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Posts Tagged ‘tall bike’

by Jack Igelman

in Vol. 15 / Iss. 06 on 09/03/2008

Mountain Xpress http://www.mountainx.com/

Michael Mooney always climbs back on his bike after a fall. Last year, clad in a top hat and coat with flowing tails, he mounted his 44-foot-tall bike and tried to set a new Guiness World Record during the 2007 Lexington Avenue Arts & Fun Festival.

Before the fall: Mooney posed at the base of his 44-foot-tall bike shortly before his failed attempt to set a world record at last year’s LAAFF. Photo By Jon Elliston

He fell off. (A fall off his 12-foot bike earlier that day had left him with a broken kneecap.)

But this year, the 38-year-old LAAFF co-founder aims to try again.

That’s no surprise. Bicycles have long been part of Mooney’s life: He grew up riding BMX bikes, rode cross-country on a mountain bike and spent several years as a professional downhill racer. In 2000, however, Mooney broke his foot while riding. After that, he took a three-year, self-imposed “bike time out”—only to be seduced by the quirky lure of unusually tall bikes.

Mooney is often seen riding his 6-foot bike, both around town and on the trail. But he clings to his dream of breaking the Guiness record. On Sept. 7, the father of two will make his second attempt to ride tall and get his name in the book. His 4-story, purple contraption cuts a towering, triangular silhouette, weighing in at an unwieldy 450 pounds.

Xpress met up with Mooney recently at a garage in Fairview, where he’s fine-tuning his lofty cycle, and quizzed him about his quest.

Mountain Xpress: What’s a tall bike?
Michael Mooney: It’s usually a two-frame bike where the frames are stacked on top of each other. The wheels are regular-size, so it’s just a really tall frame. I typically ride my 6-foot bike, but I have several others, including the Tanya Harding Special [a 12-footer] and a 44-foot-tall bike.

In love with tall bikes: Michael Mooney aims to set a Guiness World Record for riding the tallest bike — not his every-day bike (pictured), but one that’s four-stories tall. Photo By Dave Keister

How did you get interested in tall bikes?
I saw Jim Lauzon of LaZoom Tours with a tall bike on Lexington Avenue a few years ago and asked if I could ride it. [After that], I was hooked. When I get on a tall bike, I feel like a kid. Sometimes I laugh out loud [because] it’s so much fun.

How long have you been building them, and what’s the technique?
I’ve been making them for four years. I figured out the basics of how to put them together, and I put my own spin on it because I’m a mountain biker. It’s best to start off with a working bike and then add another frame. The most important thing is to line up the steering tube. And it pays to have a friend who knows how to weld.

Besides you and Jim Lauzon, how many people are riding tall bikes?
I’ve loaned out some of my tall bikes for folks to try. But there are clubs in bigger cities.

How often do you ride?
Whenever I can sneak one in, which is tough, since I’m a family man and run a contracting business.

Where do you ride?
I do a lot of trail riding, but I like it all. I like riding around town, because you’re your own parade. Everyone is smiling and waving, and it’s a great conversation-starter. I love it when people stop and say: “That’s cool, man. Let’s party!” It’s [also] safer riding a tall bike than a regular-size street bike in town, since I’m so visible. You aren’t worried about anyone running into you.

What’s your motivation to break the record?
The current record is [a] 100-meter [ride] on an 18-foot-tall bike—[that’s] two laps at the festival. I’m doing it because it is something fun to do. It keeps me active and creative.

Tell us about last year’s record attempt.
I finished building the bike at 3 a.m. on the eve of the festival, and [I] had a two-hour nap before I had to open up, interact with vendors and basically manage the entire day. So I really wasn’t on my game. Right before the record attempt, I was riding figure eights on my 12-foot bike, and there was a piece of rebar in the concrete that took me down. [I] broke my kneecap in four pieces. I duct-taped my leg and figured if I got started [on the 44-foot bike], I could pedal with one foot. I got a good push off the platform, but couldn’t get my pedal stroke around, and that was it.

The fall looked scary. Will you be using a similar safety system?
It may have looked harsh, but it worked perfectly. I’m a nut, but not a stupid nut. I totally trust the system. We worked out a detailed eight-page proposal that we shared with the city and [the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration]. We practiced at least a dozen falls on the 12-foot bike to test the system. Although OSHA didn’t need to approve it, they gave us a letter of blessing, and the city checked off on it because they were convinced that there was no danger to the crowd.

What will you do differently this time?
For one, the bike will be completed well before the festival, and I’ve delegated more festival duties so I can focus on the record attempt. The tall-bike circus will begin at 5:30 p.m. with some warm-up acts, but I won’t be riding the Tanya Harding Special this time. I’m only focusing on the tall bike.

