A Year (or two) in Review and the Future

Of course, being April 1st and reading the contents of this, you might be thinking, “What’s he on about, has he lost the plot?” No, no I haven’t. I’m catching up on something that I meant to do at New Years on 2019 but it slipped since I was working on other projects, and it kept slipping. Then the pandemic hit and if you’re like me, the last year has just been a blur. So, you might be asking, “Why today?” Well dear friends, I’m doing this today because I’d be a fool to let it slip any further.

Coming back from Battle Mountain and having achieved my goal of two handcycling world records (and the arrest warrant from Officer Artem) and having fulfilled one of my childhood dreams of becoming one of the fastest cyclists in the world, part of me was a bit lost. This was slightly exasperated by having blown out my shoulder with all my efforts at Battle Mountain and needing to take a month off, staring at my bike on the other side of my living room, desperately wanting to ride.

Now, I’ve heard that some Olympic Athletes struggle upon returning from winning gold medals because they’ve hit the peak of their game, they’re the best they can be. Where do you go from there? Unfortunately, I will likely never be able to go to the Paralympics (my disability cannot be classified by the UCI) but I think I can relate to this: I’ve hit my long term dream; fastest handcyclist in the world. Where do I go from here?

Well, I’ve been working on a number of project and I’ve been doing a lot of planning and one thing I’ve realise about life is, it’s not just about the big stuff you do, it’s about some of the ordinary stuff you do. Sometimes it’s as simple as the connections you make and the people you meet and share a common bond with; the people you help, and those who help you.

So, now is my chance to have a look back from Battle Mountain and the World Human Powered Speed Challenge to see where I’ve been and where I’m going.


If you’ve read the rest of my blog, you’ll know that I did indeed set two world records. Happily in 2019 I received confirmation from the Guinness Book of World Records that these are indeed recognised world records and I now have the awards to prove it. Now, if only getting these into picture frames was as easy as powering Arion4

Guinness World Record certificates
Guinness World Record certificates

And if you’d like to read a bit more about the WHPSC have a look as some of these links, including the one from CNN who visited the race and got some footage and interviews (and the glazed interview of an exhausted handcyclist, trying to look lively)


In 2019 I was also amazed to be contacted by Lothian Disability Sport where I was notified that they had chosen me, of all people, as their Senior Sportsperson of the Year. I must say I was incredibly proud of this as I hadn’t sought to break the records for any sort of recognition or accolades, I simply wanted to push myself, to challenge myself to meet the toughest goal I could think of.

Sportsperson of the Year award
LDS Sportsperson of the Year award

The best part of this award though was discovering the amazing variety of sports and activities that are available to disabled people in my area. Many of them I didn’t even know existed. Equally, what was amazing was all the other award winners, from the youth to adults, from swimming to rugby and everything in between. It was fantastic to see all the people who were getting out and getting involved and challenging themselves. And of course, none of it could be achieved without the help of organisations such as Lothian Disability Sports as well as Scottish Disability Sports.

Of course, I had the pleasure of being presented with the award by Jim Anderson; OBE multi-Paralympic medallist in swimming.

Jim Anderson; OBE multi-Paralympic medallist in swimming
With Jim Anderson; OBE multi-Paralympic medallist in swimming

2019 also brought continued riding:

Time Trials:

Just as I did in 2018 I took part in the time trials with one of my local cycling clubs, West Lothian Clarion Cycling Club. They are a great group of people who have welcomed handcyclists into their fold. In 2018 and 2019 I regularly too part in their summer Time Trial series along with a friend of mine, Mike. It’s a great incentive to be one of the lead riders, only to be passed by all the leg-powered riders, each one encouraging me to push harder and to keep up.

West Lothian Clarion Time Trial
West Lothian Clarion Time Trial

2019 Sportives:

In late winter/ Early Spring I rode the Sportive Kinross again. This is a cracking ride through the great hilly part of the country that is Fife. It’s one of a number of Scottish Sportive hosted by great groups and attracting fantastic friendly riders. It’s early in the year and is often a bit cold, but usually mixed with a great deal of brilliant sun, so just the right temperature for riding. Of course, this being Scotland, it was also struck with a short burst of hail, just to get all weather options in. There’s nothing like lying on your back climbing a hill while you get pelted with hail. But, I had a great time with some fellow handcyclists and managed to improve my time from previous rides. Massive thanks to Paul Zarb for getting me riding on these in the first place, and for Trev Keer for setting me up for the ride. Looking forward to getting back to these post Covid!

In the late summer, I also took part in the ever popular Tour O the borders. It’s a fantastic Sportive that’s known for having and amazingly steep climb at the Talla Reservoir. So steep, in fact, that quite a few of the leg cyclists wind up walking it. Much like the Time Trails with WLCCC I did this ride with my friend Mike. It’s a brilliant challenge to be powering up this immensely steep hill at unbelievably slow pace with people walking by asking if I want a push, and saying between gasping breaths, “No, I WILL do this on my own, but thanks.” A huge thanks goes out to Rod Mitchell at Cycle Law Scotland, one of the Tour Sponsors, for helping Mike and I out on this Tour.

Tour O the Borders with Mike and Rod Mitchell (Cycle Law Scotland)
Tour O the Borders with Mike and Rod Mitchell (Cycle Law Scotland)

Happily, I also managed to race the Jedburgh 10k and win it. It’s a great local race, though short, it’s as much about the after race dinner and socialising afterwards as much as it is about the race. One of the best things about it is that it’s not restricted to classified racers so it welcomes anyone who can finish it in a prescribed time. As a result, in 2019 we managed to get two riders on it, one who had only ridden a handful of times before and another wheelchair marathon racer who’d only been on a handcycle once. What’s rather unique about the race is that each handcyclist is met buy a leg rider from the local cycling club shortly after the start and I find this works well for that added push of, “can you outrun the rider using his legs.” I will admit that I didn’t break the course record but that gives me something to shoot for. Big thanks to Graham Cook for putting this on every year. Absolute pleasure to be a part of the Jedburgh 10k.

Jedburgh 10k Award
Jedburgh 10k Award

2020, the year that is a Covid blur and to the future:

I’m sure like many of you; I’m sure that 2020 and 2021 so far has been a bit of a blur. I know it has been for me, but it hasn’t stopped my progress and planning. I’ve continued to train throughout most of the year except when a chest infection came on just as Covid was breaking out, making me panic about having caught the virus. Luckily I hadn’t but it has made me exceptionally careful so that I don’t cause problems with future plans.

So, with a semi-quarantine in effect, I’ve spent the year training on Zwift under the guidance of my cycling coach in anticipation for an upcoming event. Unfortunately, due to the complexity and scale of this event, I’ve not gone public yet until I’m certain that all the foundation pieces have been set in place. But it’s big, and it’s exciting, and I more than anyone am itching to get the news out!

I’ve also joined up on another big ride that’s just taking shape now and hope to make an announcement about that soon as well. Both of these will likely be on a new website that’s under development. So, despite the null that much of 2020 and 2021 has been, there are still massive projects in the works.

But it’s good to stay grounded in these times as well and work on more immediate and real things. Dare I say real, given that this next one is quite virtual? Having spent nearly a year almost exclusively on Zwift, I realised that one thing is sorely missing, and that’s avatar representation of disabled cyclists. As a result, I’ve been in touch with Zwift to try to encourage them to add paracycling avatars for those of us who use different bikes such as handcycles, trikes, and recumbents, and to even encourage the use of avatars with amputations. I realised that it’s all well and good to ask, but sometimes the hurdle is seeing an idea in place, or having the parts to make it happen. So, as I’ve been getting back into modelling with CAD for a number of different projects, I decided to model a handcycle for Zwift and create some mock-ups. I’ve also offered to work with Zwift to make the models available to them as well as to create other variations for different paracycling types. The feedback I’ve received has been overwhelmingly supportive from both the disabled and able-bodied communities. Zwift tell me there are a number of technical hurdles that need to be dealt with but it is on their radar. Hopefully working together with the disabled cycling community, we’ll soon see paracyclists on Zwift. And if you yourself ride on Zwift, feel free to up-vote the request and add in a comment as to why you think it’s important.

Zwift Handcycle Mock-up
Zwift Handcycle Mock-up

So, fool that I am for letting these thing slip for so long, I’m glad I’ve finally got this review and of post-Battle Mountain and future teasers out. And one last major thanks to everyone at the International Human Powered Vehicle Association (Alan, Alice, and many others) for running the World Human Powered Speed Challenge, as well as Steven Bode and team at the University of Liverpool and all the sponsors of Arion4 who helped make a dream come true:

University of Liverpool School of Engineering


MTC: Manufacturing Technology Centre


Chester Composites

University of Liverpool Alumni and Friends Fund

Dynamic International

Tygavac, Advanced Materials Ltd

Liverpool Hope University



Virtual Engineering Centre

Evonic Industries

Sporting Edge

Spokes of Bagshot




British Human Power Club




The institution of Mechanical Engineers

CP Cases


Talking Headsets

Hobson Cycles


Advances Materials Laboratory











Mid-week summary, Battle Mountain 2019

If you’ve not been following the WHPSC Facebook page or other sites, I’ve included a couple of links below for updates from folk at Battle Mountain.


But, suffice it to say it looks like it’s been a bit of a tough year for many of the teams. There have been a few crashes including Toronto’s Titan as well as Liverpool’s Arion5; for both riders. Luckily no one was hurt and the bikes were ready to go after minor repairs. It seems Adam crashed as well and did a bit more damage to his bike but in true Battle Mountain spirit, people from many other teams jumped in to lend a hand getting him back on the road for the Wednesday morning heats.


Amongst the crashes there have been many successful qualifications and runs including the Japanese team who made it out on the course on Wednesday morning. But, it sounds like most of the setbacks have come from the wind. It seems that the winds are particularly strong this year and have been prone to very sudden drops and increases. Most notable, as Jo Kuga notes, was Rosa doing 75.24 into a 7 mph headwind!


But, despite all the challenges the riders and teams have faced there have been numerous successes. Yasmin set a British women’s multitrack record in Arion5, Ken Buckley was close to the British men’s multitrack record. Andrea and Fabien both broke 80 mph earning them each a prestigious hat, similarly Bill breaking 50 mph earning a hat for himself, and the there’s a new Women’s world record! Rosa Bas from Delft/Amsterdam broke the long standing women’s world record with a run at 75.88 mph or 122.12 kph. Well done Rosa and Delft! (also note her non-wind-legal run above!).


Three more days to go. Hopefully the winds will be stable and calm, the teams will be rejuvenated by the build to the end of the week, and we’ll see many more successful runs! All the best to everyone out at Battle Mountain!


May need a translation:


Week at Battle Mountain #10 Race Day Saturday

The end brings a new beginning. Today marks the start of racing at the 20th anniversary WHPSC in Battle Mountain. It’s with great sadness that I’m not in Battle Mountain this week as I desperately want to see everything I missed last year, and catch-up with the many wonderful people I met that helped to put on and support the races. Plus, this year it looks like there are some really amazing bikes, teams, and riders.


As I write this, it’s 1:35 pm in Battle Mountain. The morning qualifying runs have taken place and I’m waiting for the results. Of course I’m excited to see how the University of Liverpool do with their new trike. And just now is the time when the engineers will be fine tuning and adjusting their bikes and the riders recovering, prepping for tonight’s runs, starting around 5 pm Pacific time (if memory serves). There are some exciting thing happening in Battle Mountain this year and I wish all the teams the best of luck. For the rest of you who, like me, can’t be there I’ll be trying to repost the results. Also check out the WHPSC page and give all these teams, the organisers, and volunteers your support!

Arion4 at Catch
Arion4 at Catch – Photo: Michael Head

And now…. Whilst the new race starts, I give you the final day of my record.



Saturday morning rolls around. I’m both exhausted from yesterday’s power bursting effort and yet excited. For the one last chance to prove that my speed on Wednesday wasn’t a fluke. I woke up earlier than necessary, which might not be a good thing, and I’m trying to have my breakfast. All week I’ve had that same meal as it’s a good balance of protein, fat, and carbs to give me energy and strength to ride, and I didn’t want to experiment with any unusual foods that might throw me off. Plus, since I have a massive buffet in my hotel room, thanks to my visiting relatives, I might as well stick with what I have.


