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Oh, the Races You’ll Row


Like most good ideas, it sprang to life by accident. When sculptor Hobart Brown altered his son’s tricycle into a “pentacycle,” he might have been wondering what a five-wheeled bike would look like. At the very least Brown’s friend Jack Mays did. More specifically, Mays wondered what it would look like racing down a hill. And that’s how it happened. “In 1969, this is when kinetics was born.”

Looking above the rim of her glasses, Sandy Sherman flips through the pages of Weird Colorado, a book by Charmaine Ortega Getz about Colorado’s weirdest events and activities. She finds the article on the Boulder Kinetics Race, a group made of individuals who call themselves “kineticists.” They build and race vehicles driven by man-power over land and water, giving their crafts a theme which corresponds with their costumes and their dance number.

The race began in 1969 in Brown’s hometown of Ferndale, Cali., and was transported to Colorado after  a Boulder firefighter saw it and brought it here for people like Sandy to enjoy. And enjoy they did. So much so that when the race lost its funding 29 years after beginning, a group of die-hard kineticists met underground to keep it alive.

“No, literally,” Sherman says. “They started having underground meetings in the basement of the Lazy Dog on the Pearl Street Mall.” Now, the Boulder Kinetics Race is at Longmont’s Union Reservoir, where Sandy is better known as Lily Lenscap—a moniker that makes more sense when you see her in her lily costume, cheering on keneticists as they dance with their team members before the race, placing bribes on the judges’ table to tempt their vote. She’s there, taking pictures, as they roll their themed vehicles named things like Bad Hare Daze (a metal cottontail) over land and water. And she’s known as the one who can “round up the troops” (or is it troupes?) to get things going. “So, what do you win?” I ask Lily Lenscap, who looks up from her copy of Weird Colorado.

Taken aback by the question, she says matter-of-factly, “The glory.”

WHO: Sandy Sherman, a.k.a Lily Lenscap

WHAT: Kinetic Sculpture Race

WHEN: July 20

COST: $10 per carload or
$2 for a bike/walker

INFO: Register to race by July 18th at kineticists.org

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