Monday, 26 September 2022

Day 12: Sonora CA - Larrington Towers

I find, to my considerable embarrassment, that there has been a draft post for the final period of this year's less-than-epic Automatic Diary sitting quietly behind the curtain for as near as makes no odds a week now.  Oopsie.

As SFO lies a scant hundred and fifty miles from Modesto as the toll-bridge-avoiding Yorkshireman drives a relaxed start was on the cards.  But soft! A txt frm BRTSH rwys! “Soz ur flght dlyd ntl 17:30 kthxbai”.  This is curious as my flight is departing at 19:10.  Isn’t it?  A swift rummage through half a ream of printouts reveals that no, it is not.  This was actually a Good Thing, as it meant a lot less hanging around at the airport than originally antici…


It had – mercifully – stopped raining by departure time but the weather forecast was a bit of a Rubbish and, to compound the general end-of-holibobs malaise, the Blackstang's tyre pressure warning light came on after ten miles.  Bah.  Prodding buttons shewed the front left to be a whole two psi down on its neighbours and, as things warmed up, the pressure on all four increased.  Probably not a visitation from the P*nct*r* Fairy, then.  Hurrah!

With Kate the new TwatNav at the helm I actually got back to SFO on time and only slightly over budget, this latter being due to the collective robdogs of California charging a whisker over $7 per titchy USAnian gallon of the most basic rotgut petril on offer.  It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was calling out the “gas” station proprietor in Panamint Valley for charging $6.

Ran into the IUT Annecy team in the airport terminal, where Guillaume glumly informed me that their flight was still six hours away.  Though by the time I'd dropped off The Luggage they'd scarpered.  The camera bod attached to the LSBU team – Chris?  Mike? – also wandered past but he was heading back to Blighty with United.

Finally onto the Shiny Metal Birb.  Oh look!  There's LSBU non-Northern-Monkey Barney!  I waved, but he didn’t see me and I didn’t get to say “Hello” until the baggage reclaim at Thiefrow.  The birb-driver explained that the flight’s tardiness was because:

  1. The original Shiny Metal Birb intended for the flight had broken down so they had to find another one at the back of the garage, and
  2. Restricted airspace around Windsor because Missis Kwin
The replacement SMB was a cranky old grid with video screens from the mid-Cretaceous.  I think the food was of similar vintage.  I managed to fall asleep approaching Lake Winnipeg and wake up again as we crossed the west coast of Ireland.  Anglesey.  Somewhere that might have been Banbury.  Staples Corner.  Wembley Stadium and the neighbouring Happy Swedish Halls Of Joy – now my nearest branch since they just closed the one in The Death Of The Soul Edmonton – Craven Cottage, Hammersmith Bridge1 and many other “interesting” landmarks under the starboard wing

Piccalilli Line, change at Finsbury Park.  I accidentally got on a train terminating at Seven Sisters.  Bah encore!  Bus times app claims that the W15 doesn’t stop at Walthamstow Bus Station2 but natch this turned out to be made of Lie.  Larrington Towers still present and correct although The Man still hasn’t emptied the brown bin.  Switch Babbage-Stuffs back on whereupon I noted that, following this year's DETH of an entire PC, the untimely demise of a router from a blink-and-you-missed-it power cut and the about-to-go-to-Silicon-Heaven behaviours of a NAS, the network switch that lives next to the telly is devoid of blinkenlights, even after being switched off and on again.  At least this time I haz a spare.  What I don’t haz a spare of is one of the SSDs in the big PC upstairs, which is also showing every sign of dying on its arse.  I hate technology…

Also, 2D Thomas escaped from his road atlas home back in Modesto and fell in a puddle and now he looks like he’s got leprosy:

Noes! Poor Thomas!
Happily it transpires that I still have the scan I made of the original3 2D Thomas before he went off to Captain Cook's Mistake with Professor Larrington.  So next year, when I hope to have a proper Automatic Diary once more – involving Lewis, Clark and the Mighty Missouri – we shall also have a healthy Thomas to keep us company.

  1. Not, alas, collapsed on the empty head of Sebastian Fox, Michael Green, Corinne Stockheath or Grant Shapps.
  2. By the following evening it had relented, though still told me I'd have to wait 15 minutes for a bus that rocked up two minutes later.  On the way back from seeing Godspeed You! Black Emperor at the Electric Ballroom in sunny Camden, since you ask.  They were, natch, TEH AWSUM.
  3. Who, you may recall, subsequently went off with the Ligtvoets, then spent a year incommunicado in the Caribbean before being "lost" in the Battle Mountain Civic Center.

Sunday, 18 September 2022

Day11: Battle Mountain NV - Sonora CA

Mr Larrington:Do I have to write up today now?
Omnes:No. No, you do not. You may have a cup of tea and a stroopwaffel first!
Mr Larrington:Fckles!

 Now read on...

I managed to spin out the lying-in-bed nonse until about hours 07:15 before doing the "breakfast" thing, the "packing" thing and the "saying goodbye to everyone who was available" thing, before heading off to the Maverik to restock the Blackstang with petril.  Not warm enough to put the lid down chiz.  Off down 305 towards Austin; encountered the Toronto gang disconsolately hunting for a team member's missing phone somewhere near catch and Alice and Mikey supervising the course take-down.  At the far end of 305 lies US-50 which, if you turn left, will take you to Ocean City MD.  Eventually.  I turned right and went a rather shorter distance to Middlegate before turning south on NV-361, where it had now become warm enow to travel open to the elephants.  Although the road is rougher than a bear's arse.

Middlegate and US-50 are somewhere down there...