But today I just can’t get it down. All week I’ve been able to eat, even if it has been over the bathroom sink like a rat. Yeah, that’s how classy I am! But today, I’m really struggling. My mind is energised, mentally I’m ready for a fight. But my body isn’t. So, I use what time I have to give it a rest. Opening the door to my hotel room, I kick back and put my feet up, feeling the cool morning air and listening to the silence.

Arion4 Engineers
Arion4 Engineers – Photo: Michael Head

The early mornings in Battle Mountain have been so tranquil. Every day we’ve had fantastic clear sunny days and no rain, and the mornings have been a perfect reprieve from the harsh mid-day sun. Today, there is silence; no engineers working, no traffic, no railcars passing, and no A/C. If it weren’t for the fact that I’m sat on the threshold of a hotel doorway, I’d swear I was in the middle of nowhere.


I take the time to relax, truly relax. I can feel that every muscle in my upper body is tight, clenched. Maybe they’re overworked, maybe I’m subconsciously clenching them out of stress, but they’ve worked hard and they need a break. Taking small deliberate nibbles on my breakfast, I try to move each one of my muscles to clench and relax them, and really feel them relax. Concentrating on only the essentials of food I glance up at the blue-black sky as the sun starts to rise and tell myself, “You’ve had a great week, you’ve ridden hard and while you might not have had all the success you wanted, you still have one more shot. Channel all your training, channel all your frustrations at the wind, for one last burst of power to break Wednesdays record. There’s nothing to do after this”


Pep talk done, I get dressed and await my chauffeur. Half my breakfast still sits on the table. I tell myself, “it’s better this way, if I get sick in the bike, I’m going to have to clean it, and I’m not about to do that after ride.” I hop in the truck and my driver and I head out. We’re reminiscing about the week and he’s telling me that so far the winds aren’t looking good. Part of me is glad, the other is very disappointed.

Arion4 Engineers
Arion4 Engineers – Photo: Michael Head

I tell my driver, Derek I believe, he’s done it so often and this has become part of our regular pre-race stress distracting sessions that have evolved. I tell him that regardless of the wind, I still want another shot. I need to prove that Wednesday wasn’t a fluke. I don’t want anyone coming back later to say, “if you only did it once, how do we know it was legitimate?”


Of course, Derek reiterates what the rest of the team have said, “You broke the record, there’s no need to prove it again. Everything is so accurate and calculated that there’s no question. And you don’t need to prove it to us, we know you did it”. I agree. But I don’t believe him. Yes, I’m also quite self-critical.


The drive down the course feels slow and sluggish, it’s like I’m half awake. I’m still trying to do my usual thing: watch the course in reverse, spot the distance boards, look for key features in the road, learn the course. It might be a straight line, but there is a lot more to pay attention to than you might think.

Arion4 Engineers
Arion4 Engineers – Photo: Michael Head

We roll up to the start area and the team is out with Arion4. They’re a lot calmer than expected. Maybe everyone is having a slow day, maybe we’ve all just hit our limits. The team already has my bike set up and I basically roll out of the truck and dump myself into my bike like a bag of potatoes. I really need to psych myself up again. But the wind is blowing dust in my face as I warm up so apparently I’m going to have to psych myself up blindly.


Karen has had an early launch and as I get started on my warmup, the team tells me that most of the riders have scratched, including Karen. The only one to set off was Jennifer in Velox8. The wind is just too strong to take the gamble on a run that might be dangerous or illegal , wind-wise. And once again, they remind me that Karen has broken the women’s record 4 times now (I think), subtly reinforcing that it’s OK if I have to scratch. This is, after all, icing on the cake. Plus, Karen has a 2nd launch option later in the morning.


Three bikes in heat two launch and by the last one the wind is looking like it’s improving. So, the team and I get ready. I’m psyching myself up, flexing my muscles, trying to get them loosened up and unwound. More so than any other run it’s taking me a lot of energy to focus. Equally, and I don’t realise it at the time, but I’m relying more on the ream than ever before to get things situated with the launch.

Arion4 Engineers
Arion4 Engineers – Photo Michael Head

Heat three is called to the road and as usual, we are positioned at the back for the last launch. I’m dropped into Arion4 and I grab the pedals, trying to make a connection with the bike. Closing my eyes, I tell myself, “You can do this, one last run, don’t hold back.”


Rather than reaching for my helmet and the safety harness, I find that I’m just a little slow and it’s the engineers locking me in, dropping the helmet on my head, and clipping the radio on. The first bike launches.


The engineers check all the securing straps and the monitors. They ask if I’m ok and good to go. I take a last sip of water and assure them I am. “One more record,” I say as the second bike launches.

Arion4 Engineers
Arion4 Engineers – Photo: Michael Head

Arion4’s lid is lifted over me and lowered. Hands are pushing my feet and knees in, others have the securing clips in had ready to buckle the lid down. The sky starts to go dark…


“WAIT!!” I yell


Arion4’s lid stops and hovers for what feels like an eternity. Everyone around me is silent, the seem to expect the worst… I’m scratching.


“SLEEVES!!” I yell, and shoot my arms out better the two halves of the shell. There’s just enough room.


“I’m damned if I’m going to overheat on the last run,” I say and suddenly I feel hands pulling my warmup sleeves off.


My arms dart back in and I’m on the brake. The lid drops and is knocked into place. Bike three launches. Two minutes to get taped in and rasping of the tape echoes inside Arion4’s shell. I dismiss the panic that I’m trapped in a rolling coffin. I realise I’m the most dehydrated person on the planet. I tell myself it’s all psychological and rustle up a bit of spit for a last wee drink, “this a a cool protein mocha-cino, it’s like at the coffee shop”, I tell myself.


Then I realise that Leandre is trying something new, he’s mounted a camera inside the shell and I realise I must look miserable, so I give it a wave so he can edit out the bad parts and still have something where I look cool. So, this run there’s no real pressure. The record has been broken, no one’s really watching as intently as before, and Mike Sova is no longer in my chase car. And yet, every other race as soon as I’ve launched it’s just been me but this time Leandre gives me an audience for the full run? No pressure, none.

Karen Darke at Battle Mountain
Karen Dark with team, officials, and volunteers – Photo: Michael Head

“Ready, Ken?” Leandre asks


“Ready.” It clearly takes exhaustion for me to act like a normal person


5, 4, 3, 2, 1…


The push, the sync, the lunge, and it’s on….


I’m immediately focused, I realise it’s just me and Arion4 now, nothing else, no one else. My focus is on power and cadence as I start accelerating and warming up my arms and back. Picking my lane position I notice that it’s eerily calm on the course. The concerns about wind are gone, were clearly in a lull and I’m going to take advantage of it.


I see that speed is still on the display and I immediately recognise the danger of that. Quickly, I develop a plan: just ride this like the 600m, look only at power and cadence and keep a flashing yellow blur just off left, but don’t look at the speed.


The speed keeps building and the power steps keep coming. Gear changes are smooth and reliable as my cadence slows than smoothly builds up.


I pass the 2.5 mile board


My arms are warm and loose, as is my back. I’m feeling far stronger than earlier, and I’m more awake. But I know I’m also exhausted and maybe not as fuelled as previous runs.


I pass the 2 mile board


The road is smooth and we’ve I’ve passed what I call “flat corner” and I’m still rolling. Good sign. Shift and accelerate


I pass the 1.5 mile board


I can feel my breathing is getting deeper and deeper. The burn in my back and arms is kicking in. Shift and accelerate


I pass the 1 mile board


This is it, no turning back and full commitments now, no more thinking. Shift and accelerate. I sink into the seat and drop my shoulders, it only takes a few millimetres of adjustment to increase my power. My arms and back are on fire at this point and I just stop caring.


I focus everything I have into my arms and back, loose shoulders, relaxed grip: show nothing, express nothing. Shift and accelerate.


I just glimpse the final board and begin my final sprint, it’s like slow motion, the acceleration feels so slow but it should be; there’ll be no sudden movements with Arion4. This is suddenly the 600m sprint: full power is on: triceps, shoulders, biceps, shoulders are burning and ready to burst in that order, over and over and over.


My breathing is deep and controlled and I’m suddenly in a trance watching that flashing yellow glow, lane position disregarded, now focused only on one number: speed.


With every revolution of the pedals I want to quit, to stop the burning, but I have something to prove. I’m watching the speed build slowly but surely, but I know that I’m close to the point where building is no longer the option, what’s left is maintaining. I quickly decide to change my ride plan… treat this like a test run… Try to break the bike


“Sorry, Karen, I’ve got to chance it,” I think. Suddenly I’ve stopped focusing on my display, I’m trying to put so much power into the pedals that somethings going to break; me, Arion4, or the record.


My last glimpse at the speed tells me all I have to do is maintain this, it’ll be close but it looked good. Just maintain, 10 seconds with a safety net…


1, 2, 3, 3,…3,… what’s next?,… 3,… how long on 3 Arrrrgh!


A flash of flags goes by.. 9-10!


And I coast, gasping for air. Gasping like I’ve never gasped before. I’m lightheaded, dangerously lightheaded, this is not good.


I easy the bike over to the centreline, now a very close friend, a friend who’s going to keep me conscious. I stare at the flashing yellow, as long as I see flashing yellow, I’m awake… keep flashing, keep flashing…


My eyelids are heavy… keep them open…keep flashing, keep flashing…


Then, without warning, huge yellow and orange flashes dart to the sides of my display. I instinctively reach for the brake, hoping I’ll find it and I pull hard. The smell of burning discs fills the shell and the bike veers hard right. Suddenly instead of road in front of me I see desert… the thought; “at least I wrecked the bike on my last run, sorry you missed your last run Karen,” flashes I’m my head.


I hear the tape being peeled off faster than I’ve ever heard. I fumble to release the securing clips, in the dark, by touch with exhausted arms. The lid comes off and I take a few urgent deep breaths. Stephen comes up and asks if I’m OK.


“Gonna be sick, get me out”




“Need out, get me out”


“How?” There’s worry in his voice, usually I have to be quite careful getting in and out of the bike.


“Just grab my shoulders and drag me”


In one swift move all the belts and straps are removed and someone grabs me under my arms and pulls, dumping me onto the road. I roll onto the asphalt, thankful that it’s still somewhat cool and I’m not moving. Closing my eyes I try to catch my breath and calm myself. I know I’m the last bike and the road is about to open but I don’t care, the cars can drive around me.


Stephen is kneeling next to me and asks what happened.


“Almost passed out. Run might be good, but it’s going to be close, too close”


And quickly the team realise they need to get the bike to Karen for the final run. It’s rushed off and someone brings me my chair. I wheel over to recovery and chill out while the team get Karen ready. Luckily recovery comes to me fairly quickly and by the time I’m at the recovery area I’m feeling reasonably alright, happy I can just kick back and watch the last heat of the morning.

Ken recovering wiht the team
Recovering after a run with the team – Photo: Harry Fisher

And I wait with baited breath. I saw my speed before I entered the gates but everything after that was a blur. Plus I don’t know how our data accuracy compared to the stationary race timing system. It’s actually going to be a tense couple hours until the post ride briefing.


Soon Karen rolls in to catch and she’s had another good run. But like me we need to wait until the post ride briefing to get the results. But, for now we are done and we can relax. The engineers pack up Arion4 and I think that overall they’re pleased. We had some good results, there were only a few small mechanical issues that needed repairing, and only one, I believe, that kept them working into the wee hours. Plus, since neither Karen nor I crashed, they didn’t have to do any polishing of the shell, just some light dusting. For them, I understand, it’s been one of the least work heavy years. Surely that’s a sign of the great design of Arion4 and the pilots ability to not wreck it. Might have been close a couple times but…


At the post ride briefing, were all pretty relaxed. Yes, we want more records but again this is the icing on the cake. Heat one is called and there was only one launch, and not wind legal. Heat two is called with three launches. The first wasn’t wind legal but the next two were. That’s a good sign for the next two heats with me and Karen.

Ken Darke and Ken Talbot with awards
Karen and Ken with our winnings! – Photo: Michael Head

Heat three is a call and the three runs are wind legal. Good sign for my race, which is called next…


I’m nervous… anxious really. I look at the team, their faces feel like mine. A few shrugs to say, “who knows, it could be anything.”


