You might be wondering (or you might not) what we do at the midday meeting aside from announcing any organizational concerns, or the speeds that the racers achieved that morning. The most important part of the meeting for the racers is that we determine the start sequence for the following evening and the next morning.
Last year, we switched to this general system: at each meeting, we worked down a list of the racers, ranked in descending order of speed, and they chose which heat in which to run. There are generally three morning and evening heats, with up to five bikes in each heat. The competition for the evening heats is intense since most of the existing records were set in the evening. The prime slot is regarded to be the first bike in the third evening slot, which is a good combination of low wind and sufficient evening light. What happened was that the fastest men would crowd out most everyone else for the prime slots in both morning and evening. There was a feeling that other record attempts, such as fastest woman, were being disadvantaged.
There was a lot of discussion about this (for example in this thread), and there was an argument of how to balance two objectives: to set the fastest ultimate speed, and to regard all world records in all categories as being equally important.
This year, the organizers decided to seed people for slot collection according to their speed expressed as a percentage of the current world record in the relevant category. It is easier to illustrate this with two tables.
If we rank by speed, we get:
There are two men, one trike, and two women. So this year, there is only a fairly subtle difference between the two rankings, although this might be small consolation to those just on the borderline of being able to be place in the best heats.
In addition to ranking by percentages, we also made a few other changes. The most notable are:
- people choose their slots for both the following evening and morning at one sitting. This does two things. Firstly, it keeps the evening meetings short which gives everyone a little more sleep. The second is that since there are a maximum of 15 slots in the evening, it gives people in positions 15+ the first choice for the best slots the next morning. This avoids the situation of last year where a small number of the fastest racers were taking the prime slots in both the morning and the afternoon. This also allows competitors in slower classes a very good shot at a fast slot in the mornings.
- There is a minimum speed of 45 mph for the evening slots. This is because the timing of the evening slots is very tight, and that a slower bike makes it impossible to run five bikes during a 20 minute road closure.
If you want to read the full rules, they are here: startorder2014-tho1
At the IHPVA membership meeting yesterday, there was a general consensus that the new rules were working well, and there was not much grumbling from the racers. These rules will be tweaked for next year. Amoung the adjustments that were discussed were raising the speed limit for evening runs to 55 mph or above, and imposing a lower minimum speed to be able to run the 5 mile course in the mornings as well.