What will you wear for this year’s attempt?
The toughest thing is coming up with a costume. There’s [a] debate [over whether] I had a wardrobe malfunction last year—[perhaps] the tail of my costume got caught in the railing. I may wear a kilt.

[Jack Igelman lives in Asheville.]

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BY MARK VANDERHOFF

SEPTEMBER 2, 2008

Bold Life http://www.boldlife.com

If you’re in Downtown Asheville on September 7 and you happen to see a crowd of people painting a car, please do not be alarmed. It’s art, and it’s part of the Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival.

Whereas the typical art festival involves two types of people — artists and the public —LAAFF merges the two and allows the public to participate.

Hence, the Art Car Painting Party.

“How many times in your life are you going to get to go hog-wild with a paintbrush on somebody else’s car?” asks Rachel Waterhouse, art car organizer. Participants may even see the art car driving down the road after the event. In years past the art car was raffled. Not so this year. But there will be a raffle of children’s toy cars, which will be painted by the children themselves throughout the day.

If art car painting isn’t your thing, try one of these other participatory art projects: Make a giant squid out of trash (which will later be paraded around the festival). Fire dance with flaming balls (sorry, the public will not be allowed to use actual flaming balls, but will learn the moves). Step right up and get your picture taken — disguised as a freak — at the photo freak booth. At the Canvas Dance you can dip your feet into paint and then dance around on a giant canvas.

There will be many more artistic opportunities, as well as live music and healing arts. There will be a Tall Bike Show and the ever-popular bicycle jousting. There will also be food and drink, including a commemorative American Style Pale Ale brewed by French Broad Brewing Co. especially for the festival.

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Article for Mountain Freak.net

Sept 1, 2008

http://mountainfreak.net/

(Co-written by Torva Logan, Erin Scholze, and Jay Sanders)

In the wee hours of the morning on the first Sunday of September, trucks and cars are bustling in and out of Lexington Avenue dropping off funky painted signs, fabulous wares and fresh food.  The activity goes virtually unnoticed until it’s time to open the gates and invite the crowds into Asheville’s largest independent street festival: the Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival (LAAFF).

Now in its seventh year, LAAFF’s three stages, two courtyards, and city streets will play host to the biggest bands, dancers, and performers Asheville has to offer; even the sponsors are all local.  Lexington Avenue will overflow with tons of interactive art stations and teem with local artists demonstrating their inimitable talents.  This is a day that everyone can feel free to dress in costume, dance, celebrate Asheville’s true colors.

By 11 AM, when the first performers take the stage, eager masses will flood the streets dressed in their funkiest attire.  This is a day of all-local entertainment, shopping, food, and drinks, showcasing why Asheville has long been considered the Freak capitol of Western North Carolina.  You can paint an art car, build a giant squid out of recycled material, hula hoop, weave baskets, dip your feet in paint and dance on a canvas, parade, get a henna tattoo, sew your own art clothes at the Honey Pot, make puppets, enjoy a kiss at the Kissing Car, experience live painting, tour the fabulous Emerge-and-See Art Ambulance and Gallery or learn how to spin fire, dance, and drum.

There will be a “Get Your Freak On” photo booth, located in Bobo Gallery located at 22 Lexington Ave., where you can try on tons of freaky fun costumes donated by the wonderful Costume Shoppe.  Jen Bowen, Director of the Faces of Asheville Portrait Documentary, will snap your shot, and within minutes you’ll have the best fun and freaky memento ever!  All monies raised will go to the final completion of the Faces of Asheville Portrait Documentary Project.  This project will also host community forums throughout the year to discuss diversity, artist resources, green living, the local economy, and more in Asheville.

Local Graffiti Artists will be performing live painting between 1-4pm on the I-240 overpass support columns to celebrate the conclusion of the first quarter of The Asheville Mural Project.  This expansive mural portrays original images of local characters and uniquely Asheville scenes focusing on Sustainability, Arts and Culture, Community, and Asheville Saints.  AMP is adding value to the community with the support of the City of Asheville. Team members consist of 5 local artists and several auxiliary painters.  Much of the proceeds from LAAFF’s past have been directed toward AMP.

Be sure to see Asheville’s own Tall Bike Freak, Michael Mooney, attempt to set a world record by riding the World’s Tallest Bike, mountable only by crane! This is one show during LAAFF that you will just not want to miss.  Michael is ready for a second attempt at the Guinness world record for riding the world’s tallest bike (over 43 feet!) for 100 meters.  The preshow to the Tall Bike Experience is the Bicycle Circus, commandeered by Ringmaster Bill Glasscock and set to Circus Music played through a giant Gramophone.  Featured performances will also include Clown skits, Blue Ridge Rollergirl action, BMX fun, unicyclists and jugglers.