Speed to beat: 51.58


“Ken Talbot…. university of Liverpool… Arion4…”


The room is silent




“YES! This is a good start, I’ve got it”




“OH, this is going to be so close, it’s unbearable”




“Oh, c’mon, just say it, make it be true, please, please, please”






51.09 mph while trying to beat 51.58 mph. I can say I’m not disappointed, honestly I was hoping for 55, I felt like I was giving that. But I can’t complain at all. I feel like my earlier success was verified, vindicated, validated, and something else cool beginning with “v”. 99.05% of the new record, my new record. Yeah, I’m ok with that.

Battle Mountain Riders
Battle Mountain Riders – Photo: Michael Head

But all was not lost that morning. Heat four is called with four successful and wind legal runs. Heat five is called with three successful and wind legal launches, the last of which is Karen and she, once again, broke her record with an astounding 46.54 mph, topping her previous record of 46.05 mph. Well done Karen!


The remaining teams pick their final launches for the evening but #ULVTeam are satisfied with our records:


Men’s: 51.58 mph

Women’s: 46.54 mph

Men’s 600m: 33.81 mph

Women’s 600m: 30.30 mph


Much of the rest of Saturday is a blur for me. I was so tired I didn’t even have the strength or care to pack my bike and my gear but it needed to be done; bright and early we were going to be heading back to San Francisco. If I thought I was exhausted and ready to go home at the end of the day on Monday, I can assure you I was way beyond that today.

University of Liverpool team with Arion4
University of Liverpool team – Photo: Michael Head

But pack away I did, along with a little bit of last minute laundry in the bathroom sink so I could look presentable for the awards dinner later in the evening. Did I go watch the final races? I can’t for the life of me remember, I probably wanted to but I may have just crashed. What I do know is that the afternoon was a slow, slow wander through life, thinking back over the week; thinking about how amazing and fortunate it was that everything came together to make it happen; how amazing all the people were who supported me including everyone at the University of Liverpool, my coaches Davie and Bob, Paul and JP who pushed me and reminded me that the record was not going to be easy or “fun”, Pete and who helped with my research, friends and family, and particularly Alan Grace who himself raced his own handcycle at Battle Mountain in 2014 and provided invaluable insight and could very well have been there in 2018 instead of me.

University of Liverpool team celebrate at party
Saturday Festivities – Photos: Michael Head

At with the Saturday night awards ceremony kicking in, I was ready for a long sleep. Occasionally getting poked and prodded when my name was called, it was quite a blur and and overload. It was great to have my name called alongside my records, as well as hearing of the other world record:

Ishtey Amminger, in the junior men’s trike. 60.94 mph. Shame he had to return home for school before the awards ceremony, but well done Ishtey!


But, the best part was all the riders from the other teams coming over to congratulate me and have me sign their posters or shirts. With all the hustle and bustle of the week I hardly got to meet or talk to any of the other rider. So often we were all just passing, wandering in a state of exhaustion after our runs, the scurrying off to sort things with our teams. But it was brilliant finally getting to meet them all, if only briefly, and how I wish I’d been more awake so I could do the rounds and visit them for an autograph.


Well done to everyone at the World Human Power Speed Challenge, from the riders, the organisers, teams, spectators, and especially to the volunteers. It’s an experience I’ll never forget and hopefully I’ll be back soon, if not to watch, then maybe to get my name in your books one more time!

Week at Battle Mountain #9 Race day Friday

Friday morning has the usual start. Early breakfast but I’m feeling much more refreshed and ready to run. Loaded up in the car, we headed out to the course. Karen had an early start and she’s doing the amazing thing of taking a shot at one of the long courses before we do what we’re really here for this morning.


But, with all the other racers and teams out at the five mile start, we turn off onto a side street… ok a nearby invisible dirt road that seems to lead out to the middle of nowhere… as all dirt roads out here seem to do. I get unloaded as usual and Derek is with me doing our routine pre-race warm-up and chat. Today is a bit different so he’s giving me the brief on the plan while we wait for Karen to do her run and bring Arion4 back to us. We’re a mere 600 meters away from the timing gates and we have the privilege of seeing some of the bikes in their final sprints. It’s quite a treat as I’ve not really seen them up to this point. One of the volunteers stopping traffic is there saying she’s glad we’re starting there too as she gets to see a part of the race she doesn’t get to see otherwise. It’s a morning of bonuses all around!


Karen whizzes by on the long course and I instinctively wave to cheer her on before realising she can’t see me. Soon enough though she’s joined us at our new start point for the day and the engineers are prepping Arion4. This morning’s race is somewhat different as it’s a 600 metre acceleration into the 200 meter timing gates, basically a mad sprint from the start.

The team and I have discussed this race a bit and even made a change to the bike to coincide with the change in our tactics. For the previous races we’ve had a specific plan of how I was to add power, this time it comes down to two techniques: 1) compress the five mile plan into 600 meters and 2) go like hell. Ultimately, they’re both the same plan in the end… and entirely #2


With the compressed plan we’ve decided to not bother giving me a data feed on power requirements. Ultimately, everything is going to happen so fast at there’s going to be no time to focus on specific changes. Today’s technique is simply: Sprint, change gear, sprint, change gear… Cadence is all going to be done on feel; power won’t be critical as it’ll all be max efforts, but speed will. I know there is a target speed to beat and that’s the only thing I have to pay attention too. As a result, Alex and Anwar, the visual and data specialists have reconfigured my data feed to give me speed. This will be the first time since Monday that I’ll actually know how fast I’ll be going down the course.


We wait by the edge of the course watching for the last launched bike on the five mile course to go by and I’m advised we are going to have to get situated quickly as there’s the usual limited time window for the road closure, but we don’t have time to kill before while other bikes launch. Then, we get word that one of the bikes didn’t start, and the next scratched. So, with more time to spare, we get on the course more relaxed.


I’m strapped in and the lid set in place. Taped up and secured the team reminds me, “Go all out, don’t hold anything back.”


I confirm the speed I’m trying to beat.


“28-point-something, right?”


Stephen replies, “Something like that, it doesn’t matter though, just give it everything you’ve got”


Leandre calls out, “Ready Ken?”




5, 4, 3, 2, 1

Arion4 Launches from the 600 metre mark
600 metre course launch. Photo: Michael Head

Leandre gets an extra powerful launch going. I’m not even trying to sync with him, there’s no time. I immediately go into a sprint, spinning in the realm of 140+ RPM I know I need to keep the cadence high to get keep this bike moving. It’s hard to sprint with 37 kilos of bike beneath you and your own mass of dead weight. I feel like a beached whale, already taking its last breath.


Cranking up through the gears I continue to sprint and change, each time the speed building nice and quickly, just as fast as I can feel the burn coming on in my back and arms. I’m targeting top gear in the cadence that I know I can get my best power from, and with each gear change my peak cadence drops just a little bit to hit that mark. I have a short distance to take advantage of every muscle, some work better fast some slow. My plan is essentially to burn them out in groups and let others take over to carry on.


With each gear change my power keeps coming on. Starting like a bat out of hell in a 70’s aerobics video, I’m quickly turning this into a massive strength effort. I know I need to be moving fast enough so that when I top out the gears I’m holding an optimal cadence. But at this point all I’m doing is watching speed and the flags.


With such a short sprint the timing flags come up fast. My eyes quickly shift to speed, flags, and back. There’s nothing else I can pay attention too, there’s no time. Lane position is still critical but I’m taking a big gamble, I’m just making sure that the yellow centreline is flashing just to the left of my peripheral vision. Every ounce of strength and focus is going towards this max power effort.


Shift and power up, speed is increasing and the flags are getting closer! Again! Again! Suddenly I realise I’m so close that there’s nothing more I can do to control the acceleration, whatever I have setup is where this is  going to finish. I slam the cranks forward pushing myself back into the seat. My head gets thrown back and I’m not even looking at the screen. The cranks drop and I I’m full on the pull stroke, my torso straining against the racing harness. Full power goes into every point of the pedalling cycle. I am, quite literally, trying to rip the cranks off of Arion4.


Triceps, then shoulder, then biceps, then shoulders and again. That’s the cycle of burning I’m feeling as I crank over. I try to keep a loose grip on the pedals, so too do I keep my face calm and relaxed, it’s wasted energy otherwise. But as the flags pass I take one last glimpse at the speed… this will not be for nothing!

Arms and shoulders burning, death grip in the pedals (I’m straining so hard I can’t afford to let them slip after all), slammed back into the seat, I’m half expecting to break the bike and then everything suddenly goes into slow motion. Glancing through squinted eyes I see the see the speed fluctuate just so but I’ll be damned if it’s going down, not these last 200 meters.

Battle Mountain desert
Desert blur. Photo Michael Head

The flashing yellow becomes a hazy glow, like the setting sun. The desert, a wash of golden streaks as I pass by. Suddenly I feel nothing, the roar of the bike has gone quiet and I swear I’ve stopped pedalling. I push and pull as hard as I can, my shoulders ticking over between. My breaths are deeper as they’ve ever been, I’m in desperate need of air and suddenly I see the flags pass.

Willing myself to keep the power in just in case I’ve gotten lost, I keep in on. 1, 2, 3… every revolution of the cranks… cranks I’m counting them to distract myself from the pain but it’s no use, I let go, there’s nothing left in my arms and shoulders to give. I coast, looking all over my display  to try to locate where I am on the course. I can see nothing but desert. No flags, no people, nothing… I can only hope that I’ve really passed the flags; that I’ve not imagined it.

Arion4 rides through the timing gates
Through the timing gates. Photo: Michael Head

Wanting to roll on my side and curl up for a nap, no… die, I realise I’ve got a long way to go, I know my speed was good but it’s not enough to just coast to get to catch. Plus, I need to recover, not that I want to, I just want to stop and get someone to take the lid off, but I don’t even know if I have a chase car. So, there’s no choice, I assume I’m on my own and I pop Arion4 in to a low gear and spin out, keeping the blood flowing, hoping for a good recovery. If the claustrophobia wasn’t bad enough at the starts, this is worse; my only freedom is to keep going when I have nothing more to give.


It turns out that the ride to catch is a surprisingly long way away and I actually have to work at keeping Arion4 moving. No rest for the wicked! I get to catch and the lid is off, the fresh morning air is such a relief. But, I’ve been cooking inside Arion4 and the air now feels quite cold. With Karen set for her sprint, the team quickly ask how it was, it tell them it was good, and nod to another record done and dusted (I hope), and they’re off with Arion4 back down the course. No time for an early celebration.


After a while, I’m fairly recovered, the volunteers and teams offering water and bananas. Sitting on a lawn chair, I feel like I’m at a bit of a picnic. It’s a treat that I now get to hang out at catch finally really get to see some of the other riders come in. It’s quite a sight; most of them look to be on the verge of death and having trouble walking. Yeah, I know the feeling. Chatting to some of the other riders, teams and supporters, we finally see Karen pull in to catch. She’s rolled over to the recovery area and we have a catch-up. She’s her usual calm self.


“How’d you do?”


“Yeah, good”




“Yeah, no problem”


Or something like that!

Karen and Ken at catch with Arion4
Karen and Ken suspect two 600m victories. Photo Michael Head

And at post-race meeting it was confirmed. Two more world records: 30.30 mph for Karen and 33.81 mph for me! Four world records between us, and with that we pick our Friday night launches.

Karen Darke clebrates another world record
Karen celebrates victory again (30.30 mph). Photo: Michael Head
Ken Talbot celebrates another victory
Ken celebrates victory again (33.81 mph). Photo: Michael Head

Week at Battle Mountain #9 Race day Friday: PM


Friday evening proves to be interesting. The winds are questionable. There’re no clear trends giving an indication that they might dissipate, and most teams take their shots. Karen launches before me, her third race of the day, that’s dedication! I’m the last rider of the 2nd heat and by the time my launch come up it’s still not clear if the wind will die down enough, but we take the gamble and set off. Later we find that Karen while having another great run, wasn’t wind-legal, so doubts were in order.


By now the launches are routine and I’m off. Everything is smooth and after a good rest and some food, I’ve recovered from this morning and ready to break that long course record again. Apart from a few minor bugs over the week Arion4 has been holding together exceptionally well. Whatever issues have some up the engineers have been able to sort out quickly. So, it’s looking like it’ll be a good run.


