July 11

July 11, 2006

24 hour attempt in the news, wind worries, and some last minute details.

Ben Eadie designed the Critical Power fairing body using a computational flow dynamics components of a CAD application called SolidWorks. Somehow Solidworks corporation found out about Critical Power and the record attempt and they issued a press release that got picked up by a number of internet sites. This is generating quite a bit of buzz which is great for the sport of human powered vehicles and what I am trying to accomplish. I would like it to eventually reach a more main-stream audience - like Wired magazine perhaps instead of Reliable Plant magazine, but hey, you have to start somewhere!

Jalopnik

Rideroom

Treehugger

SolidWorks interview Podcast

SolidWorks

AutoChannel

BusinessWire

Reliable Plant Magazine


The items of my 'things to do' list are slowly dwindling down and I am left with plenty of time to stress about some of the record attempt "deal breakers". The biggest is weather - specifically wind worries. It's now only 8 days away from my first available date at the track in Eureka, and the long range weather forecasts are all available. Of course, Accuweather.com is forecasting poltergeist 45 kph + winds for Wednesday for Eureka, but predicting 25 kph winds for Arcata, CA which is only a few miles away from Eureka. Go figure.... The Accuweather.com wind map confirms 25 kph winds in Eureka for Wednesday and diminishing down to 16kph by Friday. Weatherunderground.com and NOAA are now forecasting 26 kph winds for Tuesday which would be disastrous, and NOAA is forecasting winds in the 16'ish area. The worst news is the national wind gust map that shows gusts of up to 56 kph (35 mph) for northern California for Wednesday!

I'm not sure if 16 kph is too much. I was in the streetliner today zooming around my standard neighborhood loop in 5 to 10 kph winds which wasn't bad at all. Until I got hit by a 22 kph gust. When you are going 45 kph, a sudden side gust of 20 to 25 kph feels pretty frightening. Nothing happens though. You just wobble a bit and keep going. I still don't know if this is simply a matter of getting used to it, or if a 25 to 30 (or higher) gust has the potential to completely wipe me out.

The thing that worries me is if the winds for the record attempt are around 17 kph, then there will most certainly be gusts in the mid 20's - perhaps even higher. I'm just not sure how much of that I can deal with for hours on end when I'm going 50 kph around the track.

At least none of the forecasts are calling for rain and the daily high temperatures are perfect at only 16 degrees C. I guess you can't have everything.

If the winds are high'ish, I may have to slow down for the duration of the windy conditions. That will mean that I will have to really pick up speed during the night when the winds die down to make up for my losses during the day - not the most convenient strategy.

I am feeling like I should have a backup plan, but what exactly would that be? It may be that I stay in Eureka beyond reserved track dates from July 19th to the 24th - perhaps until the end of July. The problem with this might be track and volunteer/officials availability. My family is heading home on July 25th. If I had to scramble, I could probably find some volunteers locally, and hopefully Rob and Al are still able to officiate.


Something that has been bothering me a bit lately is the amount of weight Critical Power has gained since the record attempt last November in Alabama. At first I didn't really take any weight gain seriously, but I've been looking at the calculator again, figuring out exactly what the real cost of extra weight.

I lost the HID headlight and ballast, but I gained two heavier wheels due to the switch from tubulars to clinchers. I also added a bigger iPod, a 12 volt LiPoly battery to run it and a motorcycle comm system. If I increased the weight by only 10 pounds, I would take off 25 km over a 24 hour period. That is substantial.

So, I decided to remove the heavy lipoly battery and replace the big iPod with my iPod Nano running a small extra battery pack. I also decided to ditch the cell phone and all the hardware designed to hold it all along with the wiring, tape, etc. Since my iPod is important, it has to stay, and also so does the SRM meter which I could never even see. I decided that it is very important so I can properly manage my power, so I made a new bracket for it so I can mount it off the fairing shell within easy sight.

It's made with Sintra plastic that is heated with a heat gun. Sintra is SO handy for making brackets and stuff! It is stiff and flat when cold, and can be thermoformed with a heat gun and some gloves. The trick is to use a piece of cardboard to design the shape, then trace it onto the Sintra and cut it out with an exacto knife.


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