Week at Battle Mountain #8 Race day Thursday

Thursday morning; no rush to get up. In fact, I can’t remember much about this morning. I’m pretty sure I went out to the course but I can’t say I recall watching launches or catches. Whatever happened, it was sure relaxed and leisurely enough for me to have allowed me to relax and kick back. I did want to races as much as possible, and I did want to break my record again, or at least get close to confirm that it wasn’t a fluke that someone could dispute, but I also wanted to see Karen have a shot on the long course. Plus, the wisdom of team management clearly remembered what was said on that Sunday testing day, no half measures, and recognised that I needed a break. I had one, and it was worth it.

Karen Darke prepares for launch in Arion4
Karen Darke on her way to another record. Photo: Michael Head

Though I didn’t race, Karen did manage to break her previous record with a nice wind legal run. Well done Karen!

Karen Darke Celebrates another record broken with Stephen
Karen Darke celebrates another record broken. Photo: Michael Head

Wrapping up the morning, we go through the usual routines of the post-race briefing and results. Karen and I manage to get launch slots for the evening runs. I, as a result of having set a new record and the way that launch positions are selected, I no longer had the best choices and ended up getting a slot earlier in the evening, thus increasing the chances on a non-wind legal run. Typically, the best run, as it has the lowest winds, is the very last one of the evening which I’d been lucky to get, or get close to up to this point, but that was no longer to be. With success comes misfortune, haha!

Nik Runner monitoring the wind conditions
Nik Runner monitoring the wind conditions. Photo Nik Runner

Thursday evening rolls round and the teams are getting ready as usual, but there’s caution. The winds are relatively high. Since there’s no point wasting energy on a run where you won’t be wind legal, everyone was concerned about whether it was even worth launching. Luckily, this is where the experience of the Liverpool team comes in. Wind speeds are radioed from the timing gates to the start line and the team knows when it’s safe to launch with illegal winds where there’s a chance that they’ll calm down but the time you get to the timing gates. It’s no guarantee, and a high wind launch does risk getting blown over or expending energy unnecessarily.


Ellen in Velox SX Launches as the first bike of the evening. But in the two minutes it takes to get to the next launch Velox 8 has scratched, or cancelled their run. So too has Bluenose and the final launch of that session, Karen, in Arion4. The winds are just too high to risk wasting energy or safety needlessly.

Harry analyses the wind conditions at Battle Mountain
Harry assessing the wind conditions before launch. Photo: Michael Head

The second launch group sets up on the course and I’m the fourth to go. The winds are looking close, it’s really a flip of the coin at this point. Altair 6, ETA Prime, and Milan SL all launch but out team advises me to scratch, and I do. I know they know what they’re doing. We’ve already set the record and though I want to beat it again and prove it’s not a fluke I it’s not with the risk. Especially when you consider that we still have another record to try to break so there’s no point in taking any chances when it might ruin victory tomorrow morning.


At the post ride briefing we’re vindicated. In the first group, Velox SX doesn’t manage a wind-legal run. None of the three bikes that launched in my group got wind-legal runs. In fact, even in the last group where everyone launched, none were wind-legal. Unfortunately it proved to be a very unlucky night with the weather conditions. But, at least I was well rested having ended up with the whole day off riding except for warm-ups. This meant that Friday’s run was going to get everything I could give it. Well rested with a chance for the second record opportunity tomorrow? Yes, I believe I’ll take that.

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