PORT TOWNSEND — It started as two brand new bicycles, and now with the help of a new welder, experienced hands and imagination, a “skulpture” is coming to life.
Collin Bartl is an experienced Kinetic Race competitor, with 15 years of experience as a pit crew member and pilot with several races under his belt from both Port Townsend and Humboldt, Calif., where kinetic races started.
Bartl and his wife, Amber, will compete in the 37th annual Great Port Townsend Bay Kinetic Sculpture Race this weekend, along with several other moving works of art that will race through water, neighborhoods, sand and mud.
The race is split between Saturday and Sunday, with the water portion, parade and brake test Saturday and the land race Sunday.
Bartl is currently preparing his skulpture for this weekend’s race and has been at it for the last two weeks, putting time into it on the weekends and after he gets off work. But it won’t be as elaborate as other skulptures people will see.
“I love the building process,” Bartl said. “With the time frame at this point, I think I’m just going to paint and maybe put up a hanging star. Most of this has just been design as I go.”
As of Tuesday evening, his skulpture consisted of two silver bikes that were welded into a side-by-side arrangement, with a small shelf and platform at the rear, that Bartl said will be for their speaker and food cooler.
“You need food while you race,” he said.
The races are all in good fun and are not meant to be taken seriously.
For instance, the rules of the race include: “Remember that the offishuls are doing the best they can. If things are not going your way, take it personally. They are picking on you.”
Bartl has won several awards for his variety of skulptures he has built, many with Amber’s help.
His favorite award was not one he got for winning a race, or even the coveted “Mediocrity Award” for coming in dead center of the pack. It’s the “Spirit of Hobart Brown” award, which is given in honor of Kinetic Race founder Hobart Brown, to a racer who demonstrates the spirit of the race, having fun and helping others.
“It’s truly my favorite award,” Bartl said. “I’ve won a whole ton of them through the years.”
The hardest part of the experience is completing the skulpture around his busy schedule.
“Time just kind goes and it’s ‘uh oh, got to do it,’” Bartl said.
Of the four terrains in the race, the most difficult portions have been the sand and mud, Bartl said.
“I love the mud, though I don’t always make it through it,” Bartl said. “Sand is the hardest one for me. It always tears up my skulpture up.
“We’ve made it through the mud on a machine similar to this. Hopefully we can do it again.”
When asked what his favorite part of the race was, Bartl simply answered “the finish line.”
“Truly when you put your heart and soul into the building process,” he said. “When you go across that finish line … it’s a really big day.
“It’s a sense of accomplishment. It’s glorious.”
For Bartl, winning the race is not the goal or even why he competes. He does it because of the family and community that he’s cultivated.
“The race to me is the friendships you make,” Bartl said. “People from all walks of life and it’s just super neat. It’s truly a lot of fun.”
On Saturday, parade participants will line up at the U.S. Bank parking lot at 1239 Water St. at 11 a.m., and then will move down Water Street to the American Legion at 209 Monroe St. at about noon.
Everyone is welcome to join the “home grown/family parade” but political/religious messages and advertising are not allowed.
After the parade, racers will conduct a brake and flotation test. The brake test will involve the skulptures riding down Monroe Street to stop at the city skateboard park.
The flotation test and water race will be after the brake test and will consist of the skulptures entering the bay near the Salmon Club at 431 Water St. near the Northwest Maritime Center.
Saturday evening will be a 21 and up event called the “The Rosehips Kween Koronation Ball” starting at 8 p.m. at the American Legion Hall with music performed by Marmalade (a 13-piece funk band from Fremont). Costumes are encouraged.
Kween contestants will fight for the Rosehips Krown starting at 9:30 p.m. with the Koronation at 11 p.m.
Amber Bartl notably was crowned Kween in 2010.
Admission to the ball is $15 at the door, and pre-sale tickets are available online at www.ptkineticrace.org.
Sunday’s activities will begin at 10 a.m. with the racers lining up at the American Legion to show off their skulptures and pageantry to the crowds.
Racers will begin at “low noon” at Lawrence Street near Aldrich’s Market, race to a sand course at Fort Worden, then travel through a mud course at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds, down San Juan Avenue, up Walker Street to Lawrence Street and finish by coming down Monroe Street to end at the American Legion Hall.
The survivors’ post party and award ceremony will be at 6 p.m. at the American Legion Hall.
A full map of the route can be found at www.ptkineticrace.org/great-port-townsend-bay-kinetic-kourse.
To register and to find more information, see www.ptkineticrace.org.
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5 or at [email protected].