Battle Mountain 2012

The day before

Tonight I am preparing to leave. My new laptop has gained a duff key, so I am going to have to take a keyboard. Booked in with BA. Have yet to book a taxi. Flight leaves LHR at 14:05, so the morning should not be too bad.

In SF 080912

Well, the plan for an early night did not happen. I ended up at the pub – rather late. Never mind, I got packed with an hour to spare and on the flight with no problem. Seated next to a nice young woman, Swedish, but her English had an American accent. Going to study in SF. The first half of the flight was fine, but it got worse. I think it’s claustrophbia. After a while my stomach start to churn an cramp. Very uncomfortable. Still BA was more comfortable that AA, UA or Virgin

I have another rediculous car. A Ford Escape 4×4. I thought it was going to be a compact one. It isn’t. They offered me a BMW X3, but thet are the spawn of Stan as Dave might say.

Just off for breakfast, then on the road. Sat Nav programmed.

At Battle Mountain 090912

Yesterday I drove to Sacramento, where there was a chance I might be giving someone a lift. I walked round the ‘old town’ which is charming but a bit of a museum. Found somewhere for a real breakfast and got on line. Then I went to look for my car. I parked under a mall. I’ve seen big malls. This was one of them. Had to walk round for ages to find my car.

No passenger so then up to Lake Tahoe. I’ve been before, but not been round the South and East. Very beautiful. I stopped at a beach ($7) and played with my new long lense. I wanted a pic of a pinyon jay, but didn’t see many and they were too quick for me. Idid see various other flap and tweets and lots of smaller raptors all the way up.

Then it was only 30o miles to go, which is easy over here. I got to Battle Mountain about 18:30. Many of the usual suspects were chatting outside the motel. Beer O’Clock had already come so I was soon swigging from a bottles.

The entries are not quite as expected. Graeme Obree is not here. He’s going to make some trials in the UK this year.

Sam Whittingham has not come. He doesn’t have a new bike or much motivation. The Varna team are here with Barabara Buatois and a much improved Varna Battle Mountain. The Tempest, which she set here record in, is here too.

Ellen Van Vugt  has a new bike designed by David Weilermaker of HPV Delft. It has solar car radial tyres, with about half the rolling resistance. She has had time in the bike and testing has gone well.

The VeloX2 is a much smaller camera bike. The team have been here for a few days acclimitising and helping make the course safer. 

The Altair team also got here early. yesterday they rode the bike all the way out to the course, followed by 2 minivans. Al & Alice were out there and saw a big tanker truck try to overtake. The minivans split and blocked both lanes. It just isn’t safe to try out on the road. You could get shot.

Another surpise for me was Bowstring. I did not notice the rider was Sergei Dachevsky. He comes from one of the black sea states and I have known him from about ’93. Not bumped into him yet.

Ben and the Aussie team are here, looking in good shape.

Last night, Al, Alice, Dave, Mikie and me went to the Mexican. They remember us and were happy to see us again.v 

Today we had a late start – 09:30 and went out to the course. Heaving hay bales in the hot sun. There are boards which guard the armco on the bridge and Deflt have put old car tyres over all the metal posts we could not replace.  The course is nearly set but we have optical timing this time, as an experiment. It should help the turnaround time between sets of runs as it does not need to be taken down and put up again.

I got back to to my room at about 12:30. I’m about to try and post my pictures so far. Work? When was that?

Here are the Tahoe pictures. I’m getting the hang of the photbucket and need to edit them

Here are a few bike pics when I got here.


A very big riders meeting last night. Generally good spirits. The weather is very warm, which is good for the event. This morning we got through qualifying most of the bikes. The whole process made much faster because of Bill Gaines new light beam timing system. Still a few tweaks to iron out but quite a good session. I got there slightly late having inhaled too much beer last night.

The main website will give the numbers but the standout was probably Ben’s trike, built in the last month, which may have already gone as fast as the trike record.

We only ran 2 mile qualifiers. Neither Barbara nor Ellen had very good runs, so they are struggling to get into the fast groups. Sean Costin did very well, 1st time out. Sergei was a bit confused by the course and nearly ran down the catch team, but he qualified. I was trying to tell him he lost his Battle Mountain virginity. He didn’t know the word.

