"I had to give a shoutout to Wedge [Antilles], who was the best pilot in the fleet and got almost no credit for it," says Cameron Schnur. Wedge, he notes, was "the only pilot to survive two Death Star battles and take down an Imperial Walker, and for what? No medal at the end; he didn't even get his own action figure." Thus, Schnur's first entry in Pedalpalooza's "Star Wars vs. Star Trek" bike ride, was "a one-man (plus droid) fighter" that looks impressively like Wedge's X-Wing starfighter. That was in 2010; last year, Schnur—who also goes by the call sign Red Leader—and his pals went even bigger, creating a 22-foot-long Star Destroyer bike that required a crew of four to pedal.
The bikes take hours of designing, prototyping, and building, says Red Leader. Schnur and his friends frequently "find ourselves at the bar on a Saturday night with graphing calculators, trying to figure out the proper ship geometry." Figuring out an equal, stable weight distribution is key.
"Screw those up and you'll be fixing a flat (or worse) mid-ride." To stay lightweight, the ships are made of gray cloth exteriors duct taped to a PVC-pipe frame that's zip-tied to the bike. Laser turrets on each wing were constructed from broom handles and the tops of air freshener cans.
For this year's ride (on June 16—same day as the World Naked Bike Ride, by the way!), the crew is staying mysterious. "This year's bikes are smaller, but with a bigger 'wow' factor," Schnur says, saying only that this year, some of the bikes will "have legs." All I'm going to add: Here's hoping it snows during this year's ride.