June 22

June 22, 2006

A record attempt date is set for July 19th at Redwood Acres race track in Eureka CA, PR 4.5 hour century training ride and some thoughts about good HPV record tracks.

A date has been set, and the Redwood Acres race track in Eureka California has been booked For July 19th, 2006. Al and Alice Krause, and Rob Hitchcock will be the official HPVA observers and timers. My good friends Ben Eadie and John Mackay, my wife Helen and our two kids Cody and Krista will serve (suffer) as my crew.

The track is a 3/8 mile oval with slightly banked turns. It's fairly level and VERY smooth (a paving company owns it). Another advantage to that track is that lighting is available for night, the average day time temperatures in the middle of the summer are only about 20 degrees C, and I have access to plenty of HPV volunteers and officials.

The plan is for me, Ben, John and Cody to fly to Eureka on July 17th. Critical Power is there waiting, as I dropped it off during my test and tune trip to Eureka last month. We'll spend the 18th running some tests on the track and preparing Critical Power. Helen and Krista are arriving from Los Angeles on the 18th. If the weather is good for the 19th, then I'll make an attempt. If not, I have the track booked until July 24th in order to pick the perfect weather day.

I would like to set up a web cam to broadcast the edge-of-your-chair excitement, but there isn't wireless at the track. I'll ask John about that. Maybe he could figure something out.

If anyone lives in the area, and would like to help out in any way, please let me know.

This is a well-toasted Greg after a personal best 200 km speed training ride. I drove South out of Calgary to High River and started my ride there. It was a flat 100 km straight South to Fort McCleod, then back. My average speed was 36 kph (22.3 mph) and the fastest 162 km (100 miles was just less than 4.5 hours. I was very happy to see in the SRM data after the ride, that I managed to average an all-time high of 194 watts for the entire ride including some quick stops for water and food. And that, according to my trusty speed and watts spreadsheet, is a good 20 km OVER the current 6 hour HPV distance record. Of course, that assumes I put out an average of 194 watts over 6 hours in the Critical Power streamliner. Now I just need a track capable of going that speed without having to turn a corner every 10 seconds.

For comparison purposes, the current UMCA 100 mile road record is 4 hours, 11 minutes, 9 seconds. This record was set on a time-trial road bike, so I obviously have an aerodynamic advantage - however, it's not as big as you would think. My Cervelo P3 carbon time trial bike with a Zipp rear disc wheel, and a Zipp 404 deep rim front wheel did an average speed at Ironman Arizona of 35.81 kph on 192 watts of power. This is VERY close to what the M5's current speed is. The M5 used to be much faster, but I increased the seat angle to match what the streamliner is, and my frontal area was increased. I also need to note that my time does NOT include a few stops to re-water and stock. I did not have a support crew, so standing in line at the 7-11 isn't factored into my time.

It might be fun to speak to the UMCA about establishing a 100 mile road recumbent category. I should be able to get close to the current road record if I had a really decent ride - like a Velocraft NoCom!!

The ride out to Fort McCleod was fast and uneventful. I was averaging minimums of 40 kph due to a slight tail wind. The trip back had a couple of fairly hectic moments. I passed through two poltergeist thunder monsters. The first wasn't so bad - fierce headwinds for about 30 minutes, then a good and proper soaking with a bit of lighting thrown in for effect. The second was way worse. It was so dark I was looking for twisters. Seriously. Tornados have touched down in that area at an average of 1 or 2 per summer. I dealt with some pretty crazy headwinds, thunder and lighting, a bit of hail which really hurt, and a total down pour. I survived. I'll stop whining now.

The front wheel of my M5 has been wobbling around quite a bit. The other day it started to sort of grind. I put the word out that I needed a new M5 mono hub, and I just want to say thanks to all of the offers I got! What a great community! I purchase a spare hub from Jim Scozzafava and I'm just now in the process of trying to book a time to get it spoked into my rim. This is a real pain because I just can't afford to take time away from my training to get the wheel laced, and to deal with this whole problem. That's what you get for using specialized, non-standard equipment.

My big ride next week will be a 400 km epic journey from my house in Calgary to Jasper, Alberta. It should be a 16 hour + day with two monster mountain passes to go over. The Google Earth route is here if you are interested in seeing a fly-through of the mountain route.