I loosen up through the first stage of the power plan. Everything is definitely good, the wind is bumping me around but it’s not unmanageable. Speed is building nicely and, since we didn’t take the speed reading off the data feed, I can see what I’m actually achieving, and it’s actually a very weird experience. I tell myself not to chase it (the speed), I know what happens when I do, and I start to focus on power and cadence again as usual.


The first power step comes in and I step it up a notch; it’s not much, just enough to get things rolling a bit more. But, I’m feeling like I’m dragging a bit, like I’m fighting to get the power down. Maybe I’m more tired than I thought, after all, it was a full-on effort this morning, but I’m still rolling and the speed is still building so I keep going.


A gear change comes up and I’m starting to feel like I’m dragging even more. “It’s all psychological,” I tell myself. “Just keep it going. It’s just pressure, like the rides when JP and Davie were watching and you botched it.” The next power step comes and I follow suit. Power is up; cadence isn’t where it should be though. I look at the speed; it’s not where it should be either. I don’t know literally what my speed should be, but I know it should be higher than moments ago. I watch the data feed for a while as my speed should be increasing. I’m getting my cadence up a bit to prevent bogging down, but it’s slow and thick like molasses.


As the next power increase comes I watch the speed; no change. OK, clearly there’s something wrong with the data feed or the speed sensor. No problem, it’s extraneous data anyway. I realise then that it’s probably the fact that I’m seeing the speed and I can’t easily correlate it with power and cadence expectations, and that’s what’s throwing my mind off.


So, I go back to focusing only on power and cadence as before. The power steps are coming faster and bigger now. Each time I’m matching but each time my cadence is bogging down more and I’m fighting the gears. Everything feels thick and sluggish as I start to struggle to match cadence and power. Not only that, my arms are starting to burn, much more so than on the last long run, they shouldn’t be this early. And I glimpsed the speed… not an ounce of change.


I fight through the last couple steps of the power plan. I’m committed now, half mile to go before the flags, and they’re in sight now, there’s no point bailing now, surely this is just an illusion. But I’m not a happy camper, I’m frustrated, as I really want to not only break the record but at least get close to validate my efforts on Wednesday.


Suddenly my data feed illuminates: MAX!! I put every ounce of frustration into this last effort; it might as well be useful. I’m straining as bad as this morning, everything is burning and I can’t take deep enough breaths. I’m dragging so much and ready to give up but I fight through it, you never know when an illusion might be masking success. My eyes are only on power and cadence. Cadence isn’t ideal but power is looking exceptional, right where it should be. I’ve match them all so surely it’s a good run.


And just as I pass the last flags of the timing gates, I’m suspicious that I was able to spot them this time, I glimpsed at my speed… it’s not changed since the 2.5 mile mark. WTF? OK, I need to talk to Anwar and Alex about the data feed. The 2nd set of flags pass by and just like this morning, I actually have to pedal to get to catch. There’s something very wrong about this. It’s not been a good evening. I’m exhausted, still working hard pedalling to catch, and everything just feels a little wrong. Maybe this is just the end of my week; maybe I’ve just hit my limits.

Ken rides to catch in Arion4
Struggling to get to catch. Photo: Michael Head

I pull into catch and hear the tape removed, more so than any other day I’m desperate for fresh air. The lid comes off and there’s a wee puff of smoke escaping. I hear some of the team ask, “What’s that?” I’m thinking, “Surely it’s just the steam from all my hard work as has usually been around.”

Georgious and Stephen un-tapeArion4
Georgious and Stephen rush to get the lid off. Photo: Michael Head

Stephen and Leandre run up, there’s a slight panicked look in their faces.


“What happened? You OK?”


“Yeah, I think I’m just shot, after this morning and the week, I might just be done. Not a good run but hopefully it’s close, but I think the speed data feed was messed up.”


“No, we thought something was wrong, we were expecting you to stop, you were hardly moving”


“My power was good but I was really dragging, I just didn’t feel good, maybe I’m a bit exhausted.”


Then we hear some of the others on the team asking, “What’s that?”


My usual catch team of Harry, Georgious, and Kieran are examining the Arion4. Their hands reach into the bike near my feet and they are looking at something on the tips of their fingers. They’re taking close looks everywhere around the front of the shell.


“It feels like rubber “


“Yeah, but where’s it coming from?”


More close looks and someone calls out for Anwar and Alex to flip the lid over and more examinations ensue, eyes and fingers, the engineers are meticulously looking at everything in detail to see what’s happened. No part is being missed, even parts of my legs and feet. Clearly they know more than me at this point. They know my speed wasn’t anywhere near what it should be and I now know that my troubles weren’t psychological, at least not all of it.

Ken recovers in Arion4
Recovering after the toughest, yet slowest run of the week. Photo: Michael Head

Clearly I’m in the way so I’m helped out of the bike. Everyone is concerned about me, this was clearly a run gone wrong, and they all ask if I’m ok. I assure them that I am and I apologise profusely for failing the team. They keep saying not to worry about it I’ve already broken both records and anything we do now is just icing on the cake. I try to believe that, but I want more for me, and the team. I don’t want our records to fall. Ever.


Assured that I’m alright, the engineers all head off with Arion4, they’re like rats sharing a scrap of chicken, poking and prodding, huddled around, everyone trying to get a piece of it. They know something might be wrong, and they have less than 12 hrs to fix it.


We head to the post-race meeting again. Our team is thin on the ground. It’s mainly the staff advisors, Stephen, Karen and me. We’re not expecting any significant news, and the important thing is that Arion4 gets examined and situated. That’ll tell if it was me or not, and if not, what engineers will be doing all night. Deep down, I’m still thinking I failed and I just want to leave and recover, hopeful that I can redeem myself on Saturday.


Karen’s run is called and it’s not wind legal. My run is called… 36.73 mph not even as fast as my qualifying run. Plus, it’s not wind legal. It’s been a rough night for all: Of 12 possible launches, only 2 were wind-legal. One scratched, one had a dnf, and another crashed. It seems the week it taking its toll, on everybody.

Man insults the wind with a finger gesture
That’s what we thought of the wind! Photo: Michael Head

We’re not out though, we’ve still got tomorrow. As team leader, and as he’s done all week, Stephen helps Karen and me pick our launch times. Steven (Yes, if you haven’t caught on, we have Stephen and Steven, only slightly confusing. The former is the head of the Engineering students, the latter is the Arion (1-x) project supervisor) steps in and advises us that we’ll only be racing in the morning, we’ve already broken both records, this is just a bonus. Stephen clearly a bit tense and agitated quickly scurries off telling us they know what the problem is; they just need to fix it and he practically sprints back to get back to the hotel to assist the rest of the team. Meanwhile the rest of us head off to dinner. Whilst we get to rest, the engineers work has only just started.


It turns out that during my run two support brackets had broken, such was the apparent brutality of the combined riding of me and Karen no doubt! The result was that the front end of Arion4’s shell had collapsed onto the front wheel. We figure this happened somewhere between the start and the two-mile mark when I started to notice the speed wasn’t increasing. So, essentially all of my weight and most of Arion4’s weight was now resting on the front tyre creating a ton of resistance. Not only that it was shredding and burning the front tyre, hence the cloud when the team took the lid off, the shredded rubber in nose of the shell, and why I was so desperate for fresh air… I’d been breathing in burning rubber for about three or four miles. But, the good news, as Stephen pointed out to me, I’d produced my highest power levels of the week during this run!


But, would the engineers have the bike fixed and ready to race for Saturday morning? And how would we fair after five days of intense racing?

Arion4 packed up in a van
Packed up and heading back, one last shot tomorrow

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.

Week at Battle Mountain #7 Race day Wednesday: PM

Wednesday afternoon comes round and I’m out and about a bit early. I roll over to the team to have a wee chat. They assure me they’ve resolved the issue and explain what’s happened. It all looks good to me. Of course, they ask about me as I did eventually confess about what had a happened the night before. I’m feeling surprisingly well and maybe it was a good things we got the flat. If we hadn’t, I would’ve had to recover after a full outlay of energy in the morning run. But at least with the flat I got to conserve some of my power.


With Arion4 set to go and the engineers certain they’ve resolved the issues, and with me feeling a lot more fresh than I was this morning (i.e. alive), we head out to the course. I’m warming up on the bike chatting with Derek to stay focused and calm, the camera crew from London Southbank University are roaming around, filming, and asking questions, not helping me to relax to be honest. The engineers are doing their routine final checks.


Out on the bike, it’s feels like a good day. The wind seems alright; possibly calmer than previously which is an exceptionally good sign. Ultimately, in 2018 there were apparently an unusually high number of runs which were disqualified due to illegal winds. Perhaps we are all in luck tonight.


People chack wind and data at a table in the desert
Wind and speed checks. Photo: Michael Head

In front of me are two bikes and oddly I’m not the last one to launch this time. Usually the bikes are launched fastest to slowest so that there’s no overtaking. For some reason though, tonight Calvin Moes in ETA Prime is behind me. Bear in mind Calvin is shooting for the 90 mph record. Leading the group is Lieke De Cock in Velox8 trying  for the women’s record, and just in front of me is Ishtay Amminger who, just last night, broke the record in one of the Men’s youth categories. There’s a theme here.


Settled into Arion4 and getting strapped in, there’s suddenly talk and an advisory of what to do if I encounter a bike ahead of me. I’m reminded that the passing lane is on the left and to stay well clear of the other bike. I don’t know if everyone is just excited about all these particularly fast and potentially fast bikes and riders all together and the energy is building or if there’s some genuine hope and belief. I assume it’s everything and take it all on board. I decide I will not be the slow one, I resolve that I WILL pass Ishtay. I will (and I’m already trying to figure out if I can wave to him as I pass).


Lieke launches. Ishtay launches. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, push, sync, lunge and it feels like a clean launch. I can only hope that Leandre has let go in time, but I’m sure he has as he’s been spot on for every other launch. As usual I’m setting my position on the road so that I’m riding the apex of the road camber as closely as possible. I’m precariously close to the left lane and potential disqualification but I don’t want to risk any unnecessary counter steering, given the issues we’ve had. The wind feels reasonably calm out and I’m not drifting. This is a very good sign as it was all the counter steering that was causing the flats. Maybe this is it.


Conserving my power at the beginning, I’m easing into the acceleration. I’m trying to maximise and take advantage of the narrow cadence band that I know gives me the most power per number of revolutions. All the previous runs have given me the chance to recognise just when to change gear so I don’t bog down or over spin. The power steps start coming and I’m matching them. I know I need to be efficient here, but with the talk of passing Ishtay, my mind wants to go all out with the power, but I hold back.


I still have no idea of my speed without that data feed but I’m into the power increases so I know I’m doing well as is check my distance. I’m quickly approaching the 2.5 mile mark and here’s where I get a bit nervous and where I become exceptionally attentive. It’s always been at about the 2.5 mile mark where I’ve gotten my flats and I’m watching the display closely to see if I can see anything in the road to avoid. It’s not quite clear enough to tell but I’m watching the road like a hawk.


2.5 miles goes by with no issue. There’s a huge sense of relief then the sudden realisation that I’ve got a whole new section of the course to ride. I’m still wary though, “was it at 2.5 miles or was it further?” I wonder. A power increase comes and I step up a gear, churning through, not letting my cadence get bogged down. Stabilised, and with Arion4 staying smoothly on track I check the roadside markers and spot 2 miles.


Arion4 travels down the course at Battle Mountain
Arion4 on the course at Battle Mountain. Photo Michael Head

This is definitely good news. All the flats have come before this and I know I’m in new territory. No longer worried about the possibility of a flat tyre and no longer fighting the wind like on previous runs, I put all my focus on the remainder of the ride. From here on out the power increases come fast and furious, and with each new one the next hits even faster.


There’s no time to hesitate or think, my focus is keeping the flashing yellow centreline of the road just on the left of my screen, spotting the power changes on screen I match my output and coordinate my cadence, I know what speed it should be but I need to check that it feels right too. I can’t risk an overspeed or bogging down at that this point as any mistimed gear change could destroy everything I’ve built up.


