the Graand Kinetic Challenge at the 25th Annual da Vinci Days Festival! It’s an epic event, and, naturally, deserves an equally epic post!
NOTE: last post was my eleventy-first! I was eleventy-one that day! Now I am eleventy-two… which doesn’t have as cool a ring to it.
NOTE 2: It looks like Dropbox misled me re what photos it had uploaded; I can’t find tons of videos from Saturday and Sunday, and I’m VERY mad! >:(
NOTE 3: Huzzah, I have them from downloading my phone to my computer! Drinks for everyone!
Left: Top Kop (you can’t see his excellent striped tights, but I assure you, they are there!) brandishing my “Kinetic Cycle-ogy Scientist’s Kit” bribe; Right: Way of the dinosaurs!
Left, Center: Ellie with LED hula hoop; Right: Poco, Friday’s big entertainment
The view from the little camera on the back of the new car. That bike was literally hanging out of the trunk, and did not seem safe!
Pageantry (the song) went well: we checked with the sound booth crew, and I was able to queue up the song on my phone and plug a jack directly into it, so we had back-up for our kinetic version of the Beach Boys’ “Little Honda” (I may post lyrics if motivated)! We stayed around for the music, enjoying a fusion of country and rock by “Poco,” and while I’m not generally a fan of country music (read, I actively dislike country and will leave a room to get away from a particularly objectionable song, even if it means abandoning friends in a social situation), I really liked this group! Also on my “like” list: a glowing LED hula hoop, valued at $300, whose owner let us (especially Ellie) play with it for quite a while. Ice cream in a waffle cone? Check! Vijay’s Little Indian Cuisine? Check! Back injury? Avoided—so far…
Left: Ellie on her barnacle trailer (it may or may not be intact at this point); Right: Way of the Dinosaurs before the sand
I had the brilliant idea that we should ride in the parade in three-wheel mode, thus allowing us to go as slow as we want, and eliminating the need to swerve back and forth to keep balance and speed. During the parade the seat on Ellie’s barnacle trailer broke (the big safety pins bent out of shape and came out), so we were going to get thread and a needle to fix it. Note: the barnacle trailer is meant to hold a barnacle, or a person who contributes no effort in making the sculpture go and is instead a dead weight worth half an hour off your race time. Dad went off for thread… and at 1:55 or so, the racers lined up at the start across from their sculptures. Dad was NOT there! I’m not sure how it happened, but the starter delayed enough so that he was able to pedal madly back to the sculpture on my uncle Brian’s bike, stash it, dash over to the opposite curb, take his helmet from me, and get ready!
We raced over to the sculpture and jumped aboard, but as we pedaled out of the parking lot, the right wheel of Ellie’s trailer bent over (it did this after our water test at HP a week or so before the race; I told dad to rig it up with some iron rebar for strength, but it turns out he did not do this). We ditched the trailer, and Ellie took over as co-pilot so she could stay with dad and the sculpture. I ran back to the valet bike parking, and spent an incredibly frustrating few minutes trying to tell the valet which bike was mine (BACK, NO—TOO FAR! FORWARD… RIGHT… NO! TURN AROUND! BACK… CAN I PLEASE COME GET IT MYSELF? I’M A RACER AND MY SCULPTURE IS GETTING AWAY! THANK YOU!). Uy veh. I pedaled like mad for a few minutes, then realized that I would never catch our sculpture on the road, and continued at a more sensible pace that didn’t have me gasping and wincing as my lungs and throat burned.
I got to the sand only minutes after our sculpture. We were the second sculpture to arrive, despite the craziness of our departure! Dad asked if we could wait to go up the sand until later so that we could watch other sculptures go up. About 40 minutes after the first sculpture ascended the sand, dad and mum got on the sculpture and took on the dune! They plugged right up the sand (dad paused at the top for some victory fist pumps, and mum wailed at the turn from the up slope to the down slope, which are at right angles to each other). We got down the sand without any problems, and Ellie resumed her role as co-pilot, with me, mum, uncle Brian, and cousin Emma as outriders. We LOVE the new route, which avoids many of the trafficked streets the previous racecourse followed and crossed. Back at da Vinci Days, we crossed the finish a full EIGHT minutes ahead of the next sculpture (I clocked it). This after waiting 40 minutes to go up the sand! How? We’re lickety-split on the road, of course: I think we’re the only sculpture with a two-wheel mode that can go as fast as a regular tandem bicycle (with my dad and sis pedaling, that’s pretty fast!).
