The British Human Power Club was formed in 1983 to foster all aspects of human-powered vehicles - air, land & water - for competitive, recreational and utility activities, to stimulate innovation in design and development in all spheres of HPV's, and to promote and to advertise the use of HPV's in a wide range of activities.
If you think this seems rather like a mission statement, you would be right; in reality the BHPC was formed to allow people to race recumbent trikes and bikes and the mission statement was added to broaden the club’s outlook.
What does this actually mean?
What the BHPC actually does is affected by two main reasons, what the members do and what other organisations don’t do. Human powered aircraft are limited by both the cost and technical difficulties involved in design & building and the fairly severe limits on operating conditions. This makes them rather rare, expensive and fragile and hence they are rather limited as to the number of people able to build and fly them and so they don’t appear very often. Other forms of Human Powered Vehicle, such as rollerblades, rowing boats and ‘ordinary’ bicycles already have organisations devoted to them so the BHPC doesn’t need to promote them.
This essentially leaves recumbent cycles (primarily bikes and trikes but no limit on how many wheels!) - hereafter referred to as a recumbent, and to a much lesser extent pedal powered boats. Due to the general usability of a recumbent, they are easily the most popular and are hence the prime focus of the BHPC. Since the formation of the BHPC the recumbent has gone from being a very rare beast indeed to though not exactly common, at least something that most people have seen. With this in mind, most of the BHPC promotion work is done for club events rather than for HPVs in general.
What do we actually do?
The BHPC mainly does two things: Racing and Information, we do occasionally run touring and social rides but since these are easily done by anyone these tend to be occasional events.
Racing is something you almost completely can’t do on a recumbent any where else in the UK because of them being banned by the UCI in the 1930’s and hence British Cycling and the CTT (formerly RTTC) won’t let them compete. Some bike clubs do allow recumbents to take part in non-CTT time trials but this is often blocked by the CTT. The racing generally takes the form of circuit races on closed circuits of all sizes from the 250m indoor velodrome such as Newport, to the 1 mile of Hillingdon and the extreme of the 4.5miles at Bentwaters Parks in Suffolk. There are usually 10-12 events per year from April to October at various locations.
Being a ‘laid back’ group of people, the races are not quite what you might expect. While most of us take the actual racing seriously, the difference in ability, speed, age and just about everything else of those taking part mean that everyone is welcome rather than just those of a certain category. You don’t even need to have a recumbent, we regularly have upright bikes taking part, such as Ordinaries (or Penny Farthings), Moulton’s, folders, even UCI approved ‘racing bikes’, though you might get a bit of a shock
The events are as much a social occasion as a competitive one, with usually more time spent talking and trying other people’s machines than actually racing. Some events are also held over a weekend with the added opportunity of being able to spend even longer talking about bikes!