Saturday, 17 September 2011

Day 15: Battle Mountain, NV

Tiff & James warming up
After last night's downpour it was a relief to poke my nose outside the door and be able to see moon and stars.  With this being the last day of competition, we had a pretty packed schedule as almost everyone wanted at least one more run.  Except the Henry boys who, concluding that they were actually getting slower, decided to call it a day. The first session went off smoothly enough, though Idiot Boy here, who is supposed to follow the final chase vehicle down the road, wasn't paying attention.  I was just mooching around, turned round and saw that Kara was already half a mile down the road.

The second session did generate some adrenaline, notably for the catchers.  Thomas in Cygnus has been gradually catching Eric in the Wedge for the entire run, and passes him as the machines approach the catch area.  Eric slows abruptly, his screen mists up and he goes off into the brush, while Thomas comes in at speed and is j-u-u-u-s-t caught.  The chaos is compounded by the fact that Cygnus' chase truck has no radio, because they have conscientiously put it back in the box after Jan-Marcel's run in session one, while Idiot Boy here assumed they'd hung on to it.  Wedge's chase car did have a radio, but it was inaccessible as driver John Jackson was sitting on it...
Astro Boy?  I daren't ask...

Session three restored some semblance of normality to the proceedings in that, yet again, Tiff unshipped Firefly's chain.  We've all been rooting for her finally to get a 55+ mph run, but it seems unlikely to happen.  By now the wind is getting up, and none of the fourth session gets a legal run.  A pity, as Gert-Jan does a 71 and James at 60 dead, while Victor does 60+ with a six-pack of Moose Drool BEER stowed in Vortex' tail.  This is guzzled by thirsty catchers before I arrive chiz.  Full Saturday morning results, though be advised that the run credited to Tiff was actually Kara.

Am I seeing things?  No, there definitely was a hitching hippy sitting by the freeway entrance, playing the flute...  At the post-race debrief I have untied my hair.  "Dave, your hair looks really nice when it's down" says Kara.  Whom should I trust - one half of the former Trinny & Susannah of SW2 or a hip 17 year old?  After the meeting all the machines are lined up for a group photo.  I bag a prime spot in the load bed of Team Cygnus' huge Toyota pickup, focus on the assembled bikes and get a message up on the camera screen.  BATTERY EMPTY.  Never mind, I have some spares.  Except I don't as they're flat rechargeables which have been lurking at the bottom of the case for a year.  Never mind, I have some in my room.  Well, if I do, they're hiding somewhere.  Pshaw and, moreover, fiddlesticks.  Final runs of the week soon, followed by the awards dinner, so don't be surprised if this entry doesn't get updated until Sunday night local time.

Machines & riders - photo by Jun Nogami
Kara.  In a DRESS!
After an afternoon spent either snoozing or doing Stuff upon teh Intarwebs, it was out to 305 for the final time.  Here we learned that documentary makers Neal Hartman and Claudia Marcelloni have engaged a private air force for a couple of hours to film some of the action from the air.  We later learned that Kara wanted to go up as a passenger but, perhaps mindful of the tendency of singled-engined aircraft to fall out of the sky when things go wrong, her mother declined permission for Kara to fly her first sortie.  Instead she elected to climb a substantial hill not as close to the catch area as it looks, accompanied by Aidan Muller of the Vortex team.  Neither is admitting to anything more than looking at the view, which hasn't stopped rumour and innuendo from running rife.

Greg starts the week's final run
And so to the big showdown.  Which turned out to be a big let-down.  It was, quite simply, a Slow Day, although these things are relative.  That 70 mph hat continued to elude Thomas for another year.  Greg was on a fast run but somehow contrived to miss the timing tape exiting the traps.  Sam turned the tables on Sebastiaan, but the latter retained the winning spot with Thursday's 80.54 mph pass.  And so it's over for another year.

Well, almost.  Anyone with a pickup is being pressed into service to collect signs and the plywood cladding from the bridge.  It's all done remarkably quickly, which leaves me, 3/4 of the Vortex team and assorted Schroeders in the car park.  I am awaiting the arrival of Delft's minibus and with it the last radio not yet in captivity, while the others are awaiting the arrival of Aidan and Kara from their hike.  As soon as Dutch Paul hands over the wireless, I'm off.  Full Friday evening results.

Then over to the Owl Club for the awards dinner.  Unlike last year, when the food, as Sir Henry Rawlinson might have said, was inedible muck and there wasn't enough of it, this year there was enough for assorted known hungry-guts (Thomas, Larry, etc. etc.) to go round for seconds and even thirds.  And there are Awards.  The Design & Innovation Award goes to Team Cygnus for their cunning combination of air intake and periscope, while the Sportsmanship Award, in spite of Thomas' & Jan-Marcel's shameless playing to the camera, goes to Toronto's Victor Ragusila.  The prize awards:

Junior: Kara Snyder (Firefly).
Arm-powered: Greg Westlake (Avos Arrow)
Collegiate: 2nd: University of Toronto (Vortex); 1st: Human Power Team Delft (VeloX)
Ladies: 3rd: Kara Snyder; 2nd: Tiffany Underwood (Firefly); 1st: Barbara Buatois (Varna BM)
Overall: 3rd: Todd Reichert (Vortex); 2nd: Sam Whittingham (Varna Tempest); 1st: Sebastiaan Bowier (VeloX)
The podium in its entirety
I tactfully depart before my feet explode and walk back to the motel, melt a little ice and wake up in the reclining chair a couple of hours later.  If there was any partying going on, I slept through it.  My feet hurt, my right arm feels rather odd and someone is drilling a hole just beneath my right shoulder blade.  I am short of both sleep and sanity.  I love this event...

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