I decided to take a leaf out of Ellie’s book and got a henna tattoo the Kinetic Chicken on my right calf. Last time I did henna, I taped a protective covering over it that first night—and it peeled off my skin! The rectangular marks from the tape lasted far longer than the actual henna design! I determined I would NOT do that this time; I was careful of it, and scraped it off before bed so I didn’t wake up in a nest of dried out henna bits. Big band swing sensation Big Bad Voodoo Daddy headlined on Saturday, and dad, Ellie and I stayed through the whole thing… away from the stage in the sculpture night parking area, so dad could fix the trailer wheel and I could sew the seat back together. I rather like listening at this distance, since the sound isn’t ear-poundingly loud!
We snuck into the labyrinth in the childrens’ area to scare dad, but eventually a staff member of some sort found us and firmly escorted us back outside… where I realized I’d lost my phone! I snuck back into the labyrinth, where Ellie helped me search—to no avail—and then, miraculously, I heard the ringtone as I checked where I’d rolled under the fence to sneak inside. I guess this is a message that I shouldn’t sneak into places I’m not supposed to be? Of course not! It’s a message that I should keep my stuff in zippered pockets!
As a side note: Way of the Dinosaurs (a three-wheeled, probably seven-foot sculpture piloted by a great guy from Eugene) broke a wheel strut on the sand dune; he “went to the shop” (I hope it was a local one!) and welded the piece back into service! Dad suggested to him that, if the mud looked like it might take out his sculpture, he make the T-Rex shake its head and refuse to set foot in the stuff. The dino could not only nod and shake its head, but it could also wave its arms, which were attached to the pedals! Fantastic machine!
Left: We made it!!! Center: So did “Team Goddess Goes Racing” and [Right] the “Vitruvian Racer,” although I can’t find any of my videos of the latter!
Excellent crowd at the Mud Bog! I’m standing on a rock to get my vantage (it wasn’t a level rock, either!), which is tiring, fyi. Note the man about a third of the way in from the left with a raven on his hat (prosthetic, of course; a real one wouldn’t hold still long enough, and might poo on your head).
Left: Way of the Dinosaurs, after its pilot debarked from his mount; Right: my flat fish! Isn’t he adorable? I’m naming him Walter.
Crowd watching the Flying Karamazov Brothers (juggling-comedy troupe)
We were far and away the fastest sculpture through the mud! Mud time limit was 15 minutes; some sculptures didn’t make it in time, some didn’t make it at all and had to be pulled out on a rope, some made it in time (I don’t know what the average time was, but I would say upwards of 6 minutes or so). Doctor Pedal and Mister Ride rode through in TWO minutes! At least 2 sculptures got pulled, but some made it through, among them Goddess Jenn-O’s “Team Goddess Goes Racing” and Peter’s giant rolling wheel “Vitruvian Racer”. Peter’s sculpture was awesome to watch! He was on the outside of the wheel, and he would climb up it as if it were a ladder, then lean back to pull it down with him, and climb up again! Think of a giant reverse hamster wheel, where the rodent is on the outside and his efforts actually move the wheel; or think of someone walking on a barrel, but instead of the top, the surface contacted is the side.
Among the spectacular failures to navigate the mud was “Way of the Dinosaurs” (it was a spectacular machine in general). Dino rolled up to the mud and shook its head. Tried to go forward, made no progress… and the pilot flung himself from his seat (high in the air) and landed face down in the mud! Then he got under his sculpture, lifted it by the front wheels (a pit crew member grabbed the tail at first but later let it go) and CARRIED his sculpture all the way through the mud! Needless to say, there was much rejoicing!
