Speed101.comOctober 2, 2003. Matt Weaver
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The Human Rocket Launch - Profile of Getting Up to Full Speed On Pure Muscle
October 2, 2003 - Just been deluged with website hits - endeavoring to offer a much better site soon! Averaged 201 unique visitors/day last month - just hit by over 6000 visitors this morning thanks to TechTV.com and ABCNews.com. I'm not used to this for such a fledgling site! Keep posted - lots to come!
This is an initial no-frills website intended to explore concepts of speed. Speed is a measure of movement - a basic attribute of life. Without it, nothing happens. Speed is part of every facet of our lives. Speed101 will explore principles underlying speed manifest in sports and racing and technology. It will also cover speed records and performance advances, and finally more subtle human and social implications of speed.
Speed101 will also get you moving on a little-known primal challenge of the human mind and body - with the latest news and insights on arguably the most efficient land vehicles on earth – speedbikes. Speedbikes are like the winged shoes of Mercury when strapped to the feet of elite athletes. Bodies are melded with technology and art - the laws of physics are the rulebook. No-nonsense pure-muscle human speeds are projected to someday exceed 100-MPH - beyond what most ever dare careen down the highway in an automobile. Speedbiking is an emerging sport, and the challenge it represents embodies many valuable principles. In the last two years, dramatic performances involving some of the top athletes in the world have resulted in 70-MPH (Oct 2000), and then 80-MPH (Oct 2001) being officially surpassed by a human being under his own power. Racing continues to escalate for 2002 and beyond.
Contact: Matt Weaver, email: edge "at" speed101.com
(legacy "mega page" below. explore navigation bar - "news" "links" "essays" ... at top of page)
World Human Powered
October 1-6, 2001. Event and Sponsor Information.
This resurgence in elite speedbike activity is notable. Two of the world’s most distinguished track sprint cyclists have stepped forward with their awesome capabilities. They want to see what they can do. They sense the pure challenge. They know form follows function. They’re confident enough in their capabilities to be unashamed and unconcerned as to where their butt is relative to their feet. They welcome whatever innovation best fits. Just like mountain climbers use oxygen and unique tools to top Everest. Just like I use a mountain bike for riding in the coastal mountains overlooking the Monterey Bay. I don’t use a speedbike there. The recent statements I hear are much like the dialog I recall while sitting in a park in 1991 shortly after winning my last International Speed Championship criterium in the Cutting Edge. There, a unique group of three former Olympians (Paul Swift, Fred Markham, Bobby Livingston) were busy musing about who could really go the fastest. They all wanted to take a take a lap in a bike like the Cutting Edge.
Here are a few recent statements: Jason Queally, "I’ve done lots of television and radio…. I’ve been to see the Queen a couple of times…. My motivation for this attempt on the land-speed record is really the prestige of being the fastest man on earth" And the designer of the Blueyonder Challenge and the Hotta Bike Queally rode to Gold in Sydney 2000, Chris Field, "… it is more than just sitting in a projectile. This will not be assisted by an engine. It won’t be assisted by gravity. This record is the pure land-speed record."
The Eta Edge Project has been delayed and is currently pending further sponsorship or advertiser relations to enable its completion and demonstration.
For the "World’s Fastest Bicycle Challenge 2000," in place of the uncompleted Eta Edge, the 1992 "Kyle Edge" was raced. It is an early "laminar flow body" design by Matt Weaver, run for it’s first time. It officially reached 69.46-MPH with Matt Weaver pedaling, surpassing the 1992 world record for top-speed in a bicycle powered only by muscle. That performance was eclipsed at the same event by an outstanding new world record of 72.74-MPH, set by the Canadian Varna cycling team. On it’s first high-speed run ever, and while mid-course, the Kyle Edge accelerated to a shocking speed of 85-MPH. Recorded on video on a later run it also covered 3 miles at nearly 70-MPH – not just a 200-meter sprint – an exciting feat considering previously no bike has ever covered even 1 mile at 60-MPH by muscle-power alone. Only three unencumbered runs were performed, and synchronizing top-speed with the timing trap proved elusive with no prior practice. Regardless, even on such a rough and early design, all indications are that extensive laminar flow is being achieved and phenomenal new levels of performance are indeed possible. For a summary of the event, see Matt Weaver’s Personal Summary of the World’s Fastest Bicycle Challenge 2000.
Efforts to obtain time on a super-speedway for an hour-record attempt with the Kyle Edge are now underway, and any assistance is welcome.
