I had a midweek buggy session on Wednesday 6th May at the Purley Way playing fields. The wind was up and I was there primarily to test a camera and GPS mount I’d been working on. I had bought a new Sony camcorder to record better quality video but the winds brought showers as well as sunshine meaning I wasn’t going to risk mounting it to the buggy, so I used the GoPro to film instead.
It was a fun session, high winds, sunshine and wet dandelions. Lots of sliding about and last second risky moves which saw me deploying the chute on occasions. Powersliding to a stop is not very effective for me on grass, whether it’s wet or dry. Sending the kite 180 degrees behind me to help slow down in a hurry is a practice I’ve become accustomed to over the years.
I see a guy at the school fence standing there looking my way. He’s wearing a lab coat, probably a science teacher. I hope it’s not out of concern for the kids but out of curiosity. I don’t normally ride on this part of the field as it has more goal post per square inch than the rest of the playing fields and it’s a relatively small and busy section with a kids playground, a skate ramp, nearby houses and a busy tree lined road on two sides where the field ends in a point but today being a weekday it is quiet.
However at 3pm a little over one thousand school kids will empty onto the fields. I have just 40 minutes to go before I must taxi back to the hanger and cool my engines. I achieved 45mph earlier in the day but with a little luck I might find a gust with my name on it and do better.
I start the speed run in the far corner. The kite is flying over the trees and in danger of stalling in the wind shadow created by the school buildings. I do this because I need as much run-up as possible. This area is my only real option for speed, after an hours riding I discover that the wind is being funneled here.
My lowest speed of 4.7mph is somewhere around here and I think it is shortly after the turn but it takes the GPS about one or two seconds to update it’s current speed to the screen. Please account for this slight delay when watching. I’m getting my speeds direct from the GPS unit so that anyone who wants to can stop the video at any time and check to see if my own mph counter marries up but in reality I’m both starting my speed run and reaching the top speed sooner than indicated in the video. Either way the measurement is still the same.
Acceleration was quick, very quick!
The moment I emerged from the wind shadow I was off. The kite had hit a sustained gust and I was being pulled forward in the seat, my feet pressed against the pegs. I don’t think the wheels could find traction on the wet grass. I felt the rear wheels ski along rather than roll. The road was coming up fast and the gradual downwind slip was putting the kite close to the trees. Luckily it was dry just enough to steer upwind albeit gradual. It had been raining on and off all day but the playing fields drain impressively quick. An hour earlier it chucked it down making upwind turns impossible.
How did I come up with 7.9 seconds? This is an easy measurement to make within the video editing software. I examined the footage carefully until I came across the very first frame where the GPS display’s 4.7mph, just as it ticks over from the previous reading and cut it. I then did the same for the very first frame where I see 49.9mph. The editor is then able to precisely measure the length of that clip, 7.934 seconds to be exact.
Maybe not an acceptable method of measurement for any league table should one ever exist but good enough for this video.
I included my own counter to show mph to compliment the GPS unit as the picture quality isn’t great. The vibrations and overcast sky did not help. I mirrored the readings directly from the GPS frame by frame which took forever and a day. I also included a third party 8 digit timer which also matches up.
There was a heart stopping moment when my foot slipped off the wet foot pegs at speed but fortunately the front wheel did not turn too far in either direction due to the wet grass and I regained control.
Kite 9m Genetrix Hydra …..read more
Buggy Dominator 4 / weight 73Kg / Rider weight 92Kg / Gross 165Kg (363lb)
Music – Metallica-Welcome Home (Sanitarium)