Saturday, 14 September 2013

Day 15: Battle Mountain, NV

Coffee and fag early in the morning.  Todd Reichert is doing curious stretching exercises in the car park.  So strange that we ask him if, now he's Dr Reichert, he's considering a new career.  In ballet.  He calls us rude names.

Into the void yet again.  The first big surprise is seeing this:

in the spectator parking area.  We want to steal it to use as the sweep car for tonight but the two lads crewing it, who claimed to have hit 190 mph on the way over from Reno, have Other Ideas chiz.  Beats me how they could get it insured...

I'm fed up with driving sweep so have volunteered to be a mid-course.  As I've said before, nothing ever happens here, so bring iPod, Kindle and fly-swatter for a nice chillax, innit.  Graeme is to run the Vortex over the qualifying course, and after a slightly wobbly start clocked 43.66 mph.  He said it was great just to be able to run without any pressure.  The rest of the crew then departed for the 5 mile start, leaving me alone save for DJ Random.  He's in a Goldfrapp mood this morning.

Graeme gets comfortable in Vortex
The first heat was supposed to contain Sebastiaan Bowier (Velox 3), Todd Reichert (Bluenose), Sven Jorgensen (Svengali) and Sergei Dashevski (Tetiva 3).  Once again Sergei had problems at the start and pulled out.  Sebastiaan did what would prove to be the best run of the session at 79.20 mph, Todd did a new personal best for a new hat at 77.69 mph and Sven was very happy to get a 50 mph hat with his 50.52 mph.

A pause while the road is temporarily re-opened.  Strange yowling noises are coming from the ranchland to the east.  Coyotes, perhaps?  Whatever is is, I hope it doesn't want to eat me.

Heat two is Jan-Marcel van Dijken (Cygnus), Jan Bos (Velox S), Barbara Buatois (Varna Tempest), Ellen van Vugt (Velox S2) and Florian Kowalik (Norus).  Did I say nothing happens at mid-course?  Jan blew his front tyre at speed a couple of hundred yards upstream and went down and off immediately.  He's OK, but sits disconsolate in the dirt with his head in his hands.  This must be at least the third blow-out he's had this week; David Wielemaker reckons the rubberwear is just not up to the job.  There's drama too at the timing area when Florian's screen mists up and he goes off the road at some 57 mph, ploughing through a marker post on the way.  A good thing we now have fibreglass posts all the way down the course as otherwise both the Norus and Florian would have been cut in half.  He's unhurt but the bike is sufficiently battle-scarred that it won't be able to run tonight.

Teenage hooliganism, or, what happens when your screen fogs up at 57 mph
Heat three sees Wil Baselmans (Velox 3), Ben Goodall (Nitro), Cam Robertson (Bluenose), Marc Jutras (Vortex) and Blake Anton (Primal 2) in the running.  Another run over 70 for Bluenose - the representation of the Canadian flag on the tail fin is obviously doing its job.  Blake pulled Primal up on the course; the bike was recovered without (further) damage.  It was making a rather odd noise when it came past me, as though something was rubbing.

Bluenose tail fin, now with added Shiny
Heat four contains Thomas van Schaik (Cygnus), Trefor Evans (Bluenose) and Damjan Zabovnik (Eivie 4).  Thomas punctures early on but the team is able to rescue the bike before it falls over.  They drive down to the first ranch road and change the tyre and tube in situ before heading back to the start for another go.  Another 75+ run for Bluenose, 76.84 mph.  Eivie is again much slower than expected - Damjan has yet to reach 50 mph this year in a bike thought to be capable of record-threatening speeds.
Damjan and Eivie 4 at mid-course
I didn't think there'd be time to run the scheduled fifth heat as we'd been twenty minutes later than scheduled at the start of the day, but the Organisators thought differently.  Aurélien Bonneteau (Altaïr 4), Calvin Moes (Bluenose), Alex Selwa (Vortex), Thomas trying again after his rapid pit-stop and Sergei having another attempt.  Yet another new hat for a Bluenose pilot as Calvin stops the clock at 76.50 mph - the bike's fourth run over 70 in a single morning.  Sergei manages to get away this time; the mustachioed Russian coming in with a 62.40 mph pass.  Full results of the morning runs here.
Thomas van Schaik in Cygnus
Sergei Dashevski in Tetiva 3
A pox on the radios, which became progressively worse as the session went on, and on the flies which infested the motor-car as soon as I put the roof down.  And then back to the Civic Centre for the meeting.  Incidentally, if anyone is wondering why there are so few pictures of tool-wielding apes in the Super 8 parking lot this year, it's because the Civic Centre has been opened to the event 24/7 for the entire week.  Most of the Delft / Amsterdam PSOs seem to have taken up residence there full time and I know that Certain People have been kipping there on a regular basis.

I always seem to end up sitting with the Cygnus lads at these meetings, which is usually a rich vein of comedy gold.

Frans (proudly): We can do a tyre change in mid-course!
Jan-Marcel (points at writer): I bet he could do a Fat Tire change...

(Fat Tire is the name of a rather nice amber ale brewed in Fort Collins, CO.)

Back to the Super 8 to upload photos, update the odd cycling forum, delete the usual spam from the inbox and update the Automatic Diary.  The formatting has gone funny again.  Arses.  Return to the Civic Centre for group photos and the by now traditional visit from Officer Aten of the Highway Patrol, issuing speeding citations and genuine fake Junior Highway Patrol badges to the miscreants who have exceeded the speed limit on 305.  Noticing a lurking Greg Thomas in the crowd, he tries to nick him for fleeing across the state line without collecting his ticket last year.  Much ribaldry ensues, with a Several of people all coming up with the "three strikes and you're out" gag at the same time.  In the group photos, Bluenose really does have a blue nose as they're in the middle of painting it.  I told Todd that a gang of Scousers had nicked his bike and were repainting it prior to selling it.

