Forty years ago, Hobart Brown of Arcadia, Ca, just for fun, modified a trycycle in a quaint and artistic way, inspiring a few friends to create similar mobile works of art---and of course they raced them. Thus began four decades of evolving creativity with the rules and the art becoming ever more elaborate. Here are the current rules:--the awesome challenge:
1. Build a human powered vehicle that can race 41 miles.
2. Contestants and machines must travel 3 days cross crountry from Arcada to Ferndale on pavement, sand and through mud.
3. Must be able to climb steep hills and brake safely when coasting down.
4. Vehicle must float and be capable of powering itself through the water, across a bay and a river.
5. Vehicle must have artistic merit.
6. Contestants must create some pagentry associated with the vehicle. (song, poem, skit etc to amuse the crowd. )
7. Contestants must provide the judges with an appropriate bribe. (food, drink, etc. One team offered wenches to the judges)
WHO WOULD OR COULD RISE TO SUCH A CHALLENGE? LOTS OF CLEVER ENERGETIC PEOPLE! AND WHY WOULD THEY? CONTESTANTS ANSWER RESOUNDINGLY: FOR THE GLORY!
Most striking of the entries---a highly mobile dragon. Note the rolled-up pontoons beneath and the pilot flame in its mouth-----
Which ignights a powerful flaming roar when it rears its head. A real crowd pleaser
This is Twinkle, all set for land or water--came in second or third as I recall. Here it is racing for the finish line in Ferndale.
Recognize this face? You should---It's been all over the news----It is an accurate sculpture of Nadya Suleman---THE OCTOMOM! ---Pictured here as an octopus with eight arms--each holding a baby. Is this creativity---or what?
Hippo with movable jaw----several people inside pedaling.
Monster fish--a kid favorite
This one required no pontoons---it floated as is. Note the petals, chains and gears. He was light and fast. Some of the larger entries had incredibly complicated drive techniques with as many as 60 forward gears. Sometimes in the mud or climbing hills the people are pumping like madmen (and women) to make the vehicle creep slowly but powerfully onward.
It's a dung heap with a host of flies swarming about it. They really entertained the crowd buzzing about and for pagentry singing a lengthy song about the wonders of manure.
This one had to be seen in action to be appreciated. The rear wheel rotates on an off-center axel connected to the platform the rider stands on---and BOUNCES---thrusting the whole thing forward. He bounced his way the entire 41 miles and finished among the winners. The fat tires and stabilizing pontoons let him bounce across the bay.
And HEEEEERRRR'S the WINNER! A simple, elegant, lightweight, highschool-kids-constructed--contraption that finished faaaarr ahead of the competition.
Ferndale is a dairy town--old and ornate. Victorian houses as gingerbready as this storefront are everywhere---and churches---and a cemetery more beautiful than Arlington.
And this fairy tale house in Eureka deserves showing before I leave the area.
I go away from this race and place feeling astounded and inspired---proud to belong to such a clever species as humanity. Shakespeare's words jump to mind:
"What a piece of work is man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, IN FORM AND MOVING HOW EXPRESS AND ADMIRABLE, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world, the paragon of animals."