Circles in the desert; an hpv hour record attempt

June 26th to July 2nd 2006

Monday 26th June. . Tuesday 27th June. . Wednesday 28th June. . Thursday 29th June. . Friday 30th June. . Saturday 1st July. . Sunday 2nd July

Download a PDF of the LA Times magazine article on the event (2MB file)

Several years ago, the Dempsey-McCready prize was announced - a cool $25,000 dollars for the first single-rider human powered vehicle to cover 90km in one hour. So far no one has got close - Canadian Sam Whittingham is the current record holder, with 84.22km, set last year in Germany. This year it was decided to wrap the prize up - if no-one has achieved the 90km by 4th July, then prizes of $18,000, $12,000 and $6,000 will be awarded to the top three distances recorded. Since it is so hard to find suitable tracks to make these record attempts, an invitational event has been organised to give competitors a last chance to make their mark before the prizes are presented. The event will take place at the Nissan test track in Casa Grande, Arizona. We have use of the track from 5 to 10am for three mornings from Friday 30th June. There isn't a lot of information available about the track, but from the photo it appears to be about five miles round. Hopefully it is totally flat and a nice smooth surface!

As the current British flying 200m record holder, myself and Miles of Kingcycle received an invitation. Unfortunately Kingcycle doesn't currently have a suitable machine - Mango got wrecked in Germany two years ago, and although Miles has intentions of building a second one, a nasty accident last year severely shortened his available time and energy to do so in time for this event. But I was then approached by Dave Balfour, based in Illinois. Last year he acquired one of the earlier Varna bikes (designed by George Georgiev; Sam used the latest iteration, the Diablo, to set the current record), and put a lot of work into improving it. Lisa Vetterlein then rode it at the 200m event at Battle Mountain last year, and set a new women's world record of 66.585mph. So despite being an old bike, it clearly has potential. Dave has done more work to improve it since, and I will be providing the engine in Arizona. I'm arriving a few days beforehand, so we can get the fit sorted out and have some practice time. Obviously it isn't ideal not riding the bike until just before the event, but with the geography involved that is how it has to be. I believe it is the same bike I rode in Montreal in 2001 - so easy to control that I did a 4 mile lap with the top off riding no-handed! Now just to see what it will do in an hour.... I have been training on my Hachi in the UK, which has a similar position.

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More info:
Dave Balfour's site
Download a PDF of the LA Times magazine article on the event (2MB file)

Sunday 25th June.
A ten hour flight from London to Phoenix culminated in a very bumpy descent through a big dust storm. And said storm had caused other flights to be delayed, so I had to wait an additional hour and a half before Duncan got in from New York (he is currently living in Phoenix but had been working at Long Island for the week). So I was pretty tired by the time we had eventually got a cab back to his place and crashed out.

Monday 26th June
Tuesday 27th June
Wednesday 28th June
Thursday 29th June
Friday 30th June
Saturday 1st July
Sunday 2nd July