Monday, 9 September 2013

Day 10: Battle Mountain, NV

The alarm goes off at five ack emma.  Harsh words are said.  I pile into the shower in an attempt to wake myself up.  It almost works, as does the coffee.  Then it's the first trip out to the course,which is exactly where we left it last year.  Monday morning is for qualifying runs from 2.5 miles out.  Speeds are important inasmuch as they'll be used to determine the start order for the evening, but the main thing is to ensure that bike and rider can make it safely down the course.  Most do; a few do not, for divers reasons.

The new Eivie is so tiny that Jonathan Woolrich observed that Thomas van Schaik could wear one on each foot.  I was driving the sweep car; we had a shedload of bike/rider combinations to get down the course and so was unable to take any photos of the morning running.  The University of Toronto team, who arrived late last night, have two machines (the old faithful Vortex and the apparently much improved Bluenose) and no fewer than seven PSOs riding them.  Well, six PSOs as Intrepid Birdman Todd Reichert has finished his doctorate.  He's also recently won the Sikorsky Prize ($250,000!!!) for hovering a human-powered helichopter for a minute at a height of 3 metres while remaining within the bounds of a 10x10 metre square.  Sebastiaan Bowier in the new Velox 3 camera bike was the fastest, clocking over 67 mph.  This may well be a qualifying record.  Chief Timer Jun "Dr No" Nogami has posted the results here.

Then it was back to the Civic Centre for results and general debrief.  There were a few mishaps, at both ends of the course.  Attribute it to first day nerves.  Lunch, and then went back to bed for a couple of hours.

We shipped out around 4:30 pm for the evening runs.  Things did not go quite according to plan almost from the start.  We have new radios and they're not working terribly well.  Then the first session was delayed by some fifteen minutes because some asshat (Preston Seu thinks it was a spectator) had parked his car just off the course downstream of the bridge (CrinklyLion: it's a pretty crap bridge but I'll try to get a couple of photos anyway).  The only motor vehicle allowed to park on the course is the timers' one.  I was driving sweep again, but managed to get a few photos this time.

For the first time ever we attempted to run fifteen bikes in three groups of five - last year we managed twelve most evenings.  The first group consisted of Alex Selwa (Vortex), Trefor Evans (Bluenose), Wil Baselmans (Velox 3), Dave Sianez (Big Nose Pete) and Graeme Obree (Beastie).  The wind was way too strong for anyone to get a legal run for the whole evening.  Dave pulled up his machine after smelling burning rubber.

Eric Ware and John Jackson prepare to move Dave Sianez' lizardly trike Big Nose Pete up to the start line
Graeme Obree and the Beastie ready for the off.
Graeme later commented that "the first four miles were just a warm-up" and says he's going to fit a bigger gear tomorrow.

The second group consisted of Barbara Buatois (Varna Tempest), Phil Plath/Randy Gillett (Glowworm), Jan-Marcel van Dijken (Cygnus), Ellen van Vugt (Velox S2) and Blake Anton (Primal 2).  The Glowworm fell at launch but was swiftly righted and sent on its way.  Ellen suffered a visitation from the P*nct*r* Fairy almost befor reaching the five-mile marker, while Jan-Marcel had an issue with his braking, in that the lever decided that the conventional location on the handlebars was a bit too old-skool.  J-M breezed through catch and all the way up to the road block before bringing the machine to a halt and toppling gently over.

Glowworm fails to launch
Hans van Vugt gets Ellen under way - one of the best launch teams in the business
By now we were perilously close to the seven o'clock cut-off time when our permission to close the road expires, but race director Al Krause and inconsiderate arrogant bastard starter Chris Broome decide to give it a go anyway.  Sebastiaan Bowier (Velox 3), Ben Goodall (Nitroglycerin), Aurélien Bonneteau (Altaïr 4), Todd Reichert (Bluenose) and Marc Jutras (Vortex) are all sent off, though there was a bit of a misunderstanding as Auré thought Todd was to go before him, which occasioned further delays.  By the time the last riders reached the catch area it was practically dark, and Auré shot past the waiting catchers at 40-50 mph.  Alice was not impressed.  Jun has once again got the full results out with commendable despatch; they may be found here.

PSOs of HP Team Delft ready the new and sleekit Velox 3 for launch, Sebastiaan Bowier at the helm
Auré about to depart
The post-race meeting was commendably short and to the point.  Things will have to improve tomorrow...


  1. Sir David: Muchísimas gracias for the marvelous photos and your signature humour (note the spelling) Nice to be able to follow from out here in Los Osos! Vicky Johnsen

  2. Oi, Larrers, get on with it. Mr. Knight and I and the Home Secretary's private secretary's secretary's assistant secretary's assistant, who is reading this by way of saving GCHQ some paperwork, are anxious to know how Mr. Obree is doing. C'mon, chop chop.

    1. By dint of "clicking" the "links" to Jun's blog, it is possible to determine how fast Mr Obree has gone. More legible results may be found at but appear rather later.