Archive for the ‘HPV’ Category

A look back at WHPSC 2008

There was a call on the facebook group for the World Human Powered Speed Challenge (WHPSC) for pictures from the past 19 years that the event has been running, so I went back and rummaged through my pictures from 2008, which was the first time that I went. It was fun to look back, and I realized that since 2008 was before the beginning of this blog, that I had never posted these pictures online. Most of them are on facebook now, and I do realize that much of the online discussion around the event has moved to facebook. You can see from the graph below the steady decrease in hits that I’ve gotten over the years (the three big spikes in Sept are due to WHPSC).

However,  here I have a little more space to comment on photos, etc, so if you will indulge me, here is a little of what I remember about the first time I went out to Battle Mountain to see this crazy event. I referred to my 2008 visit somewhat obliquely in this post from 2010, and I’ve been going back every year since 2011.

Back then, most of the action centred around the Super 8, and you would see people working on their bikes all around the parking lot. 

Tom and Larry unloading their tandem “Goliath”.
Warren Beauchamp of HPRA and recumbents.com fame.

Someone also showed up with a pickup truck full of recumbents with wooden frames to test ride.

Since they were looking for all kinds of volunteers, I said that I would help out in timing. The picture below shows Bill Gaines on the right, the person who taught me everything I know about timing. The person on the left is Chet Kyle, who seemed nice enough when he dropped by timing to chat a bit, but I did not realize at the time who he was. D’oh!

Chet Kyle and Bill Gaines
Bill running timing

This was also the year when Garrie Hill announced the final running of the Decimach prize:$25,000 to the person breaking  1/10th of the speed of sound, adjusting for the altitude at Battle Mountain. This worked out to 82 mph. Sam Whittingham had been creeping closer and closer, but just falling short of 82 mph. He had already gone 80 mph back in 2001! Garrie decided that whoever went fastest this year would get the prize.

Since Garrie had provided most of the money for the prize, he got to set the rules, and this particular year, he was using his own timing system. Here he is setting it up.

Garrie Hill

One of the prettier vehicles running that year was Raymond Gage’s Orion Trike. It set a new record that stood until CO2 broke it many years later.

Orion Trike

Back then, we used timing tapes that had to be laid down at both ends of the 200m traps, and only on the right hand lane. These had to be taken back up every time the road was opened, and this was labour intensive so we need many more people at timing that we do now. (I’m cheating a bit since the picture below is from 2011, the last time we used tapes).

Laying down a timing tape.

I met many friendly people that week, many of whom I’ve gotten to know even better since that first year.

Dave Larrington and his yellow Corvette
Scott Wilson
Vancouver writer Chris Keam
Mike Sova
Prof. Paul Pancella, also with MHPVA
Craig and Vicki Johnsen
Al and Alice

I was somewhat in awe of all the racers and builders.

Hans Wessels and Don Schroeder.
Jay Henry
Warren Beauchamp and Jim Iwastkow
Steve Nash
Ellen and Warren
Tanya and Freddy Markham, Sam and friend

and of course it was a thrill to meet Sam Whittingham after reading so much about him on the web.

Little did I know that Bill would announce on Wednesday that he had to head back to CA early, and sure enough he left on Thursday just after noon, and from that point onwards, I was the head timer, with the help of Paul Pancella. On Thursday morning, Sam had gone 80 mph, and I guess Bill figured he was done for the day.

Little did Bill know that Sam would decide to run that evening as well, and that was when he went 82.33 mph and finally won the Decimach prize. All I can say is that I was relieved that our time and the one that Garrie measured agreed to within a thousandth of a second.

Here is a compilation video of Sam’s run. You can hear me yelling “He did it!”

This is my video from the timing table.

Chris Keam’s video, with footage at start and catch.

Here is the celebration at the racers’ meeting that night.

Back then, the evening meetings were small enough to fit in the Super 8 conference room.

Here is Garrie presenting the Decimach prize to Sam.

So that was my visit to WHPSC in 2008, which I assumed would also be my last: a memory to be treasured for many years. Little did I know that a team from my own university would show up in 2010, enticing me back to the event every year since 2011……

For more on the Decimach prize, there is an article by Chris Keam in the Tyee.

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BM2018: CNN feature

This year we had three camera crews taking footage of various teams. One of them was from CNN, and they were putting together a segment for a series called CNN Fit Nation: Around the World in 8 Races. This time, one of those races would be WHPSC.

They just posted their article about WHPSC online, along with a short video.