Past Gabbs to Luning and right again onto US-95 to Hawthorne.  Keeping one eye on the estimated range available on the current tank of petril and another  on the distance to Sonora, well, they almost met, but the former obviously didn't know about the gert big mountains that needed to be crossed.  So I should have filled up in Hawthorne, because it's still in Nevada, where petril is cheaper than it is in California.  Natch, I did not, but instead turned south onto NV-359, which turns into CA-167 when it crosses the state line with neither care nor attention.  This takes you past Mono Lake, which you could see better if there wasn't a tree in the way, and up to the base of the lofty, though not SNO-capped Sierras.  By which time the temperature had dropped a fair bit and Mighty Rushing Wind had sprung up, so the roof went up again chiz.

Lofty peaks of the Sierras with SNO falling on them

Mono Lake is behind that bush

Turn back north on US-395 just north of Lee Vining and fill up in Bridgeport.  Motor-spirit is almost, but not quite, seven dollars a titchy USAnian gallon.  At the Maverik in Battle Mountain it was about $4.70.  Robdogs.  Continued north then turned west again on CA-108 and over Sonora Pass.  The lower reaches are rather scenic:

Little Walker River from CA-108 at the eastern end of Sonora Pass

The lofty heights are also scenic if you have the good fortune to cross them on a nice sunny day like wot I doned in 2008.  This time it started raining and by the top - almost 3000 metres Up, the rain had turned to wet SNO and it was 2 C outside.  You do not expect to see a near1-replica of Janis Joplin's psychedelic Porsche 356 up there in those conditions, but there it was.  Sadly unable to get a photo of that, but here instead is some SNO, from inside the car because my jumper and coat were in The Luggage and staying there.

2 Celsius and SNO.  Welcome to sunny California!

Forty-odd miles downhill to Sonora and the Hotel Lumberjack, which is the cheap'n'cheerful annexe to the Historic Sonora Inn, and where it was cold.  And raining.  And where, indeed, it is still cold and raining.  I've got the flipping heating on!  Nobbut 150 miles back to SFO on the morrow and the Shiny Metal Birb doesn't leave until seven in the evening so I can take it easy tomorrow.  Here endeth the lesson.

  1. Coupe rather than a convertible.

Saturday, 17 September 2022

Day 10: Battle Mountain NV

Although we didn't have a long drawn out awards bash this year because Plague it's still late and only half today's Automatic Diary entry has been typed up.  Today's event pictures are at here: clicky.  There'll be a bunch more from the Battle Mountain Runners car show wot we had a mosey round this afternoon but not until roughly this time tomorrow.  Nor will there be any more words until then.  You oughta be used to this by now.  Oh, Fran├žois is up and around and wearing a neck brace but otherwise pretty chipper.  He wants to come back next year ­čśÇ

It is now Sunday pm in a wet and chilly Sonora CA and here for your delight, delectation and other Stuffs beginning with "d" is the full story of Saturday 2: The Sequel.  Share and enjoy.

Back to standard start times this morning = no lie-in chiz.  The weather was a fair bit warmer than yesterday because clouds, though the latter did their best to water us during the course of the session.  The wind was much the same as yesterday, including being non-legal for the luckless Martina again.  Three bikes in heat one with Russ leading the way with a 73.79.  Exactly the same as he clocked on Thursday.  Martina did 57.45 and Noah 64.9, though neither had a legal wind.  Lincoln had an uncharacteristic fall on launch, followed by Cyclone dropping a chain only a few hundred metres into the run.  He steered off the road for a soft landing before the team could pull off a mid-course catch.

Heat 2 had only two runners with Bill Kong running Cyclone to a legal 61.24 and Peter a not so legal 53.02 in his DF velomobile.  It then started to rain quite heavily at the start so things took a fifteen minute break to let the rain pass and the first mile of the course to dry out a bit.

Bill K in Cyclone

The delayed heat 3 had legal wind for all four runners, with Andrea topping the table with the morning's best speed of 76.70 mph.  Why my notes say "42.43" is a mystery. Matilde did 70.52, Noah 65.04 and Wild Bill 60 dead.  The latter noted that he's putting out more power than he was in 2019 but not going any faster, so possibly the road has deteriorated to compensate.  Most repeat offenders among the riders are saying it's noticeably rougher than before so we're hoping someone can persuade, er, someone else to stump up the Several of millions of dollars required to resurface it.

Martina (L) and Matilde trying to determine what's wrong with TaurusX' rear wheel

Also needing a substantial cash application is the van of drone cameraman Nik Vatin, whose vehicle apparently needs a driveshaft transplant to make it back home to Florida.  Passing the hat around raised more than $500.

Post-race it was a great relief to see Fran├žois only a bit the worse for wear after his adventures last night.  He's currently wearing a neck brace but expressed a wish to come back next year.  Then outside for the group photos...

Vehicles and riders: Wild Bill, Adam, Russell, Noah, Diego, Andrea, Martina, Matilde, Alyssa (11), Fran├žois, Guillaume, Peter, Lincoln, Calvin, Bill K

...and presentation of the trophy to Alyssa (11) as she has to get back to:

  • Oklahoma, and
  • school ASAP.

Shameless photobombing by John Jackson and Larry Lem in the background...

Normally at this point the fastest rider of the week would then be handcuffed and stuffed in a Highway Patrol vehicle, but Arthur Aten has recently retired from the NHP and is instead running for Sheriff.  I now have one of his stickers on my laptop.  Election is on November 8th.  Vote early and vote often, kids.

Make it so!

