Monday, September 21, 2015

Battle Mountain Record Runs

Battle Mountain Record Runs
At this time of the year the International Human Powered Vehicle Association (IHPVA) holds the World Human Powered SpeedChampionships (WHPSC), an annual event that is taking place in Battle Mountain, Nevada.  The local conditions at this time of the year are perfect to attempt world records.  For one week, a five-mile (8km) section of state highway is closed to traffic twice a day in order for human powered land vehicles to attempt to beat world records.

In the Battle Mountain area, the organizers found a place where the relatively high altitude, provides less air resistance, the wind conditions at this time of the year are calm at sunrise and at sunset, there is a long straight stretch of road that is flat with the maximum allowed negative slope (-0.6%) and the Nevada Transportation Department repaved the highway a few years ago to provide a very smooth road surface.

They do not compete for money, for their efforts all they receive is a baseball cap that indicates the speed they exceeded in 5mph increment. The Nevada State Troopers also come distribute speeding tickets to those who manage to exceed 70mi/h.  The winner gets to ride in the back of the police car!

This is a crop year when it comes to world records where several were achieved in several categories including for velomobiles.

The biggest new is the how Canadian rider Todd Reichert in his Streamliner ETA set overall speed record 3 times in the same week.  In the process, he did not only break the record, he obliterated he record reaching 139.21km/h an increase of 5.43km/h.  The team produced a nice video of their second record run.

Two of the world records pertain to velomobiles.  First Ellen van Vugt broke the multit-ract record for women in Trisled Completely Overzealous velomobile twice finishing with a speed of 87.63 km/h.  16year-old Florian Kowalik also riding Completely Overzealous broke the multi-track record in the junior category twice during the week finishing the week with a speed of 93.22.  Florian’s little sisters also set WR in their age categories with the Micro-Moby pink Streamliner; this is quite the family!  You can check all the results here.
Completely Overzealous at Battle Mountain
I would really like to see production velomobiles participating in the next event so they can measure against the record speed setting streamliners and velomobiles. ICB, Raderwerk, Velomobiel, you want to prove that your design and riders are the best, here is a place for you to prove yourself.

I find that it is very unfortunate that mainstream and cycling media are completely ignoring these achievements. We need people who get the attention of media.

Mike Mowett who has been following cycling records made an excellent analysis of the cycling speed record.  He also designed a chart that shows the evolution and the difference between categories and sanctioning bodies.
Chart by Mike Mowett
Mike Mowett - Top Speed Plot Progression.
Eta is causing things to shoot upward. Since the bicycle was invented, its speed remained relatively stagnant until the IHPVA was founded and the IHPSC competitions from 1975 to 1980 raised the speed record 20 mph in only five years, culminating with the Vector Tandem's mark in 1980. This two-person three-wheeled vehicle, was thought to be the ultimate human powered vehicle, and it was for almost six years. Then during the next 20 years, the record progressed rather linearly with the Vector Tandem's mark set in 1980, the Gold Rush winning the Dupont Prize in 1986, the Cheetah team setting their record in 1992, and finally Sam Whittingham and Varna making the first runs at Battle Mountain in 2000. The following year, the competition between Sam and Matt Weaver raised the record suddenly from 72 mph to over 80 mph. Over the next 8 years Sam improved his record incrementally. Then Human Powered Team Delft and Sebastiaan Bowier raised the record incrementally again, after three years of efforts. And now Team AeroVelo and Todd Reichert have caused us to rethink what is possible with human powered speed with their runs in the past two days! The limit of human powered speed is certainly not closed!

Australian Pedal Prix

Last weekend was the annual 24hr Pedal Prix race  at Sturt Reserve, Murray Bridge.  The Aurora racing team won the race by 16 laps ahead of Team Trisled.  The covered 962km in the 21hr period and some 32km over the second team, averaging some 40km/h.  One interesting fact is the 226 entries for this race easily making this the largest velomobile race in the world.


  1. Thanks for the great post. Interesting that scarcely any recent media reports about AeroVelo's Todd Reichert and Cameron Robertson, and their amazing new HPV world record, make mention of Sam Whittingham. And none of them mention his partner in crime Georgi Georgiev, who designed the record setting Varna bikes. Nor do any of the recent accounts mention Whittingham's winning of the $25K deciMach prize in 2008, which stood unclaimed for decades. Lost to the mists of time?

  2. I think that someone like Mike Mowett should write a book on the history of cycling speed records (if anyone reads books anymore). Since there is little money involved, armies of publicists are not calling their friends in the press to post something and cycling companies who place ads in magazines are not involved they are not telling editors that they should write an article on these achievements... money speaks! Velomobile companies as an example do not place ads in traditional cycling media therefore they are ignored.

  3. I'm happy to report that the CBC finally has a story on team Aerovelo's record here: