Gone in 29 seconds

At Mindy‘s instigation, S&T videographer extraordinaire Tom Shipley created a 29-second video of Missouri S&T’s bullet bike and entered it into KansasCity.com’s 29-second Film Festival. (The festival is in honor of today, Leap Day, Feb. 29.) Have a look and if you like what you see, feel free to leave your five-star rating (and comments) on the site. You can always comment here, too, of course.
And if you’ve got five minutes to spare, check out the longer version of Tom’s bullet bike video, filmed on location in the Nevada desert.
(Cross-posted at Visions.)

A few things…

There has been some confusion as to StreaMiner’s top speed last week. We’re now officially calling it 59.26 mph. And we’re sticking by the claim that Jerrod is now the third-fastest college student in the history of human-powered vehicle racing. Some results from Battle Mountain are posted here. Also, we found another blog with Battle Mountain info here.
Jerrod is planning to take StreaMiner down to Springfield for Rolla Night Monday, Oct. 15, at the Clarion Hotel on South Glenstone. If you’re in the area, stop by and see StreaMiner’s battle scars from Battle Mountain. The UMR recruiting event runs from 6-8:30 p.m.

Saturday night’s all right

I’m not sure if Bob will get a chance to post tonight (he has a 6 a.m. flight out of Reno), so I’ll go ahead and tell you that Jerrod and the UMR team came up short of the record, posting a 55 mph run in really cold weather tonight. But Jerrod can now say he’s the third-fastest college student to ever push a human-powered vehicle to the max. (See the unofficial/official UMR news release text after the jump.) I want to say that Jerrod, Andrew, Craig and Matt are just about the neatest, most determined student ambassadors that UMR could hope for. They have put so much work into this project and they are very deserving of admiration. Right now, they are all at an Owl Club banquet celebrating their accomplishments. At least, I think that’s where they are. (The Owl Club, a casino and diner and motel, is just about the only place in the middle of Nevada to get a hot meal and we’ve all been there a bunch of times this week.) It’s a long way from Rolla to Nevada. See you back in the Central Time Zone.
Signing off from the Super 8 in Battle Mountain,
Lance Feyh, UMR Public Relations

[Read more…]

Jerrod And The Guys Gave It Everything They Had; The Weather Took All That And More

As feared, weather played havoc with tonight’s final sprints so the collegiate record still stands, but Jerrod did manage to post the 4th highest collegiate speed in history, a blistering 59.36 mph earlier in the week.
The wind was fickle, negating nearly every rider’s attempt at a legal run. The UMR team knew that temperatures would be a real problem, but no one anticipated 40 degrees at the start line. Regardless, it was all or nothing.
Jerrod had a false start because StreaMiner had been made so slick that Craig and Andrew couldn’t get a grip on it to keep it upright, but the only result was a few more scratches.
On the re-start the bike got away cleanly and Jerrod headed down the road, but ran into problems early. As his exertion and breathing heated up the enclosed bike the windshield began to fog and the defroster system they devised today simply couldn’t keep up. The farther he rode the worse it got and eventually all Jerrod could see was the white line on the edge of the pavement, but he kept pushing.

Nerves in the chase vehicles were near the breaking point because as Jerrod struggled with visibility he weaved in and out of the racing lane. As the chase vehicles crept past 50mph StreaMiner picked up more and more speed, and began to pull farther away. It looked as if Jerrod would pull it out at the last minute, but it was not to be. Stress from poor visibility and a week’s worth of frustration and effort had drained so much from Jerrod that he managed a 53+ mph final run. So wiped out was Jerrod that officials had to physically lift him from the bike and set him on the roadway like a wounded soldier, and was some time before he could walk under his own power.

Andrew’s post-race calculations showed that the air density during Jerrod’s final run was worse than sea level, wrecking the team’s design calculations based on Battle Mountain’s typical high desert conditions which make it the home of human powered speed records. The heavy air added drag to StreaMiner that Jerrod simply couldn’t overcome. As Andrew said later, "you can’t beat physics". The same factor crippled tonight’s other riders: all the veteran teams (including the world and european record holders) had runs of 5-7 mph slower than their early week sprints so no one really had a successful run. The irony is that tonight’s run was the first "legal" run as timing trap winds finally abated for Jerrod’s run.
UMR/Missouri S&T did take 4th overall (out of 15 particpants) in the ’07 event, besting several Speed Challenge veterans, and swept the collegiate category with ease and took home prize money awarded to the top college team exceeding 50mph.
Race organizers look to Missouri S&T’s participation as an indication that a new speed challenge class should be organized for university teams. And our guys are already figuring out what it will take to break the record. Next year.

Hang On To Your Seats, Folks, It’s Going To Be A Rough Ride!

Last night’s storm left the surrounding mountains with chilly temperatures and a light coating of snow that reached nearly to the valley floor. Things have warmed up a bit and the winds are moderate, and we hope the sunset will help diminish the breezes further.

The guys have installed a small defroster fan to keep the windshield clear in what is expected to be a chilly run. StreaMiner’s skin has been sanded and polished so smooth that it is difficult to hold. Jerrod is napping, and UMR will get the last run of the evening. And they are psyched. This is it, simply.


We Bring You This Intermission……….

