The Bikin' Fools
the bikin' fools saga continues...
kinetic chickens mysteriously appear in the dunes
2002 Kinetic Sculpture Race
Shawn furiously welded on the machine right up to the point that it was loaded onto the truck. Lindsey put the final touches on the floats. The entire entourage of Kinetic Fools left Calistoga Friday evening. One by one, they made their way two hundred miles north to Arcata, CA for a weekend of uncontrollable frivolity.
Lindsey, Shawn, Eric and Megan would pilot the Serious Compromise into the Kinetic fray. Dave Hunt, Phil Reichert, Tyler York, Nanci Smith and Mark Wolfe were on hand to provide critical support. John Morehouse showed up as cameraman to film the first days activities. Cirrus Striedieck and Lilly Johnson helped Mike Johnson and Katherine Thomason pilot the red rocket, #53. Dave Babcock endured a red-eye bus trip to be on hand for more filming and party support. It would be three days of intense, tough, unyielding fun. But the Fools, being seasoned veterans of fun and frivolity would prevail. They would overcome the challenge of normality and mediocrity and burst forth into the Kinetic Zone, replete with several journeys through time-holes in space. Thirteen people would team up to challenge "reality". It would take great effort, yet the alternistas would successfully raze the icons of average life.
Arcata square before action square bustling with fans
Over forty sculptures arrived to adorn the Arcata Square with excitement and anticipation on Saturday morning. The Bikin Fools arrived early to register, another item that had been put off until the last minute. At last the stage was set. Now the Kinetic energy would simply take over for the next three days. Before the Fools could comprehend what happened, they would be standing in Ferndale wondering how time could speed forward so quickly.
Yakima was well represented again. Tiki Torture morphed into the Runaway Rhino. The 1000 pound Rhino would experience several mechanical issues, but would rumble across the terrain in great Kinetic fashion. Melvins Circus returned with youth power to carry on a 16 year old tradition. It was the 16th Kinetic event for their 15 year old son. The aging Kinetic Carrot would make another heroic lap around the course. New this year was the sensational #2, the rolling toilet. Drum Roll was on hand for the third year. This unlikely machine keeps getting better each year. Conundrum, Titanic, Honey Bee, the Pirates Sans Pants, and too many to mention eagerly awaited the start of the 2002 running of the great event.
jennifer coleman of the associated press covered all the frivolity
The square became packed with fans, the press and machines. The excitement rose to a frenzied level as the start approached. All of the machines began to circle the square. Madness began to set in. Most of the sculptures were going clockwise, a few the other way. Then the direction changed. Pandemonium broke out. Suddenly the gates were opened and the mass of human powered machinery flowed out of the square and onto the race course. Mayhem prevailed as the river of craziness meandered through the neighborhood of southwest Arcata.
The Bikin Fools pedaled furiously out of town. Unlike the previous year when curbs, pedestrians and other sculptures were not safe, Shawn skillfully piloted the trike through the fray without hitting anything. This year the trike was flying like a mad turtle. Much of the effort of the pilots was gobbled up by the big fat tires and squishy nature of the beast. Some energy actually propelled the craft forward. The miles began to slip past with amazing ease. The excitement of the event carried the zany machines out of Arcata and along Somoa Boulevard. Hundreds of people lined the highway. They sat in their cars, in lawn chairs eating and partying as the procession filed past. The loyal spectators cheered the pilots and raised the level of excitement.
A major challenge occurred upon entry into the town of Manila. Each year fans at a strategic corner of town set up a giant slingshot that launches water balloons at the sculptures. Last year the Fools took a direct hit. This year Shawn threaded a tricky course between all of the in-coming rounds.
Just outside of Manila, Shawn decided to test the ejection seat on Erics side of the bike. Without notice he slammed on the brakes. Eric, who was standing at the time, proceeded to perform a perfect over-the-bars maneuver and ended up in a heap on the pavement. Shawn reasoned that this feature could come in handy when riding with an undesirable partner. In another venue this could have triggered fisticuffs. However, the Bikin Fools were in the Kinetic Zone, and little would come in the way of the roaring fun that was in progress.
