Every Memorial Day Weekend since 1968, the Great Arcata to Ferndale Kinetic
Sculpture Race has pitted some of the oddest human-powered amphibious
vehicles you’ll ever see, in head-to-head competition for prizes for
speed, art, and engineering. Sculptures embark on a 38-mile, 3-day trek
across roads, sand dunes, and open water.
As soon as I heard about the race, I knew it had to be done on a unicycle.
I put together an entry, Cyclops, based on a Yuni frame with a Big Apple
29" tire, a two-pronged handle, a mountain bike seatpost rack, and a large
backpack containing an inflatable kayak.
As I expected, the simple machine performed much better than most of
the complicated sculptures; I was first out of the water for both
water crossings, and in the top 5 finishers all 3 days. In speed, I
came in second overall, although I didn’t “Ace” the course (I walked
the deep sand portions, and didn’t roll in and roll out of the water).
I have some ideas about how to Ace the course next year.
I also ran into Scott Burley (from Truckee), who some of you will know
from Moab and the California MUni weekends. He was doing the race on
a mountain bike with dual 24x3 Gazz tires, Aced the course, and came
in third overall in speed among Ace sculptures.
Photos are available at
Way to go Tom!. That looks like a pretty funky event. It seems like your entry should have won a “minimalist” award.
I am not surprised Scott Burley did well. That guy is a maniac!
Awesome Job Tom!!!
This is one of my favorite races. There’s very cool award categories like the coveted “mediocre” award. Also, bribing the judges is encouraged.
I’d like to do it someday!
Re: Kinetic Sculpture Race 2004
In article <mscalisi.17abjs@NoEmail.Message.Poster.at.Unicyclist.com>,
mscalisi <mscalisi@NoEmail.Message.Poster.at.Unicyclist.com> wrote:
)Awesome Job Tom!!!
)This is one of my favorite races. There’s very cool award categories
)like the coveted “mediocre” award. Also, bribing the judges is
The winner of the mediocre award (the person who came in right in the middle
of the pack) actually wins a car! In this case, a red 1981 Toyota Celica,
without a battery but supposedly in running order other than that.
Other interesting awards include the one for next-to-last place, the
“Golden Roll” award for the guy who rolled his sculpture while
attempting Dead Man’s Drop (a steep descent in heavy sand), the
“Golden Dinosaur” award for the first break-down (approximately 100
meters from the start line this year), and the “Longest Chain” award,
for the sculpture which uses the most chain. All the trophies are
hand-welded by long-time participants, and some of them are quite
artistic and elaborate themselves (particularly the Longest Chain
There are other kinetic sculpture races around the country, and a large
one in Perth, Australia, but the Arcata to Ferndale race is the original
Fantastic Tom! I love your photos. What a great time.