Watching the countdown markers go by I see 1 mile. This is it. The last mile is where there is absolutely no flexibility, everything has to be perfect. A power step comes and I match it, quickly but smoothly, another, then another, I have no perception of anything other than power, cadence, and that flashing yellow line. The gears are topped out and my cadence is reaching it maximum for efficiency, but soon I won’t care about efficiency.


The countdown boards go metric (yes, oddly they countdown in miles at first, then switch to metric), and I glance into the distance on the monitor to see a flag. Simultaneously, the screens flashes MAX and nothing else in the world matters…


Full pelt, every ounce of energy I have goes into an all-out maximum power sprint. That’s one hell of a feat, maxed out already and trying to punch 37 kilos of bike and my um… plenty of kilos, into an instantaneous sprint. I’m no longer watching my lane; it’s too late now and if the power in my arms is equal it shouldn’t matter. I’m not longer timing my breathing; I’m in serious anaerobic territory here. Deep breath and push / pull / push / pull and more. Deep gasp, every muscle in my arms, shoulder and back is screaming, desperate for relief.


The first flags go by and I’m at my limit but I have no choice, I’ve got to keep this going for 200 meters. I can barely see; I can’t even see the flags at the end of timing, only the yellow flashing line. It would come to be a good friend.


I know I need to keep this power in longer. It’s a 5 sec max effort power that I’ve had going well before the flags and it’s just got to keep coming. I start counting, 1, 2, 3,  I know it’ll take me about 8 seconds at record speed, 4, 5, 6, almost there, just one last breath and push, I scream, 7, 8, 9, CLEAR IT, SAFETY MARGIN, 10, 11, 12 and that’s it.


My whole upper body is crying out, my legs are starting to spasm, I’m gasping for fresh cool air, my muscles burn but I gear down and spin to keep the blood flowing and maximise my recovery potential, all I want to do is roll over an take a nap though. The air is hot, I’m hot, dehydrated, I just want some ice and water. Fresh air, oxygen; I can breathe but it’s not fresh, no airflow means I’m breathing in the last 10 minutes of used air.


Recovering enough to remember what’s next I apply the brakes and this isn’t helping my recovery. I don’t know how much but I’m definitely carrying some speed, evident by the burning in coming from the brake. It’s hot and it stinks, the air is becoming more and more putrid by the second. I think about coasting to a stop but that clearly not going to happen, not coasting this fast.


Alternating braking and spinning I keep the blood in my muscles flowing, I keep everything loosened up, I stay relaxed, then flush that with deep breaths of burning brake pad. Thankfully my arms recover quickly and it’s not long before I can start to relax a little, and breathe a bit better, just enough not to gag. I see the orange and yellow safety vests approach quickly and ease to a hard stop and feel the brace of people grabbing Arion4’s shell.


Immediately, I uncouple the shell, desperate to try to push it off. There is fast jostling about and I hear the tape being peeled away as I see someone sprint around the nose. I feel like I’m going to throw up and I try to remain calm as the lid comes off. Blinded by the light, with my legs thrashing about I take the deepest breath of warm dusty air I can manage. It’s no cool ocean breeze but I’ll take anything I can get at this point. At this very moment, I hate Battle Mountain, I hate the IHPVA, I hate Liverpool, I hate cycling, I hate that I’m here.


I hear the ripping of tape holding down the two computers in the back of Arion4, Stephen comes running up giddy as a schoolgirl. I beg for him to turn on my implant with the remote he’s carrying for me. He kicks it in and I keep saying higher, higher, cranking it well above the maximum limits I advised him to stop at, it’s the only thing that will suppress the pain in my leg and stop it thrashing and potentially damaging the bike.


Between breaths I see and hear the team from the chase car talking excitedly to the team at catch. Stephen and Leandre and damn near hooting and hollering, Harry is damn near jumping into the cloudless sky. Stephen leans in, the biggest Cheshire Cat grin on his face, nearly bouncing out of his shoes, and I see he’s got the SRM in hand. Immediately turn away and say, “Don’t tell me, I don’t want to know!”


“That was amazing…”


“We were watching the speedometer in the truck and…”




Stunned looks appear above me from everyone on the team as I’m lying in the bike.


I quickly say, “We knew it was going to be close, and we know that our data is a bit higher than the gates, and I don’t want you to tell me we did good, then have the officials tell me it was just under”


They get it, but everyone on the team is acting like kids on a field trip to a candy shop at Disneyland. I take comfort in that but I have no idea what the results are. I had no sense of speed while I watched it all happen on the screen in front of me. All I know is that I hit the targets and didn’t get any flats, I’ve done what I can do. I’m rolled into the recovery area while someone grabs my chair. I’m sipping water and hiding under an umbrella held by one of the mechanics. But at this point, with all the smiles from the team… I love Battle Mountain, I love the IHPVA, I love Liverpool, I love cycling, and I ESPECIALLY love that I’m here.


Ken Talbot and the University of Liverpool team sit next to Arion4 in the recovery area
Recovering after a successful run. Photo: Harry Fisher

Chatting away, word has either spread or everyone is just exceptionally friendly today.


“Well done!”




My teammates keep coming over congratulating me, patting me on the back, some near hugs of praise. Cheeky grins are all over the place, but thankfully no one is giving anything away, though many of the proper from other teams and the volunteers are baffled that I don’t want to know. I’m just keeping my fingers crossed, and I suddenly realise that Calvin was supposedly behind me but he didn’t pass me. Feck that must be a good sign that an 80 mph contender didn’t catch up with me!


The ride to the post-race briefing is tense, clearly the others want to talk about the results but I just chat about the ride. No doubt we stopped for one of the iced protein blended coffees on the way, so cool and refreshing they were; and healthy too, or so I claimed.


The team gathered in the community centre as the other teams, volunteers, and spectators drifted in. More congratulations come as we wait and I’m trying to be casual about it all but I’m really starting to wonder. Someone comes by and shows me a video of me going through the timing gates. It certainly looks cool, and this gent asks if I know my speed. Just as I say, “no and I don’t want to, not yet” he swipes to revel some text. He quickly pulls hit tablet away as I turn my head but I just catch a passing glimpse…


“Noooo, it can’t be true,” I think.


Now, now I’m desperate to hear the official results.


But it’s a long time coming; it feels like they are drawing it out as long as possible. Announcements are made about the race and policies, thanks are made, volunteers are arranged for tomorrow’s races and they finally get to the times….


Jennifer, in Velox8 from an earlier launch group has her speed called, but it’s not wind legal.


The next group had no runs. This does not bode well. It clearly been another windy day, and that can ruin everything. Now it the last launch group, my group…


Lieke in Velox8 is called. Wind legal. This is promising but don’t get your hopes up, anything can happen.


Ishtey in CO2 is called. Wind legal. Ahhh, this is looking good.


I glance over to the team and there’s nothing but smiles. We’re next…


Ken Talbot, in Arion4…


51.58 mph!… there’s muttering, a few quite cheers, everyone is glancing our way. We know that the next set of words is the most critical, the tension is palpable…


Nik Runner checks the anemometer at Battle Mountain
Wind speed check. Photo: Nik Runner



Immediately the room bursts into cheers, people are roaring, half the Liverpool engineers are crying. WE DID IT!! A new handcycling world speed record, 51.58 mph, and wind legal!


Ken Talbot celebrates breaking a workd record
51.58 MPH!! Photo: Michael Head

And the most amazing part of this is that everyone is excited when a record is broken, the competition isn’t so much about who does it, but that someone has done it. And I wasn’t the first this week. Ishtey Amminger broke a Junior record on Tuesday and Karen Darke absolutely smashed the women’s handcycle record on Wednesday morning. Each and every time the cheers and congratulations were just as powerful because that’s what we were all here for, to see the records fall. Here, I need to give a big thanks to Russell the rider from London Southbank University.  LSU had a few issues with their bike as it was damaged by the couriers. Russell had been generously been offered the chance to ride Milan SL while he waited for repairs on his bike. But on Wednesday morning, Russell had opted not to pick a launch place so that Liverpool could get a good one. Russell’s generosity and sacrifice allowed us to have the good fortune of getting on of the few low wind launches. Teamwork! The icing on the cake was the post-briefing congratulations from Mike Sova, my constant shadow in the chase car. The congratulations were honest and genuine, but I could see the disappointment as well, no one wants to have to step down, but his bike, Avis Arrow stood at number one for 7 years.


With today’s racing done it was time to pick launch slots for Thursday morning. As I was breaking down in tears of joy 10 minutes after my record was called, Karen has been coordinating with the team to try something with the race organisers. Once I recovered, Karen then asked I wouldn’t mind sacrificing my slot so the team could convince the officials to let her have a shot on the 5-mile course.


Knowing how well I did on the 5 mile course vs the 2.5 mile course and knowing the spirit of the races, I said, “Absolutely!”


Was I afraid that she might beat my speed? Yes I was, but that’s half the point of the WHPSC, break the records, no matter who has set them. And with that, I got to relax on Thursday.


Week at Battle Mountain #6 Race day Tuesday & Wednesday: AM

Tuesday I awake at a luxuriously late 5 am for breakfast. Happily, the team recognised that there was no need to cut my sleep short and they arranged to have all the team head out early to get ready for Karen’s launch, then one of the advisors would return to collect me for arrival during one of the breaks in the launch groups. Thus began a week of luxurious limo service and a standard routine… crack the door open so the team knew I was alive; then eat, get dressed, warm up with the bands, and visualise record setting runs before getting collected.

My driver arrives and I’m set to go. The town is surprisingly active in the early morning as we head south on SR305. We talk about random things, a little about the race a little about engineering, a little about life. All in all it’s a relaxing half our drive until we’re caught at the roadblock. Luckily it’s the roadblock for the races but still there’s this panic moment where I think we’re not going to get to the start in time. Luckily the pros have worked out all the details so I don’t have to worry. It’s an odd sensation being down here. Yesterday I got to see the launches of the other bikes but today, I’m not even at catch, I’m a spectator staring at the back of cars and it’s a bit surreal.

Sitting in traffic at Battle Moutain
Late arrival, waiting in the roadblock temperatures and pressure rising. Photo: Michael Head

It’s exciting to see the bikes come into the finish, the little I get to see. Whilst the extra hour of sleep is a godsend, it does mean that, for the most part, even with a week of racing I pretty much never saw Karen race! But, I missed much of the others as well, every team is working quick turnarounds with their bikes to often accommodate two pilots so there is a lot of to and fro, prep ad recovery, and not much mingling and socialising apart from the few minutes in the recovery area before heading out.

Rolling down the course I’m watching for key points again, building up my memory of it in reverse. After the flat tyre yesterday, I’m scoping out the road surface in more detail, looking for any grooves or scrapes in the asphalt. I note a few and spot some landmarks which ultimately prove somewhat useful later on. We pull into the start areas and slip in next to the other team cars and my bike. It’s already been prepped and set up for my warmups. Tucked in the shade, rollers on the bunny ears I hop on and start my warm-up.

Derek is, once again, parked in my chair behind me, bracing my bike. Monitoring the situation; he’s giving me time updates, letting me know who’s launching, telling me how Karen’s run went, and keeping me in good company and relaxed. The call comes to get to launch and the same routine ensues; drive up, get lifted into Arion4, and this was about the time I got stunned with some news: the cranks had to be shortened. The only thing I really insisted on during the testing, the one thing the team really pushed the boundaries out on in the last week of construction was getting the longer cranks… and now we’d stepped backwards. I knew we’d need the longest cranks possible but space was limited, and now I was worried.

A view of Arion4's adjustable cranks
Adjustable cranks. Photo: Michael Head

But, Stephen informed me that Karen had requested they be adjusted as the longer length not only brought about clearance issues with the shell, but also our bodies. It transpired that the cranks were so low that they had apparently been ripping off a little bit of flesh from Karen in every revolution. Okay that’s a fair excuse. I did then feel that I should come clean as I was hiding a bit of a secret. Not only did I have to time my breathing with cranks to clear them but they were smashing into my abs, right where I have a titanium battery implanted. After all the racing on Monday I awoke to find a massive black bruise about the size of a palm on my abdomen. Figure I was pedalling at about 100 rpm, and each run took about 10 minutes overall, and multiply that by two races; that’s essentially how many times I’d been punched in the gut yesterday. So, part of me was relieved, the other part knew it’d just have to work that much harder.

