Someone: We don't have a category for 1/10 mile drags!
Robert: Well, we do now.
Thomas: Can I go first?
Bloody trophy hunters, eh...
Then Ben Goodall announced the sale of his fleet of streamliners in order to help finance the construction of new ones. So Nitro, Overzealous, A Little Overzealous and Completely Overzealous are up for grabs.
Thomas: Will I fit in it? (for those not in the know, Thomas is about 6'7")
Ben: That depends on your willingness to suffer, and I've seen little evidence of it so far!
And so to bed for an early night.
In the morning my left ankle has seized and it seemed entirely possible that the Organisators would be looking for a new sweep driver for today. Alice bungs me some Advil, which takes the edge off, but e'en as I type, some eight hours later it doth hurt mightily.
Over breakfast Dave Kennedy relates as how he dreamt last night that he was wading though ankle-deep mud. After last night's weather this could well be a foretelling of conditions at the short-course start, but it proves to be OK. Conditions are actually very good, although both the cloud and the temperature are not high.
|Atmospheric, innit? Mount Lewis attempts to emerge from the clouds at its base.|
Out to the long course next. The first heat consists of Wil Baselmans (Velox 3), David Verbroekken (Cygnus), Trefor Evans (Bluenose), Graeme Obree (Beastie) and Alex Selwa (Vortex). Wil clocks the fast run of the event thus far with a pass at 78.38 mph. For the benefit of Mr Middleton, and Mr Knight, and the Home Secretary's private secretary's secretary's assistant secretary's assistant, Mr Obree did 52.9 mph. David seems to be having starting issues and decided not to run.
Heat two was in marked contrast to it predecessor. Jan Bos (Velox 2) took off like a scalded wossname and had reached more than 70 mph when a tyre blew and off into the scrub he went. From what I've seen the windscreen broke and I've heard that the entire top of the bike came off. Whatever, Jan is very fortunate to have climbed out totally unscathed.
Behind him, chaos. Blake Anton (Primal 2), Mike Mowett (Norus) and Sergei Dashevsky (Tativa) all fail to start successfully, leaving it to Damjan to be the only person from the heat to complete the course.
And another heat. Sebastiaan Bowier (Velox 3) is only marginally slower than his team-mate, Ellen van Vugt (Velox S2), Todd Reichert (Bluenose), Marc Jutras (Vortex) and, finally, Mike Mowett, all get down successfully. It does take Eric Ware and Cam Robertson a few attempts to get Mike launched but he clocks in at over 59 mph.
What's this? A fourth heat? It'd have been nice to have been told, y'know. Graeme had a second run which, for the benefit of Mr Middleton, and Mr Knight, and the Home Secretary's private secretary's secretary's assistant secretary's assistant, was at 53.34 mph into an illegally-strong headwind. Sergei got a good one in at more than 58 mph, though again the wind was Bad. I'm not sure what happened to Blake; Primal 2 was launched successfully but further down the course I encountered him well off the road, being attended to by the team. It was prior to these runs that I spotted a substantial deer - not a pronghorn antelope scarcely bigger than a cocker spaniel - but a big lad with proper multi-point antlers. He elected not to interfere with matters and had gone by the next time I passed, though by then there were plenty of pronghorn nibbling the
Finally we traipsed back down to the short course for further runs: Calvin Moes (Bluenose), recent arrival Sven Jorgensen (Svengali - a Rotator Super 7) and Oleksiy Ryndin (Vortex). All ran successfully. 'twas a hectic morning, especially for a crip like me.
|Svengali leans against his trailer|
On dogs: The most popular volunteer here is undoubtedly Brad Teubner's dog, whom I think is called Rocky. He's never had it so good, with dozens of people stopping what they're doing to tickle his ears. While on the subject, Cygnus spannerman Frans has two Malinois. We are not familiar with the breed and ask him for details. "It's an overclocked German Shepherd". Collapse of stout parties.
I overslept this afternoon. Frantic rush out to the course where the wind was high enough to make most competitors call it a day. It came as no surprise to most that the only rider in the first heat was Trefor Evans in Bluenose - that bike is generally very stable at most speeds and wind conditions. Todd Reichert told me Trefor "had pedalled up to 95 k and sailed the rest of the way". He did 55.56 mph.
In the second heat there were two takers. Damjan in Eivie made a steady if not particularly fast run with 40.23 mph. Sergei again had starting problems and packed it in after falling two or three times.
Damjan's launch was delayed.
Me: What's going on?
Frans: The Highway Patrol is here.
John Jackson: Tell 'em to bring their own BEER!
Three machines lined up for the third heat. First off was Altaïr 4 and Aurélien Bonneteau. They have a new launch system involving an assistant wielding a fishing rod, the line of which is attached to the release of their launch dolly. It was difficult to see whether it did what it was supposed to do but the dolly came off eventually - after a noise sounding suspiciously like snapping monofilament nylon was heard. At the meeting I wrote 68.99 mph but Jeff Wills reckons 58.99. Even the lower figure is highly impressive given the wind speed and direction.
Next up was Todd Reichert in Bluenose, who made a steady run to 42.08 mph. So steady, in fact, that Phil and Randy in Glowworm passed Todd's chase car and were closing on Bluenose.
Then they lost it. The bike ploughed at speed into the bridge rails and lost the top part of its fairing. For the past few years we've been fixing sheets of plywood to the rails to stop a bike from trying to go under them. They worked. The plywood is not a pretty sight, and neither is Glowworm, but Phil and Randy escaped with only minor cuts and scrapes. Very lucky escape and a great job by both the Glowworm and Bluenose chase crews to clear the road so quickly. I'd post a picture of the "before" state of the bridge, which I happened to snap for CrinklyLion this morning, but Flickr is down for maintenance at the moment. I may be able to get an "after" one in the morning if I'm out there early enough - we've got a few spare sheets lying around. Edit: take a look at the pic below and tell me that's not one of the scariest things ever:
|The Glowworm crash, as seen from Bluenose's chase car. Screen capture from video shot by Alex Selwa. The green thing high in the air is the top of the fairing.|
|A bettered Glowworm alone in the desert|
|Part of the wooden auxiliary guardrail embedded in the tail|
At the wrap-up meeting:
Al Krause: Can you fix it?
Larry Lem: I don't think the riders want us to!
Alice enters the meeting sporting a genuine fake plastic Highway Patrol badge, courtesy of Officer Arthur Aten. She starts going on about how we now have to respect her authoritah. The Incorrigibles start singing Bob Marley's I Shot The Sheriff.
On lost property: A pair of trousers and a pair of socks have been retrieved from the start area. These are reclaimed by a sheepish-looking Damjan. Jonathan's missing phone has also been found, none the worse for its immersion in yesterday's rain. Alice claims to have used up all the remaining minutes and taken some really weird pictures, while Ben says he used it to call his Mum in Australia.
The Organisators have developed a new system for allocating riders to road closure windows. There is much argument. For all I know it's still going on - I made my excuses and left, very very slowly, back to where there is BEER.