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Frankincorn: Freaky, fixed-gear fun

Terrence Walz, left, and Ben Harris want you to get busy on your fixie for the Frankincorn.

Photo by Sarah E. Gerard

Terrence Walz, left, and Ben Harris want you to get busy on your fixie for the Frankincorn.

Terrence Walz and Ben Harris are tired of being losers. So they've created a bike race that slows down the fast pants and speeds up the fun.

Dubbed "Frankincorn" in honor of a friend, the race, which is Saturday at Cafe Bohemia in St. Petersburg, will weave along bike lanes throughout the county.

At several points over the course of the race, bikers will stop and choose between two challenges, "one of which is quicker, but less appealing," said Walz, who designed the track. "Little stuff that just slows people down so they can't just burn through it."

"We found that, with a lot of races that go on in St. Pete, by the end of it, the guy with the $3,000 bike wins a $200 wheel set," said Harris, who works nights as a bouncer. The kids that can actually use a $200 wheel set never win anything, he says. "So, we specifically designed our race to slow those guys down."

Some of the tasks are simple, like a game of Rock-Paper-Scissors. Others, like kissing one of their friends, are a little more challenging. Even more unusual? Getting an official Frankincorn tattoo, identical to one Ben has on his leg, drawn by an Electric Voodoo artist.

When a cyclist completes a task, he gets a "manifest" telling him where to go next. Just like in other races, the first biker across the finish line gets the grand prize: a package of donations from Frankincorn sponsors, which Harris said could include anything from "free tattoos to bar tabs and gift certificates, and things put together by local artists."

But Walz and Harris aren't sending anybody away with a sense of defeat. They've collected upwards of 40 sponsors for the event, including Chipotle and Burrito Boarder, and have decided to be as nontraditional with their awards as they are with their track.

"We actually have Vanity on Central doing a full makeover for the first girl across the line," said Harris. "We have (a prize) for the worst-looking bike on the track. He's going to get a free paint job. Whether it be a T-shirt or a new bike, everybody gets something when they walk away from this race."

At 4 p.m., organizers are planning what they call a "solid trick competition," including a tug-of-war and a competition called Track Stand Twister, "which is like (the game) Twister, except you're doing a track stand on a bike." (A track stand) is when you balance on your bike without putting your feet down.

Though he'd like to attract all kinds of racers, Walz predicted many of the racers in Frankincorn will be from the fixed-gear scene, made up predominantly of young, tattooed, fixed-gear enthusiasts. Fixed-gear bikes don't have a freewheel, which is what enables a bicycle to coast. Consequently, fixed-gear bicycles can be pedaled forward or backward.

Most of the businesses sponsoring Frankincorn have donated goods or services instead of money, such as the food vendors coming out for a street party following the race. Numerous bike shops have donated anything from gear and parts to entire bicycles.



Signups for the bike race are 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Cafe Bohemia, 937 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. The race is 2 to 5 p.m., with a trick competition at 4 p.m. It's $8 to sign up. After the race, there's a party and live music at Fubar. For details, see

Frankincorn: Freaky, fixed-gear fun 02/25/10 [Last modified: Thursday, February 25, 2010 11:18pm]
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