Special thanks to:
The purpose of this document is to set forth the potentialities of the Eta Edge Project for the evaluation of others who may find their association with it beneficial or simply desire to enable such things. The means to achieve this project are meager by many standards, and the opportunity unique and significant. Nevertheless, the time requirements are considerable, and it not sensible to pursue such a project alone. Contained are somewhat "bold" statements that may be perceived as "hype" considering the abundance of it routinely encountered in our everyday lives. I am far more inclined to simply do something and then explain after it is done, as I have previously done, than to prepare and present any "forward-looking" statements, but I felt it appropriate to venture so at this time. I hope you enjoy learning of the nature of this exciting project, and remain open to how things can and often do advance more than we may first imagine.
Specific Objectives With Advertisers/Sponsors
In exchange for either advertising space on the Eta bodywork, or web-site links and informative web-pages from www.speed101.com, the following is desired: machine shop time for CNC milling and turning of Eta parts and molds; CAM Software use for CNC tool-path generation; specific composite fabrics and resins for body construction; PU paints; select racing bicycle components; and other race-related items such as van/minivan rental for vehicle transport; or cash for achieving the same. If there are persons of means that simply like to help enable the realization of these things, their involvement is certainly welcome.
(note: see "update" sections)
References to Film Producer, Bo Boudart
Newsclippings on the Edge:
I've recently returned from an exciting streamlined bicycle race held last week - the "World's Fastest Bicycle Competition 2000" in Nevada. It was quite an event, and lived up to its title! Some of the most impressive sprint performances in many years were achieved. It was my first real competition since early college days in 1990/91 racing the "Cutting Edge." Some of you have been wondering how things went, so I'm writing a summary here. There is much to write, so I will cover primarily specifics of my personal experience. The focus of the event was top-speed, specifically the flying-start 200-meter sprint.
· Both the men's and the women's world sprint record over the 200-meters were definitively broken by George Georgiev's Canadian Varna Team - a new men's world sprint record of 72.74-MPH by Sam Whittingham, and women's sprint record of 54.04-MPH by Andrea Blaseckie.
· I also broke the men's world sprint record, cracking 69.46-MPH, with my never-before raced 1992 "Kyle Edge." I ran the fastest first-run on the course at 68.32-MPH, just 0.41-MPH shy of the world record. I did not race my newer 1995 "Virtual Edge" or my unfinished 2000 bike. I'll detail why later.
· The classic "Mile a Minute" or 60-MPH mile on a bicycle, was unofficially broken by multiple teams! Unlike when "Mile a Minute Murphy" did it on a bicycle behind a train in 1899, or the first automobile in 1903 (Ford Model 999 racecar), we were punching through a mile of air in under a minute by muscle alone!
· Unofficially near 70-mph for over 3 miles - all on videotape (right from the cockpit display of the "Kyle Edge" - quite a view!)
· Unofficially, I reached an unexpected off-the-chart top speed exceeding 85-MPH mid-course on my first ride ever in the "Kyle Edge." I'm now very confident laminar flow on a ground vehicle is real! For me at least, another step achieved! (not to detract from the fantastic new records in any way!) It's another story to time higher sprint speeds at the trap! Hats off to the refined performance executed by Sam Whittingham of the Varna Team!
· Both myself and Sean Costin publicly demonstrated (what faith he has to venture on my statements!) that video bikes (no windshield, just a camera and a flat screen) really work at speed. (That's two wheels, not three, careening down the road and balancing on the edge by mere video at 70-MPH speeds, moments from crashing yet not! New territory!)
· All bikes present were "low racer" designs (hands touching ground, front wheel between legs, direct steering, heels and butt well below hub height.)
· Rather adverse weather emerged, but still exceptional runs were performed, some even at sub-freezing temperatures.
· All sprints on an exceptionally long IHPVA-legal course at much lower altitude (over 3000 feet lower with approximately 14% denser air) than the Cheetah and Gold Rush sprint sites. Also, virtually dead flat at the finish and flatter in the critical final one and two miles than previous record courses. Technically, it is a slower course than the previous sprint courses. But, the course represents an excellent benchmark course with the distance capacity necessary for future higher-speed records.
The event was quite an occasion. Phenomenal speeds were obtained. The long-standing women's 200-meter sprint record fell, and the men's 200-meter sprint world record was broken twice over. The former men's record was held by the "Hysol Cheetah" at 68.73-MPH in September 1992 (see Popular Science, Oct 1993 cover story), and the "Gold Rush" at 65.48-MPH in May 1986, the DuPont Prize winner on permanent display in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C. Rachel Hall held the former women's record of 51.84-MPH, set in 1985 with Don Witte's "Allegro."