Ben Goodall, now with joke comedy go-faster haircut, receives his speeding ticket from Officer Aten

Most of the machines.  Beastie and Big Nose Pete had already departed; Glowworm was too embarrassed to come out from under a tarp in the Super 8 parking lot
While gathered at the Civic Centre it had been hot, sunny and still.  A couple of hours later the temperature had plummeted like a morose lemming and the wind had cranked itself up to "oh bugger" levels.  To add insult to injury it rained on the way out to the course.  At least the wind kept the flies out of the car.  Mostly 

With the wind at more than two and a half times the legal limit, Wil (Velox 3), Thomas (Cygnus) and PSO X (Bluenose) all declined to run, so it was left to Damjan to give the timekeepers something to do.  He clocked 40.21 mph.  Much was expected of the new bike but this year it's way off the pace.  I didn't like to ask why...
The howling has started again.  I'm scared (gets back in car, locks doors).

The second heat was delayed by the appearance of a fire truck on an emergency call-out.  We re-opened the road to let the waiting traffic go through, then shut down again immediately.  This time there are two takers: Trefor in Bluenose and Sergei in Tetiva 3.  Both clock respectable times given the nature of the conditions - the occasional gust is rocking the car on its primitive suspension.
Bluenose at speed - now with appropriate paint job
 But come the time for heat 3, conditions are said to be much better at the important part of the course, and a full complement of machines is launched. First off is Sebastiaan (Velox 3) followed by Todd (Bluenose), Auré (Altaïr 4) Jan-Marcel (Cygnus) and Jan (Velox S).  Bluenose disgraces itself by eating its chain after barely half a mile, but the other four make it to the finish.  Everyone is particularly happy for Jan, as he's suffered such appalling luck this year.

The Delft & Amsterdam PSOs are convinced that something of considerable import has just taken place and are demanding to know the speed immediately.  The Doctor says "No" (do you see what I did there, eh?) as they are too busy dismantling the timing system and they'll have to wait until the results are formally announced.  People are beginning to smell Rattus Norvegicus.  I was unconvinced that the wind could have been legal, as was David Wielemaker eschewing the dubious delights of the Owl Club's nosh in favour of something frangible from The Scottish Restaurant next door, followed by sleep.

I cop a lift with Eric Ware, John Jackson and a bloke from Sacramento known only as Hoppy.  We are joined by Sven and later 3/5 of Ben's gang; also Larry and Tom.  For once we don't waste an hour or more on the door prizes but instead pile in straight away.  Finally we are at the stage where everyone is sufficiently fed and watered to announce the results.  Jun milks it for all it's worth.  Incredibly, the wind at timing was legal for all four runs, of which the slowest was Jan with 74.13 mph,  Next up was Auré at 75.64, followed by Jan-Marcel with 78.23.  And then Sebastiaan's result.  83.13.  Legal wind.  New record.  The team erupts.

Sebastiaan is somewhere in the middle of that lot
Georgi is gracious in defeat and delivers a short speech extolling everyone to try even harder next year.

Medals are handed out to volunteers and riders and newly-achieved hats handed out.  Jonathan is unconvincing in his impersonation of Graeme - too much hair and wrong accent for starters.  Then George Leone's Special Awards, firstly the silly ones:
  • Best Vintage HPV: Svengali
  • Best Launcher: Hans van Vugt
  • Best Catcher: Barclay Henry
  • Best Catch Crew: HP Team Delft & Amsterdam
  • Best Crash: Phil Plath and Randy Gillett in Glowworm
Then the serious ones:
  • Technical Innovation: Oleksiy Ryndin of the University of Toronto team, for his data display on the Bluenose camera system.
  • HPV Spirit: Mike Mowett, most notably for his heroic drive halfway across the country carrying the Norus and all manner of bits and pieces, many of which found themselves being used on other team's bikes.
So the final classifications can be announced at last, thus:

Builder+Owner+Rider: Ben Goodall (Nitro)
Junior: Florian Kowalik (Norus)
Multitrack: Dave Sianez (Big Nose Pete)
  1. Barbara Buatois (Varna Tempest)
  2. Ellen van Vugt (Velox S2)
  1. Sebastiaan Bowier (Velox 3)
  2. Wil Baselmans (Velox 3)
  3. Jan-Marcel van Dijken (Cygnus)
 It's almost as predictable as the Spanish in Moto GP...

L-R: Barbara, Ellen & Ben.  Dave left midweek and it was probably way past Florian's bed-time ;-)
L-R: Sebastiaan, Wil, Jan-Marcel
They started dishing out the door prizes after this.  I suspect that half of them went unclaimed as people stopped listening and/or left the building.  Steve Nash claimed the Chris Froome mask provided by Jonathan.  It looked doubly silly with six inches of shaggy black beard protruding from under Mr Froome's chin.

Our party was among the earlier departures.  Hoppy and Eric vanished while John and I did Stuffs on the Internet for a bit, while lowering the level of John's Large Economy size bottle of Jack Daniels.  And then bed.

Results of Friday night's runs here, overall results there.  Photos from the entirety of Saturday: somewhere else.

Bad things about Battle Mountain 2013: The radios, the evening weather.
Good things about Battle Mountain 2013: Just about everything else.

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