Arcata to Ferndale
Cross Country Kinetic
Sculpture Race Course Map
Eel River Crossing
A map of the 42-mile course, which traverses pavement, sand dunes, mud, and water. For a more detailed account of the
course, visit kineticsculpturerace.org/map.shtml. Image shown on previous image: Flash Gourd’n.
most certainly is not one herself. The year 2006
marked her 24th year of competing. During that
time, she’s powered herself across a lot of territory.
In fact, she and fellow racer Ken Beidleman once
pedaled a racer across the United States.
“In 1989, Ken and I left Ferndale on our racer with
$200 in our pockets, and we survived by donations
and doing odd jobs,” she says. “Each day on the
road was different: heat, snowstorms, steep hills,
rain.” Eventually, they pedaled all the way to St.
Skaredy Kat is, as June describes it, “a ginormous,
black and white, spooked-out, kinetic kruising kitty
kat.” More specifically, it’s a 500-pound tandem
tricycle with an immense gear ratio and a sophisticated system of pull-cords that allows June and her
co-rider to move the puppet parts of Skaredy’s head,
eyes, whiskers, and tail while riding.
June’s boyfriend, Ken Beidleman, is equally
enamored of kinetic sculpture racing. A metal
sculptor from Redding, Calif., Ken first became
interested in the activity back in 1987 when he volunteered to work with the event’s founder, Hobart
Brown, on his racer. Beidleman has participated
more or less continuously since then.
“Every year I try to come up with something
new,” he says. “For instance, I’ll say, let’s do something contemporary, a racer [with a theme based]
on a current event or movie.”
In the past, that line of thinking produced the
machines he named Watermelon World, Hog Wild,
and Nightmare of the Iguana. The 2006 entry was
Flash Gourd’n, an upgrade of an earlier year’s Gourd
of the Rings, but Flash Gourd’n has better steering,
fewer squeaks, and reduced weight.
The night before the race, builders work into the
wee hours making final adjustments. At the Arcata
Kinetic Lab, some pause to chat with the curious.
Others are furtively focused behind drawn curtains.
In the back corner, sculptor Duane Flatmo is hard at
work, putting the final touches on a comically scary,
bug-eyed, four-person tricycle.
Extreme Makeover is a heavy beast, weighing
1,200 pounds when fully staffed. A good portion of
that weight is invested in teeth and eyeballs. Once
the race starts, it’s the scores of gear ratio choices
that allow the pilot to take it over water, turf, asphalt,
and even sand dunes.
Like fairy tale creatures, the racers lumber along
the beach, making the best time they can before
attempting the more difficult parts of the race. The
hardest obstacle is a high, steep, and perilous sand
dune called Dead Man’s Drop.
Atop the dangerous dune, sunburned, mosquito-plagued spectators call out encouragement as
racers make the tough climb at tortoise speed.
Below Dead Man’s Drop, emergency medical technicians wait, ready to deal with breaks, blood, and
twig-pierced eyebrows. As the racers plunge over
the edge of the dune, the crowd follows in their
wake, cheering each guts-and-glory descent.
For what it matters, the 2006 grand champion
was East Shark, a two-person land submarine
designed by high school students from Eureka.
They finished the race in under eight hours of
actual pedaling time. Flash Gourd’n and Extreme
Makeover finished respectably in the middle of the
pack, taking about 20 hours. And Skaredy Kat?
It, too, finished. Eventually and gloriously.
MAKE Contributing Editor William Gurstelle wrote the rubber-band ornithopter project (MAKE, Volume 08, page 90).
30 Make: Volume 09