Secured in the bike under the usual routine I checked the cranks and to be honest, the clearance did feel better. Focusing on how to channel extra power I take a last sip of water and promptly spit it on one of the engineers belting me in. The lid drops and I watch the last of the bikes launch before me.

“Ready, Ken?”

“Rider ready!” (That still? Focus…)

Fingers drop, 3, 2, 1 and the push. My pedalling syncs with the speed before the last lunge and I’m off. The cranks may have only been five mm shorter but it feels downright roomy now, though I still have to time my breathing with each revolution. The bike is stable, but like yesterday, it’s gusty.

I’m watching my line, trying to come as close as possible to the centreline knowing Mike Sova is still observing. It’s proving to be a challenge as it’s really gusty out, and I’m drifting. A couple of gusts push me into the emergency lane and I’m hard right on the steering to get out. Another blast sends me towards the shoulder, so badly I hear later the team in the car behind me we’re worried I was crashing. Fair play, I did let slip the nickname I earned from riding; Crashy Crasherson. (Which, to my delight, they did put on the bike!). But no crashes today, there’s too much at stake.

View of Crashy Crasherson name sticker
Crashy Crasherson. Photo Ken Talbot

I’m keeping my line as best I can, occasionally drifting out of place but still able to step through all the power increases. The speed is building and it’s a fine balance correcting for all the gusts. A steady wind would be easy to deal with but not this. I’m watching for the few questionable sections of the road that I think might be puncture hazards and avoiding them, or trying to… maybe it’s the wind that’s doing in all steering though. Power building is stable, steering is semi-controllable and I can see the timing gate flags.

At this point I pretty much stop worrying about steering. I’m near the top of the power plan and I’m putting so much force into the cranks that the need to steer is largely non-existent, or I’ve lucked out and the wind has died down. Suddenly “MAX” appears on the display and I’m at full power, pushing as hard as I can. I’m not thinking about steering, only full power and whether I’ve passed one or two sets of flags. Straining, I keep the power on until the bridge that’s not a bridge; I know that’s well outside the timing gates. It might be excessive but I’m not taking chances. And as quickly as I’ve sprinted I back off, shifting down and spinning out to keep the blood flowing and to prevent lactic acid build-up while I coast and enjoy the ride to catch.

But, here’s where my notes are a little hazy… I know I clocked an official speed but I also know I got another flat; that was a theme with me! No doubt it must’ve happened in the deceleration zone but a flat it was. Another one at about 40-some mph. Immediately, the engineers were all over it, looking for the culprit, seeing if it was a fluke off the road or if it was another adjustment. They scurry off to check things out as we all head back for another post-ride briefing.

At the briefing, it’s announced that Karen racked up a respectable 38.66 mph and I managed 45.18. So close to the record, but still so far away. Clearly all the corrective steering was taking a lot away from power generation, but this was an improvement over Monday’s maximum speed. Mind, I did begin to wonder. When I sat down with Stephen as we put together the power plan, what we found was that the predictions indicated that we had slim margins to work with, and that was only with an optimal plan and optimal conditions. Any variations that were made to the plan resulted in a speed below the record. It was going to be close. Maybe this was a sign, the wind certainly wasn’t optimum.

Tuesday afternoon was a nice change of pace. “The Show and Shine” was on at the community centre where all the teams had the chance to bring in their bikes and display them to all the visitors and especially to a local group of school kids. There was so much excitement and genuine interest from the kids it was amazing. With Arion4 being such an unusual design we had a massive queue of kids wanting to take a look, but that might have been helped by the fact that we gave the kids a chance to sit in it and try pedalling. The enthusiasm was great and many of the kids had brilliant well thought out questions. I suspect there might be some very talented engineers coming out of that group!

Kids trying out Arion4
Georgious helping at the Show and Shine. Photo: Michael Head


The only downside was that I was exhausted and trying my hardest to stay awake. Fairly easy to do with all the hustle and bustle, excitement, and enthusiasm from the kids. Though afterwards I was ready to crash and luckily I could. But, not only did we have the “Show and Shine” there was also the locally organised bike parade and drag race. I really wanted to be a part of those but I was in desperate need of some sleep so I sent my enthusiastic “personal representative,” Georgious, out with my bike. Actually, I think Georgious just wanted to go for a joyride and do some racing, and he did. I understand he did quite well too, despite only haven ridden my bike once or twice during out testing near Liverpool.

Given that by Monday night I was ready to go home and we’d all worked really hard through Tuesday morning, the team made an administrative decision to take Tuesday night off so that we could all have a rest as we still had a long way to go.

Given that I’d had a good chance to rest on Tuesday night, you’d think I’d be fresh for Wednesday morning. Nothing could be further from the truth. I’ve mentioned repeatedly how hot it was and that I had to sleep with the air conditioning on. Whilst that was good for temperature, it was horrible for noise and that didn’t help my sleep. After Monday night I’d decided to put up a barrier of pillows on chairs and anything else I could find to try to deflect and absorb the sound from the A/C unit (Whoop, putting my audio engineering training to work!)

This barrier proved to be minimally effective and despite having the chance to have an early night, that just didn’t happen. Such is the impact of CRPS contributing to sleep deprivation. So, to help me get to sleep on Tuesday I turned off the A/C and was left with a cool & quiet room. Perfect, I drifted off to a nice calm slumber… Until I awoke about two hrs later feeling as sick as I ever have.

I’ll put up with a lot of things in life but the one thing I cannot stand is nausea. Immediately, I realised how hot it was in the room and quickly stumbled over to the A/C unit to turn it on, full fan, lowest temperature, luckily with a wall of pillows to pad my fall as I did. I managed to crawl to the bathroom, just in case, so close was the feeling, if you get my drift. Clearly this was heat exhaustion kicking in. After waiting for about half an hour for the feeling to subside I decided to message the team to tell them I was too sick to ride in the morning. But, as I tried to crawl to my phone I discovered how cold the tiled bathroom floor was. I had no other choice…

Also , discovering that a pillow was closer than my phone and I was in no shape to move, I grabbed said pillow and concluded, ; I’ve got another 2 hours that I can sleep. We’ve all come too far and invested too much time and effort to bail on this now, and promptly fell asleep on the bathroom floor. As luck would have it, I was able to sleep and woke up, not quite refreshed, but at least not feeling like I was about to die. The test though, would be breakfast.

Luckily all my relatives that had come to see the races had brought me tons of food to accommodate my allergies and I had a veritable grocery store in my room. I tried a few light snacks and they went down well, and moved onto my regularly planned breakfast. So far it was working. My temperature was better, food was staying down and I was making sure I had plenty of fluids. I was back on track and ready for a win. In some respects, overheating and horrible sleep may have helped. By the time it came to Wednesday’s morning run I was ready to put all my energy into proving that I’m stronger than my weak willed body that crashes under the influence of too much heat! And so I did.

The usual routine takes place at the start line. Lifted in, secured, radio checks, confirming the power plan, spitting on the engineers (oops). The lid drops down and I’m starting to think I’m getting used to the coffin like feeling, when I realise I’m not. I think back to the previous night and tell myself I’m stronger than that. I’ve overcome worse, and I’ll prove that I’m better than me… sure that doesn’t actually make sense but, hey ho!

“Ready, Ken?”

“Rider ready!” (That still, STILL? Focus…)

5, 4, 3, 2, 1… and the push, the sync, the lunge… and I’m off. I’m thankful that the morning is cool and it’s helping me stay fresh in the quickly heating bike. Channelling my energy I start building up speed, keeping things light and casual at first, just getting loosened up and keeping everything in control. The speed is building nicely, the bike is stable, but I can feel the wind kicking up again and it’s requiring a lot of counter steering to stay on course.

As in previous runs, there’s some hard veering off to the right and some occasional drifting around the centreline. It’s already becoming standard fare though and I’m rocking to keep the power on as I adjust the steering. At this point, I’m thinking it must be nicer being one of the leg powered riders as they get to keep the power independent of steering so they’re losing less power during their corrections.

I can’t tell how the speed is coming along but the distance down the course is flying by and I’m feeling surprisingly strong given how bad I felt last night. The power steps start to increase and I’m stepping into them smoothly each and every time, then suddenly…


My response is a mixture of ££*@£&#@!!, boredom, and disappointment. Yet again, another flat front tyre, and it turns out at about 40 mph again and right around the 2.5 mile mark! I was frustrated as this was another shot at the record lost and I was bored as it was becoming so routine now as this was either the third of fourth flat in as many attempts. I was disappointed too as I’d worked through all the issues around sleep and feeling sick and was getting surprisingly good power down. I could’ve just taken the morning off and had a full recovery. Oh well.

The intriguing thing about getting a flat front tyre at over 40 mph, as they always happened is this: So stable and controllable was Arion4 that the first time it happened; I was surprised, but I never felt like there was any risk or danger. Each flat thereafter it just seemed like a reason to slow down, as if you’re approaching a red light at a traffic junction. It wasn’t until I was out doing a Sportive the other day where I was approaching 40 mph where I remembered Battle Mountain and wondered, “What would it be like to get a flat front tyre now?” BLOODY TERRIFYING!!!

People gathered at the post-ride briefing
Post-ride briefing. Photo: Michael Head

As usual, the engineers jumped out and took the bike off the road while I got a ride to the finish. Just for fun, the driver showed me how fast the fastest bikes have gone on that course… nearly 90 mph. And here’s a good safety tip kids: Don’t try to wave at a grandstand full of people in a convertible doing 90 mph! In the short time it takes for the engineers to get collected with Arion4 they know what the issues is. Quick team, they are. We head to the post-ride briefing where it’s announced that I had a DNF with a flat but Karen has had a wind legal and record setting run of 41.86 mph! We head back to the hotel and I get some food and rest while the team work on Arion4. Clearly the sleep deprivation is starting to get to me as I can hear the team working and it sounds as if they’re in my room it’s so loud. It’s a small price to pay though, knowing that I don’t have to worry about any of the mechanical issues.

Week at Battle Mountain #5 Race day Monday: PM

Monday evening begins with a snack. I’ve had a nice rest in the A/C cooled room which is well needed. I can feel the first few days are taking their toll already and the relentless heat isn’t helping, at least not the change from a Scottish summers that are so much cooler. Already I’m getting into a routine; balanced snack at least two hours before the race so that I’m nourished and not wasting energy digesting food during the race. I then get suited up, racing bib, extra cool team jersey, neoprene boots for protection and warmth believe it or not; I can never have too much heat on my messed up leg.

I then have a wee rest with the door cracked open to let the team know I’m awake. Lying on the hotel bed I close my eyes and visualise the race. I’ve now got the first race done and I know what the process is. I know what the course looks like. I know what the run sounds like, smells like, feels like… and I recreate that in my mind. The silence after the shell lid is in place, the only voice I hear is Leandre asking if I’m ready. Then the push and the run…accelerating hitting the power profile, all the numbers are exact, faster and faster the desert scrub passes until I see the timing flags, then all my energy is focused… before repeating that over and over and over…

A gentle knock comes at my door.

“Ken, are you awake? We’re leaving in 45 minutes”

I manoeuvre to the door opening it, “Aye, all set, just prepping and visualising a world record.”

We head out to the course. The drive already feels second nature to me. As we roll down the course I glance over at the speedo on the pimp-mobile to see what 70mph should feel like, this is what my ride should feel like, give or take five mph. Chatting to my driver, I can’t remember if it was Derek or Glen as both helped with that and were brilliant chauffeurs, I ask about the critical points in the course and the key markers; given that I got lost on the morning run and that was a critical failure. I see that not only did I power up too early, but I kept the power on well after the timing gates, so now I know where to back off and recover. I’m also told that the officials swapped the timing gate flags around to make the start of the timing zone more visible, good call.

Having driven the course in reverse I’m trying to map it in my mind and trying to remember the warmup profile that coach Davie has given me. We get to the new start line. This is a bit different. Earlier I ran the short course as I call it; 2.5 miles for the qualifying run. This evening I’ll be on the 5-mile course. That was another stroke of good fortune, as part of the qualifying run was qualifying with sufficient speed to be permitted to do the 5-mile course.