The first stop of the race was at the edge of Manila. Lindsey immediately set about in a bribing frenzy. He pasted stickers and buttons on the officials, handed out magic spirit whistles and unloaded gobs of candy. He gave his spiel of good tidings, gratitude and "remember us in the Ace vote". The Bikin Fools took a leisurely lunch break, talked with others and enjoyed the best support team of the three years. Dave H. Phil, Mark, Tyler, and Nanci all applied enthusiastic party skills in keeping the funometer pegged. Sparky dashed around as the video technician. Filled with food, fun and Kinetic energy, the team set off for the sand dunes. This would be the first test for the Aces.
Shawns trike did amazingly well in the sand. In addition, several volunteers from the crowd joined in the effort by pushing the rig up the steepest hill. Once on top of the terrain the riding was easier. Several hundred yards were quickly processed and the Bikin Fools were approaching the beach. For some reason the bike began to repeatedly veer to the left. This would indicate that Lindsey was over powering Eric significantly.
"Pedal, Eric!" Shawn barked out.
"I am pedaling." Eric said trying to defend his effort.
The situation continued to deteriorate. Finally as the team reached the beach, Eric looked down and noticed that the rig had a flat tire on his side of the sculpture.
"No wonder." Eric mused. "OK, now what?"
linz applying rollo-seal
The three plus Sparky and Mark began a process of trying to get air in the tire. The small bicycle pump just didnt have enough umph to seat the bead of the tire. Several attempts were made to get the thing to behave, but it refuse to respond. Too much air was getting past the bead. The fix would require high technology. This matter of extreme Kinetic necessity would be the invention of Rollo-SealÔ DO NOT BE FOOLED BY IMITATIONS. The dilemma would also generate one of the most heroic Kinetic support actions ever seen. The tire pump just didnt work. The fix required an air tank. A call was put to the crew. Dave Hunt responded. He had the tank and was on his way. Walking across sand isnt easy. Running across sand is even harder. Running with a thirty pound air tank in sand is very, very difficult. Yet, within just a few short minutes, Dave appeared on the horizon. His gargantuan effort put the Bikin Fools back in the race.
dave hunt saves the day
Now it was a matter of pedaling for two miles along the oceans edge. The Pacific sky, the tumbling surf and the joy of camaraderie with fellow Kinetic souls conspired to create a Kinetic moment. For a brief, fleeting moment the rest of the world was out there somewhere and the three Bikin Fools ascended to an out-of-sculpture experience. The beauty of the scene was transforming. It elevated the Fools to a state of temporary nirvana. The only thing missing was the other part of the team. They had abandoned the notion of a group meeting at waters edge, leaving behind only the mysterious #53 neatly stamped in the sand.
the mystery number in the sand
The departure from oceans edge requires a steep uphill effort into the sand dunes. It was here that Shawns superior engineering came into play. The sand claws were pressed into service. The mechanical contrivance allowed one or more of the operators to ratchet the feet of the claws forward six inches at a time. They worked great. After about ½ hour of clawing, the sculpture had advanced approximately two feet. More bribes were offered. More virtual riding aided in getting the machine up the hills to the top of Dead Mans Drop.
the fools head over dead man's drop
A big disappointment this year was the absence of the purple dog. The Jack Russell Terrier from last year provided color and excitement as he tirelessly nipped at the heals of each participant. He never actually bit anyone, he would growl, snarl and threaten inches away from the nervous riders feet. None-the-less the Bikin Fools were able to negotiate the steep drop with no problems. The next half-mile was more difficult sand riding with stretches of easy, hard ground. Finally the sand dunes yielded to the pavement and the day was nearly over. The only challenge left was to get over the bridge without getting run over or crashing on the downhill pitches. Neither happened and the three bikers arrived safe and sound at the finish line of the first day.