After lunch some of us went for a wander around the Battle Mountain Runners car show over the road.  Lots of Detroit Iron of various vintages plus a lone VW Beetle.  I took a metric fuckton of pictures but I ent uploaded 'em to Flickr yet because although the Super 8's internets are no longer flakier than a week-old croissant my back isn't and the chair in here is too low, too hard and too something else to sit at for long periods.  Hopefully the Lumberjack Hotel in Sonora, wot is where I'm stopping on the way back to San Francisco tomorrow night, will be better.  Edit: it is.  Many pictures at here: clicky  I'll label 'em properly when I get home and have a GBFO monitor to look at them on.

Best in Show: Jack from Spring Creek and his immaculate Chevrolet truck.
Pictured at the Super 8 this morning - he doesn't drive it at night because the headlights are terrible

Back out to the course for the last time1 this year shortly...

...shortly afterwards.  None too warm on town but rather better out on the 305.  Not so the wind, at least until late in the session.  Although we didn't get the results until quite a lot later I'm gonna put them in here coz otherwise I'll get confused.  Only Martina chose to run in the first heat and didn't push hard as she ran a non-legal 42.54.  Heat 2 was similarly manky.  Russ did a 58.41 as a data-gathering exercise for a proposed GCN/Jonathan Shubert attempt on the Hour Record.  Having remembered that my camera can also shoot video during James Coxon's trike hour record run a couple of months ago I promptly forgot again.  But now I remembered again.  Let's see if this works:

Successful launch for Seventy Seven
Well, it might have.

Noah did 39.66, slowed by the display of flag-noncing in the form of a Union Fleg attached to Marlow's tail.  Which slowed him to the extent that Bill K in Cyclone was oblige to overtake the LSBU chase vehicle actually in the timing traps.  He still managed 52.56 before going off the road before the bridge.

Noah & Marlow, flag-noncing

We delayed the final heat for about fifteen minutes to let the wind drop.  Which it did.  Except for Matilde's 74.07 chiz.  The weather deities don't like the Italian lasses.  They did like Andrea, though, whose 80.32 mph run was the fastest wind-legal one of the week.

Andrea sets off to claim first place overall

Behind the Italians were the two velomobiles; Wild Bill hit 60.29, a thou off his PB while Peter, in the last run of 2022, did 55.20.

Peter closes the event with a more sedate start to his run

Although Teh Plague had, as noted up there ^^^^, put paid to the Trad. Arr. awards bash this year, we still managed to draw out the post-race meeting with many of the customary activities.  There were, for example, Hats emblazoned with the rider's best wind-legal speed, viz. Lincoln (60), Noah and Martina (65), Russ, Adam and Matilde (70) and Fran├žois (75).  So still only one example of the coveted 85 mph hat has been award, and the even-more-coveted 90 hat - which I am assured *does* exists - remains unclaimed for another year.

Hatses: Adam, Russ, Lincoln2, Noah, Martina, Matilde, Fran├žois

No-longer-Officer Aten had, I'm told, received special permish to don his Highway Patrol uniform one last time in order to dish out traffic citations to assorted miscreants.  Speeding, failure to maintain proper control of a vehicle and driving without a licence due to being to young were among the crimes mentioned.  Alice says she'll ensure that Alyssa (11) gets hers through the post.  I failed to position myself in the right part of the room for this so all my photos had the wrong side of the villains, so I threw them away.

So, ur Official Results:


  1. Team Policumbent
  2. IUT Annecy
  3. University of Toronto

Men Arms-Only:

  1. Diego Colombari

Men's Multi-Rider:

  1. Calvin Moes & Bill Kong

Men's Multitrack:

  1. Wild Bill Thornton
  2. Peter Borenstadt
  3. Diego Colombari

Women's Multitrack:

  1. Alyssa Miller (11)

Women's Overall:

  1. Matilde Vitillo
  2. Martina Stirano
  3. Alyssa Miller (11)

Men's Overall:

  1. Andrea Gallo
  2. Fran├žois Pervis
  3. Russell Bridge

Affairs thus concluded, many, if not most, of those present trooped over the road to the Hideaway as all the tips for tonight were going towards sending a couple of their waitresses to a cheerleading wossname in Florida.  Although when Alice inquired as to whether they might be persuaded to keep the kitchen open past 9 pm they allowed as how that would be possible but only by jacking up the service charge to a robdog amount.  This on top of the extra charge incurred by parties of six or more.  We left the Young People to it and instead your author, Mikey Sova, timing's wind maestro Danny Guthrie, the Krauses, the Lightvoets and the van Vugts went Mexican and if it hadn't been bloody freezing outside and them making a horlicks of Al's burrito order we'd have totes pwned the rest of the mob.  Nyurr!

Without whom... Al'n'Alice Krause

All in all a slightly disappointing return after three years away.  Mostly due to the weather and both Titan and Alta├»r 6 crashing out before they could show their true colours. On the plus side a much improved performance from LSBU, who arrived with a working bike and a cracking one from Team Northern Monkeys.  Though (wo)Man of the Match was almost certainly Alyssa (11).  Having a great uncle like Mister Barnett undoubtedly helps but we're told that she built Teardrop practically solo.  How many eleven year olds do you know who can weld?

  1. Except that I'm leaving town that way tomorrow, obv.
  2. Note the heroic restraint with which I have refrained from referring to him as Hot-Rod Lincoln all week.

