A gray morning breaks. Yet the somber patina is illuminated by grins as they shine forth from the faces of the competitors gathered to do battle. Each rider busily fine tunes their machine, the likes of which has never been seen within a peloton. European cycling Pros in clicky shoes would gasp in awe at the site of the unbridled innovation approaching the starting line. Baltimore's Kinetic Sculpture Race is about to begin. The Frog, The Rat, Fifi, Otter Chaos, The Platypus, all gathered to do fierce battle. Battle that would strike fear into the hearts of the Bettinis, Ulrichs, Indurians and Merckxs of the world. While Pilots and crew make last minute adjustments to floatation devices, paddles, wigs, blenders, elephant trunks and gearing, Police vehicles prepare to clear the road ahead to ensure that no innocent bystanders become entangled in the melee as it roars down the streets of Downtown Baltimore.
For your amusement we have included a full set of the rules downloadable by clicking here...
It's a surreal sight but, what's it all about?
Why are martians and giant pedal powered poodles puffing their way through Baltimore? About ten Kinetic Sculpture Races occur every year, from Baltimore to Western Australia. In this phenomenon, the spirit of "Adults having fun, so children want to get older" infects individuals everywhere it landsó as stated on National Public Radio, 4/29/2001.
In speaking with Pete Hilsee, Director of Communications of the American Visionary Art Museum www.avam.org
(the sponsor of the Baltimore race), he explained that the overriding point of all of this, if indeed there is a point, is "to combine engineering, and art, and to celebrate failure, by designing a race for human powered vehicles that are in and of themselves works of art." If that were not enough of a challenge, these works of art must also navigate a 15 mile road circuit, a sand pit and a mud pit. The crews must fish for a prize off of a 60' pagoda on Fort Hill in Patterson Park, and the sculptures and crews also have to navigate a stint of human powered cruising on the Chesapeake Bay with the riders getting "no more than 8% of their total body area wet." (See the 8ball. 8% TOTAL BODY WETNESS RULE).
In order to adhere to the freedom of the anti-establishmentarianism mindset so vital to this race, there are "Ten Official and Very Simple Kinetic Sculpture Race Rules." Ed. Note: They run for four typewritten pages and the last two are not even numbered. An example of one such rule would be:
Rule# (1+) "The Personal Security Rule, each sculpture must carry at all times 1 comforting item of psychological luxury heretofore referred to as the 'Homemade Sock Creature" (HSC). Homemade sock creature must be made in a home, from a not-too-recently-worn-sock from the home, and resemble a creature homemade from a sock. (penalty: 1 hour)"