This is a growing collection of Segway Photos featuring,
Roman Horseless Chariot
August 17, 2003
As many of you may know the Black
Rock Segway Time Trials are being held coincident with the Burning Man Festival,
a little annual camping trip of mine I do with 30,000 of my closest friends. Burning Man
is principally about art, expressive art, and features art
cars and other mobile sculptures ranging from golf cart derived fish to mobile sofas
and lounge chairs. I got thinking what better way to get around Burning Man than on an art
Thus was born ideas for a little schtick, but first a bit of history:
Along about 5500 years ago in Sumeria some dude invented the wheel. The "two wheel, non tandem" configuration was the first carrier type to exploit this thing. In English we call it a horse cart, a useful transport device of the time. The four wheeled version came a lot later, invented by a rich guy that could afford to buy four of these expensive wheels. He was the envy of the village as he could untether it from his horses without it falling over. He called this a wagon. These vehicles served as the means of heavy movement for the next 5400 years until the invention of the gas engine and we know the rest of this story. Gottlieb Daimler motorized the four wheeled wagon in 1889 and called it a motor car and people loved it and invented smog and congestion to go with it. Nobody thought to motorize the horse cart because that only served to throw you on your face or butt - at least till Dean Kamen came along.
I digress, back to the horse cart. Much later boys in the military applied the cart to war and sport. The horse cart became the war chariot, intended to provide a stable platform from which a rapidly moving archer could shoot the enemy. It is not clear why, but Roman generals didn't care for it much. I suppose it didn't fit in with the human tank style of the phalanx, but instead found its place on the race track. Everybody loved to watch it. Rome's Circus Maximus became the premier chariot racing venue of 1 B.C. Even Hollywood liked it as they gave us Charlton Heston racing around as Ben Hur in the greatest of all chariot races.
Well on with the show. We have the chariot, we, now have Kamen's two wheeled, non-tandem "cart". We have Burning Man. It is high time we mix and blend, and create for your amusement the world's first horseless racing chariot!
With the horseless chariot is yours truly clad as a roman senator about to begin his commute to the forum from the burbs of Roma. It would be a Senator of course to have the most unique and expensive chariot as he would have ordered it built and financed special interest money. He had a most important job; approving whatever Caesar chose to do.
Looking carefully at the photos you will notice the prehensile horse mounting rod in front and prehensile reins. Some say there are war horses are still there, just invisible, or perhaps ghost steeds. No one knows for sure.
Here I am in Black Rock City about to make my inspection rounds.
In fact the chariot isn't technically horseless, but is in fact pulled by Egyptian mares. I have sprinked the mares with a pixie dust that renders them visible in this photo.
A fellow Black Rock City citizen examines my parked chariot.
Next: Key West Sot-mobile
Back: World's Fastest - post time trial page World's Fastest - pre time trial page
The fine print:
Thinking of bringing your segway to
Burning Man? Some care is advised. The festival is held on a dry lake bed made of a vile
alkali talc clay that I call "the weed of dirt". This soil will coat anything it
touches inside and out. Windstorms assure that the dust gets anywhere that water can
reach. The dust corrodes electronics and motors. Many devices cease to work after two or
three days on the playa. Bring your Segway in full awareness that harm may come to it from
this harsh environment.
That said, I fully expect to have a clean, functional Segway on my return. Why? First I will leave fenders, my "good" control stick, and the floor mat at home. (I acquired another persons damaged CS at a scrap price, so this piece is now a throwaway item. The wheels can be cleaned, and I have double bagged the base in shrink rap plastic with all edges sealed with packing tape. There are only three openings, the two axles and the CS neck. All these edges have been sealed with carpet tape and silicone adhesive. This leaves only the axle bearings exposed and these cannot be sealed as wheels must turn. Here I have packed in a high temperature wax that will hopefully trap the dust before it can migrate into the wheel bearings. Now all this is "extra" protection, as Segway has already environmentally sealed the base unit. For instance there are rubber seals around the battery pack connectors. This is a quality that does not exist on lesser mobility devices.