Ation4 being prepared in the dusty carpark
Arion4 getting prepared in the dusty carpark and hot desert sun. Photo: Michael Head

Pulling into the dusty car park / mining lorry turn-around / cattle watering hole we set up. I see Karen situated across the way, on her rollers, headphones on, clearly focused on her own warm-up plan. The van is next to me as we pull in and there is a hustle and bustle all over the place as all the teams, once again, going through their prep. Engineers are tweaking and checking bikes, riders are on trainers warming up. There’s excitement and enthusiasm in the air. Getting out of the truck I see and hear Mike turn on the radio, 60’s/ 70’s rock starts to permeate the air around us. I get his attention and, reluctantly, ask him to turn it off or suggest that if he can play some Trap. “That’d be helpful,” I say, feeling like I’ve just killed his inspiration . Often I did my training with music and found that nearly every genre resulted in poor performance except Trap. It’s relaxing, but it also allows me to focus. That’s what I needed, relaxation and focus.

Helping me set up, Derek comes round, putting my rollers on the bunny ears (an amusing story I might come back to later) and positioning my bike to try to minimise my chances of getting blasted by dust that’s getting kicked up in the wind. Now here’s a key element of the warm-up. I seem to recall Derek saying he didn’t feel like he was doing much, at least not much that was truly critical, while we were in Battle Mountain. As one of the Liverpool engineering staff, he wasn’t directly involved in overseeing the bike but what he did do, though it might have seemed like nothing, was invaluable. He and I talked.

Ken warming up on his handcycle in the desert car park
Me, warming up in the hot sun and dust. Photo: Michael Head

After getting set up on my bike and rollers, I began my warm-up. At around 6 pm, even in the shade of our trucks, the heat was still borderline unbearable. I felt that the chances of exhausting myself were high so I took many liberties with Coach Davies warm-up plan. It’s a fine balance, heat exhaustion and warming up the muscles while reserving needed power. Amongst us, teams were moving to and fro, calls to get to the launch area kept coming, and I was so focused on relaxing and warming up that I, ultimately, had little idea of what was going on around me, and I was getting tense worrying about it and asking what was happening. This is where Derek came in.

Sitting in my chair behind me, bracing my bike, seemingly just kicking back, Derek and I talked while I loosened up. He told me what launch sequence was happening, he kept track of the time, but mostly, we just talked about all sorts of stuff that had nothing to do with the impending race. Each race we did this, Derek, whether he knew it or not provided valuable distractions so that I didn’t over focus and get caught up worrying about the pressures of the race. Sometimes the best warm-up is just relaxing.

The call comes to get to launch zone. I hop into the truck and as I’m driven onto the road I get word that Karen has had a good run and that the bike is in good shape. This is promising. With two riders, there’s always the fear that there’s been a crash or mechanical that might not get fixed in time for the next persons launch. Not only are Karen and I trying to push to break the records but we’re trying to do it without breaking the bike so the other gets all the opportunities they can have.

Again, another pattern is repeated; I’m carried to Arion4 as the boot lid is still mysteriously stuck for some reason. I’m lowered in then strapped in, and secured with helmet and radio. Taking a last sip of water, I turn and spit it out; unfortunately finding that Stephen is right there and I’ve just spit all over his legs and feet. Such is the price of success! And it won’t be the last time.

I confirmed with Stephen the obvious:

“I just need to follow he power plan we worked out, right”


I describe some points on the plan, confirming the targets and he must be thinking I’m and idiot, it’s so obvious what I need to do. Deep down I’m hoping he knows I’m just trying to reinforce it in my own mind so I don’t forget.

Ken in Arion4 talking to Stephen about following the power plan
Confirming with Stephen what the power plan is. Photo: Michael Head

The lid is lowered down and the rasping of tape securing the lid is like he screaming of a dying animal. I try to relax and stay focused. The faster I ride, the faster I can get out. I watch the last couple of bikes launch, suddenly I’m dreaming of passing one of them, “Good sign.”

“Ready Ken?” Comes Leandre’s voice

“Rider ready.” Seriously? This again? Why so formal? Focus, man, focus.

I see the countdown on the launch official’s fingers, and then feel the push. Quickly the launch comes and I sync my pedalling with it just as the last thrust sends me lurching forward. I glance at the monitor… power, cadence, distance; that’s all, and I focus. The plan is on display and I follow it, accelerating.

The desert passes by me, faster and faster, just as expected. I pick my lane position, just to the right of the centreline. I don’t want the camber to pull the bike to the edge of the road, but I don’t want to cross the centreline and risk disqualification. There’s a lot of jarring. It’s windy, very windy. Arion4 hits a gust and veers right; I hard steer to the left to get it back on track. The gust dies and Arion4 veers left. HARD RIGHT, HARD RIGHT and I keep it in the lane. In the back of my head, I know Mike Sova, race official, is watching and I’m not taking any chances being in the wrong lane. The wind is wreaking havoc on control. I feel like I’m slaloming down the course and every turn is impeding on my power input.

In the calm sections I double check the power, cadence, and distance figures, making sure I’m still on target. I can only hope that all the steering adjustments haven’t bled off too much speed. With everything on target I keep making power and steering adjustments but the wind has calmed and Arion4 is feeling more stable. Then, just as I make one of the big power steps… BANG… HISS… suddenly the steering feels less smooth and the ride has gotten very jarring. In an instant I swear, loudly and reluctantly drift over to the emergency lane easing the bike to a stop. Flat number two (at over 40 mph we later find again), and I didn’t even get to the timing gates this time.

I hear the tape being peeled off and the lid is lifted free. Panic is on the faces of the two engineers as our chase car clears the road leaving us all behind, as required. The engineers are worried that something catastrophic has happened but they seem slightly relieved that it’s only a flat. I’m frustrated. I saw a small divot in the road and thought that must’ve been the issue, and I’m already trying to remember where it was so I can avoid it. But the other culprit could be the many thorns in the area or just some dodgy rock.

Stephen stands next to Arion4 during sunset
Leaving Stephen and Mike in a ditch with Arion4 after getting a flat tyre. Photo: Michael Head

As the bike is carried off the road by the engineers, I hop in the sweep car as it clears the road so traffic can flow once again until the afternoon sessions start up. I’ve managed to pick what is reportedly the best slot to race due to the generally favourable conditions that exist on the last runs of the night and I can’t help but feel it’s been wasted. The team at catch is surprised and seemingly disappointed that I’ve arrived without Arion4. This can only mean one thing for them, much work while I get to go have dinner.

Heading back we go right to the post-ride meeting for the results. I know the engineers have already cast an eagle eye on the Arion4 and already they know what the issue is and have a plan to fix it after the meeting. In some ways it’s nice that it wasn’t a fluke as it means the team have control over the situation, and it’s reported that all my full lock steering into the crosswinds has caused some excessive rubbing on the front tyre against the shell. Luckily, clearance for that is easily made. Speeds are called for all the teams with a number disqualified for excessive winds and we wrap up by picking out launch slots for Tuesday morning and head off, me for food and rest, the engineers for tweaks and adjustments to Arion4, and as we’re leaving I say to Stephen, with some disappointment,

“Well, it’s been a good week, exhausting, but a good week. Shame we didn’t break any records but well done to you and the team, I guess it’s home now then.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Well, we did a good job we tried, but I guess it wasn’t to be”

“It’s only Monday night, mate. We still have six days to go”


Yeah, that first day was so busy and exhaust that I thought a week had passed. But luckily then I was given good news: I get to sleep in tomorrow!

Week at Battle Mountain #4 Race day Monday: AM

4 am is early. Even if you’re not fully used to your new time zone and you think it should still feel like noon. It doesn’t. It’s early, too early.

At the pre-race briefing on Sunday night we received our launch times. Karen managed to pick a time somewhere in one of the early groups that start launching at 7 am, and I picked a time that was closer to the last launches around 9 am. So, it was all hands on deck to get out for Karen’s launch.

First step was food, and luckily I had family that had brought me food as breakfast at 4 am was not about to be found anywhere in town. I wanted to make sure that I was well nourished with plenty of time to have it all digested so I could get as much energy as possible and not risk any ill effects. But, eating at 4 am is a struggle, especially as a normal bedtime for me is around 3 am. Yes, dealing with time was going to be a challenge. Every day, a new challenge.

Life seems to be much slower at 4 am. Unsettled. And I can’t stress enough how hot it was in Battle Mountain; so much so that I had to sleep with the air conditioning on. But, at 4 am this remote town was cool and refreshing and I could enjoy some quiet cool air with the door open, the A/C off as sat in my hotel doorway munching away on hard boiled eggs and gluten free cinnamon bread watching the stars thinking how amazing it was that all this had come together and that I was here.

In that calm state, it slowly dawned on me that not only did that early morning feel slow, it was, or rather, I was. Sitting there, time had flown by and no doubt I probably nodded off a bit. So, I scrambled to get my riding gear on. Taking no chances on delays down the line, I’m race ready in my room. I’m calm, quiet, cool, and ready to ride with no bike in sight. Glancing at the clock, I see I have time before my designated pickup time. So I lay down on the bed and rest, trying to feel centred, relaxing my arms and shoulders, and visualising State Route 305 rushing by in a blaze of glory.

Knock, knock, knock came the gentle tap at my half open door. My driver had arrived. How posh it is that I had a driver!

“Are you awake, it’s time to race?”

“Aye, just resting and visualising setting a world record”

True be told, I wasn’t awake. Not really. I was in was a bit of a daze heading out to the course as the sun rose, seeing the desert pass by, trying to spot the critical zones that I’d been shown over the weekend when we’d recced the course.

Arriving at the start point, the team began to set up for Karen’s launch. Most of the teams are there as well, from the large teams like Delft down to the smaller teams made up of a single rider and family supporting. Race officials are out and about keeping everyone in check and making sure that all the launches will abide by the very strict time schedule. The makeshift car park is quite the hub of excitement and energy. Sitting in the car with my eyeshade on, slipped up to my forehead, I see Karen across the way warming up on her bike and rollers. Many other riders are doing the same; some like Karen on boards protecting them from dust while others are in the back of freight trucks and vans. A plethora of amazing bikes are being tinkered with and finessed by engineers left and right… the excitement is intense. And I’m going back to sleep.

View from inside car out to group of people standing in the dessert
Watching the morning events before sleeping in the truck – Photo: Ken Talbot

With well over an hour before I need to even start getting ready I crawl into the back of our truck, thankful that it’s the size of the Titanic, and try to get some sleep, muttering to one of the team, “Tell Karen I said good luck.” It was a fitful rest. I don’t know if it was the excitement, feeling like I was missing out on the start, feeling the pressure of everyone’s and my own expectations, or the seatbelt poking me in the back, but I didn’t get much more sleep. But what I did get was much appreciated.

Finally, I decided it was time to get up. I managed to see Karen just as she was getting situated in Arion4, ready for launch. Suddenly, I’m feeling this is getting real. The first couple of bikes launch and I know I need to get prepped. Our team is divided; some are at the finish to help with catch and to bring Arion4 back for me. Some are helping at launch and prepped to be in the chase car. A couple are here with me. I’m feeling out of place without a bike I can warm up on but luckily Anwar, one of our visual systems engineers comes by to help me with my resistance band warm up.

I don’t want to do too much, just loosen the muscles. Given that sleep was short, tension is high; it’s all about finding the right balance, with no reference at all, as to how much I’m going to have to warm up without starting to deplete my energy stores too early. And by warm up, I mean warm up. Contrary to most of what I’ve experienced of Battle Mountain so far, it’s quite cold out. I ask Anwar about the launch and Arion4. He’s calm and cool; almost shrugging it off like it’s no big deal. That helps. Sometimes you need to stop thinking about what’s happening.

Meanwhile, Karen has raced and Arion4 has been brought back to the start. I ask how it went and it sounds good, but no one knows any results yet. I’ve now got a driver and we have a plan for the start which was used for Karen since neither of us can push ourselves across the dirt lot, up the wee dirt ramp, and over the asphalt lip of the road to get to the start… well maybe we can actually, but someone came up with a much better plan. The call comes from the start official for all the teams in our launch group to get onto the road. I’m driven a short distance to up to Arion4 which is already being prepped.

