The Growling Beaver

Saturday was the inaugural running of a charity ride called the Growling Beaver. As was mentioned in the last post, I planned to do the 100K. I figured that even with my limited amount of training, that 100K was doable, although I was a bit concerned about the 1000m of climbing. Most of it seemed to be in two climbs up the escarpment, so I figured that I could suffer through them.

Arriving at the start, I see a fancy building for the Side Launch Brewery, with a lot of expensive looking hardware decorating the lawn.

Some nice Mariposas by the front door.

Still more Mariposas inside, with Dede Barry selling some merchandise.

Lots of nice details on these bikes. This looks like a modern rendition of a drillium brake lever.

Panorama of the interior, with the 100K riders waiting to start.

Dede Barry tells us the rules of the road. She warns us that there are several sections of fresh gravel that were described in an email that went out a few days ago. Unfortunately, these sections were laid down and graded just a few days before the event.

We get split up into six groups so that we don’t swarm the first section of the ride which is along the Georgian Trail, a multi use trail. This is the lead group about to take off a few minutes after 9 am.
DSC06752 I seeded myself in the slowest group, which was nominally a 20 kph average. With rest stops, this group was scheduled to finish a little past 3:30 pm. There were about six people in our group, including a retired couple from interior BC, and a guy riding a hybrid, the only other bike that I saw with fenders.

The first 30K or so was a quick ride down the Georgian Trail. Dead flat with a tailwind, and a touch of fall colours.

At the first checkpoint in Meaford, it was still windy and cold, and I didn’t see a lot of people ditching their riding jackets at the clothing drop. The first big climb of the day was up Grey Road 7.

Looking back at Georgian Bay after the climb. Feeling pretty good at this point.

First descent on Old Mail Road. Unfortunately, with all the gravel, I had to take this section slowly, braking strongly all the way. Not the ideal way to give up all the elevation gained earlier.

Nice views, though.

Someone went to the trouble of decorating this bridge over the Beaver River. Very pretty country.


The lunch stop was in Kimberley, at about the 64K mark. More than half way done with only one major climb. How bad could it be? The sun came out, and I put the riding jacket in the handlebar bag.

The food and drink was very good at the Kimberley General Store. Much better than what I expected. Hot apple cider and coffee, gourmet thin crust pizza, and lots of baked sweet treats.

Nice alternatives to Gatorade as well.

I had left my group at the first checkpoint and was riding alone for the most part. Some of them pulled into lunch around the time I left. I thought I was ready for the big climb. Here it is: Side Road 7B. The escarpment looms in the background.

It’s steeper than it looks in this picture, and gets still steeper after the road bends to the left.
With the condition of the dirt/gravel road and my level of fitness, I ended up having to walk about the middle 1K of the climb. I wasn’t the only one having to walk this section.

Even after the climb was done, there was a long slog on gravel straight into a strong headwind with no tree cover.
You can see some faster riders in the distance leaving me behind. They passed me a couple of times because they kept taking wrong turns. There was at least one mislabeled road on the map that caused some confusion in this section of the ride.

The Reid’s Hill descent was another place where a combination of gravel and washboarding made the descent slow and treacherous. Note the dead water bottle.

When I finally reached Pretty River Road, it was huge relief to know that I was done with gravel, and it felt like I flew the rest of the way to the finish.

Here you can see my elevation and HRM data. I note that there are some spikes where I was descending which I can attribute to either some kind of sensor noise due to vibration, or the intermittent fear of imminent death ;)
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Pulling into the brewery at the end, I felt quite a sense of accomplishment. I finished in just under 7 hours, with about a little under six hours of riding time. The GPS registered an average speed of 18.9 kph. This was much tougher than I expected due mainly to the road conditions, but also the wind. As it turns out, I only saw about two or three riders come in behind me, including two from my original group, and my understanding is that everyone slower than that was sagged in. Missed being Lanterne Rouge by perhaps two places. I talked to a couple of people that said this was the roughest 100K that they had done. 

It was also a treat to have a brief chat with Mike Barry and Mike Barry Sr, and I appreciated the way that they described the directions to their shop in terms of being able to smell the Peek Freans factory.

Overall, it was a great experience. The event was very well organized, and the rider support was great (especially the lunch, and the enthusiasm of all the volunteers). I was happy to learn that they ended up raising about 200K which was double their original target. I want to thank my sponsors for supporting me in the ride. I was very proud to be in the top 10% of all fund raisers.

