Santa's elves they're not. But on Wednesday, 60 or so employees of LBX Co. in Lexington faced challenges that toymakers at the North Pole probably never encounter.
The employees formed 10 teams that competed to assemble 10 bicycles — five girls' and five boys' — for charity and as a team-building exercise. The team that assembled a bike correctly the fastest won.
Sounds pretty easy, right?
But the teams, with names such as Scrap Master, Spin Ace and Quantum, started with no tools and only some of the parts they needed. They had to earn those things, one by one, by completing a series of tasks.
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For example, each team had to answer 10 trivia questions in three minutes to get to use an air compressor to inflate the tires on their bike. If they took longer than three minutes, they had to use a hand pump.
Then there was the "Secret Is Out" challenge, in which each team was told something about an unnamed member of another team that was not common knowledge and then had to find the unnamed person. (Who knew that Stephanie Banks in accounting raised and showed llamas as a child?) Completion of this task earned handlebars.
The toughest task seemed to be "Helium Stick," in which members of a team stood facing one another while balancing a long, slender dowel on their outstretched fingers; they had to guide the dowel to the floor without dropping it. The reward: two pedals.
Competition rules included penalties for things such as keeping tools checked out for longer than five minutes.
"It allows us to get to know each other on a little bit different level," said LBX marketing communications manager Amy Maddox. She got the idea for the contest, called BikeBuild4Charity, from a Web site.
LBX, which makes Link-Belt branded excavators, bought the bikes at a discount from Pedal Power Bike Shop in Lexington. Pedal Power also furnished the tools for the competition and had two of its employees on hand to make sure the teams assembled the bikes correctly.
"It's great. Good fun. Nice holiday cheer. Good teamwork. I wish we could do it every day," LBX product manager Rob Brittain said as he waited in line with his team to take on a task.
"It works! It works! Victory loop! Victory loop!" receptionist Lori Nguyen yelled as she sped around office cubicles on a boy's bike.
"To take time out of a normal stressful day to do something fun is nice," said LBX technical publications supervisor Jason Sullivan. "We're doing something good for a family this Christmas, so that makes you feel good."
Sullivan's team, Speeder, won by building a blue girl's bike with a back fender adorned with colorful butterflies in 48 minutes, 8 seconds. Sullivan and teammates Jack McKay, Chris Wise, Mark Hollingsworth, Minoru Okuyama, and Gary McDaniel got $50 gift cards.
Ten needy Fayette County children are winners, too. The Lexington Fraternal Order of Firefighters will distribute the bikes to the children's families Saturday as part of its Firefighter Toy Program.
Fraternal Order of Firefighters president Nicholas Newman said 2,175 local children will get Christmas toys through the organization this year, an 8.4 percent increase over last year.