Ref the car. We were discussing if it should have a name. My rental cars have had names over the years. ‘Vlad the Impala’ comes to mind. It’s called an Escape, so ‘The Great Escape?’ ‘Jailbreak?’ ‘Alcatraz?’ Well, when I was trying to see what it was called I looked down at the wheel and it said Ford Airbag, so it will probably be ‘The Windbag’

100912 pm

Quite an interesting evening. I was at timing doing wind speeds, so I didn’t get the chance to take pictures. The winds were about double the legal all through the session. We tried to run 3 sets of 4 bikes. VeloX 2 was in the 1st set and went spectaculatrly off the road at about 2.5 miles. Sebastian is fine. He has seat belts! It was caused by a puncture. The bike is repairable but have a spare anyway. Most of us struggle to make one bike. He thinks he was doing 120kph, which is certainly getting there.

On the subject of upsets, the Cygnus had a flat in the timing area. I think it was David. It started scraping in the timed zone and fell shortly after. Nobody hurt and not much damage. It would have ripped up timing strips. He got a

The winds were not legal (328 ft per sec. I’ll get it in other measures) but standouts were a record speed of 69mph for both ‘The Gloworm’ tandem and the Tri-Sled trike. If we see good wind conditions we should see some records fall.

If anyone is reading this please comment. I see numbers but I don’t know who you are. Am I too basic, or too techie? Is there anything you want to know? It is hard to balance

I have been coming to the event, apart from three years, since 2001.


I was too tired to write up last night. In the morning I ended up at catch as my early call did not happen. Fortunate I did as they were very shorthanded. For anyone that does not know, riders are taped in to their bikes and rolled forward by helpers until they get going. After the run they have to be caught. This relies on them slowing down at the right place. We have a point man who waves his/her arms and the bike comes to them. There are 1 to 3 people on each side to hold the bike up when he stops. They strip off the tape and release teh rider from the mobile sauna.

All good catches except Trefor in the Vortex who stopped a little short.

After that we had the ‘Show and Shine’. it’s always great to see the wide eyes of the kids. In this town we are stars. Pics are here.

110912 pm

I expect I will have some more comments. My pics are on this link!cpZZ3QQtppZZ24


I was too tired to update yesterday. Quite a lot has happened since then.  Last night, the weather did as it should. When the sun went behind the mountain, the wind dropped. We have innovated 3 sessions this year. It’s tough to run. For the less informed, we are not allowed to delay road vehicles more that 20 minutes, so as soon as a car arrives at the road closure, the clock starts.  We try to get up to 5 bikes through the course for each road closure. The best riders take about 6 minutes to get through the 6 mile  course.  Separations are about 2 mins, tweaked based on how fast the rider is expected to be.

The Glowworm tandem has raised the tandem record twice, once with Tom Amick and the other with Larry Lem. The Totally trike raised his speed too.

Pics are at

130912 am

More really good weather this morning. I was out early to put up the distance signs, then at Ranch Road 2. Same place as last night. It is about 500m before the timed section, so it is a good place for pictures. See

Yesterday I had some good ‘fossicking’. The road margins are made of gravel extracted from local pits, so it is a sample of what is here. The star was a small lump of jade, but there is a near transparent pink quartz and several others with interesting mixes of colours.

ref wildlife: Earlier in the week we had a hummingbird buzzing around catch. There aren’t many large flowers, but the bigger hummingbirds also eat insects.

For the last few years there has been a big Alfalfa field next to the course.  Alfalfa needs irrigation and is grown in big circular fields with an irrigating thing that rotates. I think the alfalfa seeds are harvested for sprouts and the plant mass is bailed as animal feed. There a pronghorm antelopes around here. Very elegant and fast. They love alfalfa and the irrigation water. In the evening they come down from the mountain and cross the course. On Tuesday there were some close scrapes. Lasts night Mary, our excellent radio communicator, was posted beside the field and took some good photos of the beasts. She was jumping up and down and shouting to keep them back from the course.

This morning we had several ‘Antelope Ground Squirrels’, chipminks to most, sorting around for eats. very cute.

The oddest new arrival is the Super Seven. It is a multi track vehicle, with 2 inline skate trucks at the front. As the name suggests, it has 7 wheels!

