The Almost-Annual Matt Armbruster Memorial


Handbook For the Uninformed


A Virgin's Guide to the Big Wheel Rally.

Though many of you may be BWR vets, many others of you, or the friends you bring, will be Virgins. With this in mind, I have prepared this small summary to help you understand and prepare for the night's activities:


There is none. Forget it. I came up with it, but don't ask me why. I don't know.


Big Wheels are not mandatory for participation in the AAMAMBWR. If you really can't get a Big Wheel, I'd be happy just to have you along with us. But please don't expect to have near as much fun as the rest of us.

A) We have been trying to adhere to a policy of having only plastic Big Wheels (as opposed to metal trikes). For two reasons:

1) Safety First!. Plastic absorbs shock very well. And shock absorption is key (head-ons, stairs, power jumping, etc.).

2) They make that cool sound.

B) There are two different kinds of Big Wheels out there to be had: The official Big Wheel made by Empire, and Playskool's Power Cycle. The Playskool model is a lot more like the Big Wheel we knew and loved. They flex a bit more, but the axle won't bend as easily, and they can be out of the box and under your butt in under fifteen minutes. Unfortunately, Playskool stopped production of the masterful Power Cycle in 1995. If you’re lucky enough to find one, it will be used.

I'll tell you now, Empire Big Wheels suck. One good jump and the axle likes to fold up, and the bucket seat is virtually unadjustable. The best you can hope to do is substantially beef up the rear axle by any means necessary.

C) There are several other kinds of ride-on toys out there, so don't be afraid to shop around. In addition to new Big Wheels, also check out your local Goodwill, Salvation Army, and other thrift stores for used Big Wheels. Captain Chaos's used Big Wheel has seen action in 3 BWR's in addition to the unknown miles accrued by its previous owner. But of course His Big Wheel is blessed with Super Powers.

D) As a general rule of thumb, your Big Wheel will not fit. For the average adult (and I use that term loosely), the standard Big Wheel will be almost entirely unridable. The obvious solution would be to forget the whole ludicrous idea and stay home. We are not here for obvious solutions: modify the hell out of it. Some advice:

Do what you must (short of chains) to get traction on your front wheel (i.e. fasten a bike tire over it with deck screws),

Modify rider position to avoid butt-burns on the rear wheels (a simple riser to lift your cheeks over the smokin’ tires),

Replace the stock axle with hardened or cold rolled steel (available at hardware stores– don’t forget the little caps too)

If you can get your mitts on some extra wheels, double them up on the axle and make a dually to distribute the load,

Most of our structural failures occur within the 1st 5 minutes of the official start of the ride when we ride down the 4 steps of the West End Tavern. At a minimum your Big Wheel (structure and add-ons) must be able to survive this. Thank you for indulging me in this engineering aside.

And bring lots of duct tape. OK, that's it, no more advice.


Along with modified Big Wheels go modified attitudes and modified personalities. Feel free to dress appropriately.


Please keep in mind that this is my show. And my name is plastered all over it. If the cops need somebody, they come looking for me. We are a fun bunch of people, & our primary concern is having as much fun as possible. We've never hurt anyone or anything, so our cooperation with anyone with even the vaguest amount of authority over us is paramount.


Remember running the Gauntlet of Death in 92? And getting shut down by the cops? And how dangerously close we came to jail time? These pretty vivid thoughts have prompted me to set some ground rules to help us police ourselves better:

Please limit the riding of Big Wheels to people who are actually on the Big Wheel Rally. Our biggest, most damaging problem was with uninvited, unknown riders.

You are responsible for your own Big Wheel. It's amazing how people haven't thought of one in years, and suddenly have to have your Big Wheel immediately. I suggest any anti-theft device you can imagine (locks, alarms, bodyguards, etc.)

We need permission to ride through restaurants in Boulder. While it makes perfect sense to us, piling into a place unannounced during the dinner rush may be greeted by the overworked manager with less than enthusiasm.


Unfortunately, during our escapades, we are more than likely to encounter a few Drunken Buttheads. Drunken Buttheads are a sorry lot that are deeply hurt and jealous that they weren't invited to be part of the festivities. Needless to say, they exhibit a total lack of any character traits that would even consider them for invitation. One of their finer cultivated traits is that of Stupidity. Under the premise of "helping", several of our members have been pushed on their Big Wheels so violently that they were knocked to the ground or out into traffic. Be aware that these mono-browed, Neanderthal, knuckle-draggers are out there, and we will inevitably meet some.


There are no rain dates. We are not the kind of people that are concerned with such petty things as rain, tornadoes, sleet, blizzards, hurricanes, etc. But this is Colorado, and there is no such thing as predictable weather, so be prepared for anything.

UPDATE: I used to think this was a very witty and clever thing to say just to prove to people that we're hard core.  That was before it actually did snow on us.  It sucked.  I won't ever do it again.  To that end, I've decided to run the Rally in July instead of May and October.  Also, if the weather's going to be bad, you bet your booty I'm going to move the date.  Check back here, and stay tuned.   Captain Obvious, April 2002.

The Almost Annual Matt Armbruster Memorial Big Wheel Rally, BWR, Captain Obvious, "Obvious" Emblem, & all content 1991- Matt Armbruster.
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