Timing was set up only for the 200-meters; however, record speeds for the 500-meter, Kilo, Mile, 4 Kilo and others were unofficially broken and are clearly evident on video footage of the race.
The multiple-record-holding Canadian "Varna" Team (designer builder George Georgiev, and elite Canadian track sprinter Sam Whittingham) set the new men's world sprint record of 72.74-MPH. Andrea Blaseckie of Canada, also powering a Georgiev Varna bike, set the new women's sprint record of 54.04-MPH. On my second "trouble-free" run, I also cracked the former men's world record with 69.46-MPH in my 1992 "Kyle Edge" - a bike I designed and built but never raced until now. I did not race my newer 1995 "Virtual Edge" or my newest bike yet uncompleted, but originally intended for this event. The event did indeed live up to its title. Until now no other vehicle except the Cheetah has ever claimed to surpass the 65.48-MPH mark set by the Gold Rush in 1986. At this event, all the sprints were formally "backed-up" by similarly fast runs. Sean Costin, the unstreamlined 200-meter sprint champion at the 1999 European Championships, was third place in the men's, reaching 62.83-MPH in his "Coslinger Special" designed by Charlie Ollinger and Sean Costin and built by Thom Ollinger and Richard Myers. Paul Buttemer finished fourth in the men's, but was allotted only a few sprint runs.
There were many witnesses present, and camaraderie was very high. I cannot express enough how wonderful everyone was - even in the midst of the stress and risk associated with such high-speed racing. Each and every racer, team member, observer, and the many locals involved - treated each other with tremendous respect. All of this with the uncertainty faced with the inclement weather that persisted most of the week. Many challenges were overcome by all involved, from technical issues with the vehicles, to safely shutting down the 5.4-mile stretch of highway and its eight crossroads during the sprints. Remarkably, on almost every day the weather calmed just minutes before the scheduled race time, and no crashes or major failures occurred.
Tremendous effort and expense preceded the event. Countless hours in training and vehicle design and preparation by each team. Preparation and practice by the selfless official observer crew of Paul Gracie, Slim Holeman, Dexter Bacon, Jeffrey James Caswell, and Bill Gaines. The video documentary work of Bo Boudart. Countless hours of contacts and arrangements and thousands of dollars in expense by Sean Costin Nearly a month of effort and thousands in specialized equipment necessary for the 2000-mile road survey that located the site by Matt Weaver. Weeks and thousands in testing and refinement on the Montreal test track by the Varna team in the summers of 1998 and 1999 to refine their bikes and sprint timing to enable such record performances. The cooperation and time put forth by the people of Battle Mountain, Nevada, especially Michelle Hammersmark and Doug Mills and many local high school seniors. And, finally the efforts of the many crew members and volunteers that made each team's performance possible - Charlie and Thom Ollinger, Richard Myers, Neil Carson, Gardner Martin to name a few. Special thanks to them all! I also want to express my thanks to my father, John Weaver, who has long stood by and believed in me, and my mother, Janet, who does likewise in spite of how much she doesn't care for such high-speed two-wheeled pursuits.
It was a pleasure to see the former record fall so promptly, considering the words aired nationwide in 1992 on a CNN News television special shortly after the Cheetah 68.73-MPH run stating, "You put all that technology and a world-class cyclist together and the envelope of speed for mankind has come to a close; its/we've reached the limit." The CNN commentator concluded with the quip, "records were made to be broken." Indeed they are, and guess what? The "envelope" is open! The award for "Fastest Man" goes to Canadian Sam Whittingham on George Georgiev's Varna Mephisto!
Years ago, I predicted some very high speeds and efficiencies were possible - Speeds near 75-MPH for a bike like the Cutting Edge, and possibly substantially higher with an "extensively laminar" body. But, there's no place to run such a thing. Finding a suitable speedway (1.5 mile banked oval or greater) that would let a bike run on it for less than $10,000/day was not easy. A sprint site long enough for the higher potential speeds and comparable to past sprint sites did not exist. I decided to locate one. Ultimately it took an automobile loaded up with a computer and lots of fancy instrumentation and custom software and electronics and driving down the road and precisely surveying the road "at speed." It was a fascinating project. Software designed to analyze the megabytes of data yielded a few good locations after 2000-miles of driving in October 1994.
