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Tour De Sol Results

Tour De Sol Results
www.tourdesol.org
May 11th-13th 2006, Invisible Gold entered the company car in the 18th Annual Tour De Sol Rally. This is a competition that tests drivers and machines to travel with the highest gas mileage possible.

We came in second place overall with a combined fuel economy of 84.2 mpg. (94 on day one, 80 on day two) The winner came in 5-6 mpg higher than us (also in a stock Honda Insight) and took part of the $10,000 in prize money.

For information about the competition, scroll to the bottom and read the journal entries as they were posted.

Note, Invisible Gold has been recognized as an EPA Green Partner for its commitment to run on 100% renewable energy. For more information, visit www.invisiblegold.com/about/environment.


2006 Shad Derby Parade

2006 Shad Derby Parade
As a final stop in our gas mileage month, we participated in the local "Shad Derby Parade". Hunter and Cyndi joined us in their 2000 Insight. People crowded around us at times and we talked to 40 or more people.

It's amazing how much people don't know about Hybrid cars and gas mileage. I am really happy we were able to dispel myths and let young smiling kids sit in the cars for photos.

Finally, listen to WRPI in Troy New York "Hope for the Earth" on Tuesday May 23rd from 6-7 PM. John will join a panel of "experts" to talk about renewable energy.


(Posted 5/22/2006 by admin)

Websites about the Tour

Here are a couple of user groups where people are discussing the tour:

InsightCentral.net Message Board

CleanMPG.com Message Board


(Posted 5/15/2006 by admin)

Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts
I like the Tour De Sol Rally. There are so many amazing people pouring energy into interesting and important projects. It is a dream come to true to simply participate.

Driving a car for mileage is stressful. It requires a hyper focus that leaves you exhausted. On an average day without paying attention (in the rain), I usually get 60+ mpg. On a sunny dry day it might be 15 mpg higher. Getting numbers like the 93.7 from the first day came from choosing a route with few stops and keeping the speed around 50 mph.

For a competition this is ok, but in regular life you need to drive more defensively. Ironically, it's only the occasional unaware or unskilled driver that you need to worry about. Regardless, if I construct a car to compete in the future, I will want something that runs efficiently under normal driving conditions and more freedom to enjoy the scenery.

It's also interesting to note how important the navigator role is. While driving requires practice, the navigator handles a vast amount of information from reading signs, reading maps, adjusting for errors, predicting turns and road features, and calculating the priorities of speed versus time. Just imagine doing math problems in the passenger seat under pressure AND trying to keep the car en route.

Bart also played an extremely valuable role in simply driving behind us during a highway segment. It gave a measure of safety that allowed us to focus on the car rather than cars behind us.

Finally, I changed my opinion of biodiesel and "grease" cars. If a car was starting up nearby we learned to walk away quickly to avoid stinging eyes and "charred pancakes" exhaust. (Just 6 months ago I was planning to convert a car to run on grease.)


(Posted 5/14/2006 by admin)

Day Three

Day Three
I was hoping we'd be done by today (Saturday). However, our results were high enough that they asked us to do a verification run. So, I did a short 20 mile loop (on the highway and through the city) with a judge in the car to show that I could achieve similar results without going too slow or using dangerous driving techniques. Everything checked out and I got roughly 84 mpg. That put us squarely in second place with a combined average of 84.2 mpg. Wayne (Xcel) got first place with a result somewhere around 88-90 mpg.

The rest of the day was fun. We got to hang out with friends, enjoy antique cars at the car show, and relax.


(Posted 5/14/2006 by admin)

Day Two

Day Two
This was the big race day. The "Efficiency Rally" acconts for 70% of our score, and with $10,000 on the line, it was a little stressful.

Each car competes with a handicap set at 40% above its EPA rating. The 2001 Insight has the highest mileage of any production car (62/68) which meant that we would need to get 88 mpg or higher to even contend. Other cars such as the Toyota Prius were a little lower in the 60s and 70s. The hybrid sport utility vehicles were much lower.

The course itself was long (200 miles) and difficult and we took 2 minutes more than the 320 minutes we were alotted. This included everything from Amish country horse drawn buggies (and amazing views) to rushhour traffic during the crazy rain storms. We finished the day frazzled at 80.1. As relative beginners we made silly mistakes like not warming up the car prior to racing and going the wrong direction out of the parking lot.