I've been thinking a lot lately about what would make the 'perfect' ultra distance track for an HPV record. I am committed to my record attempt starting on the 19th of July at Eureka, California at the Redwood acres track, but I can't help but wonder what the most ideal track would be to set the ultimate distance record. Sometimes, to really innovate, you need to really push those thoughts a-way out of the box, and I have a few pretty far-out ideas:

1. Ice. What is as smooth as glass for supreme rolling resistance, and as flat as a still lake? A frozen still lake! There is an ice-skating 24 hour ultra marathon here in Alberta every winter on frozen Sylvan lake. The 10 km loop is the largest ice skating track in the world. 10 km is a PERFECT ultra distance HPV track length, and you can't get flatter than a frozen lake. Also ice is very smooth and could offer the lowest resistance to rolling of any surface next to glass. Another possible benefit is the heat venting that the cold winter weather would offer. No need for CdA sucking NACA vents. One small problem with ice: traction. You can't really ride a bike on it without knobby studded tires. And that would wreck the rolling resistance.

2. Bonneville salt flats. I spoke to the salt flat racing experts at http://www.saltflats.com/. They manage use of the salt flats for racing. Their race course is about 10 km long - perfect for an HPV distance record attempt if there were some small loops at both ends so the rider could go back and fourth on the same 10 km straight. I wanted to get a better idea of exactly what the salt surface was like. They say it can be as hard and smooth as decent pavement. However, the key words there are "CAN BE". The salt changes conditions throughout the day AND along the course. I guess it's pretty difficult to rely on consistent salt conditions. Another problem is temperatures over 100 degrees in the summer, and other times of the year, the salt is more humid because of rain. Not good.

3. An indoor velodrome. I am been afraid of a velodrome due to what I figured would be a huge disadvantage of weight that you would gain as you rounded the steeply banked corners doing over 50 kph. That weight increase caused by the centrifugal force would be enough to destroy your rolling efficiency and suck speed away as you put more energy into accelerating after each corner. I decided that this all needed some serious looking into. So, I contacted Tim Compton, the brains behind Analytic Cycling.com. He has a computer simulation which can model all of the effects of a bike on the given dimensions of a velodrome track. He calculated that at 50 kph, and all other factors being equal including power input, there would be a 1.5 kph average speed INCREASE on the velodrome track due to the smooth wood surface. This includes the 1.4 g weight increase. No bad.

So, to test it all out, I contacted Gord Ross from one of North America's THREE indoor velodromes in Burnaby, BC. He didn't think that getting a streamliner up and running on their 200 meter velodrome was going to work. 200 meters is VERY small, and the corners are banked at 47 degrees. 47 degrees! I was prepared to do the 10 hour drive out there just to test drive the track with the CP streetliner, but I don't think it's going to happen.

The current 24 hour HPV distance record was set on an indoor velodrome in Colgne, Germany, but it was 250 meters - a HUGE difference. There is a 250 meter brand new indoor velodrome in Carson City, California. The obvious advantage to an indoor velodrome is WEATHER control. Not that you can control the weather from inside the velodrome, but that the building keeps the weather (read: WIND) OUT! I contacted the Home Depot Center Velodrome and inquired about it's use. They are open to the idea.

So I really wanted to know what it 'felt' like to ride around a velodrome's banked corners in a streamliner. Not many people have that experience. So I contacted Christian Asheberg - the guy who attempted the 24 HPV distance record in February on a 250 meter indoor velodrome in Berlin. He suggested against it. He says that the minimum speed is about 40 kph'ish and you can't ever slow down to rest, eat, drink, pee or do whatever. You always have to be 'on' and cruising. He also did not like the monotony of the endless small circles and the fact that he could not escape watching eyes of everyone in the room.

4. A good section of highway. I really believe that this could be a very good venue for the optimum HPV distance record. Find a flat, smooth, long, straight section of highway with light traffic and a wide shoulder. I think something like 50 to 100 km would be ideal. I know that seems really long, but if the HPV is 'robust' enough - like you can self start, self stop, and self enter and exit, then I think it is possible that you could be on your own for portions of your journey. When you reach the end of the straight your pit crew is there and you take a planned break, turn around and go back the other way. As the clock nears 24 hours, the long straight section can be shortened so that when you complete the 24 hours, your 'out and back' sections are all the same length.

The biggest advantage of a road course is the very long and straight sections - no speed bleeding turns. Also less mental monotony of going around in circles. A disadvantage is that you would need lights at night, and your crew could possibly be a long way away if you had a problem. Also there is the danger of the traffic driving by you at highway speeds. Another disadvantage is that you would be at the mercy of mother nature - wind, rain, bears. However, this would be against HPV rules. They state specifically that the event must take place on a closed course. I asked Bill Gaines from the HPVA record committee and he explained the obvious safety reasons for the rule.

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