20th Annual World Human Powered Speed Challenge comes to Battle Mountain

The 20th Annual World Human Powered Speed Challenge will take place in Battle Mountain from Sept. 8-14, and races will be held on State Route 305 south of Battle Mountain. 

The world’s fastest humans – from the U.S., France, Russia, Japan, Canada, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, Australia and England – will attempt to break the current land speed record of 89.59 mph set by Todd Reichert of Team Aerovelo of Toronto in 2016. 

The women’s record of 75.69 mph was set by Barbara Buatois of Draveil, France in 2010, and the multi-track record of 73.95 was set by Gareth Hanks from Berwick, Australia. 

Highway 305 south of town has unique traits which allow the highly engineered bicycles to achieve top speeds, and the 1,408m altitude allows riders an acceleration zone of over 5 miles, enabling them to reach maximum velocity before being timed over a 200-meter distance.

The smooth surface was paved especially for human powered cycle racing in 2009 by Frehner Construction and the Nevada Department of Transportation using a Nevada Department of Tourism grant from the U.S. government. 

The high altitude and arrow-straight section of pavement has drawn athletes worldwide to test their cycling and running abilities since 2000.

Lander County commissioners passed a motion to waive the rental fee for use of the Civic Center for upcoming WHPSC events, and for the Battle Mountain Chukar Tournament the first weekend in November.

Executive Director Paula Tomera of the Lander County Convention & Tourism Authority gave a presentation to commissioners and residents about the impact tourism has on Lander County. 

“Tourism means more than just people coming into our town and staying in our hotels,” said Tomera. “For Lander County specifically, in 2017 there was about $3 million put into our economy just for accommodations, about $2 million for food and beverage, about $3 million for recreation, about $5 million for retail, and about $5 million for transportation; visitor spending is about $17.4 million dollars.”

Tomera said compared to other counties, Lander County is limited because there are only so many rooms available, and it is a challenge to advertise for an event like the WHPSC because of that. “I wish I could increase that, but we’re working hard to try to figure those things out. Hopefully we can work on getting more rooms in the future.”

“What makes this different from any other event we do is that Highway 305 has special characteristics. It’s the longest, straightest, smoothest stretch of highway in the world, and actually the only place in the world because of its elevation, and the fact that the county and NDOT approve the road closures for 20 minutes at a time,” stated Tomera. “For 12 days, approximately $300,000 goes into our economy. We definitely don’t want to do anything to keep them from coming back or finding another place. When we do our World Tourism Conference, I do have other people say they wish they could steal this from us. It’s something that other people want to have, and we’re lucky that after all their searching, they found this highway, and the county has been good about letting us close it down for the races.”

Tomera said the Chukar Tournament has grown in attendees over the past five years partly due to ads in the Nevada Small Game and Oregon Small Game hunting guides, and the impact of visitors for 1.5 days during the tournament is approximately $25,000; 70% of visitors are from out of town.

Regarding the two events, Tomera said they take up a lot of her time and are planned throughout the year, and she could use some help from the public. “There’s so much to do, and when the event is over, I start planning the very next week for the next one. It takes me a year to complete because there is so much that goes into planning. When the event comes up, I bring my family in to help, and my friends,” said Tomera. “I have a lot of friends who help during the year, but when November comes around, I don’t hear from anybody until January because they’re so exhausted. To do any more events, I need the public to help, as I just don’t have the manpower to do it, with my part-time assistant.”

Spectators are welcome to the free WHPSC event from 7 to 10 a.m. and 6 to 7 p.m. each day, and a commuter bus leaves the Battle Mountain Civic Center at 4:30 p.m. and returns at 7:30 p.m. Grandstands are located at the timing traps for maximum speed thrills. For those curious about the riders and their vehicles, spectators can wait in the “catch” area to see the racers assisted in their fully enclosed speed bikes.

The Civic Center will host a “Show & Shine” from 1 to 2 p.m. on Tuesday, September 10 for those who would like to see the bikes and meet the riders. Event t-shirts, hats and posters will be on sale. 

The 3rd Annual Bike Parade will start at 12:30 p.m., and the line-up is at Etcheverry’s Food Town at noon. Drag races will be held in town near the high school on Friday morning, and all are welcome to test their mettle against the world’s fastest racers. 

For more information go to WHPSC.org and IHPVA.org, and Landercountytourism.com, or contact the Lander County Convention & Tourism Authority at 775-635-1112 or landercta@gmail.com.