Burning Man for Bikes – November 16, 2008

While most everyone in Palo Alto was watching the USC-Stanford football game, a handful of cyclists pedaled a busycle through a quiet neighborhood to the YMCA on Ross Road.

Some explanation — in fact a whole lot of explanation — is required here because not too many people, cyclists included, have heard of the busycle. It’s a human-powered bus that seats 14 riders, who pedal to get from point A to point B. The driver steers, brakes, and tells riders when to stop pedaling.

On this Saturday evening, November  15, Martin Krieg, a local bicycle advocate and current caretaker of the busycle, invited anyone interested to attend a fundraiser. The plan is to move the busycle back East next year. Martin promised there will be more fundraisers and more opportunities to ride the busycle. I’ll keep you posted, or you can contact Martin directly for details.

Cyclists riding all sorts of odd machines came trickling into the YMCA parking lot as the sun set on a day of record warm temperatures.

Tiki Kinetic racer

Gravity Mike arrived in his Tiki Kinetic racer, a human-powered dune buggy dressed up to look like a grass hut bar, I guess. It’s all open to interpretation or your imagination, of which there is an abundance among builders of kinetic racers.

Kinetic bike racing has a “Burning Man” way about it. It got its start in 1969 in quiet Ferndale during one of the town’s celebrations. Hobart Brown and Jack Mays, metal sculptors, built some odd-looking human-powered “bikes” and so the kinetic bike race was born. Not really a race of course, but there is a competition for most interesting machine.

Gravity Mike, who lives in San Jose, had recently returned from Ventura, where the 10th annual kinetic bike event was held. While he didn’t win, he placed and had one of the few machines that could negotiate the mud pit. It’s no surprise.

Mike’s 500-pound machine has 147 gears. With those huge tires he can go almost anywhere, and that includes into the water. He rigs his machine with pontoons for flotation.  Oh,  it has a flamethrower, but Mike said he couldn’t torch it for this occasion without risk of being arrested.

Many other riders showed up on their human-powered contraptions, and you can see them in the links below. I added some images to my website.

Brain-dead and in coma

Martin has an interesting story. Nearly brain-dead following an accident and in coma, he finally recovered, riding a bike for rehabilitation. Hoping to inspire others recovering from traumatic injuries, he has ridden across the U.S. on a highwheeler. It’s hard enough riding a touring bike cross-country, but a highwheeler adds an order of magnitude in difficulty.

As you might expect, Martin has a passion for everything he does. The busycle is only a vehicle for promoting a grassroots vision for a more bike-friendly America.

The vision reads:   “The mission of Cycle America is to promote a network of coast-to-coast, multi-use transportation and recreational bicycle roads and trails, which will be called the National Bicycle Greenway. “The primary purpose of the Greenway is to provide safe, clean, aesthetic, and enjoyable places for people of all ages to ride a bicycle all year round.”

A good time was had by all. As fundraisers go it was low key. Maybe someone with deep pockets will show some interest in Cycle America. But it may have to wait until the price of a 50-gallon drum of oil skyrockets beyond $150 again. As we all know, that’s only a matter of time.

Busycle Home Page

Martin Krieg Home Page

10th annual kinetic race YouTube

More Kinetic race footage

One Response to “Burning Man for Bikes – November 16, 2008”

  1. Cialis Says:

    vIhtHG Thank you for the material. Do you mind if I posted it in her blog, of course, with reference to your site?

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