Things that the organizers could have done a bit better:

  • It wasn’t obvious to me ahead of time what the colour coding on the ride with GPS maps meant. It turns out that red is pavement, and brown is gravel (and purple is the Georgian Trail)
  • The section of road just before 70 km on the 100 km route was not SR10D. It was 3rd line, which turned into SR10D after a right turn. This was an error in the cue sheets.
  • Perhaps there was some indication that there would be no portapotty at the Kolapore checkpoint, but I didn’t see it.
  • I was told that the next time, they will try to work with the local governments to make sure that no fresh gravel would be laid down just before the event.

Lessons learned for me:

  • It was smart to have done some mileage on the Tamarack beforehand to help avoid any mechanical issues during the ride. I was glad that I switched to relatively wide tires, although a little more tread might have been even better for the uphill sections.
  • The battery on my Garmin Edge 25 was about spent after seven hours. Perhaps having the route following feature on decreased the battery iife.
  • I could have been fitter; I would have enjoyed the riding a bit more.
  • Deliberately eating a bit every hour helped me avoid bonking. I had a combination of Kind granola bars, and Stinger energy gels, both of which I pretested for being kind to my stomach.
  • Although I was concerned about the extra weight of the handlebar bag, it was nice to have the cue sheet and map visible at all times, and it was great to be able to grab snacks and my camera while on the move.

Congratulations to the organizers. I hope that the event was successful enough for it to continue. What I really liked about the ride was that it was very small. If I do it again, I’ll train more so that I can ride with a few more riders rather than being at the very back of the pack.

Update: as per the comment below, next year’s date is Oct 1, 2016!

Prepping the Tamarack

A while back, in a fit of madness, I signed up for a charity ride called the Growling Beaver. It is for a good cause (the Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson’s Disease), as all such rides are, but what interested me was a) that it was relatively small, being restricted to only 150 riders, and b) it had the involvement of the Barry family of framebuilding and Tour de France fame. The ride itself is only 100K, which doesn’t particularly concern me, but this route is advertised as having 3200 feet of climbing. Judging from the course profile, there are two major climbs of about 500 and 700 feet, which I assume means that I’m going to be going up the escarpment twice. The ride is next weekend in a very pretty part of the province near Collingwood, Ontario.
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I’ll be riding my Tamarack.
DSC02559 This is a 26″ wheeled bike that I had built up for me for my 40th birthday with the intention of using it for loaded touring. Of course, shortly afterwards family happened, and so the touring did not, and this bike has mostly been consigned to the back of our garage. It’s too bad as it is a beautiful bike, and since it was built by a fellow named Mark Beaver (from Halifax), I thought that this ride would be the perfect occasion for me to get some more mileage on it.

The bike itself is a but of a hodgepodge that reflected my interests at the time, with 853 tubing, NOS Prugnat lugs, a Cinelli sloped fork crown. The geometry was cribbed from my RB-1, altered for touring and the smaller wheel size. I specced it with parts that were already old at the time, including Suntour cranks, and a 7 speed Shimano XTR freehub which allowed the rear wheel to have less dish than the 8 speeds that were common at the time. I had a lot of fun picking out all the features on the bike.

Since parts of the ride are on gravel roads, all riders were strongly urged to use wider tires. I had 1 1/4″ Panaracer Paselas on it, but given that both tubes and tires were more than 15 years old, I decided to upgrade to Schwalbe Marathon Racers which are 1.5″ wide and have considerably more volume. Here is the front fender clearance with the old tires.

and with the new:

and this is what the bike looks like now.

I also added a GPS, and I dug out an Arkel handlebar bag from the parts bin, but I’m not sure that I’ll use it. Just in case, I added a little top tube bag behind the stem; I’m not that happy with it, but it will probably come in handy.

As a further concession to modernity, I’ve put on clipless pedals (Bebops).

The other day I noticed that I lost a bolt that kept my front bar end shifter tensioned properly. I was bummed since I figured that it would be difficult and expensive to get a replacement.

However, I took advantage of the fact that this bike had an extra shifter on the seat tube that was used to actuate a Union roller dynamo that was mounted behind the BB. The shifter just happened to have the same bolt, and I was going to remove the generator for the ride anyway.
DSC02568 (1) Note that at the time the bike was built, this type of generator was considered state of the art.

With the bike more or less sorted, I’m off to do more work on the engine. I’ll be lucky if I can get another 100K on the bike in the upcoming week.

Wish me luck!

BM2015: Doing a Damjan

Bas de Meijer posted this picture on the WHPSC website a while back, with the caption that I was “doing a Damjan”.


Let me explain…

Damjan Zabovnik had been trying to get an 80 mph run for many years. Last year, he came heartbreakingly close with a 79.98 mph run with illegal wind. So Bas was referring to the fact that I had just pulled into catch after a 49.5 mph run, shy of the 50 required to get a hat.

