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Not quite a (bicycle) race to the death

> motorized ‘death race’ goes legit at east side track <
By Dean Knuth
Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 04.23.2009

The article is linked above and is copied here to share. Thank you Dean for asking questions and spending your time to do a good article. Lenny Anderson is me, one of several people he interviewed to give a more rounded coverage of this great event for alternative transportation.

Riders on motorized bikes apexed around corners, drafted on the straights and simply put, screamed around the track during Saturday’s Death Race 2009.
This was the fifth annual Death Race where an estimated 30 members of the motorized bicycle culture meet in Tucson from all over the Southwest.
But this was the first year the “Outlaw Desert Event” has been held at the P1 Kart Circuit, 11800 S. Harrison Road. Previously it was less regulated with rides through Saguaro National Park West and other open roads.
“People love this type of transportation,” said bike builder Roland Bosma, who owns Spooky Tooth Cycles in Tucson.
The purpose of the event is to get people who love motorized bicycles together and share ideas.
“Tucson is the only place where you can really come together and meet in person,” Bosma said.
He looked down and pointed to an orange mountain bike with an engine mounted to the frame.
“New carburetor, after-market expansion chamber, all of that comes from the sharing of ideas. We all support each other,” he said.
“Alternative transportation is in the hands of the backyard mechanics.”
Lenny Anderson agrees.
“Everybody likes to work together and get together,” Anderson said. After years of regular cycling, Anderson found the motorized bicycle works better for him.
“It’s kind of neat to put a motor on there. I get a lot of the same fun I got from riding a bike,” he said.
But for Bosma, the Death Race comes back to the community.
“This event is to share ideas as a true community and foster an open-mindedness for alternative transportation,” he said.
● Contact photographer Dean Knuth at 573-4155 or dknuth@azstarnet.com.

Well not to get side tracked in how I got here I can say that I was primed to ride a bike when the 1973 Arab oil embargo took place. I never believed it was Arabs stopping oil at our pumps but politicians and businessmen in a power grab for profit that sacrificed people; (did you know that Los Angeles stores emptied of food in 3 days time with no trucks delivering?). I decided I could use the bicycle, truly a marvelous invention, to be more independent from greed and usurped power. Well so much for living in fantasy, but I did become more independent.

I was a dedicated commuter for years and found my desire to design and build take over my kitchen and carport. I worked on bikes and studied to become a frame builder. I did build a dozen frames and a dozen trailers for towing behind bikes. By 1996 I found I had worked 15 years in bike shops and ridden about 100,000 miles on bikes using my own power in chunks up to 330 miles in 24 hours. I was fortunate to know really great cyclists like Jim Elliott who rode more than 500 miles in 24 hours back in 1985 or so (the first to go over 454 miles in 24 hours). I later supported him in the Race Across America RAAM.

I found that the bicycle had few limits when properly designed, built, maintained and ridden by a conditioned and prepared cyclist. I want to take that knowledge and transfer it into motorized bikes for this modern era of people needing more ecological transport, one more in tune with the elements and mans needs to be involved in survival. I want to be involved with good men who want to make a difference in their world.

I believe we have a place of control in this world, as people we are given a mind to understand what we are about and with God’s help we can accomplish great things. We just have to get over trying to beat everybody out of what is theirs. We need to set up Win / Win situations. I was the best salesman at Pat’s Cyclery because I believed that I had a product that almost everybody could benefit from. I made the deals benefit both parties and many customers left happy. This philosophy transfers to the use of our natural resources. We can use the elements within reason and learning to be clean and efficient in their use.

We are fast coming to a time when we may need this economical transport and it needs to be the best we can do for the most people. I believe in being prepared for what may come without being obsessed with what may be. To do this the bike just has to be affordable, safe and functional. Spooky Tooth is producing a great product and it is currently about as good as a 500dollar 2 cycle bike can be. Prices may well have to increase fast if the inflation that fiat money and heavy borrowing have traditionally produced does in fact develop.

I think that Battery power is a long way off till the pollution of dead batteries and other problems that are not being talked about by most anti oil people are properly dealt with. Right now the best thing going seems to be a combination of technologies. Hybrids are being worked on in bicycles and this cannot be ignored. Realistically they are almost twice as expensive if available but that should change. For now the 4 cycle is destined to replace the 2 cycle but some are even making the 2 cycle become clean. I love the possibilities. The Gossamer Albatross followed the Gossamer Condor in flying by peddle power and clear across the English Channel. Unlike Paul MacCready’s previous creations (both won dollar prizes as the first to meet a challenge), the Solar Challenger was not designed to win a competition, but to awaken the public to the possibilities of solar energy. In 1981, the Challenger flew from Paris, France to Canterbury, England, a distance of 163 miles, rising to an altitude of 11,000 feet.

Bikes and me, well we get along just fine and I generally feel real comfortable on a well built bike. I hope to get back to producing well designed and built bikes, ones with little assist motors that help more people get farther and do more with less. I hope we all can soar with the eagles and not get bogged down with drudgery, greed and politics as usual.

The photos show 2 great bikes made by friends John, top bike and Scot, bottom bike. Both bikes were at the event with the Recumbent winning 5th place and certainly one of the more creative bikes there. Make sure you go to the article because there is my “Best Build” of show in some great photos Dean took (it has 3 wheels and Larry built it).


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