They both love bicycles and metalwork, and Janelle has a welder, so they figured they could probably work something out. Inspired by Willy Wonka’s car, Dr Seuss, and jellyfish, the two built their handcar at night and on weekends on Janelle’s back patio in the West End, with painting, building and general morale-boosting help from friends. The handcar, called Big Giant, was almost entirely constructed from recycled materials: old bike frames from the dump and Community Bikes cut up and welded together, part of a chair found by the side of the road, pipes from a car purchased at a garage sale, a friend’s torn curtains, fake leather from Jeff’s defunct couch, thrift store kitchen items, etc.
They constructed wheel guides out of bike tubing and rollerblade wheels to stay on the tracks. The first race was fantastic: they stayed on the tracks all the way to the finish line and actually won, amid wild cheering from the crowd! However, they started falling off the tracks during the second and third races as the forces on the wheel guides proved too great and they bent too much to keep the handcar on the tracks. The crowd cheered anyway as they ran alongside and pushed the handcar to the finish line.
Schuyler and Janelle rode Big Giant to the office a few days after the Regatta and gave Sara a ride around the block! They’ll be riding it around town…as they think about next year’s handcar. (**Click each photo for a closer look).