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Bike-powered sound system will rock --if you roll

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Pedallers power the stage for Leonard Sumner on The Forks’ railway bridge.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Pedallers power the stage for Leonard Sumner on The Forks’ railway bridge. Photo Store

In a world where sound systems are increasingly sophisticated, an audio system at The Forks on Monday was proudly low-tech.

It was powered by cyclists.

Bicycles were hooked up to four stations connected to the sound system, and the people pedalling powered musicians' instruments onstage. The harder they pedalled, the louder the music.

The concept is the brainchild of Andy Rudolph, a founding member of The Wrench, a community cycling organization and a drummer in local bands.

SFlb'It gets more people involved in the performance. If the musicians ran out of power I'd be over there biking in two seconds'

"I thought it would be sweet to do something that's bike-powered," said the Winnipeg resident. "I'm a musician and a sound engineer, not an electrical engineer. It was a learning curve."

It took Rudolph two months to build the system. Motors are attached to the wheels; energy generated is sent through wires to a battery powering the stage.

"I play in a bunch of bands but I never foresaw myself making these things," said Rudolph. "It's a quirky project of mine."

Hundreds of Winnipeggers checked out the bike-powered stage at The Forks on Canada Day. Many brought bikes with them, including Diana Sawatzky.

"I'd like to have it in my house, then I won't need to go to the gym," she said. "I could pedal and watch TV."

Sawatzky pedalled for 30 minutes as she watched the live bands.

This is the second time the sound system has been used -- it was also pulled out at Bike to Work Day in June. But Dave Pancoe, manager of special projects at The Forks, hopes the system will be used in upcoming events.

"We figure we've been to Birds Hill Park and back. But any time we can pull it out, we will," he said.

The bike project has gone hand-in-hand with The Forks' Target Zero initiative, which is aimed at eliminating waste and carbon emissions and making the building more energy-efficient.

Five bands played the cyclist-powered stage, including Cal Hamilton from local band the Sturgeons.

"It gets more people involved in the performance," said Hamilton. "If the musicians ran out of power I'd be over there biking in two seconds."

The cycling project is not Rudolph's only innovative idea. He has also built an underwater, battery-powered speaker system, which will be used to communicate with beluga whales via live music on a boat that will travel through the Hudson Bay area this summer.

elizabeth.fraser@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 29, 2013 A5

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