Engineering a Ridiculous Movie Scene: The Aspen Scooter Journey from “Dumb and Dumber”
Watch two brilliant idiots recreate a 400 mile minibike journey from the Jim Carrey classic.
“Dumb and Dumber” is the greatest comedy movie ever. Yes, I said it. Take a seat, “Caddyshack” fans. I hear you, but you’re wrong. It’s “Dumb and Dumber” for so many reasons, I cannot even count them. Jim Carrey is at the peak of his powers. Jeff Daniels came out of nowhere to temporarily become the second funniest person on the planet. Also, the supporting cast is solid, and the soundtrack is a time machine to the best parts of 1994.
I didn’t mention which of the movie’s locations make it great, partially because none of them do. The opening scenes take place in Rhode Island (visually unremarkable on screen), and the main scenes feature a road trip to Aspen, Colorado (filmed in Breckenridge).
It’s not until the final lead-up to “Aspen” where the movie locations get interesting.
CAUTION: Spoilers Ahead
If you haven’t seen “Dumb and Dumber” by now, you really need to evaluate how you spend your time. To recap, Harry and Lloyd find a woman’s briefcase and go on a cross-country trip from Rhode Island to Aspen to return it. Through a series of unfortunate events, near the end of the first act they lose their iconic, shaggy-dog van in Nebraska and must continue their journey on a child’s minibike.
This is where the movie and current day intersect. Two curious YouTubers wanted to see if it’s possible to ride a minibike from Nebraska to Aspen, Colorado, a 400-mile climb. There were numerous technical and physical challenges along the way, but in the end it was “possible.” (Note: not fun or easy!)
The Beginning: Creating a Tandem Mini-Bike
Finding a mini bike that can fit two grown men is no easy task. After researching the exact bike used in the movie, they realized it would need to be custom built. Typically, minibikes are perfect for 12-year-olds who are too rebellious for a bicycle but too young for a driver’s license. Accommodating two adults with a combined weight of 300 pounds created several engineering and ergonomic challenges.
First challenge: How could they even fit on the bike? Fortunately, the movie crew had the same issue, and the duo referenced photos of the actual prop. The frame was stretched significantly to fit two people with longer legs.
The next issue: How would they power the scooter with triple its intended weight? The mower needed fine-tuning with a smaller “jet” to dial in the air-fuel-ratio.
The Trek from Nebraska to Aspen
The team set out to Nebraska with their “hog” ready for action. After a few mechanical hiccups they finally began making forward progress, even nearly achieving the “70 mpg” Lloyd references in the movie.
There were some unexpected mechanical issues, primarily with components not intended for heavy, on-road use. The tires were designed for garden tractors and wheelbarrows, not moving 300 pounds of “dude” up a mountain, and each tire was completely worn out after a day of riding.
The next issue was the chain – the torque required to pull both the duo and the bike up the mountain took its toll, stretching the chain significantly. It never broke, but after three days of riding, it was pretty much done.
Finding The Path of Least Resistance
The final challenge: The route, unfortunately not specified in the movie. Beginning on a country road in Nebraska was the easiest (and safest) option due to the flat terrain and light traffic.
Eventually, the team needed to make a hard choice: transition onto the interstate or go on an unpaved mountain road. The interstate would be smoother with a reliable surface, but they would be going 30 mph next to semi-trucks (and the police). The dirt road was shorter and had less traffic, but it was extremely uneven. The dirt road ultimately won-out, but on a bike with no suspension their lower backs took a beating.
Despite the challenges, the intrepid mini-bikers made it to Aspen in just under three days.
Many of the challenges could be completely foreseen with two dudes on a tiny bike climbing a mountain. Their video shows much less of the pain they endured from 30 hours on a minibike with no suspension, but I kind of want to make this trek. Not sure if I want to do it strapped to my best buddy on an underpowered hardtail, but the rise itself looks like a blast. You can take in some amazing mountain views, and with all the free bugs that fly into your mouth, you won’t even need to stop!
This was a big project and an even bigger journey. 400 miles doesn’t seem like much until you’re inching up a mountain at 30 mph on a minibike in the freezing cold. I can’t think of a more fitting tribute to “Dumb and Dumber,” except maybe cane fencing in pastel tuxedos. I tip my orange top hat to these gentlemen for a job well done.
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