Race Report: Pikes Peak International Hill Climb 2015 - Part 2

Race Report: Pikes Peak International Hill Climb 2015 - Part 2

(I'm long overdue for Part 2 of my PPIHC Race Report. In case you missed it, be sure to check out Part 1.)

Last I left off, we had a busy week of practice and then an evening in Colorado Springs for Fan Fest. It was now Saturday, the day before the race and we were making our final preparations for Race Day of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.

We packed up the van with our equipment and head to the Start Line to setup our pit space ahead of time. It was much easier to set this all up on a sunny Saturday afternoon instead 2am on Sunday morning when we are required to arrive in the pitch black and sleep deprived.

Most of us had yet to make our way to the top of Pikes Peak this trip, so after we were satisfied with our pit space, we took some time to drive up. Zero Motorcycles' VP of Marketing, Scot Harden, raced the PPIHC himself in the 90s, and as he drove us up it was amazing to hear him narrate his way through the corners, even though he hadn't seen the course in 20 years. Although, back when he raced it, it was quite a different race with little of it paved at all.

As a passenger in the car, able to fully appreciate the harrowing views along the road, you realize that the Race is not just a technical challenge of machine vs. mountain. With sheer drops, it is mentally challenging and as we gained altitude we could feel the decreased oxygen levels that amplify the physically challenging part of the race. Once at the top, one can lose their breath at a casual walking pace while you admire spectacular views.

We headed back to the motel to pack up our things as we would not be returning following the race. We called it an early night so we could hit the road at 2am in the morning, even early by Pikes Peak standards! Huge thanks to Julie Vance at The America's Best Value Inn Villa Motel in Manitou Springs for being such an accommodating host during our stay and her son Jonah who came to every practice and Race Day with us to lend a hand!

In the early morning, we made our way one last time through town to the highway and as we approached the entrance to the mountain road we saw the long lines of cars as the spectators waited their turn. Many dedicated fans have no doubt been camping out all night so that they could claim a good viewing spot on the mountain. We settled into our spot in the pits and waited as everyone took their places for the day.

The race started at 8am and Jeff, Brandon and Nathan were to be the 11th, 12th and 13th motorcycles up the mountain respectively. We rolled the bikes up to the start line and made final preparations. They each took off, one at a time, about thirty seconds apart and we ran to the timing board to watch. We watched as each rider's section time was posted and then their final times knowing that they all made it safe to the top.

Jeff Clark 12:06.346
Nathan Barker 12:37.161
Brandon Nozaki Milller 13:10.894

All rider's posted excellent times! Jeff's time was only a few seconds behind his previous record while Nathan and Brandon both beat their previous records. Considering the rough road conditions this year and the much heavier bikes, we were happy to see that we were able to gain enough performance in the improvements we made to offset the greater challenge this year presented.

Unfortunately, halfway through the day, it started hailing and snowing at the top of the mountain and the race had to be cut short with the checkered flag only halfway up the mountain to Glen Cove, but not before we saw history made with Rhys Millen and Monster Tajima finishing in their electric cars as the fastest two cars on the mountain!

We had another incredible time at Pikes Peak and I'm sure it won't be our last!

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Thank you to the riders, Jeff Clark, Nathan Barker, and Brandon Nozaki Miller and thank you to everyone who came up to lend a hand this year, Thomas Ito, Laurie Russell, Bobby Loo, Jonah Buchanan, Daniel Wickman, Tobias Dunn, Micah Bayless, Scot Harden & Dwight Clark. You all made a monumental task much more manageable. There were many others behind the scenes that made this all possible as well, too many to list but I am very grateful for your efforts as well. Thank you to the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb Officials and Organizers for putting on such an epic event. Thank you again to all of the sponsors that made this possible: Zero Motorcycles, DigiNow, Nate's Fine Foods, GO GREEN Mobile Power, EnerBee, AXO Racing, Nudie Juices, and Lindemann Engineering. Last, but certainly not least, thank you to all our Families & the rest of the Hollywood Electrics Family who sent their love and support!

Enjoy the Ride,
Harlan Flagg

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