Hell Ride `95, continued
We spent Tuesday until 11:26 frantically working. We had so much to do, and we actually almost had time to do all of it. My primary concentration was on the back entrance, where I single handedly built an impenetrable barrier. (Who needs modesty?) Many people were working on the primary entrance, but our seemingly rock-solid concrete wall discouraged them from building the second wall there as we had planned. In fact, we ended up not bothering with many embellishments of the one wall itself. Its support structure consisted of the Purgatory couch and lots of heavy crap at its base --far, far less than we had planned. Everything else worked out fine; all other entrances were virtually impenetrable, the sound system seemed to be working marvelously, and I actually managed to get people working with dedication on the Purgatory coffee lounge. By 10:30 everyone else was done with what they were doing. Marty was itching to start it. He at least wanted me to be done with my back blockade, since only then, when the people helping me on the outside climbed through his window could he close off his window, the last unbarricaded point in our blockade. During all this I was completely out of sight --I was between my two walls. Since I needed the second wall to be in place before I could brace the first wall, I was forced to put a small hole in the second wall which I could squeeze through when I'd finished bracing the first. The trouble was worth it, though; that wall was strong. To hammer my primary support beam into place, I climbed up on top of it and jumped on it until it was jammed in place. At 11:26 everything was ready, and the Ride went on.
The first obvious problem was that for some reason the music kept cutting out; something in the amp was clipping somewhere, and the resulting sound was terrible. We tried to no avail to locate the problem (communicating through writing since there was no chance we'd hear each other talking). Eventually we managed to get the clipping down to a minimum. There was some pounding on Marty and Alex's windows --the two easily accessible form the roof-- and nothing budged. We heard some futile attempts on the back wall, too. The place where things were happening was at the primary wall, in Purgatory. We heard the upperclassmen banging on the wall with a sledgehammer, then we heard the whine of the reciprocator saw that had mysteriously disappeared a few days earlier. I listened closely. Every so often I could hear the wrrrrr of the saw followed by quick rumbles, and I knew we were in trouble. The beloved concrete wall was crumbling like a cake. Our worst fears were becoming reality. Eventually they got most of the cement at the top of the wall down, and we could see them over the top of the single metal plate we had put behind the wall. Once everyone realized the danger, we ran through the rooms gathering mattresses and whatever else we could find to bolster the blockade. It was all useless, though. Soon there were people climbing over everything we had put behind the wall. When they got through it a brief struggle ensued, until we all accepted the fact that they were through. Everyone was disappointed. Our weakest point happened to be our most prominent point. We had the best barricade of any Hell Ride before, except for one absolutely critical point. After this inevitable outcome, no one even cared to know exactly how long we held out. The number 23 sticks in my mind. A long shot from the record. Oh well.
Amazingly, a few people were motivated enough to clean it all up afterwards. The idea occurred to a few of us that we could perhaps build the front entrance up again and have the "real" Hell Ride the next night! But I don't think anyone took that idea seriously; it was a disappointing end, but it was over. For me, the fun was in those four days before the Hell Ride. If there's one thing we, as a frosh class, have learned from our projects this year, it's that something will always screw up. But that's okay! The purpose of projects like these is not to get everything right. It's to have fun trying to accomplish something starting from nothing. Those four days were, for me, --and I'm sure for many others-- the most amazing of the year. (Well, aside from my Catalina run, but that's another story...) That's why I felt compelled to write so much here. I think the experience deserves a place in Blacker history, if only as a representative of all projects of this sort. After all, it is the ingenuity and spirit of these projects that make Caltech undergrads, and in particular Moles, unique.