Goliath at Battle Mountain
Goliath at Battle Mountain 2008

A project by Larry Lem

Concept Frame Bottom Fairing Top Fairing Cart-n-Rack Tail Battle Mountain

We tested the bike at Tom's house with a week to go. The bare bike worked fine. With the bottom attached, a rider in front and the rear top on, we practiced launching with the launch cart and it worked perfectly to our relief. We'd have to wait until Battle Mountain 2008 to determine how it worked with two riders and both tops on.

Adding cardboard crash panels in the Super 8 parking lot. Photo by Brad Teubner
Sep 14, 2008
Sun morning practice on the frontage road east of town, north of I-80. First test fully-loaded (two riders and front and rear tops). Photo by Tom Nowak 
We put on the tops, had a good launch, rolled for a hundred yards, then BOOM!, the rear tire rubbed and blew. We braked hard, got down to 2 mph, then fell over. That afternoon, we filed the wheel opening in the rear to be a little larger. Photo by Tom Nowak 
Preparing for qualifying Monday morning. We left the crash panel cardboard on the fairing for the qualifying run, just in case. Photo by Tom Amick 
Monday morning qualifying was run on hwy 305, starting at the 2 mile marker. It was 50F. We got up to 51 mph through the traps. Tom smelled some smoke, so we filed the rear wheel hole opening even larger in preparation for the evening. Photo by John Jackson 
Monday night run - red tape stripe, 60F. We pushed hard from the start, got up to 64 mph at the 2 miles-to-go sign, but both of us were gassed, too tired to go any faster. We managed to hold the speed through the traps. The higher the speed, the noisier it got inside. We couldn't understand each other above 50 mph. Photo by Brad Teubner 
Experienced streamliner pilot and #1 crewman, Tom Nowak filing a middrive cog guide. Tom Amick may have been a little oxygen-deprived on Monday. We cut a hole in the tail on Tuesday to allow air to escape, and also added a tiny scoop on the side for the rear rider. Photo by Warren Beauchamp 
Launch procedure: steady the bottom with blocks, Tom gets in the back, rear top is attached and taped, launch dolly slid on, blocks are removed, I'd get in, front top is installed and taped, middle joint is taped, ready to go.  Here, John Jackson and Tom Nowak prepare us for launch, while Mike Sova and Chet Kyle look on.

Photo by Jim Iwaskow 
Tuesday night run - blue stripe - 60F, gusty winds. We controlled our acceleration better, but I derailed up front with 2 miles to go. We traveled a full mile before I successfully communicated to Tom that I had derailed (noisy). We coasted from there, rolling through the timing trap at 52 mph. We built up enough speed early so that Warren in the Cuda-W who launched 2-3 minutes after us did not catch up. Photo by Brad Teubner 
Wednesday night run - green stripe - 60F, gusty winds. With a chainguide added to prevent my derailing, we were first to go in the first evening session. The second evening session did not run due to high winds which would likely have made all runs illegal and potentially dangerous. Tom Nowak and big Dan tape us in.
While on course, wind gusts would briefly push us to the side. I learned to not instantly or violently react to these as it would further upset the bike. I would not necessarily know these were wind gusts; the wiggles could have been caused by one of us shifting his seat position, or changing gears.
Photo by Jim Iwaskow 
Unfortunately, it was Tom's turn to derail with 2 miles to go. I never heard him announce his problem and kept pedaling as hard as I could wondering why we were going so slow. I didn't know he derailed until we were stopped and the tops were removed. We went through the trap at 55 mph. The next day we added chain keepers EVERYWHERE that a chain led to a cog, chainring, or pulley. Photo by Brad Teubner 
The motel entrance was blocked all week with streamliners. Hotel management and staff were very understanding. Go Super 8! Photo by Brad Teubner 

Thursday night run - white stripe (monolith), 75F, no wind. We made a good, controlled run all the way through the traps, but I felt tired the whole way; I was still fatigued from my effort the previous night. We were excited that we set a PR at 67.06 mph but I was very disappointed with my performance knowing I could have done more. We missed our goal for this event which was to break the world record for multi-rider vehicles which stands at 68.91 mph.

 Whiteboard starting line photo by Mike Mowett 

Friday night - We decided to skip the Fri run as I'd just be tired again from the previous evening's run. We banked on Saturday for conditions to be good and resumed our old jobs as course workers.

Saturday night run - black stripe - We had a perfect run in terms of power, but it was between 40F and 50F and the higher air density hurt us, keeping our speed down to 64 mph. If it had been as nice as Thursday, we would have broken 70 mph, but that's the way things go. Weather conditions, physical condition, and bike preparation all have to be right for a record run.

For stopping, I controlled a 203 mm front disk brake and Tom had a 160 mm rear. After rolling through the timing trap, we would coast past the bridge, then start pulsing the brakes every few seconds (stinking up the inside of the bike). Instead of yelling at each other and potentially miscommunication ("don't brake" being heard as "brake"), Tom would brake when he felt me brake. Each night, with 50 yards to go before catch, my brakes would fade badly while Tom still had brakes left. Here is the 160 mm rear rotor showing heat discoloration. Mounting the rear brake lever at the rear decreased the cable length, plus I was running out of room on my handlebars.  

Lessons Learned

1. Use a communications system. It is too noisy to hear each other otherwise.
2. The captain should control both front and rear brakes.
3. Make one giant plug, and female molds from that. Don't try to adapt and join pieces together.
4. Put chain keepers and chain guides EVERYWHERE.
5. Launch cart worked well.
6. 2-D bend windshield works fine.
7. Replace the 1" front end with larger diameter steerer tube, headset and beefier fork.

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