The NBW team was prepared for challenges along the annual Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby route, and the challenges came thick on Derby Day.

For one, the forecast called for heavy rain. We brought ponchos and went anyway. The Derby parade route was the longest yet, taking over three hours to complete. We paraded anyway. There were obstacles on the course – slippery, soapy bubbles; unforgiving and unpredictably sloped wooden blocks; and a mud pit where a throng of onlookers would cheer and jeer as we rode through. We pedaled through them all.Derby image

The real challenge for the team of NBW youth, staff and volunteers that built and powered NBW’s kinetic sculpture was a wobbly front wheel. Early in the three-hour course the wheel turned from wobbling (out of true) to a very flat tire. In order to stay in the parade, the team pulled over and used its mechanical savvy to replace the tube within the three minute timeframe the course marshals allowed. We did it! We lifted the sculpture, removed the wheel, removed the tire, replaced the tube, and reassembled it all back on our Dragon sculpture in under three minutes.

 Photo by Bob Burton, The Spirit of the Riverwards                       


But a few minutes later, the tire was flat again - punctured by the damaged wheel. We were fated to slog through the rest of the course with the tire duct taped and ziptied to the rim. Still, with the rain holding off (mostly) and parade sculptures including flying pigs, a Snoopy on his doghouse, and a giant roller skate – the team embraced our absurd predicament and surreal environment and muscled our Dragon onward. We cranked on our pedals and rolled through the mud pit (see a video here)!

We would not be stopped by rain, mechanical failure, obstacle courses, or mud. In fact, after we completed the hazardous course, we earned the award “Best 10+ Person Team”. We are proud of our accomplishments this year and already looking forward to a new wheel and next year’s Derby.

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