Friday, 16 September 2022

Day 9: Battle Mountain NV

Sunny and calm this morning but also cold - like 5 degrees in town when we set off, in spite of deciding to put back the start of the morning session by an hour.  The forecast was for low wind until midday so we hoped it would warm up a bit before we launched any bikes.  A few hiccups at both ends of the course with Matilde going down at the start before relaunching successfully, Bill Kong coming into catch a little faster than strictly necessary, albeit that he anchored up hard and was caught without mishap and Diego coming in a lot faster than anticipated, narrowly missing me and actually hitting Al Krause as he did a standing high jump over Cerberus.  Diego steered off the road and down the bank, coming to a safe if undignified halt in the brush.

Al Krause does the fandango

Cerberus' final resting place

In spite of the nippy temperature the wind was kind to all save Martina.  Team Northern Monkey claim to like lower temperatures.  They were mostly coddled in about six layers of Arctic survival gear.  No wonder we lost the Empire...  Russ was second fastest of the day in spite of being first on the road, with 72.95 mph.  Matilde hit 67.18 and Noah 60.74 in the same heat.

"Northern Monkey" in a state of (temporary) undress

Nobbut two machines in the second heat with 56.36 for Lincoln in Cyclone and 53.97 for Peter in the DF. In heat 3 Andrea was predictably fastest with 75.84 from Adam at 69.55 and Martina with the only non-legal wind for her 68.44.  Then down to the short course for Bill K - doing a qualifying run in Cyclone - and Diego.  The former clocked a respectable 57.29 mph and the latter 40.88 before the aforementioned catch excitements.

Beauty and The Beast: Matilde (L) and Frank

Back to town for debriefs and food an' t'ing.  I had a burger with Swiss Cheez-Flavored Food Product, mushrooms and jalapenos, though not before they'd attempted to service me a bowl of sweet'n'sour chicken and rice.  At least the gave me my drinks for free once the mistake was rectified.

Al fresco dining at the Hideaway with Alice, Arnold and Marieke

The midday break also saw the Barnetts, aided and abetted by Alyssa (11) running the drag races, open to all comers on just about anything.  Though we don't think Robert Barnett awarding himself 4th place on an electric assist bike was quite kosher.  I did not attend due to being lazy/incompetent/hungry1.  Bill Kong came out the winner from Adam Hari and Larry Lem.

Pessimistic eyes were cast at the skies shortly before we left town, since the gert big cloud between the funny light on the sky and the Super 8 was keeping the temperature down to about 18 C.  Out in the boonies it was more like 26.  Hurrah!  Not so hurrah-worthy was the discovery that Seventy Seven's rear tyre was rubbing on the bodywork.  Russ had intended to treat tonight's run as a test anyway, but decided to to run.  Visitations from She Who Must Not Be Named are unwelcome at this event.

Assorted scoundrels before the start of heat 1

Heat 1 saw Fran├žois first on the road followed by Martina and Peter.  I was just getting into the Blackstang to follow Peter's chase truck down the course when I caught the tail end of a radio communication: "Bike down in timing".  This had to have been Fran├žois since Martina couldn't have got that far yet, and therefore was going to be a big one.  And so it proved.  The team reckon the rear tyre flatted at somewhere north of 80 mph about 100 metres from the start of timing, went down, slid a scary distance on the road and finally departed into the brush, fortunately without hitting either anything solid or any of the squashy bits of the timing crew.  Sterling work by the Annecy team, the timers and Julia Thornton, a nurse and Wild Bill's wife, saw the rider extracted from the bike apparently OK and the road cleared before Martina arrived on the scene to clock 67.64 mph.  Once again heres was the only run with non-legal wind.  We are beginning to sense a theme here, and doubtless Ken Buckley and Jennifer Breet will be sympathising.  At the time of writing Fran├žois had been hauled off to hospital for a more thorough inspection and if further news emerges in the morning I'll let you know.  Peter followed Martina through at 55.74; we extended the road closure a bit to allow Annecy time to recover Alta├»r 6 and Fran├žois.

This at least allowed the completion of a frantic dash back to town and out to the 305 again by Toronto, who had contrived to leave Cyclone's seat behind in the Civic Center.  The bike repaid this treachery by exhibiting chain embuggerances, limiting Bill K to 42.19 mph.  Andrea ran first but had "something rubbing" and only made 52.6, while Adam appeared to be taking it easy with 48.18.  Proper speeds returned with Wild Bill running the Milan to just below his PB with 60.29 mph.

A glutton for punishment, Andrea jumped out of Phoenix, into the car and back to the start for another go.  Whatever ailed the bike hadn't been fixed, though, and he was limited to 42.43 mph.  Teammate Matilde, however, did a storming 70.52, followed by Noah and Marlow at 65.64 and Lincoln in Cyclone with 61.14.  A slightly subdued debrief followed before a hopefully Annecy team had tech inspectors Arnold and Hans inspect the bike.  "NO!" they said in unison, so not chance for Guillaume to make his hoped-for run tomorrow.  The forecast for Saturday is similar temperatures to today but possibly with a bit more wind, but these things are difficult to predict.

Alta├»r 6 back at the Civic Center ­čśş

  1. Strike out words which do not apli

Thursday, 15 September 2022

Day 8: Battle Mountain NV

A morning of dodging showers and sneks1, mostly successfully though I did get a bit damp while hanging around at the 5 mile start while everyone else was moving down to the short course.  Natch the road was completely clear for the sweep on every run, Paul, Marilyn and the motor-car having gone home yesterday.  Bum.

Possibly for the first time ever we had legal wind speeds for the entire session.  We swapped the order around today so that the long course heats were first.  In the first one Matilde in TaurusX made her debut over the full monty with 60.17 while Noah got Marlow up to a new high of 61.89 mph.  Not so very long afterwards Adam set a new PB with a 72.01, only to be eclipsed minutes latter by Russ with 73.79, elevating him to second-fastest BRITON evvah.  Peter completed the heat with a 54.21 mph run.  "Very hard work after 50!" he said.  "Too humid!"  Derision ensued, at least from Frank "Runs With Scissors" Lem.  In the final heat Martina clocked 65 dead in TaurusX and Wild Bill cranked the Milan velomobile up to 55.93.

