Giant, Amphibious Sculptures And Their Quasi-Nude Operators Race 42 Miles

If you've never heard of Humboldt County's Kinetic Grand Championship, this is basically what you need to know: it's Bay to Breakers on steroids, and acid, and maybe a Quaalude or seven.

Formerly known as the Kinetic Sculpture Race, the event wheels through Northern California every Memorial Day weekend, starting in Arcata, a stoner college town, and ending in Ferndale, a small, creepy historically landmarked berg filled with Victorians. The 42-mile, three-day bicycle race involves enormous, man-powered sculptures that must travel across water, land, mud, sand, and sometimes a even a bit of air while breaking a bunch of strange rules first penned in the early '70s.

For example: "racers must carry a comforting item of Psychological Luxury no smaller than a restaurant coffee cup at all times." Oddly, teddy bears are highly recommended.

This year, San Francisco had one representative in the race -- law student, Harmony Groves. Groves also happens to also be the former mayor of Arcata, and has served on its city council. This weekend, along with her teammates on the "Classical Nudes" sculpture, she was wearing a full-body unitard spray-painted to look as if she were wearing no unitard, no nothing.

"Hopefully law school is cool with that," she said with a toothy smile.

Groves is hoping at some point to start a Kinetic Sculpture Race here in San Francisco. To get some idea of how outstanding that would be, please view the following photographs:
 We watched as this banana slug sculpture did a helluva job on "Dead Man's Drop," a giant sandy hill on the way to Eureka.
When this Dia de los Muertos Taco Truck sculpture got stuck in the sand at the beach, we took pictures, then gave the dead a hand.
This impressive crustacean is constructed mainly out of kitchenware.
Manned by a bunch of people from Napa, this Picnic Basket got off to a slow start, but broke through this tree tunnel with amazing speed. 

This year's Grand Champion was "Woody." Hookah N Ladder 420 won the art award, Speed Demon took home the engineering award, Jack Mays received the Lifetime Achievement Award, and Harmony Groves' team, Classical Nudes, took both the Paegantry Award and the Spirit of the Glorious Founder award.


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