Monday, May 25, 2009

Plastic Thunder '09

Today Jon participated in an annual Memorial Day event called "Plastic Thunder" in which adult men ride plastic-wheeled toys (mostly Big Wheels) down a huge winding hill. Everyone modifies their vehicles so they can hopefully bear the weight of a grown man. Jon brought home a bunch of tools from work and spent the weekend modifying his ride with steel axles, ball bearings, an extended seat made from a garbage-picked car seat base, and an extended steering wheel made from PVC pipe.

Here's Jon's ride pre-race. He put a straight axle through the front wheel so he could put his feet on it without the pedals going up and down.

Here's Jon comfortably seated on his toy. We didn't manage to get any pictures of the actual race, but someone did get video footage that we'll be able to link to later. Jon had the most spectacular crash in the event's history, so we're told. Without that borrowed motorcycle helmet he may have suffered some brain damage!
He started out the with the pack of guys and they got going pretty fast. A truck drove in front of the racers with the video camera and they clocked the race at 35 mph. As they came close to the major turn in the course Jon's wheel shifted on the axle and when he tried to correct it he spun backward. The road was slick with rain and he kept rotating. There was really no chance he could navigate the 90 degree turn and he ended up cartwheeling off the road down into a drainage ditch filled with soccer-ball-sized rocks. I really can't believe he came away from it with only a few scratches on his arm. The video shows him clearing the first 10 feet of rocks and then landing on his head.
In hind sight, he said he would have put his feet down at some point, rather than cruising ahead to try to take the lead without any sort of thought for his own safety. Really, it's the type of thing you would never just go out and do by yourself - because it's totally crazy! But in going along with a whole pack of other guys, it doesn't seem so dangerous.
Other than plastic wheels, the only other requirement for the race is that the racers wear a helmet and dress in some sort of silly costume. We decided to create family t-shirts modeled after the classic Big Wheel logo using a Photoshopped picture of Jon's actual ride. We were pretty proud of our shirts, but it turned out that several families showed up with special t-shirts for the event.
Here we are post-race in our shirts back at home.


Stephen and Dawn said...

That is the sweetest ride ever. Where do you sell your apparel?

Annika said...

That is hilarious. I just read it to Eric and he laughed and laughed at the picture of Jon. (Sorry Jon.) :)