Harry standing at the cattle grid staring at the start line
Turns out it’s the cattle grid you can’t take a wheelchair across to get to the start line! Photo: Michael Head

“Amusingly”, the plan is to get my chair out of the back of the truck so I can get myself to Arion4 but for some reason the boot lid won’t open. Not to be defeated by technology, two of the team members come over and I sling an arm over each of their shoulders and get carried the few feet to the bike. This proves so much more effective than trying to sort out a remote control from GMC and its obsessive safety lockouts that it becomes a regular thing. All hail manual control!

I’m lowered into Arion4 and there is so much activity that I start to forget about the pressures. I don’t even see the first bikes launching. The team is working like a well-oiled machine already. I’ve got people strapping my legs in place on either side, someone connecting the racing harness, another situating my helmet and radio and doing radio checks. I check in with my liaison, Stephen, to verify the plan for putting down power and I check what the lane positioning rules are so I don’t disqualify myself. Suddenly, the top of the shell appears. I take off my riding sleeves, and wait to be sealed in.

Hands reach in and take over locking the top of the shell down leaving me to tighten the securing straps. Other hands push my knees and feet in so they don’t get crushed and suddenly it’s dark, only a slight glow comes from the monitor in front of me and all the sounds of the world are muffled. Despite all the activity around me and the knocking on the shell to get my attention, everything had gone a little calm… but only for the briefest of moments.

There’s a tap on the shell and someone tells me to put the brake on so the engineers can finesse the position of the lid. It’s this moment that I suddenly realise how dehydrated I feel, despite taking sips of water and spitting them out while getting situated in the bike. My mouth is as dry as the landscape around me. I suddenly remember that everyone is watching me. And then I hear the unmistakable rasp of tape being unfurled and feel Arion4 jostled as the tale sealing the top and bottom halves of the shell is put on. I know now that there’s no escape even if something goes wrong.

Focusing, I channel all my energy on the pre-race visualisations I’ve been doing for well over six months, watching myself accelerate faster, and faster, and faster until the speed trap flag pass by in a blur. I grip the pedals and make sure I can feel where the derailleur controls are. I take a deep breath and try to relax as I watch the last of the riders before me set off knowing I’ve now got less than two minutes to go time.

A knock on the shell comes, and I hear Leandre call my name,

“Ken, you ready? “

“Rider ready!” I call back immediately thinking, “Why am I being so formal, like there’s a massive command hierarchy in place here?” Then, immediately wondering why I’m worrying about such an insignificant detail when there are more important things at stake. I see ahead of me the start official, counting down with his fingers.

“Ooo, so official, like the Tour de France time trials”

“Focus, man. Focus”

Go time and I feel Arion4 lunge smoothly forward. It’s a fast kick and I’m impressed that not only was Leandre apparently the fastest sprinter, but he seems to have taken into account quality service in making it feel that he’s just gently easing me and Arion4 forward.

Leandre pushing Arion4
Leandre starting the launch. Photo: Michael Head

“Focus, man. Focus”

I begin pedalling and match Leandre‘s speed, knowing I’ve only got a couple meters to get coordinated. The drivetrain is smooth, gears are working. Knuckles are only just brushing the shell, “Watch your grip.”

“Feck, what’s punching me in the gut? Is something broken? Nope, cranks. Why?”

“Long cranks! That’s it! Leverage is good, but longer also means lower. Smashing my abdomen. Hurts. Breathe… time your breathing, inhale every time the cranks come down. What’s my cadence? How many times per minute will I have to inhale? Can I keep it up without suffocating when there’s only so much air in here? Wait, everything works; works well; stop doing the math. Foot hurts like mad too but, so be it. Sacrifices have to be made. Chill, chill. Enjoy the ride.”

I do, I can see where I’m going and everything is mechanically sound. I’m feeling fit and fresh, no longer dehydrated. I look at the data feed on the screen. Power is good, I’m at the “warm up” phase. Cadence is good too, ideal speed for optimum power. I’m feeling loose and suddenly I realise the sound, that unmistakeable rumble of carbon fibre. I’ve always loved the sound of carbon discs on a bike, but now, I’m in it, surrounded by it. It’s loud, very loud, but so soothing. Back to the data feed. Power, check. Cadence, check. Distance, close enough, I’ve spotted the roadside boards that have, conveniently, been made big enough that people only focusing power and cadence can still see them on a tiny monitor. What’s left… speed, that’s right, that what we’re here for.

“Jeez! That’s awfully fast! Oh, this baby want to race!”

“No, this one is about control, a stable finish to qualify”

I’m well down the course when I realise I’m already in the high 30’s and not even really into the bigger power jumps.

“Oh yeah, we’re gonna have some good speeds here”

“No, this one is STILL about control, a stable finish to qualify”

I do one of the mid-ride power increases and see the speed hit 42 mph already and I’m not even at the end of the course or the power sequence. What I don’t realise though is two very important things: 1) I’m actually lost…yes, in a straight line I’ve gotten lost and I realise that distance here is just as critical as any series of turns, chicanes, or hills in any other race. 2) Most importantly… just how deadly knowing what my speed is, and how weak willed my mind is at this point.


And I do… not realising at that moment that I’m only around halfway down the course and haven’t completed the full power profile we’d established. A full, max-effort sprint ensues and I can’t tell where the speed trap is. I hold it as long as I can, hoping I’ve well overshot.

“Holding it, holding it… can’t, that’s it… oh…look… here comes the speed trap…”

“OK, keep the power on, don’t let the team see you’ve blown it when they look at the data.”

But it’s done, I’ve blown out. No wonder we have this power profile to follow. Stupid mad sprinting doesn’t work. It turns out there’s so much more strategy to riding Battle Mountain than you’d think. But I keep pushing it hard still, there’s no way I’m going to coast through the timing gates.

Now, this is where things get a bit hazy (this first of many hazy moments). I believe this may have been the point where I got the first flat tyre, the first of four, I believe. I’ve check with my team liaison and apparently it’s a blur for everyone we just remember a lot of flats. But, there was one flat where I was told that the people overseeing the timing system could hear as I went through the gates. That became a bit of a theme for me… flat tyres at over 40 mph!

But, we had a successful run (as did Karen) which was confirmed at the post-race meeting. Standard procedure after each round of morning and evening racing is to announce the bike speeds and wind speeds to see whose runs were wind legal and if anyone broke a world record or a personal target. Having successfully qualified with a speed of 42.37 I was then allowed to pick a launch time for the evening set of runs. It was at this meeting that I swear I could see a cheeky smile from Mike Sova that seemed to say,

“Not this time, not ever.”

I glanced back to say, “Well, if that’s not a challenge, I don’t know what is. Just watch that record fall.”

After the Monday morning meeting the team went back to the hotel and while some of the engineers were giving the bike a check-over and fine tuning some adjustments I sat down with Stephen and Leandre to look at the power profile and ride data… and explain to them how I completely disregarded it. We did though; see that my peak speed was higher that what was recorded in the timing gates, so we knew that faster speeds were possible, if I rode responsibly. Additionally, we factored in the matter that I hadn’t been on my bike for over five days and hadn’t had a proper warm-up, so I was essentially going incomplete cold.

Ken and Leandre examine the ride data
Looking over the post ride data. Photo: Michael Head

The other factor I realised was the power of persuasion and the weakness of the mind; my mind. This wasn’t new and I’d been working on the psychological aspects of racing and training as much as the physical training. I was trying to find my weak spots, looking for the moments in training where I lapsed, failed, questioned, and I’d step back and analyse why I performed as I did. Equally, I looked at the good, successful sessions and tried to work out what about them made those sessions so good.

The two key points that really stuck for me were the sessions where people were watching: The simulated race with Paul and JP, the simulated runs with my riding coach… none of them were as good as I wanted to me to be. In fact, I’d rack them up as failures. It was clear from most, if not all of them that a record was not in the cards. But why? It was clear that I was quite susceptible to external views and influences, and those would cause me to get distracted, to act in a way that was different to when I was focused. So what was it about this Monday race that influenced me to lose my focus, to deviate, to fail…? Speed, ironically.

Deep down, I knew it as soon as it happened: it was knowing my speed that caused me to deviate. Once I saw that 40 Mph on the display I knew I was so close to the record that there was no way I could not beat it. But there was and I did it; going to max power too fast, and too soon. It was as if Paul, JP, and Davie were yelling and cheering on the test runs. The solution was obvious then. Get rid of the speed.

And so I asked the visual and data systems engineers if they could reconfigure my display to remove the speed. I realised all I needed to see was power and cadence, and distance as a backup. Not only did this make it easier to read the data in the screen, especially the most critical information, but it then eliminated any superfluous information that would distract me from the plan.

You might ask why I didn’t care about speed when that was my ultimate goal (apart from apparently being a weak-willed and easily tainted by the nefarious calls of that demon: speed). On a simple level, you could say that it’s like the Pythagorean Theorem, A sq + B sq = C sq; all other things being equal and constant (or as close as possible in a hot windy desert) put in values for A and B and you can only have one result for C. So, for any given cadence and power, the speed is inevitable. If I know what A and B are, I don’t have to get distracted by doing the math to solve for C.

Monday evening would be the test of my theory.

But first, Monday afternoon…

By now it’s mid-day and hotter than an oven burning a Sunday roast. I took some time to refuel a bit, not wanting to overdo it. I knew I’d need the energy but food and heat can be a catastrophe.

I then begin my hunt… Bikeo, bikeo, where for art thou, Bikeo? I pop into the hotel reception to see if any enormous parcels have been left for me. I’m hoping to not be disappointed as I was on Saturday. On Saturday there had been a delivery slip and some of the team rushed out to collect the parcel. After much confusion about the size of the parcel the postie was looking for, they were presented with a tiny box that ended up being spare parts for the bike. And here a bit of chaos ensues… rumour has it another delivery slip has arrived. As I await confirmation I’m hit in the back of the head… family! Turns out two more family members have arrived from California to watch the action with, I think, quite a typical greeting! Having to reluctantly put them off for now and encouraging them to get settled in and enjoy the myriad of sights the town has I get handed a parcel delivery slip.

I can’t remember if I took this with great caution and suspicion after Saturdays events, or if I was ecstatic about the possibility but I’m sure I sprinted across the car park (possibly breaking a speed record) shouting for everyone on the team so we could see if it was my bike. Brilliant team that they are, a few of them gathered up and headed out and returned shortly (Battle Mountain is quite a small town, you know) with, wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles, my bike! And not only did they collect it, but being talented engineers, they offered to build if for me so I could get some pre-race rest. If I haven’t said it before, the team support was brilliant!

So, I’m chilling out in my room with the A/C on. Heat exhaustion is a clear risk, and that will become very evident in a couple days. I’m half dozing, half visualising the race course, intermittently using my elastic bands to loosen my muscles when a gentle knock comes at my door. I can’t believe it’s race time already, I don’t feel like I’ve rested at all. Oye, this is turning into a brutal week already! Luckily, it’s just Kieran stopping by to mention that they can’t figure out how the bike needs to be reassembled. Fair do’s, he’s never done it before and even I barely remember, plus, it’s mostly just a jumble of random parts in a bag.

I pop out in the shade of some nearby potted plants and Kieran and I work on the reassembly. In the back of my mind, I’m thinking, “don’t waste your energy doing this” but thankful that I’ll finally be able to get a proper warm-up in (that’s how critical energy conservation is sitting on my mind). Vastly thankful that I’ve had Kieran to help me rebuild my bike I can finally break out the SportCrafters rollers that have been sitting, lonely, in my room and I get them secured and ready for warm-ups. But first, more rest.

Edinburgh Festival of Cycling – Coming Soon

For those of you in the Edinburgh area or those who like to travel for fun events, the Edinburgh Festival of Cycling is coming soon!

Extra exciting this year is an evening of handcycling on 08 June!

I will be talking about the becoming the world’s fastest handcyclist and if you’ve seen one of my talks before, I’m going to try to make this one a bit different.

Not only that the University of Liverpool will be doing a talk on developing world record setting bikes! They’ll be bringing up Arion4, the four-time world record setting handcycle, and talking about their upcoming efforts with Arion5.

But wait, there’s more! Karen Darke will also be talking about her #quest79 adventures!

And how great is the festival of cycling? If you do the double bill of Me and Karen, you get a bargain price and entry into the University of Liverpool’s Arion Project presentation for free!

Looking forward to it, myself!

Click below for more details and tickets:

The World’s Fastest Handcyclists