Regardless, our result was high enough that we'll need to do a calibration run with a judge to verify safe driving technique. Assuming all goes well, we're not in first place...but not too far off.


(Posted 5/13/2006 by admin)

Day One

Day One
We started with a measured drive-in to the rally. This will count toward our final score so it was really the start of the race.

Check-in was relatively easy at a service station in Waterbury. They checked our tire pressure and filled the tank up. One of the attendants was amazed that it only took 2.5 gallons and asked "Where did you come from?". We'd covered close to 200 miles and crossed two states to burn those 2.5 gallons.

After a photo, we were off. The drive was tense and relatively slow. We finished with 93.7 mpg. This will account for 30% of our score so we're off to a good start.

Note: we're in the "Stock Honda Insight Manual Transmission" class. This is in a 5 year old car that has not been modified at all. It's a small two seat hatchback that anyone could own.

Another driver named, "Xcel", came out from Iowa and beat us at 96 mpg. Search for his name on greenhybrid.com or insightcentral.net. (He has the highest posted gas mileages - usually near 100 mpg.)


(Posted 5/13/2006 by admin)

We're on the Way!

We're on the Way!
Today's the day. In just a few minutes, we'll be heading down to Waterbury to check-in and start the rally. Last minute preparations include checking the tire pressure, packing the car, and getting ready for days of driving.

Note: This is the third member of our team. Navigator Jamie is pictured here checking the tire pressures.

Wish us luck! Maybe we'll see you in Saratoga on Saturday, May 13th.


(Posted 5/11/2006 by admin)

Tomorrow - Last Minute Preparations

Tomorrow - Last Minute Preparations
We're almost there. Tomorrow is the big day. The only concern is that the rainy weather is going to negatively impact our numbers. Two long drives today averaged about 66 mpg each. (They were in overcast and misting weather - the same that is called for during the race.)

(Posted 5/10/2006 by admin)

Two Days Until Race Day

Two Days Until Race Day
It's Tuesday right now. Some racers are heading out today for the drive across the US. It's also today that we received the final race packets with Friday's course and our number.

It looks like we are #55! I'd say it is a good number. Also, leading up to this week - we turned an 85.7 mpg on Sunday during a practice run. It was perfect weather for high mileage driving (sunny and hot). Thursday and Friday are calling for rain which is unfortunately not good for efficiency but at least everyone is on equal footing.

Plus, our team jumpsuits are on the way. They are due to be delivered on Thursday. Feel free to meet us start in Waterbury at 2:00 on Thursday or up in Saratoga Springs Friday and Saturday.


(Posted 5/9/2006 by admin)

Parades and Practice Runs

Parades and Practice Runs
We're getting close. This week we filled up with the monthly fillup. (8.5 gallons for the 620 miles driven.) It was a tough decision because this is the tank we'll be driving in the competition. (Mobil 93 with 5% Ethanol.)

Bart and John also drove down to New Haven together. Bart showed an excellent 74.5 mpg but didn't quite hit his goal of 75. John was only able to hit 70 mpg for the return. (Not bad for driving in busy traffic on 91 and 95)

We're also getting ready for interviews and a display at the Windsor, CT Shad Derby Parade/Festival on May 20th. Come help us talk about Ethanol and Hybrid powered vehicles on the town green.


(Posted 5/2/2006 by admin)

Photos and Driver Trials - 4/24/06

Photos and Driver Trials - 4/24/06
Last week Bart and John drove to visit Mike Dabrowski in his shop in Eastern Connecticut. Mike's getting ready to run his modified Honda Insight to defend his title.

Last year (2005), one of his "MIMA" boards won the competition at 94 mpg. It was too low for the $5000 prize, but the top performer of the competition. This year he's returning with an expanded battery pack, and test runs upwards of 130 mpg.

Read more at www.99mpg.com.

Note: the Invisible Gold team averaged 65 and 75 mpg for the hilly trip.

This coming week, we'll be running driver trials (to see who is most efficient) and preparing the car for the competition.


(Posted 4/24/2006 by admin)