130912 in response to questions

Sam is not here. He didn’t have a new bike or a new body, so he gave it a miss. I expect he will be back! I think Velox2 got over 80mph last night, so they are fastest. Cygnus have done their personal fastest for all riders. Jan Marcel was over 77. So many people over 70 this year. I’m pretty sure Thomas finally beat his 70mph bug this morning afte 2 years at 69.9.i

The Glowworm tandem has raised the tandem record twice. I’m so pleased for my friend Larry Lem. There isn’t an official trike record, but the Ozzie team have blown away the recorded speeds. Barbara is over 72 mph. Tonight she is going back to The Tempest in which she set hear record. Ellen has set a personal best.

130912 Altair

This morning, Aurelian rode the Altair 4 on the qualifying course, with the top off. It went fine but they have been having problems with riding with the top. Initially they had the camera for vision in the nose. Looks like that does not work. All other camera users have the cameras in a pod above the rider. I believe this gives much better feedback to balance the bike.

Later, Aure asked Georgi if he could get a copy of a Varna shell. Aure is 2M tall, so they would have to make a bigger version. May not please Sam if Aure has a Varna.

130912 pm

Didn’t manage to post last night. The WiFi was erratic. It just dumped while I was trying to post this too.

Another splendid evening. Low, if erratic winds. I was in the spectator area waffling on to the few public present.

Tom Amick piloted the Glowworm to another record. Larry’s turn on the 14th. Gareth piloted the Totally Obsessive to over 70mph, faster that his boss. There will be consequences. Sean Costin also went over 70, with non legal winds. Translated, max wind speed is about 3.7 mph.

In the meeting, talking about packing up the tyres on Sunday, Adrian from the TriSled team said he could only get about 10 in his car. Quick as a flash, Jan Marcel suggested he open his mouth and fit in another 20.

It appears that whatever organisation presides did not record the junior record rules I proposed and which were accepted some years ago, before things split up. They are proposing to accept junior records retrospectively, which probably means Charlie Ollinger jnr will lose his record as I think Mackie Martin and Tanya Markham may have gone faster earlier, when there wasn’t a class. They are looking at an up to 17 class, where I think it was 16.

There is a proposal for an official multitrack class. Previously it has just been what Upright Mike records.

Pics are:

140912 am

This morning I drove sweep, which meant I started from catch to start to check the road was clear and so saw a few starts. There were 4 sessions I think, 2 at the short. The Kennedy Moulton Aeros ran OK.

A very shallow head bubble has been added to the Altair 4. Aure tried a lunch but got about 200m with skater still attached. They collected and returned to start. while I checked the course was clear to open. We added another session for them. Aure rode about a mile with the skater attached, which must be some kind of record for multi track tandem. Then he finally got going and hit 60mph in 1.5 miles! We expected them to try again for 5 miles but they didn’t. It is unclear if they have qualified as the SK8R was with them much too far.

Then it was up to the long start. Tom Ollinger rode but I didn’t get any pics. Also Super 7. Not sure who else except Upright Mike rode The Wedge with the top off. reminded me of Dr Bunsen and his assitant Beaker.  The Vortex also ran.

By the end I realised I was very low on fuel. The car said 6 miles to E when I left catch. It made the 15 miles at 55mph with the aircon turned off.

Pictures are

140912 pm

I was really lazy. I didn’t attend the morning meeting except to volunteer. I did uploads and blog, then slept for several hours. Bliss! That meant I missed the drag races. I hear the costumes were spectacular.

Last night I drove sweep, which meant I was at the start for most runs. Another great evening. Windy at first but calm later. Sean got a legal wind 70mph. Tandem (Tom Amick) and trike improved again. Barbara went a bit quicker. Ellen got over 70mph, a personal best  Ben got over 70 too, so Gareth may not suffer too much. We now have 17 riders in this event, including the tandem combinations who have gone over 70 mph. Not long ago we would not have thought it possible.

After his launch, which was very long, Aurelian did 76mph, which isn’t bad for a Battle Mountain Virgin. Very long catch I am told.

Sergey crashed on an early run. He’s quite badly road rashed. He ran out of hockey tape and used masking tape. He ended up protruding from the open shell. I was following down and stopped and yelled at them to get packed and moving. I had seen Sergey walking. In the event they turned in at ranch Road 2 where the ambulance is. He makes light of his injuries. To paraphrase “My dad went through the ‘Great Patriotic War’. This is nothing”. Still, I doubt he will ride again this time.    