I had the data, but it sat in my computer. Sean Costin heard of it, and offered to organize an event with the location I found. The top sprint teams would run on it. He made it happen, and interestingly enough, the first day Sean ended up scheduling, Oct 9, was the same exact day that I surveyed the course. To add to the "timing," it turns out our evening sprint run was within minutes of the precise time of day I drove through and surveyed the course in 1994. That's when Sam broke the world record, and I did my first run and unofficially hit 85-MPH and officially reached 0.41-MPH shy of the world record. A memorable moment in time!
Most of you may have heard of the 1995 "Virtual Edge" that was pulled out of storage and had some public exposure in the Fall of 1999, and probably the "Cutting Edge" that I last raced in 1990 and 1991, which upset the Gold Rush. Surprise, I have more bikes! In 1992 I built the "Kyle Edge" for the 1992 International Speed Championships put on by Chester Kyle, who was behind the 1984 and 1996 US Olympic track bike projects. Unfortunately, the "Kyle Edge" was not quite complete and I was so exhausted I was doing well to just observe the event. Chet was disappointed and never knew what I had produced. He would have been happy to see me in the Cutting Edge and I would have surely done well. Chet was my early inspiration for racing and designing these bikes, and I was hoping to present a new bike for his event. I managed instead to ride briefly with Kingcycle rider Englishman Pat Kinch, the world hour record holder at the time. We were feeling strong but prematurely broke the driveshaft in a sprint on Tom Traylor's beautiful tandem boat.
For the "World's Fastest Bicycle Competition," I was rapidly preparing a new "2000" bike, but machining delays precluded completion in time for the race. With a mere week to go, instead of repairing the "Virtual Edge," I made the decision to pull out the never-ridden "Kyle Edge." Never painted, boy was it rusty and dirty. Living near the ocean doesn't help. The "Kyle Edge" was my first attempt at an extensively "laminar boundary layer" body. It has many fascinating attributes, but was quickly superceded by my design efforts with the "Virtual Edge." It has some flaws, but I suspected it might go as fast as I would care to. It possesses better crash protection - an "over the head" steel frame, extensive 1-inch thick carbon-nomex honeycomb roll-cage members and other attributes.
Six days and counting, I retrieved and began fixing up the rusty Kyle Edge. My father and I vacuum-bagged a new body skin from the molds due to storage and other damage to the previous body. Things got down to the wire in preparation, and Gardner Martin of Easy Racers and his brother and nephew paid a visit and really saved the day. I cannot say enough how grateful I am for Gardner's insight and generosity in dropping what he was doing and spending hours with me and my father the last couple of days scrambling to ready the bike. It's a real assurance to just have another stop for a moment and assist in your efforts at such times. He even anticipated the weather and offered the use of his van over my dad's truck. I also cannot thank my father enough either for working with me through this entire process. Lots of stress and work. Also special thanks to my brother John Weaver for his work, and friends Aric Stewart, Clifford Krebs, and John Bigbee and others many years ago for their time and effort in building the "Kyle Edge." One interesting side-note - the sprockets and other parts I designed for the Kyle Edge - were machined on the same exact CNC mill as the first "Rock Shox" suspension forks were made!
Monday Morning, Oct 9, 2000 -
Unable to get to the start zone due to road block, ended up assisting by "catching" the Varna and Coslinger racers in the shut-down zone.
I suited up and climbed inside and was closed up in the "Kyle Edge" for the very first time with the new body and using video. It was my first time fully enclosed in the bike since 1993, where I had one brief ride in it fully-faired. It was the first time for me to ever to do a "real" top-speed sprint attempt in my life! First time to ride the bike at all with the new body skins only days old. I fired up the video and radio link and also used a "jet fighter" like breathing apparatus (piped to external air) for the first time. Lots of new stuff to assimilate real quick. I took off at the starter's cue and began progressively spinning out each gear. Oh how intense it was to actually be doing a sprint!
Adrenaline was high, and I was clearly pedaling far too hard too early, but I'm glad I did. As I spun out a gear, I shifted to the next. Things got progressively intense as the vibrations and sound rose to say the least! I intended to perform some "handling" drills where I laterally shifted the bike in a controlled manner as my speed rose, but I got preoccupied pedaling and just hanging on as the bike sped up. Time seemed to flash by, and spinning out again, I went to shift into the next gear - but it would not go. I double-checked, and I was in the highest gear and spinning out! I verified it was indeed about 110-RPM. I realized then this was well in excess of 80-MPH (and later calculations and pursuit-car witness indicated I was doing about 85-MPH). The bike was getting buffeted about intermittently to boot. No surprise I guess. But absolutely terrifying, to say the least!
