Larry Lem builds the Scimitar Speedbike
Scimitar Speedbike

Pictures and Text by Larry Lem

Plug Molds Fairing/Frame Canopy Paint WHPSC 2009
World Human Powered Speed Challenge at Battle Mountain, Nevada, USA, Sep 14-19, 2009 

California / Nevada border. I'm fortunate that Battle Mountain is only a days drive away.

WHPSC 2009 Site

Typical motel entrance workshop activity 
Monday morning qualifying was run on HWY 305, starting at the 2.5 mile marker. It was 65F. I mounted the crash panels and had a difficult time accelerating, possibly due to the weight. I measured 51 mph through the traps while most others were in the high 50s or low 60s - which ain't too bad considering the short runup.

Photo by Claudia Marcelloni 

Dan Surface and Larry launching me in my qualifier. I had trouble with my toes, heels and knees hitting the fairing during qualifying, and the inside of my right knee hit a pulley next to the frame as well. Lot's of scrapes. Above 100 rpm pedaling cadence, I started to get a little wild and that's when I'd hit the fairing. I planned on running to 120 rpm, as I do on my training bike. To provide more leg room, I ground some of the pulley and bent a chain keeper inward. Photo by Claudia Marcelloni
Big Dan about to pull away the launch cart. Photo by Claudia Marcelloni 
Monday night - It was pouring rain at the at the starting area. I don’t think anyone took a picture. 

Tue night - On my knee scrapes, I put bandages, vinyl tape, and Armour All throughout the rest of the week. I swapped my 38T middrive chainring for a 42T to keep my rpm down. The bike was a little harder to start with the taller gear. Shifting from 2nd to 3rd gear, the chain started rubbing on my newly bent chain keeper. It was very loud and I was very angry with myself. At 110 rpm, I shifted to 4th gear and the grinding was very bad, so I shifted back to 3rd, and planned on cruising at 55 mph and completing the run. I experimented with pedaling motion and found that I could spin to 120 rpm as long as I did it in a very controlled manner. I wasn't pushing hard at all, traveling 55 mph, but just after the 3 mile marker, along with all of the chain rub and road noise, there was a huge boom. At first, I thought I broke my chain and it had hit the fairing. Then I figured out that it was a flat, but could not tell which tire. I pulled into the left lane and braked with both wheels. At 20 mph, my front slid out and I fell on my left side. 

Another motel entrance photo. The pretty side. I riveted the nose windshield in place, Bondoed the seams, then painted it black.
Wed night - I changed the 42T for a 44T, my tallest gear. I was running out of days and planned on a 70 mph run, since cruising at 55 mph was so easy the day before. On Mon, we were a little late in completing our tape job and launch, so tonight, we started a minute earlier. But the folks in front of us were very slow and I was ready to go before they were, so I sat in the bike for an extra 5 minutes, stewing in the sun, and using up my air. I should have brought a cordless blower. During the run, I was always a little behind my speed vs. mile marker schedule, so I pushed harder than I should have throughout the run and was gassed by the time I reached the 1 mile sign. I tried to sprint, but that only lasted 10 seconds, and I was ready to coast when the 1000 m sign passed. I just kept pedaling knowing that it was better than nothing. My legs were toast and I had to be helped out of the bike at catch. During the run, I hit the pulley and fairing with my leg about 6 times. Once one part would hit, all parts would hit and I'd have to back off and regain pedaling control.
I decided to take 36 hours between runs through the end of the week, knowing that I could not recover from these efforts in 24 hours. For the pulley at the inside of my leg, Mark Mueller helped make a polycarbonate guard so I would slide over the pulley. There was a little miscommunication and Mark added a right angle to the guide where I wanted it as flat as possible. But I tried it on Friday and it was much better than before. Photo by Mark Mueller 
Fri morning - I reduced my speed schedule by 10% aiming for 63 mph. During the run, I was astonished that I was right on schedule the entire way. Being on schedule helped me to relax and reign in my effort. I built up to full power at the one mile marker and held it through the 1000 m sign.
From there, I started breaking down, didn't see the 500 m sign, thought the 200 m sign was the 500, and was very surprised to suddenly see the FINISH sign. I think this was the best power profile I've ever put out in the last 3 years. I only hit the plastic guard and fairing twice with my leg as I learned to pedal in a more controlled manner. Official speed - 62.042 MPH.

In this photo, Dan Surface and John Jackson tape me it while Barclay Henry and starter Chris Broome look on. Photo by one of the UNR guys 

John slides on the launch cart, good and tight. Photo by one of the UNR guys 
John runs with me to about 12 mph until I give a holler to pull the cart. Photo by one of the UNR guys 
Team Windwrap photo. The Mueller boys helped out Eric Ware, Rob Hitchcock and myself. Photo by Mark Mueller

Sat night - mild gusty winds, a nice desert breeze if you're not planning on riding a streamliner. In the first group, George Leone and Ron Layman never unloaded Primal 2 from their trailer as it was obvious the winds would be high at the start of the session. I was second up. I put my bike on the road……….but cancelled at the last second. I think it would have ended up being a test of bike handling in the gusts, trying to survive the run rather than trying to go fast and set a personal record. I was pretty sure that Fri morning was as fast I was going to be in this configuration. It remains a mystery as to whether I wasted significant energy trying to control my pedaling motion. For me to ride this bike again, I'd modify the plug and make new molds adding an inch to the width and height of the pedal box and inch above the knees. I'd also need to get rid of the pulley beside my right knee. On to 2010.

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