STILL IN THE RACE
Less than a week from the race, Lindsey called: “What's your plan for the race this year,:
“Well, it started out with the Marin crew, but that seems to have evaporated.” Eric replied.
“I was thinking about running the 29er again,” Linz continued, “but haven't done anything to it yet.”
Eric didn't hesitate: “Why don't you ride with me?”
So it was set. Out of the chaos an image began to appear. The four year old rig had been beat back into shape and was ready to roll again.
The machine was built out of scrap material mostly laying around the yard. The basic frame was an old sliding door frame. Many aluminum sign posts were pilfered from Star Gardens to be used in a variety applications. Two new wheels had been built earlier. The originals had been destroyed by 80 miles of racing in the past. The new, 72 spoke wheels would roll the entire distance with only minor issues. Although the left wheel was quite true, the right wheel was slightly taco'd when the mounts for the paddle wheels were welded to the rim. None-the-less, the rig rolled. Both agreed that whatever happened was perfectly OK. Simply being involved in this event is worth any outcome with the machine.
Loaded and rolling at Linz' place
The two made a record early start on Friday. They were on the road shortly after 12:00. This trip would be not be the usual pub to pub run, but rather a beeline for the Eel River brewhouse, a mere few miles from Arcata.
Doesn't get much better than this!
The Eel River did not disappoint. The dinner was sumptuous, filling and delightfully satisfying after the 4 hour drive. The next stop was to deliver parts to the Pizza Party, Auriah's speedy, veteran two place racer. Then on to the Kinetic Lab. This is the place where a tons of art magic is born. The Lab houses several teams, perennial contenders for the Grand Championship.
It was somewhat uncharacteristic for the Bikin Fools to be headed for the sheets before midnight. The hotel room at the corner of the Arcata Square proved to be a boom and a bust. For Linz, the sandman arrived early. For Eric, the world's lightest sleeper, he would eventually retreat to a place near the Lab to crash on the ground for a mere few moments of sleep before the inevitable first light of day heralded in the beginning of an incredible time warp known as The Kinetic Grand Championship Race.
Final prep for the race
Eric drove to the B of A and unloaded the rig. It took a short period of time to get the machine ready to roll. This was the third running for the Still. There was little expectation. The three wheeled sculpture was built from scraps and used bicycles. It mattered not this year. That the duo was in the race was all that mattered. From the first light of the day, time accelerated towards noon. There was the tech inspection, art judging and the brake test.
The Still, looking handsome at the start
The race began. Linz and Eric carefully positioned themselves to avoid the extra lap around the square. It worked. The flood of racers poured out of the square and down 8th st. The Still was still rolling. Three blocks out of the square, the Pizza Party shot past. On the way by, they managed to hand the Still crew some pizza.
Hot pizza at the beginning
The Still made good progress towards Manilla, the lunch spot. After a break, the two headed out to the beach. It was a known that the rig would not handle the soft sand. This was not an ace attempt, so the progress was swift and easy. At the ocean the trio, Brad, Linz and Eric took an extended break to wait for the Pizza Party to join up. After an extended wait, the Still moved on. Progress across the hard sand near the surf line was phenomenally quick.
Sailing down the beach
The journey to Deadman's drop was swift and easy. The drop was not very exciting. The three pilots continued the course out of the dunes to the pavement. It was thrilling that the machine was still working with no real issues. Linz and Eric continued on the pavement with the sand treads in place but shortly decided they really slowed the pace. Upon removal the Still move smartly across the Samoa bridge to the finish at Halvorsen park.
At the park, the Pizza Party hit their stride. Dozens of pizzas poured out of the oven while the revelers partied into the night. The evening brought heavy drizzle. Eric's sleeping bag did a good job of preventing a bathtub from forming in the lower corner of the tent.
The Still had not been in the water for two years. It was a mystery if it would work. The paddle wheel attachments were untested.
Appearance during pre-race update
The Still slices into Humbolt Bay
Making steerage to the promised Glory
The water passage went without any hint of problems. Brad and Austin accompanied the Still across the water in the kayak. Once out of the water the team proceeded to pedal to the lunch break. Again, the offering at Eureka Natural Foods was excellent.