How did I end up running down 305 in the first place? Well it certainly wasn’t my first attempt. I had tried to ride the HPVDT’s bike Vortex several years ago, but I ended up crashing twice, and thereafter swore off streamliner racing. Last year, I saw Greg Thomas and Peter Borenstadt go fast in Completely Overzealous, and when I heard that Garrie Hill was acquiring a copy of that trike (Completely Overzealous 2, AKA CO2), I asked if there was a possibility for me to try it.

Back in May at Waterford, I find out that I actually fit.
DSC05566 An agreement was reached that I would be able to ride, but at a lower priority than the other scheduled riders, i.e. Florian Kowalik, Mike Mowett, and Ellen Van Vugt.

Fast forward to last Wednesday. I am scheduled to run in the next morning, and I check to see if I can ride the trike in the Super 8 parking lot.
It is a very tight fit.
My first run, I spent the entire time being scared, without pushing at all, but at least I made it through the traps. You can tell that I’m scared from the heart rate data.
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My second run was Friday morning. Here I am hitching a ride up to the 2.5 mile start.
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Going through the traps.

and climbing out at catch.
unnamed-1 This second run, I was more relaxed, and I actually tried to put some power down in the last 0.5 mile or so. Not good enough!

I would like to thank Garrie Hill for his generosity in letting me ride, the Kowaliks for moral and logistical support, and Garrie and Hans for driving the chase car for my runs. It was a thrilling experience. Also a shout out to Ben Goodall and Gareth Hanks of Trisled for building such a beautiful machine.

I was really embarassed to get first place for Men’s multitrack, since a) I was the only competitor, and b) Florian went much faster but was technically a junior. A prize of slightly more than $10 per mph must have set some kind of dubious record.

Next year we need more men’s trikes so that this doesn’t happen again. I’m talking to you, Gareth, Greg, Peter, James, and others.

As far as Damjan is concerned, since he did get an 80 mph hat on Saturday evening, I would propose a new meaning to the phrase “doing a Damjan”: finally achieving a goal after a long time and much effort. In this new sense of the phrase, I wish that Jan-Marcel will do a Damjan next year, and we can also do without the crashing after he passes through timing.

note: all photos by Danny Guthrie, except two by Bas de Meijer.

That’ll wrap up my Battle Mountain coverage for this year. We now return you to our regularly scheduled programming…..

My buddy Danny and I were neighbours when we both taught at Michigan State University. He has now retired and spends part of the year travelling around the country in his camper van, visiting his former students. _DSC4633 s

For the past couple of years, he has worked a visit to Battle Mountain into his road trip schedule. This year he decided to hang out for the whole week.

What he likes to do is to take a bunch of photos with his little point and shoot, and then compose them together to make a super wide angle view. Here he is taking a couple of shots of the sky.

and here is a selection of his images.

Battle Mountain Civic Center.
Battle Mountain, Civic Center_s copy

This parking lot by the Super 8 never looked so good.
Beautiful Battle Mountain s copy

The drag races.
Bike Drag Race, BM, B&W s copy

The timing table.
BM, timing table s copy

The desert at timing.
Desert at Timing, BM s copy

Me getting a little punchy by the end of the week.

Did I mention that he was a professor of photography?

BM2015: Wrap up

What an incredible week of racing. Eleven world records. The Men’s world record broken three times. New records in armpower, multitrack, and junior categories. A final Saturday evening session that featured Todd resetting the Men’s record for a third time, Damjan finally getting 80 mph, and seven racers upgrading their hat status!

A team by team summary (which you can compare with a look back at my preview)

Aerovelo, Todd Reichert
Aerovelo came in more or less promising that they would break the record, and this time they executed perfectly. They arrived with ample support, including a physical trainer nutritionist duo, and a full media team. Todd was also in top physical form, not having had to spend as much time building the bike. Rather, the team spent the entire year fine tuning last year’s bike. Fiddling during the week was limited to relatively minor adjustments such as increasing the ventilation to the rider. Although they fell just short of their ultimate goal of 140 kph, Todd broke the men’s record three times. Just think of what they could have done with two more evening sessions (that were cancelled by weather). It is not clear whether they will be back next year, as both Todd and Cam are off to the San Francisco Bay Area to work in industry for perhaps one or two years. They also have a continuing interest in Human Powered aviation. Regardless of what they decide to do, they have put an emphatic mark on this event.

