Sharkbike and Roller Skibiscuit
Skibiscuit on Wheels
I've built a lot of different things, but the one that probably makes the most people smile is the skihorse that I built for dummy downhill at Blueknob Ski Mountain. Since then we've named the horse Skibiscuit and you can see plenty more of what she's been up to on Instagram. I've taken her to local sledding hills around Takoma and she was also hanging out at a local brewery as a photo prop which was really funny when random photos would show up online.
Unfortunately we didn't get any snow this winter and she sat in my basement unappreciated. Last year my artsy/weirdo neighborhood had our 4th of July Parade and it was about 70% politicians with a magnet on their car handing out fliers. I was annoyed at how boring this made the parade and decided we needed more weird stuff and I was gonna figure out how to get Skibiscuit in. I registered her as an art car for the parade and then started to think how to make this work.
Originally I was debating making an e-skateboard chasis to put her on. I eventually steered away from that (but still may at some point cause it would be hysterical to ride around) just cause I wanted something that kids could safely play on. I found a set of old Gullwing 10" Skateboard Trucks on Ebay and had some leftover cabinet plywood in my basement. I designed a skateboard that locked the skiis into place with a raised piece in the middle and had two top pieces to clamp down with carriage bolts. It worked perfectly. If you lean too far she'll tip, but you can still get pretty good turns in and carve. I also went over to Bethesda Boards and picked up a nice big soft set of longboard wheels and skated the little half-pipe there with my boys. We started horsing around in the neighborhood with her and everyone loved it. There's a dead end street near my alley and myself and all the local kids got plenty of practice runs in.
My bike racing team also resumed our yearly garage races after a few years off from the pandemic. I race in the open category, but there's also an Anything Goes goofball parade type race. Skibiscuit fit in perfectly and this was a nice unexpected bonus I hadn't thought about when initially planning for the parade. We also made the Washington Post who came to cover the races.
So if she's gonna be in the parade, what's pulling her? It was suggested by a friend that she should be water skiiing with something pulling her and the idea of a shark was suggested. A shark pulling a water skiing horse sounded just right for the parade.
I have a big old Xtracycle Edgerunner Classic that I haul my kids to school on daily. I was thinking through how to make it look like a shark to pull Skibiscuit and the best route was two big pieces of plywood painted and mounted to the sides.
I found a shark drawing online, put it in Excel to print out over standard pieces of paper, pinned and taped them to plywood and used a tracer wheel to transfer the shape of the shark. Next up was cutting them out with a jigsaw and painting them a nice dark grey. I mounted both of them in a wall on my basement to save my back, had a printout of the original drawing, and then had a few fun nights of painting.
They turned out great and I just used screws and 3/4" electrical conduit brackets to mount them to the side rails and rack of the bike. It was extremely difficult to get off and on the bike since I need to put it on the centerstand and climb off the back. Nonetheless, I rode it around a few times, got plenty of smiles, and dropped my 3 year old off at daycare where he excitedly said "My buddies see sharkbike!"
At this point I decided to go all out for the parade and did two more things. First off I paid someone to illustrate Skibiscuit and ordered stickers which turned out amazing.
Second, I designed and 3D printed a big emblem to put on a gold chain. I found a nice font, used this easy tool to make the 3D file, and then ordered it from Shapeways. I spray painted it purple and then painted the front of the letters white.
We staged nice and early (too early?) for the parade, had fun talking to the other floats, and my boys passed out all 200 stickers within 30 minutes I think. We got plenty of "Go Skibiscuit!" cheers and some people recognized her from nearby sledding hills in the winter. Everything turned out perfect and we'll likely be in the parade every year now.
I've got plenty of stickers and fridge/car magnets so let me know if you want any.
Some of the Garage Races photos were taken by Bruce Buckley