Wild Bill Thornton readying himself for take-off

As noted above the caravanserai moved two and a half miles down the road for Diego to try to tame his wayward three-headed doggo.  Sadly 'twas not to be as gremlins attacked his video display and flipped it to a mirror image, such that trying to correct a swerve to the right resulted in going yet further thataway, and off into the sagebrush.  The same gremlin had earlier sabotaged Phoenix' electronics, preventing Andrea from getting a run in.  Last to go this morning was Alyssa, running from the 600 metre start again but this time on an unfaired ICE VTX converted to arm- and leg-power by Robert Barnett.  19.54 mph.  Aerodynamics rule, OK.

Back to town for the usual pleasantries.  The bike built by Mark Anderson and Eric Ware for local lass Teagan Patterson and left behind when she went off to college in Colorado is up for sale.  Genuine 65+ mph capability, but rider needs to be not much more than five feet tall.  If interested, contact Paula Tomera at the Lander County Convention & Tourism Authority.  And no, I've no idea how much they want for it or whether they'll post it to you.

WAW veolomobile that popped up at the morning meeting

Calvin's somewhat Burrowsesque road bike

The rain held off until we got back from brunch and after going very black and thundery and short power cutty for a while it seems to have wandered off to the west, wherein dwell the unrighteous.  And that rumbling noise you just heard was not more thunder but rather Frank Lem tripping on the stairs.  Relax, kids, he's OK...

Although the rain saw fit to go water the burghers of Winnemucca and Points West the wind stayed determinedly in place.  Nevertheless we dutifully trooped back out to the course in the hope that it would get the message and drop.  Which it didn't.  No-one wanted to run in either of the first two scheduled heats but the blow finally began to subside just as the sun began to drop behind the mountains to the west.  Thusly we closed the road at 18:40, which in theory would give us time for four vehicles to run.  But both Fran├žois and Andrea fell at launch and didn't restart.  Matilde had a few wobbles but ran TaurusX through the traps with a non-legal 65.72.  Then she crashed heavily approaching catch, which was invisible in the gloom.  The bike went down, slid a fair way and rolled a couple of times, though without damage to either the rider or the bike's internals.  Team Policumbent have the odd replacement slide-on nose section so although the old one looks like it's run its last race they should be out again tomorrow.  In the midst of all this drama Lincoln had a steady run after a slightly tense start and did a wind-legal 55.19 mph.  No pictures from this evening because by the time there was anything worth snapping it was too dark.

The forecast for tomorrow morning is for low winds until midday and low temperatures first thing so the consensus is to delay all runs by an hour.  That this gives us all an extra hour in bed is, of course, merely a happy coincidence.  Also, my milk has gone off.  No tea for me tonight.  Bollocks.

  1. Chief flagger Gerri-Ann heard a rattlesnek out at the five mile start while we were waiting for the mob to get ready for Diego and Alyssa.  Natch I immediately jumped into the Blackstang and closed the doors and windows.

Wednesday, 14 September 2022

Day 7: Battle Mountain NV

 After consulting with our legal department we have decided to omit the latest scurrilous story about Arnold Ligtvoet.  Sorry...

Reduced numbers this morning.  Some people were taking time out for repairs, recovery or both.  Not Toronto, alas, as Titan isn't going to be running again this week after last night's crash.  And Andrew Sidwell's planned lie-in was scuppered by the news, at 06:20, that the BHPC's webby SCIENCE had died on its arse.  Still, it wasn't all doom and gloom because we had a surprise visit from former competitior and volunteer Sven Jorgensen, passing through town from Idao to the Bay Area for Family Stuffs.  And also because Paul and Marilyn, who turned up the other day from Salt Lake City to watch and/or volunteer, allowed us the use of their fire-breathing monster of a Corvette to use for sweep duties.

This has the advantage of being $BIGNUM faster than the Blackstang but sadly every attempt to keep the loud pedal flat to the floor all the way up the full course was thwarted by our catching slower traffic, so the best we could get out of it was about 170 mph chiz.  Also it has get big spoilers on the back which are great for cornering but less so for drag, so acceleration beyond 160 was somewhat less than flashing.  Fun though...

Photo shamelessly robbed off of that Arnold, that they have now

Alyssa having decided her youthful legs were too achey to run this morning we were left with but two runners on the short course. n00b Matilde Vitillo qualified TaurusX at 49.8 mph but Diego Colombari had more problems with the steering.  If team boss Paolo Baldissera had enough hair he'd have been tearing it out, as they thought they'd fixed it.

Diego shortly before running off the road yet again chiz

After a pause to move out to the 5-mile start and a longer pause while everyone scheduled to run in the first heat opted not to in the hope of improved weather, we got underway again with Adam, Noah and Lincoln in Wahoo, Marlow and Cyclone respectively.

The weather, not improving as quickly as we'd have preferred

Adam had a mid-course visitation from the P*nct*r* Fairy but managed to scrub off a certain amount of speed before going off the road.  He is, as I type, hard at work with filler and sandpaper in preparation for tonight.  Noah did 58.13 mph and Lincoln 52.11 but neither had legal wind speeds.