Team Eivie, Damjan Zabovnik
Damjan finally got his 80 mph hat after many years of trying. However, talking to him after the awards banquet he seemed rather subdued. He is still aiming for the overall Men’s record, but the distance to climb has been stretched quite a bit this past week. He is also greatly concerned about a potential rule change for next year that would ban launch carts. The rationale for banning carts while allowing pushers and skaters is not clear. His bike is far too low for skaters and pushers, hence his launch cart system, which has proven to be very reliable.

Team Cygnus, Jan-Marcel van Dijken
This was not to be Jan-Marcel’s year. There were some struggles with launches with the absence of Frans. Also, he said that without a warm up bike and trainer, it was difficult to have peak performance. I hope they have better luck next year.

Human Power Team Delft/Amsterdam: Velox V
It is difficult to know exactly what went wrong for this team this year. It seemed that there was a combination of both handling problems with the bike as well as limited seat time for the riders before the event. I was told that most of Liske’s training was actually on Velox4 as the new bike was not completed until August. Of course, Robert was a very late add to the team. I hope that the team returns, and that they return to their usually winning ways next year. They have clearly raised the profile of WHPSC in Europe with all of their past success. One thing I know for sure: if they return, I can predict the name of their new bike!

University of Liverpool Velocipede Team, Arion1
This first time team did very well. There were some struggles with bike handling as it appeared the riders did not have the opportunity to have tested the bike at high speeds. I heard that there was video of one of Ken’s crashes taken from a GoPro inside the shell. Each time, the team worked hard to repair the bike. One thing that I noticed when taking this picture is that they were running one of the square Michelin radials in the front, and a regular round profile tire in the back.

As the week went on, they got faster, and they capped off the week with a new British record of 75 mph. Next year? The team has to decide whether to tweak the exising bike or to rebuild from scratch. I was told the that the level of effort required to build this bike is unsustainable in the long run. They recognize that Arion1 is rather large and heavy.
If they do come back with the same bike, I hope that they can give Natasha some training time so that she can run as well. She elected to run their warmup bike, an unfaired M5, but was very frustrated by how noodly the frame was when she wanted to put the power down.

Team Polibent PulsaR
Another team that did extremely well for their first trip to Battle Mountain. Although their bike wasn’t as refined as some of the others, they had a very strong and small rider in Andrea. They also executed very well and didn’t have a crash or a blown launch all week.

Team Elan, Velos XS
Ellen and Hans were back with the Velow XS with a beautiful paint job that didn’t get scratched at all.
Ellen wasn’t able to equal her personal best. However, she did set a new Women’s Multitrack record in CO2, despite banging her knees on the inside of the fairing all the way down the course.

University of Toronto Human Powered Vehicle Design Team
This was a tough year for the HPVDT. They had hoped to campaign a bike based on the same shell as Eta, but they were hampered by a lack of experienced manpower as several key members elected to work for Aerovelo instead. Their backup plan of running two bikes was mainly aimed at getting some team members experience and hats, and in this regard, they succeeded.
Bluenose had a rough week and will need extensive repairs in order to be safe and fast again.

Beagle, Larry Lem and Tom Amick
Always the jokers.
Larry and Tom were back with Beagle, a new single bike. They were happy with its handling, but they were a bit disappointed in the performance. Once again, they were hoping for 70 mph, but both Larry and Tom got to upgrade their hats.

Team GeeBee CO2
Garrie Hill had multiple riders in the CO2 trike, and for his trouble, he got two world records for his team: Junior Men’s Multitrack for Florian, and Women’s Multitrack for Ellen.

Team Kowalik, Micro Moby, CO2
The Kowalik’s got an award for the world’s fastest family, and for very good reason. Three world records. Florian was disappointed in not going faster through the traps with CO2; I was told that he went 65 mph during one of his runs, which would have been good enough to get the overall Junior record. I’m sure that he’ll be back next year, and perhaps with a two wheeler. Ceci set a record as well, but she barely fit in Micro Moby and will need a new bike next year. Genna rode a monster run of over 40 mph that didn’t count because of wind, but she should be proud of her world record speed of 37.29 mph. I hope that both girls will come back again as well. All three kids will be in the same respective age groups next year and they will be one year faster.

Team Ascension, Teagan Patterson
This was a feel good story. Mark and Steve worked long hours to get Seiran done, and it hit the road for the first time on Thursday. Look at the wheel opening on the rear.
DSC06669Teagan went faster with every run, and earned a 65 mph hat on her fourth and final run (with something in the drivetrain grinding as she went through the traps). Imagine what she would have done running all week. The American women’s record is close at hand, and beyond that perhaps 70mph? Hopefully we will get a chance to see next year.

