out of plants. Yet, that is exactly what Maurice Van Galder plans on riding in his first-ever Wildflower Triathlon during the 56-mile bike portion of the Long Course Relay on May 5th.
“This specific bike has a bit of a hidden gem,” said Maurice. “The frame is constructed out of drilled-out bamboo that has an inner layer of carbon fiber adhered to it. Because the bamboo has been drilled out and replaced with carbon, this bike is much lighter than other bamboo bikes.”
Maurice explained that bamboo frames tend to be used because of their smooth rides and durability. If you took a piece of bamboo tube and a carbon tube and hit both of them on the ground, the carbon tube is more likely to crack, while bamboo is more likely to absorb the vibrations and stay in one piece. Additionally, bamboo will give you a smoother ride than a carbon frame.
“Bamboo naturally grows as a tube, which is perfect for making bicycles,” said Maurice. “When compared to a carbon bicycle, a bamboo bike absorbs the road vibrations better, which will cause you to feel less fatigued during a long ride. The custom bike I built is no exception. It’s very responsive to the road and leads to an enjoyable ride.”
Maurice works for the renowned Calfee Design, which helped revolutionize carbon frame design in the early 1990’s. Today, Calfee design sells bicycles, components, and creates custom frames. They also sell a DIY bamboo bicycle kit.
Craig Calfee, the founder of Calfee Design built his first bamboo bike in 2005. With Craig’s help, Maurice made his first bamboo bike in 2016. The bike he will be riding in the Wildflower Triathlon is the first bamboo-carbon hybrid created by Calfee Design. Their goal was to create a lighter bamboo bike while maintaining durability by lining the inside with carbon.
“I love being able to create one-of-a-kind bikes,” said Maurice. “This bike brings me joy in another way as well. It’s a great feeling to make a bike out of a living plant.”
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