A team from Columbia’s Riot Creative Imaging on Red Branch Road spent more than 1,000 hours building a human-powered, amphibious Big Wheel. They then brought their craft, dubbed "Riot-n-Roll" to compete—for the first time—in Baltimore’s Kinetic Sculpture Race on May 5.
The 8-foot wide, 14-foot long craft was designed to complete a 14-mile race course, floating in the Inner Harbor and then through sand and mud obstacles.
Sculptors Chester Stacy and Brian Heyer used two tandem bikes braced together with metal pipes. Each had independent drive shafts to increase maneuverability of the super-sized Big Wheel encased in a Styrofoam tub.
In order to finish Big Wheel’s watertight tub and modular foam-filled bike pedals, plus transport it to the museum in time for the start of Saturday’s race, there was no time for a test run, according to the team.
“We didn’t start building in earnest until April 17,” said Stacy, art director at Riot Creative Imaging.
Many entrants in the 14th annual race, sponsored by the American Visionary Art Museum, had worked for months building their wacky, pedaled sculptures.
So after passing safety inspection and traveling about a quarter mile in a parade formation in the middle of 36 entrants, Riot-n-Roll’s transmission succumbed under the weight of crew and craft.
Pilots and pit crew valiantly pushed the Big Wheel about four miles up and around Federal Hill until finally turning around and parking it back at the start.
That’s when a race official told the disgruntled team, “You probably qualify for the Golden Dinosaur Award.”
That would be for “the most memorable breakdown.” Entry No. 19, Riot-n-Roll, won it hands down.
Editor's Note: Cindy Stacy is the mother of Chester Stacy, one of the sculptors featured. Want to add images of anyone you know in the race? Click on the green button by the photo gallery.