Dave (Legs) and I ate at The Owl (also known as The Yowl) with the French team. They don’t eat Mexican or Chinese so they don’t have much choice. Aure was really happy. However, the waitress asked to see ID before she served him alcohol! He’s 2M tall and though youthfull I really don’t think he could be under 21.

Pics at

Dave and I toured around after (I was designated drunk last night) and confirmed Donna’s Ranch is still in business. No, not that, honest. The red neon was on. Looks like it has expanded.

150912 am

We had it a bit easier today. 08:00 start so I slept in until 06:00! We only did 5 mile runs. It was windy and no special times were recorded. The highlight for me were the golden eagles. Vicky Johnson spotted one and stopped on the way up the course. I was coming down setting up signs and she told me. The big female was taking a ride on the irrigation system in the alfalfa  field. I spotted her mate just along from her. By the time I got the camera out he was flying off, but he does show in my 2 pictures, low behind the framework of the irrigation. I have posted some cropped versions of the pics. They are at along with a selection of pictures from catch. Aurelian attempted a run but ended up off the road. David in the Cygnus went right through catch, nearly collecting Adrian on the way. Various fit young student types ran after him and caught him.

At the meeting there was some discussion about crash procedures after Sergei yesterday.

150912 Group photos

This link should get to them, <a href=””></a> but I may have got some links wrong before. Steep learning curve.

We try to have everyone turn up and do some pictures. 12:00 today was the time. The first thing that happend was that State Trouper Aidan turned up to ticket the speed limit violators. It is 70mph on 305. First they ‘arrested’ Sebastian for doing over 80. Everyone  else over 70 got a ticket too. They don’t have to pay, unless the judge goes back on his promise.

Next we lined the bikes and riders up facing the camera position to get some comparative shots.  Then we added the teams, then the helpers. There are also some other shots before and after. Sergey is doing well but will not ride tonight. We have 12 slots, 3 x 4 as we want to finish and get on to the serious drinking. Could be another interesting night!

150912 Evening and prize dinner

Well, it was really windy. There were due to be 3 sessions of 4 bikes. Only 2 ran in the first session. I didn’t have a formal role so I stayed in catch. I was mostly point man, which means I stood between the 2 rows of catchers and waved my arms to provide an aim point for the rider. The catch crew were really slick so I didn’t have to do much and had the chance to take some nice pictures (though I say so myself). You can find them here

The wind dropped and there were legal runs. The outstanding run was Thomas in Cygnus. He’s been trying to hit 70 for 2 years. He did 75. He went straight through catch. The younger catchers hared off up the road and caught him with no problem. He was ecstatic. Lots of hugs. Thomas hugging Carol was amusing as he is nearly twice her height.  

Cygnus has shown how good it is this year. The riders are good but not world class. It is possible Hans Wessels will ride next year. He should be able to push it over 80.

Velox has been a bit disappointing . I’m sure they will analyse their data and go faster next year.

Aurelian made a good debut. He’s clearly capable of going very fast when the bike is sorted a bit more. It is a very strange shape, a bit like a coke bottle. That does not agree with most ideas about pressure gradient, but it works pretty well.

Geo and Keira did really well. He is a top sprinter and is determined to be back. The 7 wheeler was a fun experiment, but not one Geo will continue with. He has the bug. Keira enjoyed it too and is a fine rider. She needs a small bike.

At the prize dinner, Alice had nearly lost her voice. Blame Canada I say. Upright Mike was in his element reading out the speeds, slowest to fastest. There were group photos including the large number over 70mph, and the helpers. We helpers got medals. Chris Broome called the door prizes. He missed his vocation calling bingo. The Brad Wiggins sideburns and mask I contributed went down OK. When we left the dinner, the party started in the motel foyer. I’m told I was one of the last men standing. I vaguely remember talking to the receptionist quite late/early on.

160912 The Aftermath

Completely failed to surface this morning. The maids thought I was leaving, but I’m very glad I don’t have to drive to San Francisco today. It will be an early start tomorrow. Now I have to go and see if there is anything left to help with.

