The Saga of Mini Bike Winter, Part Two: Scintillating Saturday!
Saturday – MINIBIKEWINTER!!!!! I woke up so excited I was almost sick! We made ourselves presentable and rolled out to the Black Sheep Bakery for awesome breakfast sandwiches and excellent coffee, and then made our way to a quiet residential street in north Portland, where we found a huge gathering of mutant bikes, minibikes, bike dancers, jousters, chariot warriors and riders of every color and stripe, all ready to ride out for the first big event of the day: Ben Hurt Chariot Wars! At one point on the ride over, I glanced behind me to see the pack of riders streaming through the quiet streets, freak flags out and flying, and it was so fucking beautiful I nearly cried. (Agent F-Word, you sappy bastard! But it’s true.)
We were joined by the Chariot Wars competitors in their fearsome war machines – defending champions Sexxon, the Pedalphiles’ surely-that-must-be-cheating bike-powered car, that one guy with the bat who hit my beer… uh… the orange guys – uh, well, maybe you should consult someone else for the exact lineup and box score, huh?
Anyway, we all rolled north toward the outskirts of the city, toward the most perfect chariot wars venue imaginable: a concrete bridge, high over the river, closed to traffic by concrete barriers.
The barriers were scraped aside to allow the car-chariot inside the arena, the spectators arranged ourselves along the bridge rails and the battle was joined!
And whoa, what a battle it was – I’d heard hair-raising stories of past years (Chuck and Emily, who won a bloody victory in 2008, haven’t competed since) – but they did not prepare me for the gruesome thrilling spectacle that is the Chariot Wars in person. Safety gear is recommended and there are now a few rules – things like “no sharp objects” and “no throttling” – but it’s still mostly a free-for-all, every team against every other team and the crowd against them all.
Empties and vegetables were hurled, fireworks screamed into the air, wiffle bats hit skulls with sickening thuds, tires were slung around enemy necks (okay, so there’s some throttling), and when the smoke(bombs) cleared, only one team was still alive: last year’s winners, Sexxon!
The awesome Ben Hurt trophy was awarded (it involves a skull, and chainrings, and a golden cup full of beer), and, as swords become ploughshares in times of peace, the arena was cleared of cans and cabbages and DoubleOO brought out the double dutch ropes. And Portland brings the mad double dutch skills, just like Reno – is double dutch the international language or what?
NEXT UP: S-S-S-Saturday night!
– Agent F-Word, photos by Agents Instigata and Take the Lane