The day vanished quickly. There was too much ambient fun for the clock to proceed at a normal pace. Time seemed to jet forward with each exciting turn of events. The next item on the agenda was to perform a car shuffle. Once that was taken care of, the attention turned towards the brew pub. This would be the Bikin Fools own banquet for the event. Beer flowed like the Truckee River in the springtime. Merriment and gaiety rained on the two crews. Thirteen people reveled well into the evening.
Part of the evening involved a stranger who was concerned with having photographs taken in the bar. She claimed to be a professional model, but the consensus of the crew was that her date was likely not her husband and she was likely not his wife. The only other possibility was that she was a movie star. Home movies. Personal movies. Movies that are not likely to be shown in a Jr. high school hygiene class. It all added to the complexity and the mystery of the Kinetic experience.
the official stockholders gathering
The next morning, Eric woke up with a splitting headache/hangover. This would be a detractor from the impending event, the water crossing. The floatation engineering on the Serious Compromise was the one item that generated the sculptures name. No one really felt that it would work, and worse, the sinking word had been applied to the Bikin Fools for two years, ever since the infamous disaster with the elementary schools rig. (See website for Kinetic 2000). Although there was ample buoyancy, it was attached in an untested fashion. As the crew prepared for the water crossing, tension mounted. Finally the moment of truth arrived. It would not be pretty. As the rig entered the water the nose of the craft sunk significantly. Shawn had to shift towards the stern. Slowly the rest of the trike entered. Initially the rig seemed somewhat stable, though shaky. Suddenly the left outrigger float shifted and flipped upside down. Lindsey was forced to balance on the back of the big float while Eric straddled both bikes.
Although the rig may have been able to make steerage towards the promised land, a fatal error occurred within the team. For a brief instant, the three otherwise congruent crew dissolved into chaos as the ship of Bikin Fools floundered in the waters of Humbolt Bay. All three went mental at the same time. The here-to-fore precision focus of the crew disassembled into three differing ideas of how to deal with the situation. The result was a short trip around the dock with Shawn scrambling for his life, Eric having a bad childhood family flashback and Lindsey unable to influence his teammates. The Bikin Fools have historically excelled in problem solving, having created many in the course of their antics. But this situation proved to be a major disappointment. All of the skill, capacity and deft of the three bikers did not overcome the adversity. They were forced to grovel back out of the bay.
a pallor of skepticism looms before the water launch
Dampened, but by no means drowned, the Serious Compromise regained composure and again continued the trek towards glory. The dismal water showing launched the next level of bribes. Now the crew would have to depend on sheer lying and deceit to earn the coveted "Ace" award. The next part of the course was flat land. A crew change was executed prior to the lunch stop at the Bayshore Mall. Megan took Erics place and would be onboard for the next many miles. After lunch the route proceeded down Highway 101. It was quite a sight to see; various sculptures under human power crawling along the edge of the freeway as curious travelers looked on from their cars. The next stop along the way was a brake test at the College of the Redwoods. This has importance because the scariest stretch of the entire 35 miles occurs just after this spot.
Eric and Mark were in the process of a car shuffle when they joined up with the Bikin Fools just past the brake test. There had been several different crew configurations of riders on the rigs. Phil pedaled the Compromise long enough to appreciate the challenge of riding a grossly unstable, inefficient vehicle. The flat road yielded eventually to the biggest climb of the event. What seems like a small hill in a car is a giant effort for the Kinetics. What is even more notable is the raging descent into the town of Loleta. On this hill, with Cirrus at the controls, the Serious Compromise crossed the adrenaline line and entered the zone that exists between life and death. The floppy contraption reached a new high speed, a velocity that would carry the imaginations of the three riders for years to come.