My head was in a rush for a moment realizing what was happening - a bit like the day I beat the "unbeatable" Gold Rush in my first race in Portland in 1990! I knew the potential was there, but it is another thing to be experiencing new speeds as they unfold. To think I was in such rarified territory going as fast as I was on a bicycle powered by muscle alone, and I didn't even know until I was already there! Wow! It was all sort of surreal in the little cockpit humming along and watching a flat video screen as things race by and knowing my body is just inches off the ground - flying as low as it can go!
I checked my radio contact again, and still no connection (we later found the carbon-fiber body attenuated the signal too much). I pedaled a while longer, but I was getting intermittently buffeted around beyond my comfort level to say the least, and furthermore I had agreed to reduce speed in the event of radio contact failure as they are my "eyes" for any stray car or other hazard in the distance. I was also concerned about the timing trap zone, which had been set further down-course than planned - literally a bridge crossing over a dry river through the 200-meter trap. I was not yet comfortable with the steel rails of the bridge, or worse yet if I veered off the road near the bridge I might do an "Evel Knievel" across the dry river canyon and be seriously injured. For the next two miles, I remained in top gear, but spun lightly and then coasted until I neared the finish. My speed slowly ramped down from 80, 75, 70 and eventually near 65-MPH at the trap. I pedaled briefly just before the traps, and coasted again as I went through the 200-meter trap.
Turns out for my first "real" sprint attempt ever, on the evening of October 9, and riding the 1992 Kyle Edge, I officially went through the 200-meter trap in legal winds at 6.55 seconds or 68.32-MPH. It was the fastest first-run on the course and a mere 0.41-MPH shy of the world sprint record of 68.73-MPH, and well above the DuPont Prize record. Quite a first run! I was a little annoyed knowing I could have hit the pedals a few times and easily cracked the world record! But, at the same time I was elated for what happened mid-course - the phenomenal speed was enough to strongly indicate even my never-raced 1992 "Kyle Edge" was in fact extensively laminar, and my long-standing inquiry in a true extensively-laminar body ground vehicle was validated for me right then!
I was excited! I was excited to do a "real" sprint. I was excited to learn that Sam and Andrea had both just cracked the men’s and women’s long-standing world-record top-speeds! I was excited to be a part of an event that was then surely "fruitful" and that more good things might come.
After the run, I carefully examined the bridge zone for safety considerations after the run, and found it acceptable for higher speeds. I was quite enthusiastic looking forward to additional runs! I also checked the course survey for any slope variations that might otherwise explain the tremendous speed. The slope is slightly greater at about 3 miles, at about 0.77% for a limited run, but that is far insufficient to account for some "speed bubble" due to a possible "dip" in the course. It was interesting to meet several persons that approached me after my sprint who were mid-course and were quite enthusiastic in expressing how fast I appeared to blast by them. They were eager to know just how fast I went!
Unfortunately, bad weather arrived later that night and was not to leave soon. The temperature dropped, and it started raining and snowing. The storm system persisted the entire week, letting up only late Friday. Even so, the weather was remarkably cooperative just at the times of day the sprints were scheduled. We were able to get quite a few runs in considering how adverse the conditions otherwise were.
For me, however, after the first run I had serious technical problems - primarily with the rear wheel "grinding" against the bodywork intensely. Fortunately I did not have any blowouts, but the source of the problem was not easy to pinpoint and not fun to deal with while racing down the road. Corrections were made, only to reveal additional details in the nature of the flaw when it emerged again on the subsequent runs. In a nutshell, we ultimately found that the rubber isolation mounts that the bodywork rested on were partially decayed (8 years in storage!) and were loosening with additional riding, resulting in a "loose" body on the frame that shifted due to pedaling and aerodynamic forces. One other flaw was found in the frame. The solution for the time being involved lots of additional bracing, including even wire to triangulate the structures in a manner sufficient so that I might get at least one additional "good" run.
Tuesday AM - Rain.
Tuesday PM - Run #2. High winds. Ran bike easy, rear wheel grinding. Coasted through traps. Adjusted fairing alignment after run. Repaired front wheel disk cover again. After every sprint, melt-down occurred on front disk periphery near braking surfaces, requiring routine disk repair after each run.
Wednesday AM - Rain.
Wednesday PM - Run #3. Intense rear-wheel grinding every pedal stroke. Rubber smoke filling inside of bike. Fortunately running tire with rather thick black rubber walls.
