Saturday, August 6, 2005

2 Dum 2 Die in PDX

In Which Cyclecide and CHUNK 666 Return to Portland.

After a few hours of post-intoxication slumber following the evening's festivities in Seattle, CHUNK 666 and Cyclecide loaded the last of the rides and bikes on the bus and headed back to Portland. In the preceding month I had wrangled a location for the Bike Rodeo at ACME, a new(ish) bar in the hinterlands of southeast industrial, at the corner of 8th and Main.

ACME's parking lot wraps completely around its not street facing sides, but about two months before had walled off the western portion with steel siding, creating a giant patio area. This patio was desirable for the Cyclecide show but also made what had previously been a reasonably sized parking lot quite cramped. The cyclofuge barely fit in the back, with a little tiny corridor for people to walk by, with the legs of the people in the chairs whooshing by a few feet from their heads. I was a little stupefied at how people would continue to stand around in this dangerous area.

The two-person ferris wheel was just big enough to slide into the far southwestern corner.

Wherein Los Banos Delight the Denizens of Portland.

The shortage of open space meant that for the show Cyclecide had to shut down the 'fuge and perform behind it, with the crowd on the other side and ride their bikes and do their skits around the 'fuge. Additionally, with four Cycleciders in the band, this left only three available to do the Rodeo Clown stuff. In front of a healthy crowd of 200 or so, packed to one side of ACME's back patio, the show began with Big B. singing the national anthem whilst riding the "aversion therapy bike."

Thereafter followed the Parade of Bikes sequence. Thud was eating his dinner but was couldn't resist, and joined the fray astride Sproing, all the whilst never setting down his burger.

Then the bridge fell out of Jarico's guitar. This resulted in a rather uncomfortable period of ad-libbing while the entire Los Banos band tried to fix it. Hastily they recovered, and went on with the Pinata-bike sequence. The volunteer did a nice job almost whacking fellow audience members.

In Which Moses Scales the Very Summit of High Comedy.

A longtime favorite part of the show of mine is the Jumping-Over-Five-Cars-on-Fire stunt. After the cars have been jumped, Moses runs up to the small, lighter-fluid fire with a pressurized water fire extinguisher to put it out. Now, in the show in San Francisco during Pedal Monster he would move to put out the fire, hamming it up ("I got it, I got it. Everything is under control" etc.), then look up and spray the crowd down with water.

For reasons I'd rather not go into, Moses was uncomfortable involving the crowd in such gags (for the same reason, the "cream pie" element of the show was skipped as well). C. Collision and myself were standing such that he had his back to us when it came time for this part. Collision had only seen the show once before, last night in Seattle, so I sort of elbowed him and said "this part is great," anticipating the spray-down of the crowd.

Par for course, he set the extinguisher tank on the ground, leaned over it, and instead of suddenly standing upright and spraying the crowd, he pointed the nozzle straight up and shot himself in the face with the extinguisher and staggered backwards, as if to keel over. THAT was funny.

Except for later, when we were talking to him later after the show, we found out this variation was accidental. His eye was tearing up really bad, even swelling a bit, for about 20 minutes afterwards, and he was worried he'd have to go the hospital. I told him I thought he was mimicking a gag John Cleese had done in Fawlty Towers. He seemed to recollect said episode and then had to admit, "yeah, that was pretty funny."

Wherein Big Daddy Succumbs to Road Rage.

Cyclecide spent the night on the bus in the ACME parking lot, so the next morning we rode over there and took them to a breakfast joint. They went absolutely ape shit when they saw the headline on the front page of the Oregonian sports section: "Beavers need to fill holes at three positions."

Afterwards, when the seven or so of us were riding back to ACME to pack up the rides, these two cyclists ended riding with us. They were all like "whoa, cool bikes" and "isn't this neat?" Paul, Ranessa, and Big Daddy had spent the morning putting the Grasshopper in a box truck so it could travel with the Tour de Fat from there on out, and met us for breakfast via Paul's pick-up truck. So, as we're riding down Division with these two other cyclists in tow, Paul's truck passes us with Big Daddy leaning out the window yelling "FUCKING bikers! It's not critical mass today you FUCKING bikers!" to which Moses responded by sort of fake banging on the back of the truck.

