Saturday, August 21, 2004

AquaChopper Expedition

The objective: ride a chunk-creation of some sort from Chunk Station Zebra to the eastern banks of the Willamette River. Ride your creation off the pebble beach and into the pollution-warmed waters and somehow power your floating aquacyle across the river to Ross Island for an overnight camping trip.

Four Aquacycles were constructed. You've already seen Megulon's, which was test-floated a few days beforehand.

Big B. modified an existing chopper, the Little Big Man, which had been languishing in the chronic pile. Using his carpentry skills learned during his missionary years, he built wooden wings behind the seatpost, and then attached empty plastic barrels under these for floatation.

Two smaller barrels were strapped to the monotube fork for forward bouyancy.

Thud took a similar approach, although he used his yeoman's chopper, the SwampThing, which has a longer frame. Maybe for this reason his wooden "wings" were in an "x-wing fighter" configuration, with thin rope holding the wings in a more verticle position during road riding to keep prevent side-to-side sway.

You already heard about Megulon-5's squirrelfan propulsion. Everyone packed paddles (or make-shift paddles) as back-ups, but Big B. and Thud both attempted "universal" propulsion systems (although, if I remember correctly, Thud came up with this idea).

Pieces of a thick material, plastic signboard, I thinks, were cut to size (Thud had originally envisioned plastic spoons) and attached between the spokes of the rear wheel, creating a makeshift paddlewheel.

Denk & Sha-Nay-Nay, as far as I could tell, just went for straight up paddle power. Thier aquacycle? Well, I mean, take a look at this thing. No. Take a long... hard... look...

This aquacyle is two mountain bikes, with two ten-feet or so pieces of PVC pipe lashed to each bike cross-wise with blown out bike inner tubes and pieces of laundry line. There is no system to keep the two bike frames aligned parellel with eachother, nor is there any sort of delta-trike-esque double steering system. Denk & Sha-Nay-Nay, to the amazement of all, actually rode this thing all the way to the river just sorta not making sudden movements and communicating with eachother, I guess.

The flotilla hit the road, swaying side to side like, well, nothing like ships at sea.

Having reached the point where you access the pebble beach, a substantial crew of porters had to be put together to heft Megulon-5's aquacycle over the gate that prevented autos from accessing the bridge.

Big B. was the first to hit the water.

That wheel-paddle system didn't do much good, so he went all primal, as Big B. is prone to do, and just started wailing at the water with his makeshift paddle.

As you can see in this photo, Big B. had decided the best position from which to paddle was in a standing position, since he couldn't complete a full stroke without striking the barrells behind him.

Coming up fast behind Big B. is Thud, who, you can see, is not paddling. That's right, Thud's wheel-paddle worked!

Megulon-5 re-experienced many of the problems he had during his first trial a few days earlier. Denk & Sha-Nay-Nay's aquacycle just sagged, to the point where the bicycles were up to thier seats in water, so D & S-N-N had to either swim and push the bike or get a pull from the folks who brought canoes or rubber rafts.

The reason I don't have any more pics is because it began to POUR rain, the first real heavy rain of the late summer/early fall. To thier credit, everyone actually spent the evening out on the island, albeit under overturned canoes or inside plastic bags. Everyone came back at 7 or 8 a.m. the next morning because it was still raining. Grosser yet, the heavy rain triggered a sewage emergency overflow into the river. At least the water was bath temperature...


Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Aquacycle Test Ride / Float

With the CHUNK 666 Aquacycle expedition to the Pleasure Lagoon quickly approaching, Megulon-5 figured he'd take his aquacycle for a test-float. Mgln5's aquacycle was the infamous PlatformThing (re-christened the Hesperus) with a squirrel-fan welded to the front between the two front wheels. The belt-drive for this was integrated with the chain-drive. Then he secured a couple of empty plastic barrels to the bike for floatation. We rode to eastbank of the Willamette, under the Hawthorne Bridge, and the aquacycle appeared in good working order.

We had to ease the bike down the steep grade to the bank with a crew of four people. Then we edged the bike into the polluted, Superfund waters.

Huzzah! The thing floated! Mgln5 started pedalling, and the bike... sorta bobbed around and floated upriver as the wind pushed it. Later analysis would deduce that the fan was too deep in the water (about two-thirds submerged when it should have been half). Still, it was pretty cool to see a bike float around.

Pedro dove into the river and helped Mgln5 get the bike ashore. We chit-chatted with some passerbys, and started to leave. But Mgln5 got a little full of himself and rode down a small grade at a funny angle, and, well...

Normally a taco'd wheel doesn't bother us. But, as you can see, in this case the wheel is almost entirely enclosed by the plastic barrels, and is further complicated by the weight of the bike. Mgln5 had to leave the bike where it laid for the night and come back the next day with a new wheel. At least, for once, you could leave a bike unlocked overnight and not worry about anything.

Friday, August 6, 2004

DeadBaby Downhill VIII

We attended the sixth Dead BabyBike Club Downhill race/party two years ago.

There was a big push to go again this year, so we loaded up the GrayGhost, and actually suceeded in getting out of Portland and on the road before noon. We were especially excited because Cyclecide from San Francisco were a day ahead of us and were bringing a couple of their human powered carnival rides with them. We were also excited because the managed to swing us a hotel room, for free, at a swanky hotel.

So we met them at the hotel. Some of us went to grab a bite to eat, but I wasn't hungry and hung out with Cyclecide in the bowling alley next door and drank about 4 pints of beer before even putting my chopper back together. That probably has something to do with why my stem bolt promptly stripped out. I didn't have a replacement and was feeling pretty bummed, but opted to lock the bike up and ride on the back of Rino's Choppertrike. The thing is, it was POURING rain, and it was rush-hour traffic, so riding down Capitol Hill was pretty harrowing. NOTHING could stop your bike once it was going. Still, we (somehow) got the bottom and ended up under the retractable roof the Mariners' stadium.

Anyway, the downhill happened, I got pretty smashed. Big B. got pretty smashed. Big B. was just repeating "dude, its fuck UP shit, not fuck shit up!" at some point during jousting. The Wideband Chunkulation Field must have fluctuating because despite throwing empty whiskey bottles around there weren't any fights. At least that's how I remember it.

Big surprise but we basically walked all the way back to the hotel because it uphill. The downer was Big B. rode Liberator's chopper Steve to the convenience store and when he came out it had been stolen. At least there was a hot tub in the hotel room (can't believe I didn't get a photo of that! Oh, wait, I can believe that).