Thursday AM - Unable to make run - discovery of failing isolation mounts, up all night attempting to repair but not ready by 6AM departure to race site. Watched sprints and assisted official observers. Resumed repair work throughout day.
Thursday PM - high winds. Ready to go, bike sealed up the most perfect yet. Opted to not run since not safe or legal because of high winds (no runs that night had legal winds). I hesitate to mention this, but I also had to go to the... in a very bad way. It was a combination of cold weather, sitting in the cockpit a very long time, stress, and maybe too much liquid before the sprint. Had the weather been better, I was ready and willing to... and race anyway. Glad in a way that I didn't have to go there.
Friday AM - Run #4. Run starts good, no pedal-induced rear wheel rubbing. Looks like we finally might get a fast run! Sorry, not yet. At about 55-MPH, pedaling-independent grinding emerged and increased in intensity as speed increased and would not stop. Rubber smoke in cabin again. Tire holds up through duration of course to shut down zone. Exasperated, frantic repair work on frame and mounts persists for 6 hours before evening run. Down to the "wire" again, quite literally, I use wire in creative ways to mend the bike sufficient to race. Hopes high that repairs will be sufficient this time.
Friday PM - Run #5. Finally no rear wheel grinding! Looks like I'll finally get my second good run in! Reached 70-MPH about 2.5 miles from timing trap, and ease off to focus power near finish. Finish approaches, and realize speed dropped too much and remaining distance short. Shift down one gear and pedal all the way through the timing trap for the first time at nearly 110-RPM and accelerating. Poor timing, too late, but it is officially 69.46-MPH, breaking the 68.73-MPH world sprint record and not bad for my second run free of technical problems! In addition, my on-board video (what I see in the cockpit as I race down the road) was recorded onto tape as I drove with an on-board recorder! Quite a ride!
Saturday AM - Run #6. Last run I'll get. Cold conditions (Sub-freezing, with slight headwind), but I'm excited and shooting for a 75-MPH run. Some complications in the morning - bike fell over and video airfoil mount caught table corner and smashed into pieces. Barely managed to repair video, but determined to get run in. Start easy and experimented with faster cadence while sub-60-MPH. Accelerate to 70-MPH about 3 miles from trap, realize it is a little early in sprint but decide to maintain speed an maybe go for 80-MPH. Mistake. Find myself tiring prematurely and end up merely maintaining a 70-MPH pace for final 3-miles and ease through traps at 68-MPH.
Based on Run #6, in hindsight, it appears warm-up is undoubtedly critical. I had no warm-up. Without a warm-up, it is likely that the otherwise "aerobic" portion of the acceleration is in fact substantially anaerobic or lactic-acid producing. The mitochondria simply haven't been given their wake-up call, and the inherit latency as they "get out of bed" is no good once you are already in a sprint run in progress. The result is a blunted sprint effort with acidosis setting in when it otherwise should not, and well before the final burst. Where a racer would normally be totally fresh and ready to explode for the final phase, he/she is instead already "spent" just pedaling at a normally-aerobic pace during the long 5.4 miles that are traversed during acceleration phase prior to the 200-meter trap. The Canadian Varna riders meticulously performed their warm-ups every time. That must be a critical aspect of this event. I suspect it made the difference in my last run - a nice long impressive 70-MPH drag (wish they had 2Kilo, 1 Mile, and 1 Kilo time traps up!), but utterly no peaking available. It may also explain in part why I did better mid-course with an immediate burst on my first run which effectively avoided the "tiring" long run-up. Non-trivial momentum games to blast down a road at these speeds!
I was rather disappointed in myself the next day or so for not managing to "uncork one" (as Sean Costin put it) - a fast sprint that seemed so imminent. Hats off to the precision execution and years of experience of the Varna Team! No small feat to execute a world-record setting sprint run. Yet, I was very happy to make it there, to race, to accomplish what I did both officially and unofficially, and to not crash or have any major vehicular failure at such terrifying speeds. The camaraderie was high and I have great respect for everyone there and involved. There's often a little trepidation in anticipation how such events will unfold. I was pleasantly surprised.
It was a remarkable experience to be rocketing down the road like I was! What an unforgettable ride! What a rush, and not for a brief moment either! It was something I found required a fair amount of "level-headed" mental talk. Otherwise, the body just wants to stay away from such a terrifying experience. Add the winds, the mechanical problems and fear of tire blowout, the physical exertion, the claustrophobia, concern over course safety, driving solely by video on two wheels at such speeds, sleep deprivation from repair efforts and so on. It's a real head-spinner! Glad to find I can hack it.
