'Human Hamster Wheel' Sinks; Here's Video Of How It Used To Work

Oct 10, 2012
Originally published on October 10, 2012 5:57 pm

As our friends at All Things Considered say, "it's been a frustrating week for daredevils."

Felix Baumgartner had to postpone his attempt to rise 23 miles high in the sky and then jump from a balloon to see if he can break the speed of sound on the way down.

And maybe you haven't heard, but Chris Todd had to give on his "walk" across the Irish Sea in a human hamster wheel.

It seems that Todd, to raise money for charity, tried over the weekend to hamster-wheel 66 miles from North Wales to County Wicklow, Ireland. He made it about 15 miles (after an exhausting nine hours) before winds and rough waves pummeled the contraption.

"I could see the glow of lights illuminating the clouds over Ireland," Todd writes on his IrishSeaCrossing.co.uk website. "Despite the wheel coping well with larger than forecast waves ... late on Sunday night, the rudders were overcome by fighting the force of the waves, which were constantly battering the side of the raft, and eventually both rudders failed."

He got aboard the boat that was traveling alongside. The hamster wheel, alas, "broke up whilst being towed" and is now at the bottom of the sea.

There is video, though, of how the Tredalo did work when it was seaworthy. Courtesy of the Daily Mail, it's posted here.

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This has been a frustrating week for daredevils. The weather just isn't cooperating.


The Austrian skydiver who wanted to leap from a capsule up in the stratosphere, and plunge 23 miles, has been ported by gusting winds. Felix Baumgartner still hopes to break the sound barrier in a free fall, but it will have to wait until next week.

SIEGEL: Disappointment, too, for Chris Todd, an English engineer. This past weekend, he attempted to cross the Irish Sea in a giant hamster wheel.

CHRIS TODD: It's a 10-foot-diameter wheel, so it's quite a large device.

CORNISH: Todd wanted to make the 66-mile journey from Wales to Ireland on his homemade "tredalo," to raise money for charity.

TODD: For the first four hours or so, conditions were really tremendous. Then the wind started to pick up, and the waves started to give the raft a bit of a battering.

SIEGEL: After 10 hours, he was rescued. And as he told the BBC, they set out for land with the floating hamster wheel in tow.

TODD: But subsequently, after about two hours of towing the craft back towards Wales, sadly, due to the heavy seas, the craft disintegrated and sank.

CORNISH: Well, setbacks can sometimes be overcome. But for Chris Todd, this was a big one.

TODD: I mean, it took such a tremendous effort to build the craft, and test it. I'm not really sure I'm ready to ask for that again, just yet.

SIEGEL: In any case, whether free falling from the sky or walking on water, we salute those who test the limits of the human spirit, conditions permitting.


CORNISH: You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.