Plymouth University Handcycle Project, with Liz McTernan
This was a collaboration between a team of builders and paracyclist Liz McTernan. Liz started off the week with a bang by riding her regular bike to a new Women’s Armpowered record. She went slower in the Beluga, and unfortunately this became a bone of contention for the team. Eventually, Liz elected to continue to run with Red Lightning, and Adam Kyte ran Beluga himself. Beluga did get a wind legal run of over 30 mph on the last day.

Liz could not better her record from earlier in the week, although she did reel off a very fast run on the five mile course. She said that the longer run suited her better than the sprint, but unfortunately we were not able to give her more chances at 5 miles since it took the entire time of a road closure for her to get down the course. She will go home with a world record in the 600m standing start sprint as well.

I’d like to acknowledge the rest of the team at the timing table. My good buddy and former neighbour Danny Guthrie was my right hand man all week.

Brad Teubner has always worked the 200m position at the front of the traps. He is absolutely reliable, and I think he enjoys the peace and quiet at that post.
DSC02491 (1)

Adam Hari worked a couple of sessions in the middle of the week, which was especially helpful when I had to step away from the timing table. Here he is watching Todd going through the traps. He is a race fan from Sydney who flew in to check WHPSC out. He wants to build a bike and race himself.

Finally, Michele Hammersmark helped us out for the final day. Since she was from Winnemucca and Battle Mountain, she was a gold mine of information about the local scene. Also as a physicist, she was able to teach Danny a thing or two about Excel.

Thanks to all the other volunteers as well. George and Carole did a bang up job at start. As per usual, Al and Alice ran the whole show very smoothly.
I hope to see you all next year.

If you want to see the full week’s results in one table, it is at the recumbents.com site.

BM2015: Awards Banquet

This year, the awards banquet was in the Civic Center, and it was catered by the local Mexican Restaurant. Al and Alice kick things off.

Reading out the speeds for Saturday’s evening heats, the biggest cheer went out to Damjan for his 80.01 mph run. This was followed by Officer Aten handing out tickets for speeding (70 mph+) and “failure to keep the lane” i.e. flying off the road. Here are all of this year’s violators, who were all told to return next year to show that they have learned from their experience.

Then George and Carole handed out special awards for various fun things. Here Ellen and Hans get an award for the most beautiful and undamaged bike at the end of the week’s runs.

The Kowaliks are the fastest family in the world.

Team Cygnus gets an award for executing four launch attempts within the two minute window.

Marc Jutras gets an award for a 50 m sprint to prevent a bike drop.

Sherry gets the “never give up award” for crashing Bluenose repeatedly and then going 55 mph in Vortex.

Teagan and company get a Phoenix award for getting a bike built and then down the road during the week.

Then Rob and Linda Barnett hand out awards associated with the drag races. Calvin is second fastest overall.

All the sprint winners.

Linda gives Todd a special award for being fastest overall.

A group picture of all the racers.

Then it was time for the hats. No photos here as I was reading out the list. OK, one photo of Todd getting his 85 mph hat.

All the new hat winners.

The winner’s of Garrie Hill’s “fastest flying female” awards.

The collegiate teams with three fastest riders, Liverpool (1st and third) and Politechnico di Torino (second).

Then the individual awards for the different classes. It was embarrassing to accept the award for first place in Men’s multitrack. Florian was ruled out as a junior. Next year we need more men’s trikes!

All the award winners.

The newest members of the very exclusive 80 mph club, Damjan and Todd.

U of Toronto HPVDT. Everyone got a hat. I’m really proud of these folks.

Then time for bed. I’ll try to post a wrap up report within a day or so, but for now, I’m headed back home. Signing off from Battle Mountain.

It is always a nice tradition to have a group photo shoot just after the racer’s meeting on Saturday. Here are all the bikes in a row, sans Eivie that hadn’t arrived yet.

Bas has become the official photographer of this event.

Team Eivie.

Delft/Amsterdam HPT. Note the repaint on the fairing.

The Kowalik girls were stars this week.

U of Toronto lines up their bikes.

Team Cygnus.

Team Ascension.

Liz McTernan.
Liz with her supporters.

A nice group shot of HPVDT with Aerovelo.

Larry and Tom. Always the jokers.

Todd looking thrilled that he was being cuffed and led away for a trumped up charge of stunt driving.
_DSC5097 s (photo by Danny Guthrie)

Then it was back to work. HPVDT polishing Vortex for its final runs down the road.

I’m sorting out timing tapes. Any tape with a world record has to be signed and dated, and then sent to Bill Gaines, the IHVPA record keeper, who downloads the timing unit memory and checks it against the tapes.


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