Another crew change at Loleta put the original trio back together. Shawn, Lindsey and Eric pedaled the rig out the long Cannibal Island road to Crab Park where the unmistakable rumblings of a serious party were taking place. Many of the faster sculptures were already there. Most of the crew people had arrived and the pace of the festivity quickened with each arrival. It is required that each participant camp within "spitting distance" of their machines. This one night of the weekend forces all of the participants and machines to be together in one place. It is here that the full spectrum of the event unfolds. It is at this remote location where the Kinetic Zoneometer hits the peg at inter-stellar overdrive. A full years worth of pent up joy, frivolity, abandon, merriment, festivity and partying is given full rein. As the evening set in, one could hear the low murmur ramp up slightly. The sun hung tantalizingly on the horizon, waiting just a moment longer before turning out the lights and allowing the rules of night to take over.
phil and mike about to blow the bottom out of the launch tube
For the first time in the event, the entire mob of Bikin Fools were able to gather together in one spot. Dave was on hand to encourage the campfire, food was plentiful as each person sated their well earned appetite. The Yakima people rallied hard at their site. They lived up to their reputation while the Yellow Submarine folks were somewhat subdued this year. They spent too much time entertaining the sheriff last year. The highlight of the evening came when Mike pulled out the bottle rockets and festival balls. After several launches, one of the projectiles blew the bottom out of the launcher. The resulting near miss created a close-to-harms-way explosion that thrilled the onlookers.
The next morning dawned cloudy and wet looking. The start was set for ten oclock, but word began to filter down that there would be a delay. Rumors began to circulate about an irate farmer brandishing a weapon near the Slippery Slough.. Then the word came down that tons of cow manure had been dumped on the Slough. Confusion reigned. The extra hour and a half allowed many of the revelers time to actually wake up. When it seemed that the event may be modified, suddenly it was announced that the race was starting. Teams scrambled to the Le Mans start. Mayhem ruled as the disjointed day abruptly began.
mystery circle in the sand
The Bikin Fools pedaled the Serious Compromise with gusto as they passed many other contenders on the way to the turn at Cock Robin island road. Once on this part of the course, there would be no passing until the Eel river. The entourage moved along well. The Eel river was not too deep to be negotiated by riding. The Serious Contraption moved well in the water and was soon on the other side with a bone fide ace for that part of the course. More bribes were offered at the waters edge in an effort to assure the ace status for the entire event.
The trek through the woods towards the Slippery Slough went quickly. Sure enough the muddy mess was enhanced with fresh cow manure. The telltale green slimy stuff added an extra dimension to the experience; the gag reflex. Although it made for a retched time, the additive seemed to make the bike smoother and better. The bikes shifted nicely and there was much less squeaking. The fact that the entire Slippery Slough was considered a free push zone made the passage quick and seemingly easy. The Bikin Fools came out the other side as one of the first sculptures of the day. They headed towards downtown Ferndale with a sense of a huge accomplishment. They had faced the adversity, hunkered down and won the glory of not giving up.
#2 at home in the manure
As the Serious Compromise approached town, suddenly #2 appeared at warp speed and passed the Bikin Fools. For a short distance the Fools gave chase, but the speedy toilet was too swift. The team relaxed to give the crafty commode his time in the spotlight at the finish line. When the Fools approached the line, Shawn wheelied the rig and crossed the line in grand fashion. The crowd cheered. The radio personalities demanded an interview. There was a last chance to confuse the officials and public about the water crossing.
"How did the race go for you this year?" The Burlyman asked.
"We aced it," Lindsey said without hesitation. "And did you hear about our successful water crossing?"
"Ahhh, no we only saw you sink." Burlyman replied.
"That was the first try..."
Burlyman interviewing the Fools
The Bikin Fools credibility wavered over the airwaves of Northern California.
"Hey," Lindsey insisted, "Do we have some time to explain this, a little time? Lots of time? Any time?
"YOURE OUTTA TIME!!!" Quipped Burlymans partner.
The three Bikin Fools stepped down from the platform and for a brief moment stood silently gazing at the spectacle and trying to figure out how it ended so quickly. Three days had become a blur. They zipped past so quickly to have qualified as a wormhole in time. More sculptures rambled into town. The happy buzz intensified with each arrival until the town rocked in giddy celebration. Thus was the running of the 2002 Kinetic Sculpture race for the Bikin Fools; three days of glorious abandon that will dwell eternally in the hearts and minds of all who came in contact with this unique pilgrimage.
the veteran kinetic carrot lounging by the sea