The Truly Random Winner of Big Pink the Tall Bike is…

I am proud as heck to report that raffle ticket sales for Big Pink the Tall Bike raised $259.75 for Climate Ride! and…


They rolled out the red carpet for Big Pink!

Katie is the truly random winner of Big Pink. Now I know what you’re thinking. How totally non-random is it that Ginger, your BFF adventure girlfriend won the tall bike? THIS IS KATIE — who babysat me after my big mountain bike concussion, rode with me through the heartland of Mexico, hooked me up with a bicycle non-profit job in Berkeley a week after I got back in town. Katie is made of bike-awesome and friend-amazing. I have kissed this woman on the mouth.

I SWEAR, THIS IS THE UNIVERSE SPEAKING. When time came to pick a winner, I recognized a certain conflict of interest. Many tickets were purchased by good friends (and I put myself in for five bucks too). Now I could have just as easily cut up little pieces of paper, wrote down everyone’s name, and picked the winner out of a hat. However, you gotta be super-legit in this game. Instead of arts and crafts, I drank tea in a sunny Berkeley coffeeshop and wrote a computer program to randomly pick the winner.

One has to be careful using random numbers on a computer. Most computer programs actually feed you pseudo-random numbers, which are created in a deterministic fashion using a mathematical formula. While the problems with the numbers being not-random-enough mainly arise when you need ALOT of numbers, I needed this raffle to be really random. Super-legit random. Random-random.

Fortunately, the universe buzzes with true randomness free for the taking. Since this raffle was a fundraiser for Climate Ride, it seemed particularly fitting to choose a random winner based on atmospheric noise. Conveniently, the folks at provide random number generation (rng) based on static in earth’s atmosphere to anyone with an internet connection. I highly recommend poking around their website for random geekery.

A first generation atmospheric noise random number generator. A cheap piece from Radio Shack listens to static on an unused radio frequency. Not the actual rng currently in use, but this is the basic idea.

For complete transparency, here’s the R script (read: a brief computer program) used to choose the winner. My human readable comments are in green type, while the actual code is in white type.

Screenshot of the R script I wrote to choose the tall bike winner.
Screenshot of the R script I wrote to choose the tall bike winner.

Thank you friends, for supporting Climate Ride and supporting a host of 60+ non-profits that are working to advance sustainable transportation, bicycle advocacy and the green economy. Let’s do this again soon. Guess I need to build a new tall bike.

Tall Bike Spoke Card by Keith Wallace.
Tall Bike Spoke Card by Keith Wallace.

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