Fran├žois led off the next round and got the session's hghest speed - 78.85 and legal wind to boot.  Andrea followed him down the road at 75.13, team-mate Martina at 63.43 and Peter in the DF with 52.19.  Neither of the Italian riders had a legal wind either.  With plenty of time remaining on the permit before we have to hand the road back to the general public, we snuck in another heat for Diego & Cerberus.  This time he was able to keep the machine on track all the way down and did a legally-winded 39.84.  Paolo sez he was only on the power for about 30% of the time while the bulk was taken up with making the brute point in the right direction.

Apparently water is a rare commodity in Lander County this year...

Weather forecast for this evening is for thunderstorms at exactly the time we're supposed to be running so fingers, toes and earlobes are being crossed, pressed and generally manipulated in the hope of making it go rain on Carlin or Winnemucca instead.

THe usual mid-afternoon ennui was enlivened with a traditional Battle Mountain spectator sport, viz. watching Larry Lem buried deep in the innards of a bike while trying to reassemble important components.  In Braille.

Larry in mid-fettle

Opinions varied as to whether we should even try to run this evening in the light of the weather forecast but Al invited us all to go out to the course anyway so off we did ["troop" - The Invigilator].  As per the schedule, and in spite of the light rain falling in various locations we closed the road at 17:15 and off I went.  305 completely empty for the whole six mile stretch.  Why could it not have done that this morning, eh?  EH??!?1?  Bikes started staging and then rapidly unstaged again as the weather changed.  And changed again.  And again.  Finally we had no choice but to pull the plug on the whole session as it was tipping down for the last mile or so up to timing.  Another evening off then.  Bah!  Apparently all this is the fault of the tail end of a Pacific hurricane and we're actually quite lucky since it's been causing all manner of nastiness further south.  Readers with long memories may recall similar excitements in New Mexico and Texas back in 2014.  Hoping for better tomoz.

Tuesday, 13 September 2022

Day 6: Battle Mountain NV

It seems I have been guilty of causing eddies in the space-time continuum.  Get floppy-haired cleverness dispenser Professor Brian Cox on line 2!  The more prosaic explanation is that you have to tell what time zone you're in rather than it taking it directly off your Babbage-Engine.  Which I had failed to do after arriving in USAnia.  This lamentable omission has now been corrected.

In spite of last night's gloomy prognostications we sent an advance party out to the course at Audax o'clock this morning to report on the weather.  "Come on in!" they cried.  "The water's lovely!1"  We delayed the start by an hour to let things dry out a little, in spite of which I managed to get the Blackstang's traction control to kick in at 110 mph.  But Russell won't run if it's too wet as he's got nothing to keep water from his front wheel out of Seventy Seven's electronickal gubbins, and he reckoned it was OK.  Even if DJ Random had decided to play me Alice In Chains' "Rain When I Die" as I arrived at catch.  A good deal of standing around ensued before I was despatched all the way up to the five mile start to check the road, even though the sole runner in the first heat was Alyssa, starting from the 600 metre mark.  Which is visible from catch to the naked eye, never mind through John Lucian's binoculars.  So I missed Miss Alyssa's run altogether, tough it is pleasing to report that her 21.22 mph pass is an official Women's U-12 Multi-Track World Record.  Hurrah!

Master Mechanic Alyssa Miller

Everyone who had put their names down for the first heat on the full course scratched, so there was a good deal more hanging-around training before we started the rest of the morning's business at 09:15.  Well, that was the case for us at catch.  Up at the start Scott Wilson had manged to lock his car keys inside his car and dipsticks, a clipboard and divers other flotsam and jetsam were called into play to liberate them - successfully - from bondage.  So, three vehicles in the first heat.  Andrea was the fastest at 76.63, from Russell at 64.46 and Martina with 53.66, though none had a low enough wind speed for their runs to count chiz.  In the second heat (of two) Titan lost an engine on take-off again, so this time it was Captain Calvin to power the brute through the traps at 53.29 mph with the only wind-legal run on the long course.  Adam clocked 59.58 and Wild Bill 58.65, while the luckless Noah decked Marlow - which is apparently named after a dog rather than a hard-boiled private eye or even a playwright - once again, this time after two miles.  One of my Sinister Agents tells me that a switch to skinnier tyres had reduced the bike's already minimal ground clearance to the extent that crossing the barely noticeable crown of the road caused the bike to ground on the road, with predictable loss of directional control.  Noah undamaged and bike allegedly only sporting a few more scrapes.

"Chain's a bit slack!"
Final drive of TaurusX

Continuing the theme of vehicles being lopsided and unremoveable, Danny Guthrie's car, the wheels of the timing crew, decided not to start after the vent was over.  Al Krause and his jump leads saved the day.  No Show'n'Shine for the local kiddiewinks to poke the machines with jammy little fingers chiz, thank to Bill Gates and his 5G bat control rays, so no free lunch either.  Back to the Colt it is then, followed by keyboard-bashing and trying to find a way of disabling the trackpad on this thing that doesn't involve dropping it off the overpass and into the outside lane of I-80.

Success!  No more wandering cursor!  The weather had cleared up quite nicely by this arvo and by he time the course was set up and everyone in place it was pretty much flat calm and 22 deg. C.  We then waited until the scheduled start times though this did at least allow the Policumbent and LSBU PSOs2 to catch some rays.

