Just a couple more notes to wrap things up before I start forgetting. Firstly, kudos to all the teams that make the WHPSC such an exciting yet inclusive event.
In no particular order:
Team Velociraptor: We were all pulling for you to be able to get down the road. However, as Alice said, it is a huge achievement just to show up, and there certainly is no shame in arriving with a bike that is not fully sorted; in fact it seems like a bit of a Battle Mountain tradition. It’ll be great to see such an original and personal design roll down 305.
Team Pak-Lite: The Henry brothers never stint on originality in their designs. It is always amazing to see either brother fold themselves up into such small bikes. Consulting “Mike’s List” I see that neither set a personal best, but Jay’s bike, the Quad Rocket AKA “the Bondo Bomb”, was totally new, and the drivetrain was amazing to look at.
The extended Schroeder clan is amazing. They come out to Battle Mountain en masse, and have a great time. It would have been even better if they had had better luck racing. The Firefly had more than its share of problems. Ellie had some choice words to say about Don’s choice of bargain tires. It would have been nice to see Tiffany go 55 mph; that women’s trike record is oh so close.
Greg Westlake:It was great to have a chance to get to know this team a little better. Although Greg set a new world record, he was determined to go 50 mph, and fell just short. He did 47 mph into a strong headwind, If he just gets the right conditions, he’ll be there.
Larry and Tom were deeply frustrated with their speeds all week.They were aiming for 70 mph with the new bike, but the best Larry did was a little more than 60 mph. It is amazing how these guys come up with a new bike every year. Larry says that maybe he’ll just tweak for next time.
Team Primal: It’s a treat for me to be able to hang out with people like the Leone’s who have been involved with HPV for so many years. I think that they were a little disappointed that they couldn’t improve on their result from last year, but Ron did get in a 70 mph run.
Team U of T: As I’ve said previously, this team should be proud of what they have accomplished. This is their second year at this event. Vortex went faster than any ASME bike had a right to go. Todd was gunning for 75 mph, but didn’t get there. The team will be in a transition this year with Todd graduated, and Victor around for just one more year, but with talent and enthusiasm from youngsters like Aidan and Trefor, hopefully they will continue with their tradition of success.
Team Cygnus: It is always a pleasure to hang out with Thomas, and this time it was great to see him and his teammates in a brand new bike. For me, the most amazing thing about the Cygnus is the fact that they brought it over as a checked piece of soft luggage. The ruggedness of the bike was demonstrated in a couple of crashes during the week. They had to widen the opening for the front wheel to prevent tire blowouts from the fairing hitting the sidewall. I also got the impression that they were still getting used to riding the bike. Nevertheless, Jan-Marcel went 70 mph by the end of the week. Look for faster speeds from these guys. Thomas will be gunning for his 70 mph hat. Jan-Marcel will be looking to beat his fast time in the Speedhawk II. Look for faster speeds from these guys.
Team Wedge:Someone was asking why there weren’t any fast US teams there. Well duh…. here is a fast US team. This is a bike that has been gradually tweaked over the years. I’ll always remember Eric and Mark arriving in 2008 with the bike in kit form, and finally getting it down the road at the end of the week, albeit without the top. They had high hopes this week, particularly since Eric went 73.68 mph on his first 5 mile run, but he never got a good wind legal run in. He added a small fairing extension in search of a few mph, but was a little mixed on whether it made the bike more sensitive to cross winds.
Team Varna: They must have gone home disappointed. Barbara didn’t put up faster times in the new bike. One of her runs was spoiled by a thrown chain at the two mile mark. She still went through the traps at 60 mph. Sam gave a talk on thursday about preparation and was asked whether he was affected by the lack of competition. That night, he was second fastest for the first time in living memory.
Team HPT Delft: What more can be said about this team. While it is true that they didn’t set a new world record, they did come in and won the event in their first year. Quite a different result from the last time a big new team rolled into town a decade ago.
They arrived with many people. I liked how they had two team members cook special meals for the drivers (what were always brought into the post race meetings so that we could all smell them) while the rest of the team subsisted on Big Macs, Ramen, and take out Chinese. I asked Gert-Jan about how he felt about riding a streamliner, and he said that compared to an ordinary recumbent, it was like the difference between canoeing and swimming; in a canoe you can go faster, but he preferred to be able to feel the medium that he was moving through. Both drivers were still feeling out the bike, and the feeling of running at BM. At the same time, the team found that it was very time consuming to tape the drivers into the bike with the way their fairing was split. There is a fair amount of time pressure on the teams since we try to run five bikes down the course in a 20 minute window, leaving little time for prep. It will be fascinating to see if they show up with a different bike next year. They had a team member run the Firefly down the course to check out the linear drive. Perhaps next year they will build a bike where the riders can see in the forward direction. Even if they show up with the same bike and drivers, one gets the feeling that they could go faster, having had some experience this year.
The Last Heat:
With so many fast bikes, one issue that came to the fore was the placement of bikes in the two evening heats. There can only be five bikes in each heat, and generally the winds are not legal in the first heat. The best time is the first slot in the second heat which is just about dusk, when the winds drop. Thursday night was typical, when all three runs in the first heat had wind, and then the wind just dropped before the beginning of the second heat.(Legal wind is 328 ft/min)
What complicates things is that you cannot seed just according to time. The priority of the IHPVA is to facilitate world records, and this means that anyone who is in a position to break a record will get priority placement. The other factor is the presence of multiple riders in one bike. This means that the bike needs to have slots in two separate heats. In the future, the demand on the late evening session will be such that a multiple rider bike will not automatically be placed there unless both riders can put up the times. We’re in the position that anyone in the evening sessions have to be near 70 mph riders, unless they are in a special category. This particular week, the Delft team ran in the mornings for the first half of the week, and then switched one or both riders to the evening, putting further pressure on the schedule.
Mornings can be wind free, but the earlier the better, and early morning runs can have bikes running into fogging problems. Props to Tom Amick who ran the Cucumber blind down the whole course, looking at the side windows, and doing the final braking for catch when he saw a yellow vest pass by.
Finally, a shout out to the event organizers Al and Alice for all that they do. Nothing against the magnificent crew that stepped up to run WHPSC last year. It’s just that I think all of us were glad to see Alice ambulatory again.
Looking forward to next year. The gauntlet has been thrown. Let’s see how Team Varna responds.