Of course, I don't think the two cyclists realized what was going on, and they were especially momentarily freaked when we got to the light at 20th, where Paul actually blocked both lanes of Division with his truck diagonally, and Big Daddy THREW open the door and moved towards Moses or Laird, doing his best to look intimidating (not hard, as he's called Big Daddy for reason, but as Collision put it later, if Big Daddy got really mad, the worse he could probably do is kill a six pack). I didn't see it, but apparently the two cyclists were a good half block back at a dead stop looking very concerned, confused, and worried if someone was going to get beat up all at the same time.

One Last Trick.

Having returned to ACME, and having packed up all the rides and all the props and all the bikes, its was basically time to go. Jarico says "hey, you want to see our new trick? Its called the human bike ramp."

As mentioned, ACME had fairly recently installed a wall of steel siding to create their gigantic patio. Jarico walked over to a corner and picked up a leftover scrap of said steel siding. He laid down on the ground spread-eagled, pulled the steel siding up onto his back, with it touching the ground between his spread legs, and yelled at Paul to "jump" a bike of the Jarico ramp.

Paul selected my sidecar bike, backed up and ran over Jarico such the front and back wheel went right over Jarico's poor skull!

[Photo by Laird.]

The Sidecar Bike touched down safely after making a good racket of the steel siding bouncing and bending on the pavement, and then Jarico LEPT to his feet!

"I'm okay!" he proclaimed, to a round of applause.

Farewell, Cyclecide.

Precious memories...

[Photo by Laird.]

Friday, August 5, 2005

Race Day IX

Ever since we went to San Francisco for Pedal Monster in July, there had been a lot of back and forth about Cyclecide journeying to the Pacific Northwest. A small contingent of Cycleciders, along with their 2-person ferris wheel and "dizzy toy" went to the Dead Baby Bike Club's eighth annual Downhill Race and Messenger Challenge in Seattle last year. This year they went back in force with two more rides and twice as many clowns.

On Wednesday they arrived in Portland in their new bus, a de-commissioned '70s Oakland City Bus. We then proceeded to drink beer 'til 2:00 in the morning. The original idea was that on Friday morning they, along with a handful of CHUNK 666 raiders, would head up to Seattle together, set up the rides, do the race, do the party, break down the rides early Saturday morning, drive back to Portland, and do a show in Portland. But since the bus averaged about 35 mph from San Francisco to Portland, Cyclecide instead left around 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, so CHUNK had to drive to Seattle in Stan's little car with two choppers on a bike rack on the back. Talk about a clown car whenever we stopped at a rest area. At least Cyclecide was able to drive the majority of the CHUNK bikes up there in the bus, and a few CHUNKs rode back in the bus.

Once in Seattle, we headed straight to end-point of the Race and location for the big party afterwards (a big warehouse underneath a freeway near Harbor Island) around 1:00 p.m., and helped Cyclecide set up their rides, namely the really labor intensive Cyclofuge.

After a brief emergency where I had to bring C.Collision to his senses, we wrangled a ride out of some Seattle people to ferry the bikes up to the top of the hill. At the starting line I got my pre-registered shirt (#600), signed their stupid waiver (I mean, it was funny to read, but waivers are pretty useless as far as absolving liability is concerned. Maybe if they were notarized. Dead Baby needs a notary public), the water bottle that equated free beer for the rest of the night (by the way, Dead Babies, you sealed the deal when I found out you had Olympia on tap), and went into my standing-around-waiting-for-this-thing-to-start mode.

Observation: the first downhill I went to was in 2002 (the sixth race, for those keeping track). Five of us went up, but only brought 3 choppers (Thud brought Sproing, Big B. brought Handcicapper, and I brought the first iteration of Biscuit, with the mono-tube fork). But Thud also brought his road bike and rode that in the race. I distinctly remember Big B. and me at the starting point, looking around and anxiously noting a lack of other mutant bikes in the crowd. It was primarily a messenger downhill race back then (which is what it was when it started), with a bunch of other pleasure riders on various cruisers and tandem and what not (this race ended up earning Big B. the nickname the human speed bump" amongst the Dead Babies). This year however, I was impressed by the roughly a 50/50 split between mutant bikes and "regular" bikes.

