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If you love bikes and are a film buff, you just might want to make your way to England as the Free Film Festival and Electric Pedals have teamed up to provide a series of bike-powered outdoor movies. From a cemetery to abandoned movie theaters to a velodrome, the series has something for everyone — at least for those who prefer transportation by two spoked wheels. The movies are presented in places that the stories are about, making the experience all that more inspired.
A free public movie powered by the viewers is a perfect match, and made even more perfect by the context the films are shown. To raise money for saving the 1940s era Herne Hill Velodrome, or bike racing track, the first set of films featured the at-risk Velodrome. The coming of age bike racing film Breaking Away pumped up the audience followed by the primer of the documentary The Best Seat in the World about the Velodrome. Twelve bikes feed a power system that runs the projector and sound, with a few children’s sized bikes to help share the load — and they all get a front row seat. Beforehand, folks could take a spin on the newly upgraded track with their own bikes, with hundreds showing up to take the opportunity.
The custom power system Electric Pedals has setup uses DC generators activated by the rear tire. The electricity is used to charge up 12-volt batteries which then feed a DC to AC power inverter. The system can make enough juice to power a large digital or film projector and sound system. Folks have to ride a pretty decent pace to crank the system up, with each bike making roughly 100 watts of electricity. If riders can’t keep up the movie goes out so the audience has to take turns for show to go on. Unfortunately, a popcorn machine would require a few dozen or so more riders so the audience will have to bring their own.
The events make for a great quid-quo-pro: a free movie as moviegoers provide the energy and, (apologies for the hammy line) provides pedal power for the people by the people, adding a nice layer of community involvement to the public events.