Rick Robson is following Graeme Obree as he attempts to break the human powered vehicle world speed record in the USA
Following yesterday’s World Record for the prone two-wheeled HPV, Graeme Obree was not one to rest on his laurels. In the event headquarters, Graeme was asked by the University of Toronto team if he would like a go on their Vortex recumbent (non-prone – regular recumbent position) as they had a spare machine.
The machine has travelled at over 70mph before so Graeme was keen to give it a go. It’s a real testimony to the friendly feel to the event, we’ve borrowed tools during the week for the Beastie’s minor surgery… but a bike!
The bike offer was very generous, Graeme summed this up well earlier in the week: “It’s been truly humbling to be among such brilliant people, it really has. Everybody helps everybody else! How nice is that for a World Championships!”
The Beastie’s last run
Before trying the Vortex for the first time, Graeme had one last run in The Beastie scheduled for the morning session.
As we left the hotel and headed down towards the start, spirits were high. Graeme was keen to give The Beastie another go with a revised game-plan. The timing of the last push before the speed trap is essential, Graeme had a new plan to have maximum speed going into the speed trap and then hold it for the few seconds over the line.
The first push start wasn’t good. The Beastie wasn’t vertical at push off and Graeme couldn’t correct himself, falling to the ground. Quickly, The Beastie was pushed back to the start, taped up and set to go again.
Again after a few metres Graeme fell to the ground. “Ah well, let’s call it a day,” said Graeme as we returned to the van. However, another faller at the start meant that Graeme could have one last chance for a ride.
The Beastie lined up again, third time lucky. Perfect start, Graeme pulled away smoothly, we jumped in the chase car and followed as he ambled through the first couple of miles at 25 to 30mph. Speed started to build as Graeme gradually increased effort to around 40-50mph.
Inside a mile to go and the car speedo was showing 55-60, everybody in the car was shouting and willing him on. We were convinced that was the new record, but car speedos aren’t always too accurate. Graeme got out of the Beastie looking like he had made a serious effort.
“Yes, all went to plan, 2.5 miles – increase a bit, 1.5 miles to go – hold speed, 1 mile to go – right lets ‘ave it! I was spent at the finish, so I think it was good – we’ll see what the timing guys say.”
A new record
Graeme and supporters gathered around as the speed was radioed through from the timing crew. 56.6mph! Graeme was happy with a decent increase on his previous best as we are getting towards the end of the week.
Graeme has opted to ride the final Saturday morning session on the University of Toronto Vortex machine, his sights set on the British record. So for now, at least, The Beastie can retire happily with a World Prone Record of 56.6mph; not too shabby from its humble beginnings on a West Scotland kitchen table.
Half an hour after the Beastie’s last ride, Graeme got inside the sleek shell of the Vortex. With University of Toronto team watching on, Graeme eased away from the start, a bit wobbly at first, but soon straightening out and building speed. Midway through the run, the Vortex chain unshipped and Graeme rolled to a halt.
“Last chance saloon tomorrow then!” Graeme joked, regarding his run in the Vortex tomorrow morning before the long trip home with at least one record in the bag.
Obree falls at start in The Beastie
The Beastie clocks 56.6mph – a new two-wheel prone HPV record
Stuck in the pedals
Out of The Beastie
The efforts hows
Graeme celebrates his new world record speed of 56.6mph
Graeme talks to the University of Toronto team
Getting Toronto’s Vortex machine ready
Graeme sets off in Vortex
An unshipped chain meant that Graeme’s attempt for a British record in Vortex was scuppered for the day