If you missed it, read about Zwickelmania in Part 1 here.
What’s the best thing to do after sampling beers for three hours? Watch a bike fight, duh! Last week marked the 10th Annual Mini Bike Winter here in Portland. MBW is part of the freak bike gangs/ZooBomb crews and involves a whole mess of competitions and zany hijinks on kid’s bikes. The Cupcake Challenge (dock jump into the Willamette…in February), Badass Challenge (up and down the ZooBomb a hundred times…on kid’s bikes) are just a couple. But probably the most notorious is the Ben Hurt Chariot Wars.
Hands down the most vicious thing you do on a bicycle, the Wars involve two-person teams on mini bikes with an attached chariot and whatever weapons they want to use to smash the other teams bikes/personnel. “If they are willing to get hit by their own weapon, they can use it,” an official Wars medic told me. “The basic thing is we want people to bleed, but able to walk away,” he added. Through some set of rules, teams are ruled defeated and booted from the circle of doom until there is one victorious leader.
The Wars have inspired a number of crazy gnarley bikes, including the infamous hamster ball bike. This year’s collection was pretty tame and conventional, pieced together from pieces of wood, decommissioned bicycles or shopping carts. All except for the two-tiered birthday cake bike, complete with a shiny golden bike at the top.
Rain had been threatening all day, but stayed away…until I decided to ride to the brunch/meet-up site. I was getting to the crucial wet point and was about to give up hope of arriving before needing to don the rain gear when lo and behold hundreds of bikes and freak bikes alike graced my eye. A raggedy horde of fishnets and cut-off denim jackets splashed manmosas (mimosas but with beer) into the air and grabbed fistfuls of bacon from bowls to shove into their foul-mouthed gullets. Smiles and hugs slapped onto shoulders as everyone swapped stories of their latest freak builds and chaos. A gang of girl scouts came over to peddle cookies. “We waited until 4:20,” their father explained. Smart thinking, Dad, as there was indeed a dash of incense swirling in the air. Once all of the bacon and beer had been consumed the warriors and their minions marched to the portentous battlefield.
Cars stopped bewildered as tattooed riders in short shorts rode past on tall bikes. The spokes on children’s wheels wheezed like tiny demons relishing the end of the world. Licentious cat-calls froze the world in terror as we caromed down the streets to the Eastbank Esplanade. Once there, the battlers started circling and menacing their foes. Thunder raged on the ground in the form of firecrackers and the earth split open in a noxious haze of smoke bombs. Beer cans pelted the fighters and ricocheted without consequence as everyone’s breath thickened with blood lust and cigarettes. It was apocalypse come on a bicycle. In a blur of rage limbs wielding foam-wrapped bats and boxing-glove-tipped jousts stabbed and bashed bodies to alcohol-soaked pulp. Rotten eggs flew from the air and splattered a rider, blinding him long enough to receive a weapon to the neck and bringing him to the ground. The egg grenadier pointed from atop his platform on the birthday cake bike and laughed wickedly. A spectator came at him with a blunt metal rod but was thwarted as the mighty warrior wrestled it from his grasp. “What the fuck are you doing with this?!” screamed the bare beer-bellied fighter with only a hint of outrage in his voice. Another lesser foe approached his perch and he rained down kicks upon their battered heads, eliminating them from competition. One by one the competition dwindled to a ragged three teams. As kicks and punches were exchanged the crowd of spectators surged with “Tip it! Tip it! Tip it!” They rushed the birthday cake bike and with insatiable claws ripped it to the ground and flung the warriors to the pavement, upside down and unconscious. A scrum burst in the middle and the winners whapped and bapped their opponents into submission. Beer wiped blood, sweat, and tears as they shouted into the dying afternoon air with glory and victory.
As the defeated warriors picked themselves and the scraps from their chariots off the ground the crowd dispersed to different drinking holes. And as the sun set over the whole grisly scene the Cowabunga Dude swigged his final sip, stared across the blood-stained river, and said, “Chiblam. Chiblooey.” Ultimate Day commenced.