LAAFF is a festival where the music never stops, and the music at LAAFF is all local and all original. Every year, LAAFF’s lineup changes, but always represents the musical diversity that makes Asheville’s music scene great.  This year there are over fifty performance acts including Josh Phillips Folk Festival, Snake Oil Medicine Show, Shannon Whitworth, the Asheville Horns, Jar-E, the Firecracker Jazz Band, The Plowshares, the Hunab Kru B-boys, and Secret Agent 23 Skidoo. Old-time and bluegrass pickers are invited to join in The Shady Grove Courtyard Jam from 1-6pm.  If your taste tends more towards the electronic scene, head for the Freaky Tiki DJ Lounge in the old Vincent’s Ear Courtyard to hear some tribal rhythms, house, funk, soul.  Performer merchandise will be sold at Static Age Records, located at 82-A N. Lexington Ave, and all proceeds will go directly to the performers.

While you will be able to purchase a great CD, this is one festival where you will not be able to buy a bottle of water.  Free water is what LAAFF is all about.  There will be three stations set up where you can fill up your own reusable water bottle or compostable cup; no more wasted plastic!  You can support the festival, and the environment by purchasing a LAAFF reusable water bottle or souvenir beer mug.  All compostable items will be carted away to the Long Branch Environmental Education Center.

Sustained by widespread community support, LAAFF is a volunteer driven event that serves as a celebration of Asheville’s unique personality and as a fundraiser for Arts 2 People, a non-profit organization devoted to promoting the role of the arts as an integral part of our culture.  Arts 2 People serves the entire community through arts outreach, bringing the arts to those in need, supporting the careers of artists, and through community cultural development.  Projects of Arts 2 People include The Pritchard Park Cultural Arts Program, The REACH Educational series, Moving Women, The Asheville Mural Project, Faces of Asheville and more.  These projects support Asheville’s thriving eclectic cultural values and all will have representation at LAAFF.

The Lexington Ave Arts and Fun Festival is chock-full of exciting activities until 10 PM.  Come dressed in your wildest clothes, or as you are.  LAAFF is free and fun for everyone. Sunday, September 7th; 11 AM – 10 PM; Lexington Avenue in downtown Asheville, NC.  Come join in the festivities! For more information visit www.arts2people.org and http://www.myspace.com/lexfestasheville

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LAAFF keeps the “loco” in local

by Alli Marshall in Vol. 14 / Iss. 06 on 09/05/2007

Mountain Xpress, http://www.mountainx.com/


Downtown Asheville’s Lexington Avenue Arts & Fun Festival, now in its sixth year, is billed as a local festival for the locals. Locally based merchants sell locally made foods, microbrews, crafts and other products. Local talent pulls out all the stops when it comes to music, dancing, spoken word, performance and visual arts. In fact, LAAFF is so down-home, organizers don’t even advertise outside the immediate area—unless you count a flurry of e-mails to London-based Guinness World Records.

Riding towards a record: Michael Mooney tests a small version of his “tall bike.” He aims to break the world record at LAAFF.

Festival co-creator Michael Mooney, a self-professed “bike nut,” is in the process of building the world’s tallest bike, which he plans to ride at an event during this year’s festival.

“The first time you ride a tall bike, you just smile like you’re a little kid,” Mooney says. A semipro racer during the ‘90s, Mooney pedaled across the entire country before moving on to a new challenge. He was introduced to tall bikes (a recreational bicycle usually created by welding two regular bike frames together for extra height) by Jim Lauzon, co-owner of Asheville’s LaZoom Tours. Lauzon, a New Orleans transplant, took to riding his oversized bike around town, inspiring Mooney to build a half-dozen of his own creations.

“I’ve got a tall mountain bike made of three mountain bikes,” Mooney says. “I ride it on trails and I jump it big: I don’t just mess around.”

And he’s not messing around when it comes to breaking the world record for riding the tallest of these clownish contraptions. The current record holder tops out at 18 feet. Mooney, who heard the owner of that bike is building a 20-footer, decided to up the ante.

His creation—still in the construction stages—will reach a towering 44 feet. That’s four stories. “I figured if I built a 20-foot bike I could die just as easily,” Mooney shrugs.

The Guinness judges won’t actually be on hand to verify the local daredevil’s record-breaking stunt. Instead, Mayor Terry Bellamy and Clint Spiegel, owner of team sponsor Industry Nine Wheels, will carry out the Guinness-mandated measuring and officiating.

Back to the start: Before it became a festival, the event that would become LAAFF was conceived as an art-car parade. photo by Jonathan Welch

Mooney’s biggest challenge? Mounting the tall bike. For protection, he’ll be wearing a climbing harness, and so will the bike. But to break the record, the rope will have to remain slack, so it’s a safety device rather than a balancing aid.

