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The Journey of Circulus

By Dan Powell

Dream Big

It was sometime around 1996, I guess, back in the early days of the internet that I first read about the Human Powered Rollercoaster (HPR) in Toronto. The portable figure-8 track was built for the Alley Cats Scramble, and was described as being “coiled around its own body like a serpent with no head or tail.” There were stories of people crashing on it and breaking their leg or jaw. Fishbone played live during the original Dunhill Cigarette sponsored event and it sounded like the most badass party I’d ever heard of.

Ever since then, the thought of owning a portable bicycle track has been circling around my mind. Last spring, I read a post on the Urban Velo website about Samuel Starr, a student at Pomona College who had designed, built and installed a round mini velodrome in the school’s recently decommissioned Seeley G. Mudd Science Library. Looking at photos of Circulus, I was reminded of the dream I’ve had since 1996.

In July 2010 I heard that Starr was graduating, and Circulus needed a new home. His email address was listed in the post so I dropped him a line. Before I knew it, I’d made him an offer for the track. The thing was that I didn’t even have the money I’d offered him, nor did I have a place to put the track. I guess those are what some folks would refer to as “minor details.”

Immediately I started scheming of ways to come up with the cash I’d need to not only purchase the track but also transport it to Portland, OR. Luckily, I’ve got friends that dream as big as I do. In the fall, Lyle Hanson and Kelly Peterson, who own the cycling cap company Cognition, and frame builder Zack Reilly agreed to loan me the money I needed to take ownership of Circulus. My business partner at Portland Design Works (PDW) Erik Olson agreed to let me set up the track in our warehouse until I could figure out what to do with it.