Sam in Battle Mountain Monday to Wednesday reports and new World Record 82.43 mph

September 16th, 2009

WHPSC 2009 is sponsored by HyDrive

Here we are again in Battle Mountain for the HYDrive World Human Powered Speed Challenge and another attempt on the human powered land speed record. Please check for updates here all week for the latest news. Official results and pictures will be available from The Wisil site.

Wed, Sept 16, 2009 2 pm

Not much to report from this morning after last nights world record run of 82.43 mph. I have been trying to track down the keeper of the speeds with no luck. I heard that Tanya Markham managed 63mph in near perfect (for the morning) conditions Racing the Varna Mephisto II.

It is finally starting to sink in that we actually managed to pull out a record run on the first night of the event! I hope this is only the beginning of even greater speeds as we have seen in years past. I think that a combination of smoother (but still soft road has helped,  also great weather conditions aside from Monday night. I am quite fit still from my last jaunt to the Ford hour event 2 months ago. The new bike “Varna Tempest” may also be slightly faster but I am not convinced.

Of course the wonderful folks at HYDrive have been a great help keeping me energized all year and have been great patrons of the event as title sponsors. Thanks also to Global Energy Horizons which is doing there bit to promote better, cleaner ways of using Energy.

I’m sure that having raced down this stretch of highway 50 or so times over the last 10 years helps with just “uncorking a good one” on the first night.

There is some footage taken at the start of my record run last night. Which can be seen here.

There is also some other related video at the same site.

Everything is a go for this evening. I will try to take a camera on board with me…… if it fits!

Tues, Sept 15, 2009 11:30pm


Evening Runs. Perfect Weather (almost!)

Tonight was the first real test for team Varna at this years event. We loaded into the truck at about 4pm and headed south to our asphalt arena with the usual anxiety about what might or might not be possible this early in the week.

The sun has been shining hard and the wind low. Barbara, in the Varna Diablo III was first off in the first session. She had a bit of a shaky beginning with several miss-starts. We where to learn later that she was having some trouble with the gears, which certainly was not helping! She had an otherwise very good run and went an amazing 69mph! This is faster than the previous women’s record of Lisa Veterlain (sp?) by 4 mph. However, the wind was just slightly to high. The record is sure to fall officially in the next few days.

I headed off the second heat at about 6:40 just as the sun was beginning to set behind the mountains. The tarmac was still warm and the winds where non-existent. The stage was set for a record but was I?

As many people know, I tend to get faster as the week goes on. The dry air and elevation of 4600 ft always takes me 5 or so days to get used to and needless to say I am still feeling a bit sluggish. I was also distracted by the fact that the front tire we are using was becoming dangerously thin in places and I could see the actual thread in under the rubber! Nothing to do but hope that it held for one last waltz down the dance floor.

I went quite hard but not maximum. I was missing the “kick” I rely on for most record runs. Even so, I managed to hang on for a new record. I can only hope that we have similar conditions throughout the week as I get my form and confidence. 85mph would be nice wouldn’t it? I think I will put on a new tire first……………….

All runs had legal wind except Barbara Otherwise record count would have been 2!

  • Sam Whittingham, Tempest 82.4 (with poohball guy)
  • Barbara Bautois, Diablo III 69 (illegal winds)
  • Fred Markham, Mephisto 75
  • Yannick Lutz, Altair II 70
  • Jason Erickson, Varnator 67
  • Eric Ware, Wedge 65
  • Larry Lem, Scimitar DNF (Mechanical?)
  • Specter 57??? (unsure. Cleats coming out. Flat tire right at end in catch!!)
  • Bobby Erman Cal Poly Atlas (unsure of time)
  • Barclay Henry White Backslider (unsure of time)

Another Salad bar dinner at the Owl club, one celebratory pint of  Fat Tire Beer (or as our french friends keep calling it “Flat Tire”), glue on a new tire and off to bed. Tomorrow is a new day……………

Mon, Sept 15, 2009 12pm

Morning runs. Weather was cool and Team Varna decided to stay in bed hoping to bring out the big guns in the evening.

Yannik Lutz  71.06 (illegal winds but fast for first real run!)

Jason Erickson Varnator 64.55

Kevin Schroeder 48.36

Aaron Williams Atlas II 49.50

Tiffany Schroeder specter II 47.43

Tanya markham 60.47

Jay Henry 56.57

Barclay henry 60.12

We are all off to the Civic centre for a show and tell. More to report this evening…………

Also new Qualifiers this morning

Bobby Erman Cal Poly Atlas 47.05

Jay Henry Flying J 41.75

Ryan Milligan 42.58

Barclay Henry White Back Slider 54.19

Mon, Sept 14, 2009 5pm


artist’s rendering of tonight’s weather conditions

The impending cloud cover that we had been watching all day from a comfortable distance, decided that just before Race time today was the most opportune moment to unleash several million gallons (many million Litres) of the wet stuff. “Damp” would be understating the condition of the road a bit.

The only results I have for tonight are who was the first to chicken out and high tail it back to the hotel along with departure times and reason for DNS:

  1. Cal Poly 5:10 (beer getting warm cited as excuse)
  2. Larry Lem 5:12 (did 82.4 mph out of parking lot but illegal winds)
  3. Fred and Tanya Markham 5:13 (Had to get Fred back to the pensioners home before curfew)
  4. Team Varna 5:14 (we would have ran but didn’t seem fair to our less hardy competitors)

Results are unofficial at this point as we are awaiting final results from doping control.

One other record was set today by the French Altair team when they were pulled over by a state trooper going 90mph in a 70 zone!  Speed is official but we had to explain that the van they were driving didn’t qualify as human powered.

Sept 14, 2009 11am

The Sky’s were clear and the moon was out this morning at 5am as we crawled out of our cozy beds at the Battle Mountain Super 8 for the first day of what could be a very exciting week of speed trials. This is a special year for the event and you could feel the anticipation even at such an in-humane hour of the day.

This is the 10th running of the world human powered speed challenge and I have competed and won (what a braggart, I know). The real reason for the excitement this year however, is that we have a brand new surface. Our old faithful highway 305 had not been worked on since long before we arrived in 2000 and had deteriorated to the point that the entire event was in jeopardy of packing up and moving to smoother pastures. But no need! The amazing town of Battle mountain stepped in and our venue has had a full make-over. The phrase “baby bottom” was already getting old by 7:15 this morning when I set off for a qualifying run.

. We usually use a section of road 5.5 miles long but for purposes of qualifying we use a much shorter 2.5 miles. This is mostly a shakedown run for everybody and a way to figure out start order for the main event later tonight and through the week.

I was first off and other than a brief re-start, the run was fairly un-eventful. I started fairly strong and steady, much as if I was going for 1 hour or a little faster. This was enough to bring me to a top speed of 66-68mph (106-108kph).  The wind was very calm and the temperature was already 70 degrees (20 c).

Qualifying speeds in MPH are listed below. Times are not official. These will be posted later at the Wisil Site.

  • Sam Whittingham Tempest 66.60
  • Barbara Bautois Diablo 63.80
  • Fred Markham Mephisto 62.82
  • Yannick Lutz Altair II 60.39
  • Eric Ware Wedge 58.07
  • Jason Erickson Varnator 57.69
  • Tanya Markham Mephisto 56.93
  • James Schroeder Specter II 52.82
  • Larry Lem Scimitar 50.03
  • Kevin Schroeder Specter II 48.73
  • Aaron Williams Atlas 46.33
  • Tiffany Schroeder Specter II 41.56
  • Ryan Milligan Athena 35.42