We were able to see the Dinosaur attempt the water entry: it rode in, deeper and deeper, looking pretty wobbly, then—a flash of déjà vu—the pilot AGAIN jettisoned himself from his vehicle, although his fall into the river was considerably shorter than the previous one into the mud. We went in right after that, and pedaled along down the Willamette. I would like to note that I asked dad to make me some sort of fender between my seat and the rear wheel, so that my butt wouldn’t get utterly soaked, but this did not occur. I showed father, much to his chagrin, that there was nothing between my rear and the rear wheel’s continual stream of river water. Ellie later informed me that I should keep wearing my lab coat, as my shorts were see-through. Joy.
We’re not terribly fast on the water, and slower when we tow the barnacle trailer, but we did pretty well! We had a great exit: we had to pedal like mad to make sure we didn’t miss the route out of the water, but, with a lot of leaning to the uphill side, and a very low gear, we made it out of the river and back onto reasonably solid ground. As we started out, I kept a watchful eye on Ellie’s trailer, and when the wheel started to veer and wobble, I called a halt. She switched me as pilot, I switched mum for her bike and rode after the sculpture, and mum walked back (not that far, thankfully, as it was rather hot).
At the festival once more, I changed into dry clothes I had left in the van. I should note, nevertheless, that I searched for some time for the spare key, fruitlessly, then climbed the van to see if I could break in through the roof window (no dice, also very hot roof!), then checked for the key again—and found it, farther forward than I had expected! I checked out the science exhibits (did you know that there’s a lot of iron in Oregon sand? The dark grains are often iron, and you’re most likely to find it in areas with heavy tidal activity, as the moving water sweeps away the lighter grains of glass sand and leaves the heavier metal). I must try this next time I go to the beach, and bring a hard-drive magnet or something with similar power.
Awards: we earned “Best Use of Last Year’s Theme” (I expressed our gratitude for being rewarded for screwing up, although in our defense, the official site hadn’t been updated, so we couldn’t have known that we were in error) and “2nd Place Engineering” (as dad said, “if you screw up long enough, you eventually learn something”). “Way of the Dinosaur” raked in the prizes (to wit: 3rd Place Artistry, Fan’s Favorite, Racers’ Favorite, Poobah’s Choice, Volunteers’ Choice, Golden Wrench Award)—deservingly so—and we all hope to see him here next year! (As a matter of fact, he HAS to come to pass along whatever Golden Wrench trophy he makes for next year, so yay!) Goddess Jenn-O’s “Team Goddess Goes Racing” earned Graand Champion along with a Leo, to our delight! We were only somewhat surprised that “Hell on Wheels” beat us for Best Song: while our song itself, IMHO, was superior, their presentation and pageantry during their song was absolutely hysterical!
We did NOT earn a Leo (the award for completing the entire course without outside help, i.e. pushing/pulling), to all of our disappointment. Mum and I searched through the rules Sunday morning in response to a comment from a fellow racer that we were “ditching the Leo” by switching pilots, but we found no such rule. We should have received a ticket from the Offishuls that afternoon (really, Saturday afternoon, as Ellie raced the road and mum pedaled the Sand), but we did not, so we didn’t know about our error until it was too late! :( Frankly, if we can’t appeal the rule, we will NEVER Leo because we all want to participate: Ellie likes to do the Road, mum likes to do the Sand and Mud, and I like to do the River. We don’t switch to get a fresh pilot in the seat, we do it to have fun, and we’re crossing our fingers that the Kinetic Judges will understand.
Also, the Leo awards were really neat this year—engraved hard drive disk medallions, shiny and gorgeous—and I really want one!
A note on the title: “vincit” is Latin for “conquer” or “vanquish,” and regardless of our medal status, we CONQUERED the 2013 race! I still don’t know what our overall time was, but I’m betting it’s faster than 3:09, which was what “Vitruvian Racer” clocked in for… I hope dad can find out!