December 09, 2004

Epic Hi-speed, HiWheel crash on line!

How often do most people here even see a HiWheel bicycle in action? Much less see one going down hill? Since I am riding one a lot now (it greatly increases my recumbent riding strength) and can't see myself when I am challenged by a worthy descent, even I have to admit I've never been witness to such insanity. Nor do I do them fast as the madly spinning pedals on that huge front wheel (a fixed gear) can force a discordant wobble that is unnerving at best. Nor do I so with my feet over the top of the handlebars as in let it all hang out.......

Ah, but 1984 TransAm HiWheel vet Jack Castor (SF to Boston in 44 days) does. And a film crew was there to document this excitement in November of 2001 on the south island of New Zealand as he rode the Otematata Grade. Riding a Penny Farthing that was built in Christchurch, New Zealand by Robin Willan, Jack is rumored to have reached 40 miles an hour. In fact, in the film clip ahead, so that Jack does not run into them, you can hear the videographer desperately imploring his driver to go faster, in French, with the words, "More speed, more speed". When all of a sudden Jack's tire rolls of the rim.

At six feet above the ground, his bike slides out. He hits the ground so hard that his legs cannot hold him as the force of the collision hammers him into the asphalt. In the slow motion version which amplifies every action, he looks like a lifeless rag doll, as he bounces across the road to a stop in the weed filled shoulder. I have never seen anything like this before in my life. Out loud I exclaimed "WOW" in disbelief. The fact that Jack survived with no more than cuts and bruises and dislocated joints fully astounds me.

Jack's Crash Video

Posted by mkreig at December 9, 2004 11:38 PM