Friday, May 23, 2014

We Are the Champions

Posted By on Fri, May 23, 2014 at 8:00 AM

click to enlarge PHOTO BY BOB DORAN.
  • Photo by Bob Doran.

All over the county and beyond, men and women are wired with caffeine, hunched in backyards and garages, frantically welding and painting the finishing touches on their human-powered sculptures for the Kinetic Grand Championship race this weekend.

View the strange fruit of their labor on Saturday, May 24 at around 10 a.m., when the parade of whimsy on wheels starts cruising the Arcata Plaza for the judges. The whistle blows at noon, and they're off. You can trail along on the sidelines, but keep off the road and out of the way of the racers and their costumed pit crews. Nobody needs an obituary that weird. (Run over by a giant pie? Really?)

Once the race reaches the Manila Dunes, eat, drink and be merry at the pit-stop party before the sculptures hit the sand (some harder than others). Once they've logged their miles on the beach, it's the Dead Man's Drop. Not foreboding at all. Just a 100-foot dune down which racers will roll like golf balls into a sand trap, with prizes given for most thrilling spills. Organizers warn that you'll want water, sunscreen and mosquito repellant. If you survive the bugs and the racers survive the drop, it's across the Samoa Bridge to Eureka's Halvorsen Park for games, grub and the New Belgium Brewery beer garden at the Super Secret After Party. Whoops, now it's in the paper. Our bad.

Come back to the Samoa Bridge ramp on Sunday at 10:30 a.m. to see the teams go amphibious, floating (fingers crossed) in the bay. You can travel alongside the sculptures in something a little more conventional, like a kayak from Humboats, or as part of the Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center's guided tour ($30, $25 HSU students). Once back on land, the racers head to Eureka Natural Foods for a pit stop before the grueling uphill and possibly terrifying downhill road to Loleta. Sorry, the after party is racers-only on Sunday.

On Monday, the final leg of the tour ends somewhere between noon and 5 p.m. on Main and Brown streets in Ferndale, as teams speed, stumble and haul themselves and their works of art across the finish line with as much battle-worn pride as one can have in, on and around what is essentially a giant, rolling — and likely broken — toy. They will rest, they will revel and they will start scheming for next year.

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