Grassy knoll in the background claimed for the Dutch Crown by Ellen van Vugt

First heat kicked off at 17:45 with a couple of launch issues for Martina in TaurusX before she got going in earnest with a 66.18 mph run.  Lincoln and Cyclone got away cleanly and improved to 53.32 mph and Noah kept Marlow rubber side down for a 55.04.  At 18:15 Andrea kicked off the second heat with the evening's best run - 79.32 mph.  He was followed by Calvin and Bill in Titan, who managed to keep both engines running all the way down the course for 64.38 mph.  Sadly, as soone as they came off the power Captain Calvin lost control and they went down "HARD", to quote the pilot.  Who is not prone to exaggeration.  Divers BRITONS watching from catch noted the big cloud of dust as the machine rolled a Several of times.  Both riders are OK, if a little shaken; the state of the bike remains unknown at the time of writing.  This drama unfolded as Russell and Seventy Seven were well into their run, after also suffering a fall at launch and spoiling the pretty paintwork.  By the time he reached timing, though, the Toronto gang had dropped off their crew and ensured bike and riders were safely out of the way.  Russ' speed of 65.10 would appear to make him 5th fastest BRITON behind Rob English, Dave Collins, Yasmin Tredell and Ken Buckley and they still have the faster tyres yet to be fitted.  "Two Northern monkeys in a garage beat the Olympic athlete and the F1 team!" noted Mr Bridge with an ear-to-ear grin.

Northern monkeys at right angles to reality.  French PSOs assist in the rescue.  Merci!

Heat three was delayed a while to give Toronto time to recover bike and crew before Fran├žois powered Alta├»r 6 down the road at a slightly disappoint 75.61 mph, followed by Martina - making her second run of the evening - at 64.14.  Policumbent's second female rider Matilde Vitillo arrived today so Martina clearly wants to maximise her seat time :-)  No pictures from heat three coz it was too dark.  All the runs had wind speeds well below the permitted maximum, so everyone who decided not to run tonight is probably performing self-flagellation inna-Opus-Dei-stylee right now.

And now a word from our sponsors:

  1. This statement may contain traces of Lie
  2. PSO = Penniless Student Oaf, as any fule kno

Monday, 12 September 2022

Day 5: Battle Mountain NV

04:30 and Mr Larrington is rudely awakened by his phone's tinny rendition of "Wooden Chicken", by Jesus Couldn't Drum, heralding the arrival of an incoming txt msg.  Listen, Horseybank plc, if you want to tell me that the AA Membership Stuffs I get with my bank account now apply to my whole family1 then write me a fucking letter.  I am FUMMIN'!

So it was a bit breezy in town and quite unseasonably warm when we set off for the course.  Except Mr Chief Starter Ligtvoet, who had to deal with a client on the phone or the intertubes or something, unless he made up the story to catch some extra zeds.  And there was a mystery hotel room key card lurking in the Blackstang.  And a mysterious stranger showed up to keep an eye on the parking area at catch:

Onoz! Is 2D Thomas!

And we spent a while waiting for the skool bus to fail to appear, and then waited some more.  And it still didn't show.  Only later did we learn that there are no longer any skool-age kiddiewinks living out in the wilds and therefore that waiting for the said bus would be futile.  Have mercy. Been waitin' for the bus all day, as the poet2 sang.  Qualifiers on the short course first and getting the results right would be easier if I was looking at the right page of my notebok.  Ah yes, here we are.  Andrea did 69.15 in Phoenix while Toronto's Lincoln MacDonald ran 41.84 in Cyclone. This being a machine from the same moulds as the veteran bike Vortex - over 100 runs on 305 - but much lighter and with a completely different drive train.

Cyclone, waiting

Neither of them - in common with all today's riders - had a legal wind speed.  Alyssa claimed her legs were still suffering from yesterday's exertions and elected not to run, while Diego in the Cerberus handcycle had more issues, steering off the road and coming to a gentle halt barely 100 metres into his run.  With the road closure time window snapping shut we were unable to restart him.

Pause for moving kit and kaboodle out to the long course start for three heats of varying size. The first of which saw Russ getting Seventy Seven to 63.84 mph while Noah kept the slightly-battered Marlow out of the flora for a 44.05.

No excuses required for putting in another picture of Seventy Seven.  Ees preeti bike, Se├▒or! Figure holding arm aloft is me indicating a legal launch to stand-in starter Hans van Vugt

In the next heat Adam in Wahoo clocked 57.68 after a fall at launch - fortunately with the crash panels still in place - and Martina in TaurusX 54.25.  Policumbent have their second female rider arriving tomorrow so Martina needs to keep on her toes...

Roughly 6/7 of Larry Lem sauntering to the aid of a stricken Adam Hari

In the third and final set of morning runs Fran├žois had an early excursion into the brush but was quickly recovered, relaunched and stopped the beam at 84.72 mph.  His first run on the full course and only a thou slower than Fabien Canal's winning speed from 2019.  Having qualified earlier in the morning Andrea returned with a full run at 77.62 mph.  Peter in the DF velomobile was the last runner and ran 56.03.

Well-drilled IUT Annecy squad getting Fran├žois loaded into Alta├»r 6

Back to town for meetings and lunches and things.  A spectator yclept Paul has been roped in to help with timing tomorrow.  I'm hoping he can be roped in to help with the sweep car too, since he's got a Corvette Z06 which runs a supercharged 6.2 L V8 with about 650 horsepowers, which ought to be about 70 mph faster that my cranky old grid.  And we have been serenaded by Mr Organisator Krause with his Mighty Weapon:

Al & lightweight carbon-reinforced racing ukulele

Errrrm...  Now we're waiting to see what the weather decides to do - we've had a few spots of rain already and the clouds are looking ominous to the south.  Which is where we keep the course.

[Some hours later]

If you are keeping track of this on Farcebok you will already have seen Al viddying himself from the Super 8 parking lot, telling World+Dog that tonight's festivities ent happening chiz.  So i will have a nice sit down and a cup of tea instead.  At least it means spending less money on petril.

