Penseyres and Lightning win the Seattle to Portland Challenge
Pete Penseyres, winner of the 1984 Race Across America, won the 192-mile Seattle to Portland Human-Powered Vehicle Challenge in 7 hours, 31 minutes, and 42 seconds. Penseyres rode the Lightning X-2, currently the world’s fastest bicycle (57.91 mph). The Lightning X-2, built by Tim Brummer of Lompoc, California, is a fully enclosed, streamlined, recumbent bicycle, and is at this time the fastest vehicle in the DuPont 65-mph speed competition.
Five HPVs started the race from the Seattle Municipal Building at 8:00 A.M., June 22nd. In addition to the X-2, the field included Windcheetah, ridden by Cary Peterson; a lycra-faired Counterpoint Opus II tandem ridden by Paul Atwood and Wayne Bliesner; the Cargo Carrier with designer and builder Steve Delaire piloting; and the Phoenix, a back-to-back Vector-type tandem trike supported by the Cal Poly ASME Racing Team, and ridden by Greg Smith and Brian Porter.
The course was ridden under normal traffic conditions, and all contestants were required to obey the state traffic codes. Penseyres was stopped once by a curious policeman, and was delayed on the two-lane Longview Bridge by a driver making an illegal U-turn. It took the X-2 18 minutes to cover the last three miles through downtown Portland due to heavy traffic and frequent stop-lights. Despite these slow-downs, Pete still managed to win the $1,000 HPV challenge, with an average speed of 25.6 mph. He beat the previous unofficial record, set with a tandem bicycle, by 30 minutes.
Though the other competitors made gallant attempts to stay with the X-2, Penseyres proved to be too much. The Phoenix, which was beset with numerous flat tires and wrong turns early in the race, managed to make up ground and complete the course in 10 hours, 10 minutes. Close behind was Cary Peterson and her Windcheetah, riding a strong and steady race, finishing in 10 hours, 21 minutes. The Counterpoint and Cargo Carrier, plagued by numerous problems, did not finish.
Pete Penseyres [held] the cross-country record (since broken) of 9 days, 13 hours, 13 minutes on a traditional upright bicycle. With only 300-400 miles of training in a streamlined recumbent bicycle, this was his first record attempt in an HPV, and the first time HPVs have ever competed over such long distances. The STP Challenge was designed especially to test a vehicle’s speed and practicality of design. The success of the X-2 may silence a few critics of HPVs and inspire interest in HPV design.
The HPV Challenge was organized and sponsored by the NorthWest HPV Association and MSR Cycling-wear. The response from sponsors and media was tremendous, so a “Second Annual” HPV Challenge appears quite probable. KIRO TV, Channel 7 Seattle, produced an hour-long special on the 1985 STP Classic. The HPV Challenge played a major role in their program. A video tape will be available for loan through the NWHPVA in the near future.