OK, here’s the situation. It is 4 in the afternoon, 35 degrees outside and blowing hard, raining on the race course and there is a winter weather advisory for tonight. Would YOU want to ride a bicycle 60-80 mph down a dark highway? Didn’t think so, and neither do the folks here, so racing is cancelled for tonight. Guess that means that wind speed is just a little too high to set a valid record, but wouldn’t THAT tailwind be fun to watch, eh?
Anyway, Andrew and Craig report that StreaMiner has been made slicker than ever, and they’ll bet the house on tomorrow night’s run.
By the way, did we mention that Battle Mountain is a mining town? Wouldn’t it be appropriate for the Miners to be the collegiate champions? GO MINERS!

StreaMiner goes extreme: Video

Click above button to play video | produced by Tom Shipley

55+ Miles Per Hour In A Traffic Jam, But We Are Not Done!

Unbelievable tension; the drama really got ratcheted up last night. Thursday’s weather was perfect; calm winds, moderate temperatures and high, thin clouds had the guys chafing to run at mid-day, but looming on the western horizon was a large Pacific storm moving inexorably closer. The big question was could the bikes outrace the storm?

The guys were pumped. StreaMiner was repaired to an even smoother finish than the original paint job, the on-board computer was re-mounted, and Jerrod was well rested. The troops deployed to SR 305.
An hour before launch the clouds moved in, temperatures cooled noticably, the wind picked up, and Monday’s winter clothing reappeared. The teams gathered at the start area (mind the cow chips, boys) with Discovery Channel video crews hovering around the top teams, UMR included, of course.
StreaMiner was scheduled for the second heat and the last run of the night, so the guys had time to prepare. Jerrod and other riders warmed up on their stationary bikes, Craig helped launch riders in heat #1, and Andrew and Matt double-checked the chase vehicle. Jerrod even got some last-minute pointers from world champion and emergency tire-provider Sam Wittingham.
And then things got interesting. VERY interesting. The second heat was made up of all the fastest racers. The very best (Sam and other professionals) always go first because they can’t be overtaken. UMR was slated to be the last of 5 bikes to run, but the #4 rider balked at the strong crosswinds and opted out, so with light fading StreaMiner moved up a slot. And then they were off.

Jerrod fought off the wind (StreaMiner is designed for stability over 50 mph, not so much when slow) and began to build speed. 10, 20, 30, maybe 40mph as the mile markers slipped by. Get the right gearing. Hit the cadence. Two miles to go and the chase vehicles are nudging 50mph! Suddenly Jerrod begins to pull away. Farther. Faster. Faster still. He is leaving the chase vehicles in the dust! He HAS to be doing well over 60! The guys are yelling GO! GO, JERROD, GO!

And then they see the flashing lights. At 1,000 meters to go Jerrod is overtaking the #3 rider and his chase car, who started two minutes ahead! There isn’t enough room for all of them. In the fading light Jerrod can barely see the other rider, the other chase car can’t see Jerrod, and that rider probably has no idea what is happening so he can’t get out of the way! Jerrod has no choice but to back off pedaling to avoid a collision.
In what has to be a timekeeper’s worst nightmare both bikes enter the all-critical time trap at nearly the same time, so no one knows what speeds to assign. UMR’s pursuit car can’t get around the other chase vehicle and check on Jerrod, who by now is in the catch area as darkness falls.

Total confusion because this has never happened before in Speed Challenge racing. Back at the hotel things began to be sorted out; times were finally established and despite the mayhem Jerrod was clocked at just over 55 mph.

Ultimately it came down to the wind which refused to abate at dusk. The overtaken bike aparently was unable to handle the strong winds and chose to slow down or risk crashing (in heat #1 a similar bike crashed). StreamMiner, designed to perform at high speed, became rock-solid but simply had no place to go. And because of the wind none of the times that night would have became official even if records had been surpassed. After four nights of racing only about 10-15% of the sprints would have been officlal marks because the winds have just been too high.

There are possibly two more attempts for StreaMiner and the guys. Rain and snow threaten tonight’s run and may well preclude any speed attempts, but that gives Jerrod time to rest and recover. Saturday is the last hurrah for this event so it is an all-or-nothing at that point. Strong winds are still on the menu, so it appears that Mother Nature may be frowning on changing the record books. She is pretty harsh out here.
One thing is for sure. Missouri S&T/UMR is now a top player in this league, and four guys are coming back to Rolla with newly-minted grey hair. Stay with us, folks, there’s a lot more to this story.

Human Training Wheels

Rolla brought more to Battle Mountain that a top contending bike with a great paint job. They also unveiled Craig George, their Human Training Wheels.

Veteran Battle Mountain teams have for years devised many launching systems, some more successful than others, but race officials have been so impressed with the StreaMiner’s launching prowess that they raved about it at Wednesday night’s debriefing. Immediately after several teams approached Craig with a request for his help, so while Jerrod, Andrew and Matt were repairing body damage or sleeping in Thursday, Craig was back on the qualifying course providing his special expertise to several teams. Word is that they have offered to buy special lubricants for his rollerblades.

And the Bikes (and Trikes) Keep Coming

Can’t resist posting a photo of what looks like the world’s biggest human powered vehicle poised to run a qualifying heat. Is Buck Rogers missing a space ship?