Screen Shot 2018-11-17 at 1.49.29 PM

The video has short interviews with Al and Alice, along with this year’s world record breakers: Ken Talbot (Men’s arm power), Karen Darke (Women’s Arm power) and Ishtey Amminger (Junior Men’s Multitrack).

There are also a few pictures of U of T:

Valina in Bluenose getting ready.


image source: CNN

Calvin being loaded into Eta Prime.


image source: CNN

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Planning the next speedbike

The HPVDT brain trust had a bit of a reunion this afternoon to discuss some ideas for the next bike for Battle Mountain.


It was nice to see Victor and Trefor again. Also I learned a little more about how the modelling is validated.


Unfortunately these two pictures were the only ones I was allowed to post.

Thanks to Calvin for hosting.

Update: now that I see that pixellation rendered the screens illegible, here is an inset:


No point in building a new bike if you’re not going to go for the record.

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BM2018 Wrap Up

It was an exciting week of racing, with five world records set. The story of the week was the smashing of four arm powered records by the University of Liverpool. However, there was also some degree of frustration as well, with Delft/Amsterdam not achieving their goal of breaking the women’s record (and in fact going slower than last year), and Policumbent just missing the european record. Hopes were high early in the week with plenty of fast runs in the last heat on Tuesday night (where a world record was also set for Junior Men’s Multitrack), but as it turned out, that was the high point for several of the competitors.

The big issue was wind. Although we didn’t lose a single session due to rain, there were only 49 wind legal runs this week, compared to 53 last year, and 63 the year before.

Here is a team by team summary, more or less in the order of my BM2018 Preview post.

Aim93: London South Bank University


This team had the absolute worst luck, with DHL not delivering the bike until very late Tuesday night, and the bike being picked up in Reno on Wednesday, finally getting to Battle Mountain midday. To top it off, DHL had damaged the bike, and there were frantic repairs done on the bike late into the night.


When the bike finally arrived, the tech judges expressed some reservations about the safety of the very thin fiberglass shell, and were also not particularly impressed by the fact that Russell would be somewhat protected by a motorcycle jacket. Nevertheless, the bike was allowed to qualify, and Russell did well to get it down the course at 53.81 mph. The bike had play in the bearings, and was judged to be unsafe to ride again. The team went home having learned quite a bit. Glen Thompson said that their next bike will likely have a monocoque construction similar to many of the other bikes.


Update: Russell has posted this video summary of their week:

University of Liverpool Velocipede Team



This team came in well prepared and executed perfectly, with riders Ken Talbot and Karen Darke absolutely smashing the existing arm powered records for both men and women, also both for flying start (over the 5 mile distance) and the 600/200m standing start sprint. Ken achieved his secondary goal of going over 50 mph, and Karen was not too far behind at 46.54 mph, higher than the previous men’s record held by Greg Westlake. The team says that Arion 5 will be a trike. It will be interesting to see how they do next year.

Adam’s Folly


You can see from the picture how pleased Adam was at finally going over 50 mph after several consecutive years of trying.


As he drove away, I asked if he was going for 55 mph next, and he said that WHPSC was an exciting but expensive addiction.

Team Wahoo



Larry was back with a new bike with considerably smaller frontal area than his previous bike, Super 8. He was frustrated with the power numbers he was achieving, and he did not reach the speeds that he had gone with Beagle.  Still searching for that 70 mph hat. He and Adam were the only ones upholding the honoured tradition of the garage bike builder.

Team Policumbent


This team had done a lot of development on their bike from last year, Taurus, and were hoping for the european record, a speed that other parts of the world called the “non-Todd record”.  They fell just short, with Andrea ending up the fourth fastest human, just a blink away from the speeds of Sam Whittingham and Sebastiaan Bowier. Paolo told me that Andrea’s speedometer was reading low on Tuesday, and so he didn’t sprint all out, but that run ended up as his fast time of the week: 82.8 mph. They spent the rest of the week searching for more speed, including two almost all nighters to alter the rear wheel opening to accommodate the wider Michelin blue tires.

Congrats to the team for finishing first on the men’s podium. As their website says, the extra 0.53 kph that they need is only a matter of time.

Greg Cantori


Greg came with a tweaked but production velomobile and fell just short of 60 mph, with a fastest run of 58.48 mph. He finished first in Men’s multitrack, and he reached his stretch goal of going 58 at age 58.  He was also extremely generous in allowing Russell Bridge to ride the Milan SL, who earned a 55 mph hat.