Jeffrey James Caswell had the insight to tap in a video recorder to the system and capture my last two runs on videotape. I was too busy with other matters to worry about hooking up such a system. I'm glad he considered it, now I sure wish we had the first run recorded too! But, most of all, I know now what I have wondered and hoped for many years - since 1991 or so when I planned the "Kyle Edge" - that extensive laminar boundary layers on ground vehicles are possible, and the implications of that are significant! My racing efforts are spread a bit thin right now, but as time permits I will continue with the Kyle Edge, the Virtual Edge, and beyond. There are surely lots of exciting things to come!
One note regarding the Varna Team and George Georgiev: Back in 1988, I was building the Cutting Edge in hopes of racing it that year, but it was not yet complete. That year I watched my first IHPSC held conveniently in Visalia, California. There I discovered the works of George Georgiev. Funny thing, both my father and I excitedly returned and reported to each other only to find ourselves expounding about the work of the same fascinating guy - Georgiev. We talked about him nearly the entire trip home. It was not until 1990 that I would see him again, where he had powerhouse U.S. Olympic Sprinter Bobby Livingston riding for him. I watched Georgiev closely every chance I got, and to my surprise, before the awards ceremony at the hotel he took me aside and shared many kind and encouraging words with me. I couldn't ask for anything much better than that. I recall him expressing, "Matt, my friend, I've seen the future…!" How exciting those words were! I saw the future right then too. I realized then that of anyone, it would be him to create a fast bike like the Cutting Edge in his own fascinating way. I eagerly awaited his creations. Sure enough the two-wheeled Varna's emerged, and I enjoyed observing the many achievements of George Georgiev with Sam Whittingham and Paul Buttemer. George Georgiev has long been one of my heroes, and it hurts a great deal to sense what he must be going through now with his stroke. He's an amazing person and I would not be surprised to see him overcome his current condition in equally impressive ways. I must admit, I'm very glad he's captured the world record sprint at this time. It has been a 20-year quest for him, and he has done it well.
I hope you enjoyed all the many words it took to express a bit of this experience. I hope you were able to get a little taste of what an event it was! I've asked my father to share of his experiences at the event too as he was able to closely observe all that happened. Thanks again to Sean Costin who really was at the root of making the event actually come to fruition. And, to my father, who has been with me all along, and had the pleasure of witnessing the Kyle Edge go like it can first-hand.
My father revised his UFO report for submission to the CIA. I finally received clearance to publically forward it. Well, not quite, but I am forwarding it along to all who received his initial one attached to my summary of the recent speed trials. You may shred the old report.
(Witness story of Kyle-Edge 85-MPH Run)
October 23, 2000
In order to believe a UFO sighting one needs to understand the conditions that lead to the illusion. Let me fill your head with some facts before I share with you my experience.
An increased incidence of UFO sightings occurred shortly after the International Human Powered Vehicle Association was formed in 1974. Was there a connection between the rapid increase in speed of human powered vehicles fostered by the association and the UFOs? Was there extraterrestrial interest? By 1986, Gardner Martin's streamlined bicycle had gone 65mph in a remote location near Mono Lake and seemed unbeatable.
In spite of an almost endless variety of alien-looking IHPVA machines, the short wheelbase "low racer" configuration, now dominant in IHPVA racing, was still unrecognized. The configuration occurred to my son Matt. We tried it and it worked. We demonstrated the significance of the very low short wheelbase design with a bike called the Cutting Edge (CE) in 1989.
The CE seemed to be both the most efficient and most impractical of bikes. This was evident to those present at the 1990 IHPVA meet at Portland International Raceway. What else could in 20 miles put ½ mile on the previously undefeated Fast Freddy in the Gold Rush? What else could put over 2 miles on the rest of the field of efficient bikes from numerous universities and Europe? What else could hit 56 mph on the short straight and average 45 mph for the last few laps of the twisting 2mile road course? What else could take me an hour to get the streamlined cover on?
Most builders in Europe skipped the cover and just enjoyed the rider configuration and rapidly hundreds of low racers emerged. Most current low racer riders have never heard this trivia. Thus, if by chance you witness an American accidentally run into a low racer while traveling in Europe, it might not be comforting to the rider to inform him that his ill fated bike also had its origins with the driving of an American.
