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...