Thursday, 17 September 2009

Day 12: Battle Mountain, NV

The usual crew of red-eyed zombies made its collective way out to the course in the pre-dawn gloom, did Stuffs and then hung around in the desert for a long time while qualibobs were run.  Who ran?  Ron Layman in Team Leone's new machine Primal 2, and Greg Westlake from Toronto, riding the arm-powered Avos Arrow - a fully-faired front-wheel drive tricycle.  In his first run Greg beat Jacob Heilveil's fourteen year old world record by more than 5 mph, clocking 37.8 and complaining that the machine was seriously undergeared.  Then on to the runs over the full course, most of which seemed to involve the hard-working Specter II ridden variously by James Schroeder, Kevin Schroeder and Tiffany Underwood, whom I believe to be a Schroeder by birth.  Tanya Markham had another run over 60 mph, while Jay Henry was very close to the mile a minute mark.  Alas, after correcting his path to ensure that the Flying Jay hit the timing tapes, he went into a violent tank-slapper and stuffed the machine deep into the brush, emerging unharmed but with a badly scarred machine.

So we all went home.  Mike Sova spent the afternoon raising the Avos Arrow's gearing, the Cal Poly lads confected a fetching pink tail extention for their #1 machine Atlas and Larry Lem spent it grinding chunks off his shoes in an attempt to create a bit more clearance around his feetses.  The smell of leather being attacked by a small angle-grinder is this: quite vile.  We were a little surprised to see Larry wandering around barefoot, with all his toes still attached.  In the middle of all this mayhem, Al Krause turned a roofing nail into a small screwdriver, that I might reverse the imminent self-deconstruction of my sunglasses.

Out to the course again on a baking afternoon.  Unlike the rest of the record contenders, Greg needs but a 2.5 mile run-up, so he was sent off first.  It seemed that the revised gearing was working wonders, as he later reported a speed of almost 48 mph, with one gear still in hand and more than a mile to go before the timing traps.  At which point the P+nct+r+ Fairy attacked one of his rear tyres.  Greg, though, is made of the Right Stuff, and made known his determination to run in every available session between now and Saturday.

Back up at the gravel depot that forms the location of the start area for the full course, Sam had bizarrely elected to make the very first run .  This resulted in a ~77 mph run, together with the only illegal wind speed of the evening.  He was philosophical about it, and told me he'd be back on the second session tomorrow.  Personal bests for James Schroeder at 58 mph, Barclay Henry

at a fraction under 64 and Larry Lem, recovered from yesterday's mishap with a 61 (although he exceeded 67 in the Goliath II tandem with Tom Amick last year).

Back down to the catch area for me, which is the reason for the absence of photos from the second session, on account of me helping to extract the riders from their hot and sticky prisons at the end of their runs.  Fast Freddy said Rude Words about his 73 mph effort; Yannick said nothing about his 70, instead choosing to hurl his helmet to the ground in a manner suggesting he wasn't very happy.  Cue Barbara.  72.5 mph, wind OK, nearly six miles per hour than Lisa Vetterlein's mark from 2005.

And there was great rejoicing.

Eric Ware saw a peak speed of over 70 on his GPS, but averaged just over 68 for the 200 metres.  This did at least put him ahead of the temporarily absent Jason Erickson, who had nipped home to Reno to replace the Varnator's hub-geared transmission with something that would consume a little less power.  And Bobby Ehrmann in Atlas hit 55 at his first attempt.

Back to the motel for the debrief, a standing ovation for Barbara and an effusive speech from Varna designer/builder Georgi Georgiev, in which he castigated us for the fact that Barbara "is only woman racing".  Amid cries of "Tiffany!" and "What about Tanya, eh, she's even riding one of your designs!" and "Hey, Georgi, how many fingers am I holding up?".  Three world records in twenty-four hours, with the prospect of more on the morrow.

Thought for the day: Charlie Ollinger and Mark Mueller are messing around with astronomical telescopes outside.  Well, that's what they say - to me they look more like anti-aircraft guns.  This may lead to The Feds coming round in the middle of the night, so if you don't get any more of this Automatic Diary, that'll be the reason.

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