The consensus of HPV experts is that a human 75mph sprint may be possible in the distant future. Matt has other ideas. There is a phenomenon called "laminar flow" that if understood and applied can blow these predictions away. The 1992 Kyle Edge (KE) was our first attempt at this. To improve safety at hoped for speeds it has a thick carbon honeycomb and steel roll cage and hip protectors. It was built for Chet Kyle's 1992 IHPVA championship but we burned ourselves out trying to make the perfect windshield required for laminar flow. To eliminate this daunting task we took on the daunting task of balancing a bike solely by video.
In 1995 Matt created a highly laminar flow bike estimated to have one-third the drag of the best streamliners. Its speed potential was scary, thus the Virtual Edge (VE) was designed for hour and longer records. Our high hopes for this bike were dashed when poor frame workmanship made the well-designed VE handle poorly at speed.
Sean Costin organized "The Words Fastest Bike Race 2000" to be held in October on a course discovered by Matt. The course is 5.4 miles long, smooth, safe and meets the rules of the IHPVA. This inspired Matt to build another bike. I wonder now if the bold name attracted distant visitors? Things went well until a schedule failure on milling parts developed. We were desperate. We had promised Sean to be at his race. Maybe the old KE would be fast enough.
With a week to go we pulled a new body from the 1992 molds. I told Gardner Martin about it. Gardner said we would never get it finished but we would have fun trying. Gardner is almost always right, but this time he proved himself wrong. He did it by showing up at our shop with his brother and nephew and working long hours grinding flanges, sanding, making suggestions and bringing us food. To top it off he insisted we use his "Easy Racers" van for our long trip. The next evening we were in the Nevada desert near the unusually supportive town of Battle Mountain. I admit I was under stress and sleep deprived, but I did have a surreal experience. It may sound like a fatigued F5 jet pilot's report of chasing a UFO.
The new black carbon shell of the KE was unfinished. We were using the original 17" front and 700c rear tire, and the running gear was in need of cleaning and oil, but we had made it to the race! I fumbled at the job of taping as I sealed my son in his completely impractical, unproven vehicle. We were given an exact launch time. The sun was setting in the quiet, scenic desert. Had I covered all the essentials? The radio works. Sealing the front wheel was the last step. We were ready. It was a go as I balanced the KE until Matt could balance using video alone. The KE was off on its maiden voyage into the unknown. Would we really get some laminar flow? Could Matt control it at speed by video? Could he handle wind gusts? Why are we doing this anyway???
I ran back to the Easy Racers near new V8 Van and floored the monster. Matt had already disappeared from view. In short order the van was going over 95mph and being held back by some jerky safety over-ride. The KE was still not in sight. I began to worry. I must have missed Matt, he is out visiting the sagebrush or worse! I better turn around and find him! Then I saw a black speck flickering in the distance and attempted to make radio contact. No luck. It was about 2 miles plus from the start when I caught up to within about 200 feet of it. There was this weird reflection on the small black ellipse ahead of me. It looked like a reflection of two metallic-like legs, pedaling in a dark oval window.
This object was going best I could tell about 85 mph. If it was Matt he must be in top gear (90 tooth chain ring and 9 tooth rear cog) and pedaling 110 rpm. I slowed a little and the black oval got smaller. Whatever it was, it was moving. I know what it's like to stick my hand out the window at 85 mph. Doubling the speed of an object through the air requires eight times the power.
I yelled out 85 on the radio, no response. Was it Matt? What ever it was, it was using up about 1/4 of the width of the road as it floated side to side. I kept giving the speed and distance over the radio. still no response. After 0.5 miles at 85 it slowed gradually to 75 for about 2 miles. About a mile out from the official traps, the pulsating reflection vanished and the black oval slowed down and went thru the traps at what I thought was 65 mph (officially 68.32). As I passed the object the elliptical form transformed into a sinister torpedo moving down the remote road. I stopped my car and waved the object down. It stopped before me and sat silently. I opened it up.
Inside there were no surprises. Just Matt, excited the bike could accelerate faster than he figured. I wish now I was more prepared and bought a video camera. I wish I had timed his 5.4mile run. Assuming those metallic legs were an illusion and not an extraterrestrial riding tandem, it was the fastest 5.4 miles a human ever traveled on his own power. If Matt had a legal onboard measuring device he would have blown away every human speed record from 200 meters to 5.4 miles WOW! My mind began to spin around the possibilities… That evening I told Gardner he would have to buy a faster van.
Ps. I know the speedometer on the van is accurate within one mile at 90 mph. The pleasant Nevada messenger of such facts also said Cameros like his lack speed control chips and the only guy to outrun one blew his engine. Next year I am going to ask a messenger if he will do the pursuit driving while I collect hard evidence.
John Weaver, MD
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