“My friend Pandor is determined to turn me into Asheville’s Freak Folk Hero,” Mooney says. It’s arguable that that role has already been filled—many times over—but Mooney will have his own theme song, which Pandor will perform either before or during the momentous ride.

For bike fans looking for more two-wheel thrills, LAAFF is bringing back the popular bicycle jousting. This year, there will also be a children’s class and kid-sized gear for ages 10 and up. Kids who want more action can join the Berserker squad, armed with rubber-chicken nunchucks, rubber-chicken maces and foam-covered swords for putting the adult “losers” in the bicycle jousts out of their misery.

The rest of LAAFF will probably be more of what fans have come to expect (art cars, belly dancers, bands), though with a few tweaks. Organizer Erin Scholze lists all-day events at the location that formerly served as the Vincent’s Ear courtyard, a bluegrass jam at the Shady Grove Courtyard and a singer/songwriter circle (led by Jen and the Juice front woman Jenny Greer with Menage’s Mary Ellen Bush) as new to this year’s festivities.

“One of the things I really like about Asheville is how members of different bands will get together and make a new band,” Scholze says. Case in point: LAAFF serves up Asheville supergroups like the Big Money Band (with members of Strut, GFE, Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band and Fiddle Dave) and Sons of A Keeled Over Snake (with members of Sons of Ralph, Snake Oil, and the Larry Keel Band).

Even though organizers make a point of highlighting up-and-coming area talent (Latin fusion act Quebrao, alt-country group Nevada and jazz-funk newcomers Thing Three are included on the roster), it’s not strictly a music festival.

“LAAFF does showcase so much,” Scholze notes. “LAAFF involves that whole other group of performers besides musicians.”

In fact, the daylong festival was originally envisioned by Mooney and Kitty Love as an art-car parade. When the co-creators went to the city to procure the necessary permits, they found out it was easier to have a festival than a parade, Scholze recalls. Thus, LAAFF was born.

Still, a parade is on the itinerary (Firecracker Jazz Band spearheads that effort, scheduled for 4 p.m.), along with performances on the LaZoom theater bus (parked outside Bobo Gallery) and plenty of other surprises.

One request from organizers: Festival attendees should come in costume. “If everyone’s part of the show, it will be overwhelmingly good,” says Mooney (he’ll be the guy in the climbing harness, pedaling a brachiosaurus-sized bicycle).

“Don’t be a spectator in life or at the festival,” he adds. “Be part of the fun.”


LAAFF facts & acts

LAAFF takes place on Sunday, Sept. 9, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on North Lexington Avenue between College Street and the Interstate 240 overpass. Free. Info: http://www.arts2people.org.

The Electric Stage
• 11 a.m.—Quebrao
• Noon—Sons of a Keeled Over Snake
• 1 p.m.—Bandazian
• 2:15 p.m.—Kellin Watson
• 3:20 p.m.—Chalwa
• 4:45 p.m.—CXI
• 6:15 p.m.—Trainwreks
• 7:45 p.m.—Big Money Band
• 9:15 p.m.—The Rebelles with their band the Pheromones

Performing Arts Stage (on Walnut)
• 11 a.m.—Jarrett Leone Didgeridoo
• 11:25 a.m.—Nevada
• 12:05 p.m.—Dance with Luna May Seal
• 12:20 p.m.—The Oxymorons Improv Comedy
• 1:05 p.m.—The Electromagnetic Duo (theremin music)
• 1:45 p.m.—Jodi Taylor and her Dancers
• 2 p.m.—The Sophisticated Chimps
• 3 p.m.—Maria-guajira
• 3:30 p.m.—Vendetta Crème
• 4:10 p.m.—Baraka Mundi
• 5 p.m.—Speedsquare
• 6 p.m.—Centro Esportivo de Capoeira Angola Asheville
• 6:35 p.m.—Hip Hop Revolution (Kids Breakdancing)
• 7 p.m.—HuNab Kru Breakdancing
• 7:50 p.m.—Avec La Force Percussion and Dance Initiative
• 8:40 p.m.—Wicked Geisha
• 9:15 p.m.—Unifire Theatre

Bobo Stage (by Patton Avenue)
• All Day—LaZoom Bus Tours with performance acts
• 11 a.m.—Rev-Doc Spins
• Noon—Jar-E
• 2 p.m.—Guerguerian, Benavides and Wolf
• 4 p.m.—August Hoerr and Shane Perlowin
• 5 p.m.—Rev-Doc Spins
• 6 p.m.—Banana Da Terra
• 8 p.m.—The Plowshares
• 10 p.m.—Earthtone Sound Systems (inside Bobo)

Shady Grove Courtyard
• Noon—Thing Three
• 1 p.m.—Bluegrass Jam
• 5 p.m.—Songwriters Circle hosted by Jenny Greer and Mary Ellen Bush

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