There was stuff to help with. I was very hung over – but it was fun last night. Al, Alice, Mikie and me had a 15:00 breakfast at The Colt. It is described as a casino, which means it has some slot machines. The breakfast food was good. Mike and I had ‘Breakfast Burritos’ with superb hash browns. Real hash browns are fried shredded potato, not little cakes like in The Scottish Restaurant. We returned some ‘borrowed’ traffic cones and went out to the storage unit with the remaining stuff. We ‘tarped’ the hay bales which were bought last year. Someone stole one. Why?

We loaded everything into the Kraus car. I photographed the McD Crow. then we  sought a cure for our hangovers, See pictures here

Tomorrow it is a relatively easy morning. Only 06:00.  I will be taking Mikie to Reno, with a stop at the famous breakfast place at Winnemucca. I  should have plenty of time for my flight at 18:55.

170912 The Journey Home

I was just calling Mikie Sova from the front desk when he appeared behind me. We loaded up. I took a couple of pictures of the Grackles in the car park. They are probably ‘Great Tailed’ from location, but the slightly less scruffy male sends his harem foraging, so it is hard to tell. They raid the bins and wait for cars to arrive to eat the fresh bugs off them.

We got moving on another beautiful morning. I didn’t sleep well, but was alert enough. We stopped at the next town, Winnemucca, about 70 miles away. ‘The Griddle’ is a really good place for breakfast. The Varna team always stops there before turning north. Reno is about 2/3 the way to SF. I got to the airport with Mikie in plenty of time. ‘Welcome to Reno, that will be $5 for a baggage trolley’.

I took a wrong turn getting out of Reno, but not all the wrong ones the sat nav suggested. Fueled up outside town and drove on….

A few miles on the traffic was stopped. I got out and asked the guy in the U-Haul next to me what was up. Turned out there were road works at Truckee a couple of miles away, and an accident. After about 20 mins we moved. The accident was a black racer style motorcycle. The whole of the top, fairing to seat, was shredded. I hope the rider bailed out before that happened.

The rest of the trip was uneventful. Over the Sierra Nevada, past Auburn and down into the Sacramento suburbs. Ears pop! After the Central Valley plain there is a viewpoint where you get over the coastal range. I stopped to pee and rest a bit. A group of ‘frat party’ kids were asking me if I could see The Golden Gate. Well it was just out of sight to the right, but I was trying to focus my long lens on a couple of raptors circling on the lift from the hill. I asked someone what they were. He said Buzzard. There are no buzzards in the US. Downloading the pictures I could see the distinct red head. Turkey Vulture. By far the closest I have been to one. I could see the odd feather flip as flow detached.

Then things started to go a bit wrong. The toll on The Bay Bridge was $5 when I went over, so that is what I had saved, except it was $6 this time. I only had $5 so I have to pay a $25 fine. Fortunately I can do it on line. The sat nav took me to the car rental, but I had to spend some time searching for a petrol station. Avis charged me an extra cleaning fee for the amount of desert in the car. The dust is very fine.

I got to the airport in quite good time. There is a transport just like Gatwick. Then after bag check and security the task was to drink enough to sleep all the way. I had a beer, but it didn’t do it. The gate was running late so I went back and had a Martini. Gin & stirred with pimiento stuffed queen olives. Never had one before. I’d say I will never drink anything else but it isn’t true.

My flight back was in BA World Traveler Plus. The upgrade was cheap. The service was like the old Club and I had an aisle bulkhead seat. Generous with wine and I slept well. Woke up over Ireland. Then it was a bus to Egham from T5. T5 is a bit scary. The floors are very tall and you have to ascend and descend quite a lot. Seems like a lot of wasted space. It reminded me of Fritz Lange’s Metropolis, especially the lifts.

Here are the pics

200912 Postscript

This was a very good year. The new optical timing system has speeded everything up a lot so we coped with the large number of bikes. It uses a square wave light beam, so it can tell the reflection from any spurious signals.  No overall men’s or women’s records but lots of personal best runs and speeds over 70mph. Good weather and good spirits. The driving was less bad than last year and the return flight was good. Barring serious life changes I will be back next year. I’m planning to add a weather station to my PC so we can track air pressure, to see if it makes a difference. Maybe Mr Obree will turn up and VeloX will sort out what went wrong. Larry Lem is going to build a carbon tandem. Maybe Cygnus will have a really fast rider and Aure will be better prepared.

I hope I will be inspired to get on with my projects, but going back to work today was a bit of a jolt.

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