Huge carbo load at Eureka Natural Foods
The next segment of the race is the longest. The course covers more than 15 miles and ends up at Crab Park, birthplace of Burning Man. At the College of the Redwoods, the race organizers require a brake check. This location is strategically placed before the Lolita Hill, famous for wild rides in questionable contraptions. One such rig was the Bikin' Fools on Vacation. The former trophy winner achieved a speed of ! 45 mph
The Still smokin' the competition on Lolita hill
The three competitors had to deal with three vehicles after the brake check. A pattern tried to emerge, yet remained illusive as the riders shared duties by shuffling the rigs toward the promised land (aka Crab Park). The Still assisted with a rope “push” made such phenomenally good time, that it was difficult for the shuttle person to keep up.
Getting near the end of a long day of racing
Eric was listening to KHUM's live race coverage while driving the Toyota behind the fast-moving SITR (Still In The Race). The SITR team had taken full advantage of the entire day. As such they had spent much time in Glorious Repose in several, heavenly spots along the way.
“We are approaching the closing time for the finish” the announcer said. “It will close at the traditional time of 7:07 p.m.”
Eric looked at the clock. It was 6:58. The riders, Linz and Brad were about a mile from the finish. Eric leaned out the window and yelled; “Nine minutes to the time limit!” Immediately there was a notable increase in the speed of the already swift moving machine. As the minutes past, Eric tried to judge whether this could be done. ¼ mile passed. Six minutes were left. At he half mile mark, it looked doubtful. “FOUR MINUTES!” Eric shouted.
The KHUM announcer stated that it looked like all who were to make it, were already in. But he could not see the rapidly approaching Still. As Linz and Brad approached the line, the clock tuned to 7:07. It took another 45 seconds, but the Still, under a cloud of dust roared accross the finish line just as the announcer decreed the course closed and all other finishers left would receive a time of 24 hours.
To tired, and to fast to control the rig, Linz crashed into the fence just across the line.
The bulk of the race was done. Now it was time to kick back and enjoy the fun and festivity of the annual party known only to Kinetic Sculpture racers and their crews. The STIR support crew had already set up the camp. There was little to do but rally, rage and party deep into the night. As usual, the campground was a cornucopia of well stocked campsites. Beer flowed like rivers in the midwest in springtime. Most any food imaginable appeared somewhere. The air was alive with the pleasant fragrance of the ocean nicely blended with a overlay of incense and herb.
Grim aftermath of all-night Pizza Party
Rain arrived somewhere in the wee hours of the night. It remained steady into the first light of morning and beyond. It was accompanied by high winds. It seemed unlikely that the race would enjoy the fun of Morgan slough and the crossing of the estero. Slowly the encampment began to stir to life. The families and children were the first to rally. The serious racers awakened to ready their machines for the final push to Ferndale. Finally those who hooted with the owls began lethargically to emerge from their tents and trucks.
The race officials announced that the water crossing would not happen. The race would proceed to Fernbridge, regroup and wait until 2:00. Then it would be a mad dash for five miles to Ferndale. The floodgate of sculptures roared out of the parking lot and charged across the bridge. Partially by design the Still handicapped the entire field. From last place the Still, one by one picked off the slower rigs. The Still would roll into the middle of the pack for a glorius, giddy and whimsicle finish to a notable Memorial Day weekend.
Wrong way Linz! Finish line on your right!
The end of the race is when all the tension, anxiety and stress (if there was any) is released. It is the end of three days of very strenuous physical exertion. It takes great physical fitness to pedal, or hike aka Lo Tech, No Tech, 40 miles, travere several miles of beach and sand, and somehow float across a chunk of Humboldt bay. The peak is passed, now the mellow, sweet afterglow settles into the participant. The three-day tsunami of creatvity, fun and activity begins to slowly receed. All that remains is the awards ceremony.
Victim of a catatgory 1 Pizza Party