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Monster Bikes

Boise Bike Week gets creative with Frankenbikes

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It might be a bicycle built for two, or four, or maybe just involves the cannibalized corpses of multiple bikes welded into a towering hulk, but whatever it is, it's undoubtedly one of a kind.

Don't call it a monstrosity, or a contraption; call it a Frankenbike.

The creations will be the newest addition to the seventh annual Boise Bike Week, running Sunday, May 10, through Saturday, May 16.

Like the famous monster of the similar name, Frankenbikes are mishmashes of other bikes and assorted found objects, which are given new life as rideable works of art. There are few rules when it comes to designing a Frankenbike, but all entries must be human-powered, rideable and street legal, meaning they have some sort of a braking system and front and rear reflectors.

"[We want] the craziest human- powered creation possible," said Jimmy Hallyburton, executive director and co-founder of the Boise Bicycle Project, the organization sponsoring the Frankenbike competition.

While it's not quite as atmospheric as a spooky European castle, Hallyburton and his BBP team are using the nonprofit's downtown Boise headquarters as its laboratory—a place where four bikes have been welded into one massive creation, with one frame now suspended 4 feet off the ground.

The finished Frankenbike will make its public debut on Thursday, May 14, during Bike Week's signature event, the Block Party. Until then, the bike-curious will have to satiate their interest with what organizers are promising to be the biggest celebration of pedal-powered mobility yet.

The growth of the event is partly due to an overall increase in the number of people looking to bikes for transportation, as well as recreation, and partly to the success of the annual event.

Kurt Ziegler, vice president of the Treasure Valley Cycling Alliance, which organizes Bike Week, estimated that the event has grown by roughly 20 percent each year. Most nonprofit organizations would drool over that kind of increase for a sponsored event, but it's not about money for the groups involved. In fact, nearly every event is free to the public.

"We just want people to come out," Ziegler said. "It's just a grass-roots, low-key way to get people interested in riding their bikes."

That's not to say that donations aren't welcome. Donations made during most of the event will go to support TVCA's efforts to teach bike safety across the valley through its multitude of free community classes for adults and children.

Of course, the week will kick off with a fundraiser for an entirely different group. North Idaho-based Village Bicycle Project will be the beneficiary of a night of bike-themed films beginning at 5 p.m. on Sunday, May 10, at The Flicks. Ayamye documents how Village Bicycle Project works to change lives at a fundamental level in Africa by donating used bikes. Return of the Scorcher is a multi-continental bike culture romp. Admission costs $10 per person and includes a raffle ticket for the chance to win a Madsen Utility Cycle (see Screen, Page 26).

Events will continue on Monday, May 11, with a kickoff celebration at Boise City Hall at 7:30 a.m., followed a full 12 hours later by a 9.5-mile twilight Mardi Gras ride beginning in Hyde Park. The following evening, the highlight will be the adapted cruise during which participants will be able to try specialized bikes adapted for riders with various physical disabilities.

And while the long list of biking events fills the week's schedule, it's still the Bicycle Block Party that draws the largest crowds with an array of activities, demonstrations, music and a beer garden, completely filling the Basque Block for the evening.

"We're anticipating the largest bicycle-related party Boise's ever seen," Hallyburton said.

The location is a new one for the party, and one that not only offers more space, but that also has allowed organizers to expand the offerings to make it more welcoming for all ages.

"It's really important for us to make an event that was more accessible," Hallyburton said. "We really just wanted to make it as big a we could. Boise is such an amazing bicycling community."

While Low-fi provides the live soundtrack, the crew from Northstar Cycle Courier will show off their bike polo skills. Patrick Sweeney, co-owner of Northstar, said the semi-regular group of polo players follows just a few basic rules while trying to move a street hockey ball around with a modified ski pole while riding a bike: no putting your feet down and no grabbing your fellow players.

Northstar is also heading up two scavenger-hunt-style races, one for the adults and one that's a little more family friendly.

The latter version will not be as long as the adult-only alley cat race, but each race will require that participants map their own course to specific points at which they will collect an item, answer trivia or simply check in.

The Block Party will also be home to the Frankenbike competition. The finished Frankenbikes will be on display during the party, and the public will be able to vote for their favorite. The winning bike will receive the Frankentrophy, as well as a few assorted prizes. Hallyburton also promised that at least one of the bikes would be available for the public to ride.

There is an entry fee for the Frankenbike competition, ($25 for teams of one to three or $50 for larger groups), but it entitles teams free reign of BBP's bicycle graveyard—the place where bikes that are no longer rideable go to die. Teams can scavenge any parts or pieces, large or small, as well as use BBP's equipment and workshop to bring their creations to life, so to speak.

To date, five teams have signed up, but registration is open until the day of the event.

All teams have the option of either keeping their bikes or offering them up as raffle prizes, with proceeds going to support BBP. The Frankenbikes will also be part of the Boise Bike Week finale event, the Pedal Power Parade on Saturday, May 16. The unique creations will be pedaled alongside more standard bikes on a short jaunt leading to and from Capitol Park.

Anyone who joins in any of the sponsored rides throughout the week gets a punch in the spokecard issued at their first event. Each punch hole entitles the rider to a raffle ticket and the chance to win another Madsen Utility Cycle.

Hallyburton and the rest of BBP are already planning for next year's Frankenbike competition, which he hopes will grow to have its own following. Guess it's never too soon to start collecting spare parts.

For a full list of events and details, visit boisebikeweek.org.

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