It also should be mentioned that he had to fly back and forth to Maryland to attend to his boat which was being threatened by Hurricane Florence.  I imagine that in the next few years we will see a velomobile break the 60 mph barrier.

De La Salle Velo Team


This team showed up with a new trike, but also with a complicated linear drive similar to last year. My understanding is that some parts failed during testing under load, and the trike was never able to be ridden. We wish them better luck in the future, perhaps with a more conventional drivetrain.

Team Elan


Hans and Ellen were quite satisfied with their results. Ellen went over 70 mph, just missing her personal best from several years ago, even though she had not trained much this year. Matthias showed a lot of potential, finishing just off the men’s podium with a speed of 78.95 mph. Hans says that he will be building a faster bike for next year.

IUT Annecy


It was obvious that the rider/bike combination of Fabien Canal and Altair 6 has serious potential to contend for the men’s title next year. The French team practiced their launches quite a bit early in the week, and ended the week with a series of flawless launches. Considering that Fabien went 79.48 mph with the periscope indicates that the bike can get even faster with the camera hatch. Furthermore, his fastest time was 80.83 mph, exactly the same as Calvin’s run to a thousandth of a second, but the wind was not legal. Finally, Guillaume won the unofficial title of the fastest faculty advisor with a 55 mph run where he coasted down from 2.5 miles to get some performance data. He had gone 68.51 earlier in the week.

Human Power Team Delft/Amsterdam: Velox 8


It looked like this team had the women’s record in the bag, with Lieke De Cock clocking 74.24 mph on Tuesday night. However, that turned out to be her fast time of the week, and Jennifer Breet had the worst luck with wind until her second run on Saturday morning of 72.42 mph.


One can only speculate as to why the team was slower than last year, but perhaps part of the reason was that the riders ran twice (or even three times) a day, whereas last year’s riders only ran once a day.

Team Gee Bee


This team came with the goal of breaking the junior men’s trike record and they did just that. Ishtey has one more year of junior eligibility left, and Garrie said that he will be back with a two wheeler next year to go after the absolute junior men’s record, currently held by team GeeBee alumnus Florian Kowalik.

University of Toronto


This team fielded just two riders this year: Calvin Moes in Eta Prime and new rider Valina Sintalova in Bluenose. Calvin achieved his long awaited 80 mph hat, and Valina did well to go 55 mph given that she had not ridden the bike before coming to Battle Mountain. The team has probably pushed Eta Prime as fast as it is likely to go given the team’s limited resources, and they plan to build a different bike for next year.

I’ll take timer’s prerogative to once again thank my friends who helped out at timing. Firstly my buddy Danny who was a bit delayed in arriving since he had to tend to his father whose summer house was being threatened by a wildfire.


(photo: D. Guthrie)

Secondly Marieke, who is pictured here standing in her magic spot, the spot where the radio reception was least worse.


Blogger Dave Larrington helped out early in the week before Danny’s arrival. He also did a stint at 200 m. Perhaps if he gets a faster rental car, he will be back doing his regular duty as sweep next year.


Finally, Garrie manned the 200 m station for all but Thursday. He said he liked the vantage point that provided a clear view of all the bikes as they approached timing, and we kept him happy with a steady stream of timing information as the bikes went by.


Next year should be exciting with several new teams rumoured to be coming, including two from down under, and perhaps one from Japan. Also George and Carole Leone had several Cal Poly students in tow who were thinking about building a bike for Battle Mountain rather than ASME.

Thanks everyone for reading, and see you next year!

NB: sorry for the comparative lack of team pictures, but they are on my other camera that I left behind at the Civic Centre. Thankfully it is winging it’s way back to me by post, and I will update the pictures when it arrives.

Update: now updated with team pictures from the other camera. Regrettably, many of them are blurry.  Sorry about that.



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The winds were pretty high for the Saturday evening runs, and so many people elected to scratch.


Valina was the lone racer in the first heat. Winds were in the 1400’s during the run, but dropped down into the 900’s at the end. She went through with Bluenose leaning against the wind, but unfortunately she crashed just after leaving the wind shadow of the bridge.

In the final heat, winds were still somewhat high, and Andrea Gallo cruised through the traps showing off a new LED lighting feature in the colours of the Italian flag. They are barely visible in this photo. My guess is that they were more visible from the spectator side.


Then it was time for the awards banquet.

Valina gets cited for failure to maintain lane.