The race finally started, and I began my anxious descent down the west Seattle hills on my tallbike. Why "anxious," you inquire? Well, in case you have forgotten, gentle reader, I am a severe head trauma survivor, having been catapulted by my tall bike onto the sidewalk in Minneapolis. As such, ever since my attitudes about riding tallbikes have been infused with a certain judicious degree of trepidation.

As the race bombed down Admiral Way, a rider about 100 feet in front of me on the steepest portion of the course lost his cowboy hat, then started breaking, then came to a dead stop in the middle of the road. When someone 100 feet in front of you slows and stops, but you're coasting down a hill 15-20 mph, this translates into that person being 100 feet in front of you one second, and two seconds later they're a large obstacle RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU. I pulled a nice curve around him, but just as I did that C.Collision effin' FLEW by me doing the same thing on my right.

Having survived that and now in the home stretch, I was riding through a small intersection and espied a small, roughly 1 inch square block of metal on the ground in front of my front tire. I rode over it and did that sickening thing where it actually shoots out away from your wheel, which means that you managed to run over its corner, which meant… I flatted out.

Now, if I was riding a chopper I would probably just have finished the race on a rim, but a flat on the front wheel of a tallbike results in a severe case of the wobbles.. So hoof it back to the finish line it was. And as I walked I contemplated my horrible luck at these downhills. In 2002, Big B. turned an unplanned wheelie by the handicapper into a belly slide down 10 feet of the road. He also threw his chain, and I was the only one who waited up for him. The entire race passed us and we weren't sure how to get to the finish line so we ended up tying for dead effin' last (an appropriately CHUNK thing to do, I s'pose). In 2004 Choppy's stem bolt stripped out while I was putting it back together before we even left the swank hotel Cyclecide hooked us up with. I rode to the race finish line on the back of Rino's chopper trike and didn't race at all, had too much to drink, and on the walk back up Capitol Hill kicked newspaper boxes over. And now this. What do I have to do to actually ride from point A to point B in Seattle?

Well, the powers that be showed a little compassion for my plight, because Dead Baby Terry rolled up next to me on his Keg trike while I was walking, and filledth my water bottle with beer, which eased my pain.

Once back, it was the usual. Drink. Eat. Ride the rides. Namely the two-person ferris wheel.

And the cyclo-fuge.

Cyclecider Paul the Plumber had built a new ride on commission for New Belgium, originally called "Ride to the Moon" but renamed "the Grasshopper" after it received its coat of dark green paint. The Grasshopper consists of a long beam on axis, but centered on said axis at about the 3/4ths mark of the beam.

One rider sits in a seat at the end of the longer portion of the beam and pedals, which makes the beam go round and round. Whenever the rider feels like it they can throttle a lever which controls a tank of compressed air, causing the seat to rise up in the air. I’d guess the arm raised about 35 or 40 degrees in the air. The sensation created by this quite pleasant.

Eventually I got bored and ended up playing carny for about 3 hours, running the cyclofuge. Another weird thing about the downhill is that its this big bike party, then the bike people tend to thin out a bit, and all these Seattle suburbanite club kids start to trickle in. Not enough to take over or anything, but I was working the 'fuge and this one guy had just ridden it and was like "man, don't ride this thing if you're on E" and then I gave him my hand to pull him out the seat and he was covered in cold sweat. Yuck. Wipe that ride down with a sani-wipe.

While minding the 'fuge, the tallbike jousting started up. The dead babies were doing the "winner stays in" format. At some point I looked over and saw Thud readying for a pass. When I glanced over again he was readying for another. And another. And then Rino walked up and said "Thud's the jousting champion." For a trophy he received several beauteous PVC burns on his torso.

With the kegs kicking (an impressive feat, seeing as there were over 20 of them) Cyclecide closed the evening with a totally drunk-ass punk-rock show at 1:30 a.m. Shortly after that the arduous task of breaking the rides down so we could return to Portland the next day began.

A particularly precious memory is the familiarity developing between CHUNK 666, the Dead Babies, and Cyclecide. Many Dead Babies followed up a hello with promises to be in Portland on September 4th for the Chunkathalon, and there was a certain drunken l'esprit de corps as all three groups pushed the Grasshopper up onto its trailer at 3:00 in the morning.