  1. Which in my case I have not got
  2. Billy Gibbons

Sunday, 11 September 2022

Day 4: Battle Mountain NV

I could have had a nice long lie-in this morning, because reduced competitor numbers meant a later than usual start, but instead I woke up and smelled the coffee.  Literally.  Also the Super 8 now does sossidge, egg & cheez-flavored food product croissants (sic) which get heated in the microwave and are more addictive than crack.  Out to the course via the Maverik gas station, which charges a whole buck less a gallon than the robdogs at the Chevron in Topaz Lake did on Friday.  In the absence of Paul Gracey and his Tesla (140 mph) it looks like me & the Blackstang are on sweep duty for the duration chiz.  Like its predecessors (except the V8 in 2017) this one is limited to ~122 mph, but then even Arnold's pikey old Beemer is limited to 132, so we're not losing too much time.  And some bikes went down the road in almost perfect conditions, except for the odd one or two.

Aaaah, back in the desert!

Heat one saw Guillaume de France open the batting in Alta├»r 6 and a respectable 51.28 mph.  BRITAIN'S Russell Bridge next up in the Seventy-Seven, clocked 53.53.  He still had the gearing used for testing back home fitted, which limited speed somewhat - this was deliberate to remove the temptation to goo too fast at the start of the week and crash or something.

Russ & shiny paintjob on their first run here...

Third up Wild Bill Thornton in the Milan velomobile, with 51.14 mph.  Last to go, from the 600 metre mark rather than the full 2.5 mile mark, was 11 year old Alyssa Miller in Teardrop.  Hers was the only run with an illegally-high wind speed and , to add insult to injury, the timing system ran out of voles at the critical moment so she didn't even get a time chiz.

Alyssa waits for Wicked Great Uncle Robert to fit the lid

Heat two was a bit more dramatic as Titan, the record-holding tandem from the University of Toronto, fell over shortly after launch.  Twice.  They had to pull the beast off the course to investigate which bits had deranged themselves.

Titan after it all went terribly wrong

In contrast, Adam Hari in Larry Lem's bike Wahoo, got away cleanly for a 45.90 pass.  Martina Stirano in Team Policumbent's TaurusX had a minor starting hiccup, got going at the second time of asking and did a 37.96, a speed scarcely diminished when she arrived in catch.  Panic braking, locked wheels, aerobatics.  No apparent damage to the bike - which still had the Kevlar crash panels in place, though the unfortunate pilot seemed more than a little upset after she was extricated.  No such fuss or drama from Peter Borenstadt's DF velomobile, with a 51.1 mph run.

Martina before it all went terribly wrong

Heat three was the one which should have had fireworks, but Andrea Gallo ran Team Policumbent's new machine Phoenix off the road shortly after starting.  Instead it was Fran├žois Pervis in Alta├»r 6 who threw down the gauntlet with 69.95 mph.  Slightly slower than Andrea's short-course record from 2019 but still an impressive debut.  Noah Philips in the London South Bank University machine, which is pronounced "Marlow" but possibly not spelled like it, did 35.36 with, or so it seemed, the bike's landing gear down for the whole run.  Last up was the third Policumbent machine - the Cerberus handcycle - in which Diego Colombari hit 31.36 due to being stuck in bottom gear for the duration.

Diego & Cerberus

We hadn't intended to run a fourth heat but had plenty of time in hand to fit one in for Titan and Phoenix to have another go.  Something was awry with one of the latter's video displays, however, so it was just Calvin Moes and Bill Kong in Titan.  They decked at launch again, were righted and finally got away successfully.  Except that a chain came off the drive to the front wheel, leaving Bill as sole engine to propel the mighty beast to a whisker under 50 mph.  We can't be more precise because the timing system went bugarup again.  Still, at least the new wind meter (purchased on Ebay from a bloke in Doncaster and sent to Mr Sir Admiral Professor King Timelord Nogami via me, and for which I have now been paid - thx Alice) behaved itself and we were all done and dusty by 10:00 hours.

The post-race meeting was less slick as we discovered the hard way that we'd forgotten how to do the allotment of start slots for tonight and tomorrow morning.  Sorted in the end - thanks largely to Due Diligence by Larry Lem - and away for second breakfast/early lunch with the Ligtvoets and Laidback Bike Report's Gary Solomon and Tray Burgoyne.  And relaxxxxxx...  Well, I did.  Team Seventy-Seven discovered that their intended replacement final drive cog was 1/8" rather than 3/32".  Grinding ensued.

34 degrees and pretty calm when we went back out to the course in the pm and there was much anticipa...

...tion of the runs to follow.  Alas, 'twas not to be.  Noah, the sole rider in the first heat, decked Marlow only about half a mile into his run.

Noah before:
a: it all went terribly wrong, and
iii: the wind picked up

By the time the bike had been recovered and the sweep car - me - gone all the way down the course and back again the wind had reached levels of, er, windiness seldom seen with bikes actually running.  Especially as it was trying hard to rain too.  Russ went first and clocked 57.02, Adam second with 60.05 and Martina third with 50.93, none with legal wind.  Martina was particularly stoked after her mishaps of this morning.

Adam about to clock the highest speed of the evening

We held back the start of the third heat by about ten minutes, in the hope that the wind would drop, and matters were further delayed by the Blackstang being held up behind a law-abiding citizen doing 70 mph all the way up the course.  By which time Fran├žois had decided not to run and thus, with Titan having already scratched before things even started, Peter in the DF was the final runner of the night.  57.6 mph with a tailwind only twice the legal limit.  At least this meant the wrap-up meeting was short.