Calvin gets his speeding ticket.


Russell gets cited for operation of an unsafe vehicle (soup dragon).


All of this year’s miscreants.


Marieke hands off 2D Thomas to Mike Sova.


Then it was time for the hats. Adam Ince is beside himself with joy.


Ken Talbot went over 50 mph with arm power. The bike was a bit small for him as it had been designed around Karen, so he had a bruise on his chest from the crank action. Apparently timing his breathing to cadence helped a bit.


Valina at 55 mph.


Russell went over 50 mph in Soup Dragon, but he also went over 55 mph in the Milan SL.


Calvin gets called up for his 80 mph hat.


All of the new hat winners…..


and all of the people taking pictures of them.


Arm Powered winners, and multiple world record holders Ken and Karen.


Multi track podium. 1st Greg, then Russell, then Adam.


Women’s podium. 1st Lieke, then Jennifer, then Ellen.


All of the women racing this year.


Men’s podium First is Andrea, then Calvin, then Fabien.


All of the trophy winners.


The two newest members of the 80 mph club.


That’s it for the moment. Signing off from Battle Mountain. I’ll post a wrap up when I have a little chance to catch my breath.


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BM2018: Saturday AM

We’ve been getting up a little earlier to make sure that we can catch sunrise while setting up timing.


The forecast for the morning was for generally low winds, and sure enough there were many wind legal runs.

We have had three different documentary film crews around this week. Today we had two of them at timing.


During the first heat it was pretty cold so all but one bike scratched, and true to form, it was Jennifer. Unfortunately, she had her usual bad luck with the wind.

Fabien kicked off the second heat with a run that was a little short of his best, and also not wind legal.


The rest of the heat had good wind, with Ellen and Larry running at about the same speeds they have been running all week.


Matthias started the third heat by laying down his fastest time of the week of 78.95 mph. The other three riders got in solid runs that were a little short of their best. Perhaps everyone is getting tired, in particular those who have been running twice a day.

Andrea followed in the fourth heat with his second run of the week above 80 mph, but just a bit short of what he did on Tuesday. Then Fabien ran again, going a bit slower, but having legal wind this time. He is just short of 80 mph.

Perhaps a little bird told Jennifer that her earlier run was not wind legal so she decided to run again. She hold me later that her attitude was “just f*ck it, I’m going to try again”, and it paid off with her first wind legal run of the week at 72.42, also her fastest of the week, and faster than what she had done earlier the same morning.


Velina came down the pike in Bluenose, and I saw that elves had been busy working on the shell overnight as it looked very different than yesterday. She earned a 55 mph for her trouble.


Finally in heat five, Calvin finally got a fast run at 80.83 mph, making him the 8th person in the 80 mph club, and maintaining his position as 7th fastest on the all time list. The motion blur must have been because he was going so fast. Special thanks to Marieke for noticing that the exit trap sensor was misaligned just at the point that his bike was in sight. That saved me from missing the time for a fast run by Calvin for the second time.


Guillaume ran Altair 6 in a coast down test and also earned a 55 mph hat, making him officially the worlds fastest HPV riding professor.

Finally Karen pushed up her world record for a second time this week to 46.54 mph.

All in all a very rewarding session of racing.

Here are the full results.


After the noon meeting, we had the traditional taking of group pictures.


Bas directing things as usual.


U of T.


The picture with all team members.


The “racers only” version.


All the people taking pictures of the racers.


This dynamic duo of Karen and Ken have four world records between them.


The Henry family.


U of T with their bikes and the van.


Ken and Karen getting cited for something.


and of course Andrea for being the fastest human this year.


One more evening of racing. Here is the start order.



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BM2018: Friday PM Results

The wind was playing tricks with us, just not the usual tricks. The wind was a strong crosswind out of the west for the first heat, and then over the next half hour or so, it was low and then it switched directions to come out of the east. As a result, the only wind legal runs we had were in the second heat, rather than the third as per usual.

The highlight of the evening was Calvin getting his fast time of the week, and it was even wind legal. Still short of 80, though, and he got dropped at catch again.

Here is Arion4 going through the traps in the evening light.


Here are the results. Jennifer continues her run of rotten luck with wind as she doesn’t have a single wind legal run all week.

Here are the results:

Screen Shot 2018-09-14 at 10.00.25 PM

The forecast is for very low winds tomorrow morning.  Fingers crossed.

For a more detailed account of this evening, go to Dave Larrington’s blog.

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