|"Barrel of Monkeys"|
At the 31st Annual World Famous Arcata to Ferndale
Kinetic Sculpture Race
Photos and info from 1999's "Cow-Trans" machine.
Photos of 2000's "Barrel of Monkeys" incarnation of the sculpture, courtesy of Andrew Jones at ArcataPlaza.com (Guide to Arcata ) and Arcatakiosk.com (Guide to Arcata web sites). Many thanks, Andrew!
Well, we shaved an hour off of last year's time and arrived at the Bayshore Mall at 8:05 pm. What took us so long, you ask? We got to Manila with no trouble and at a pretty good speed, but there we lost both of our transmissions, twice. Lots of welding and finger-crossing later, we were ready to tackle the sand. This was where the machine did really well last year, riding on it's pickle barrels (this year they're chili pepper barrels imported from Greece!). Last year's sculpture was very slow on the road(and it had a tendancy to lose steering), but terrific on mud and sand. So bike tires were added to correct the "road" problem. Great idea, right?
It seems that the bike tires sink just far enough into the sand to render the machine unpedallable(If that isn't a word, I apologize but it's been a long day!) on the sand. So between the transmission breaking again on the sand and the generally poor handling, the vast majority of the Manila Dunes became a push zone for us. "we didn't see the 'end legal push' sign..." we told bystanders,"so we figured we should keep pushing." I tried to pilfer one of the "legal push zone" signs to mount on the front of the machine thereby rendering the entire race a legal push zone, but the sign was confiscated by a judge who wasn't amused.
But aside from the sand trouble at the Dunes, Dead Man's Drop was executed "better than anyone so far," to quote an onlooker (I'm pretty sure they were talking about us!). The machine performed quite well after another round of welding at the end of the Dune crossing (keep an eye on our left front bike tire tomorrow though; it's extremely tweaked), and our Barrel of Monkeys sculpture finally pedalled across the finish line.
Next year, we figure removable bike tires might give us the best of both worlds on this machine.
Now that the route has changed, there's far less water and far more road. Originally there were various propeller schemes that were implemented, but they were abandoned in favor of good old fashioned paddles. We'll see. But the entry in to the bay will surely be spectacular; the machine can basically drive at full speed downhill and right into the water. And once the bay loop is complete, the rest is road for the day, so it looks good from here.
Unless our tweaked front wheel breaks.
Or the transmission shears off again.
No welding today! We lost a tube on one of out "good" tires, which we repaired. And then it broke again. Turns out it wasn't just the tube, but the tire itself that was losing it's structural integrity. So members of our extended support crew managed to scare up a new tire, and after considerable exertions (ever change a tire that shares an axle with a barrel?), we were on our way.
The trip to Fields Landing was without incident, and although our left front tire was thrashing about painfully with each rotation, it held up to our top speed of 18 mph (downhill with the wind on our backs...er... except for Doug's back).
The bay entry went swimmingly (ouch! My apologies for that hideous pun; I have no excuse.), and our brave pilots perched themselves on the "storage" barrels (which pivot down to provide extra flotation) and paddled into the fray. Getting out of the bay is an entirely different undertaking; the mud is thick, gray, sticky, and anaerobic. For a time, the residual odor of chili peppers from the barrels was replaced by other offensive fumes. We pushed. wanna make something of it?!
Out of the mud and onto the road, the remainder of the course proved to be tiring but not impossible. Doug & Howdy's legs were taxed on the big hill leading up to table bluff turnoff, but the very fast descent down the other side was a nice payoff, during which there was some discussion about the origin of the term, "break-neck speed." Though the left front tire was trembling like a jackhammer.
After dinner we inspected the spokes more closely, and found that about one-third of them were broken! Had that fact been known, perhaps we wouldn't have gone quite as fast down that hill. At break-neck speed.
Tomorrow holds the Slimy Slope, which is unfortunately pointed in the uphill direction; if we were descending such a slope, all would be well. So all won't be well, but I'll certainly help push.
Uh, I don't remember...
Graphics by Mike and some guy from Milton Bradley.