Rick Robson is following Graeme Obree as he attempts to break the human powered vehicle world speed record in the USA
With Glasgow Airport fast disappearing behind flight US769, I asked Graeme Obree how he was approaching the ultimate test of his creation – The Beastie, “Well its pure and simple effort. Four miles run up – gradually building speed, hit the mile to go marker – build more speed, half a mile to go – eyeballs out!”
The journey to the US went quickly with the group in high spirits. There was also a sense of collective nervous anticipation mixed with slight apprehension when filmmaker David mentioned the last time he was in Salt Lake City, making a documentary, he had been shot at.
We collected a rental van for transporting The Beastie as well as a couple of rental bikes hired from Salt Lake City Bikes. Whilst in the shop, curious to know how much they knew about British Cycling, I asked the lady store worker if she knew who Sir Chris Hoy was, and got an unexpected reply, “Yeah sure I do, my ex-husband was a track sprinter, Nelson Vails”
The OMG moment was amplified when Carol Vails recognised Graeme Obree was in her shop. Graeme rode a few six day races with Nelson. 1984 Olympic Silver medallist Nelson was the first African American cyclist to win an Olympic medal and now works promoting Cycling in the US.
From Salt Lake City we headed north over the very stormy Bonneville Salt flats to Elko a small mining town about 70 miles from Battle Mountain. The stay in Elko was a good move as Battle Mountain is quite small and we needed to stock up on essentials, including healthier food. The two days in Elko also gave Graeme a chance to ride one of the rental bikes into the Mountains outside of the town and for the Beastie to be prepped ready for action.
Following its two weeks in a shipped crate, The Beastie needed a little TLC. The Saturday before speed week was spent in Elko getting the machine ready to go very fast.
The Beastie Prep check list
Test the tyres at eight bars plus (tyres had to be completely flat for transporting – high pressure test to make sure there was no tube damage).
Degrease and lube the chains.
Wash out the internals of The Beastie.
Re-fit the roof panel.
Fit new visor.
Wax the Shell.
Apply the slippery top coat to the shell.
With The Beastie and Graeme in great shape we head to Battle Mountain later today (Sunday). Qualifying starts Monday morning US Pacific time.
Graeme with filmmaker David Street
The Beastie, fresh out of the box
Getting The Beastie ready
Bonneville Salt Flats
Graeme and Carol Vails
Graeme checks The Beastie over