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Old 05-15-2011, 03:23 PM   #1
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Join Date: May 2008
Location: Livermore CA
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report from the 2011 Vetter Challenge

I left at 5:45 AM for the 120 mile ride down to Carmel. It was the first long ride I had done with my new tail section/Kammback and side panels. The ride down was fine other than missing the exit for the Monterey peninsula. I filled up in Carmel and got 54 mpg for the trip, OK but nothing earth-shattering.
I located the Quail Lodge which is a beautiful resort with golf course and there were the assembled vintage and unique motorcycles ready for the Quail Run. The centerpiece of the display was the Vetter streamlined Honda Helix scooter. I recognized Craig Vetter and spoke with him about how much interest there was on his work and the Vetter challenge from the hypermiling community. He spent a lot of time showing me the streamliner and his intention of developing kits so that motorcyclists could easily assemble their own streamlined bikes. A new development was the use of lighter sheeting that is the same material used to make milk cartons. It is an incredible machine.
Craig Vetter is obviously a brilliant designer but I was also impressed by how nice he and his wife Carol were. For me, meeting Craig Vetter was like a Beatles fan meeting John Lennon.
I also met the other Vetter Challenge competitors: Alan Smith with his modified Ninja 250, Treven with his unique diesel motorcycle, Josh and Mr. Hayes and their stunning Hayes diesel motorcycles. They were friendly, generous with their time and information and were a pleasure to interact with as well. The passion and enthusiasm of this group was contagious. Craig invited me to ride in the competition and I was honored to do so.
The Quail Run had about 150 motorcycles separated into 2 groups with the older classic motorcycles leaving first, then the faster more modern group second. We rode in the second group. The ride was fabulous, going through the twisty back roads of the Monterey hills and farm country at a somewhat spirited pace. The Vetter Challenge doesn?t allow for the slower pace and coasting needed to provide the highest fuel economy numbers; it is a test of efficiency in real world conditions with hills, high winds and the need to keep up the pace of a group. We stopped during the 120 mile ride to visit with at-risk youngsters at Rancho Cielo and then proceeded to Mazda Raceway (formerly Laguna Seca) where we rode a lap around the racetrack. We had a delicious lunch on the hills overlooking the racetrack. A great day of motorcycling!
We proceeded to the designed gas station for refueling and documentation of the fuel cost and mileage. I averaged about 56 mpg and was last among the 6 competitors. During the ride my right side coroplast panel came loose while doing 75 mph and was flapping around until we stopped at Rancho Cielo where I was able to get it reattached. The Hayes diesels got the best fuel economy and the lowest cost with the senior Hayes using less than a gallon for 120+ mile run. I don?t know if that would be the official winner as I?m not sure if it could hold the required 4 bags of groceries but very impressive. I should have calculated all the competitor?s results but unfortunately didn?t. I was the only competitor that used over 2 gallons, Mr. Hayes less than 1 gallon, everyone else using a gallon and some fraction more. Diesel efficiency seemed to win the day over gasoline power and more advanced aerodynamics.

Alan, Treven, Craig and I then rode to Craig?s shop where we took some pictures and visited together a bit. They were getting ready for their displays at the Quail Gathering. I thanked them for sharing this wonderful experience and rode back home to Livermore. The ride was fine except for another issue with the right panel but I fixed it pretty easily.
What a great day! I think I will be back next year.
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