The 13th annual Mini Bike Winter Ben Hurt Chariot Wars had all the mayhem and merriment we’ve come to expect from this uniquely Portland spectacle.
Organized by Zoobomb and other local bike clubs, Chariot Wars were part of a three-day fest of mini bikes and freak bikes that included the “Torch Ride” Friday night and the Olympic Games and Zoobomb on Sunday.
The rules of Chariot Wars are relatively simple and are enforced by the “Goon Squad” (at right) — two referees that make sure everyone is on the up-and-up.
Each team can have two or more people. Entries consist of a steed in a bike (or bike-like vehicle) up front and a battlecar with a gladiator in the rear. Most of the fighting is done by the gladiator while the job of the pedaler is to keep the chariot moving and out of trouble. Teams are out when riders lose contact with their chariots and/or their chariot is permanently disabled. All weapons must be padded. Smoke bombs are OK, but there’s a strict prohibition on spraying competitors with bodily fluids, rotten eggs, or other seriously vile things. Spectators are encouraged to be rowdy, within reason. “If you want to battle, build a chariot,” the rules state.
One amazing build that showed up was the Bi(cycle)-Plane built by legendary dudes Zane (seated) and Twitch. This is the same duo famous for the Hamster Ball and the pedal-powered Volkswagen bug that showed up in 2010.
As we waited for the battle to commence, the crowd and competitors did their pre-war preparations: Spectators grabbed rotten bananas to use as projectiles, fans took pictures on the chariots, kids played on chariots of their own, and gladiators posed for portraits while pounding hydration fluids.
If you were wondering, the plane didn’t last long. Its drive system was not very durable and the chain fell off soon after the battle started. I caught the moment it was damaged beyond repair in the video below:
It was such an intense battle. The competitors were absolutely spent and probably very relieved when it was over.
I have so much respect and love for all the beautiful people who show up, create, and compete in events like this. Thanks for keeping Portland’s bike fun spirit alive!
UPDATE, 2/18: Don’t miss this awesome video of the action created by Johnathon Allen/AllenInk:
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and firstname.lastname@example.org
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