Tuesday, October 6, 2009

First Friday Alley Cat - October 09

After a two month hiatus there was finally another race. Peter from Cog was responsible for the race in August, but had canceled it, there defaulting Septembers race as his as well. September never happened and few people showed up. Julian from Milwaukee Courier and my self were the only regular racers that showed up along with 4 fresh faces. After realizing there wasn’t going to be a race a few of us took it on ourselves to come up with fall back plans. So for October’s race I was anxious to see who was going to show up and what was going to happen. Just incase, I figured I needed a fall back plan and brought a marker, a roll of masking tape and a deck of cards. I was prepared to do a fall back race like the first First Friday I did. Eric from Cog showed up as well and he had a race planned and before long the guys from the previous month who said they were going to plan one too showed up and we all settled on theirs.

Six people signed in, small, but at least we were racing and I was happy to do an actual race instead of having to run around taping playing cards to bike poles. The race started and we all went out side and were informed the manifests were located at the end of the breakwater in an empty box of Total stuffed in the last garbage can on the breakwater. None of use were really sure where we where going but had an idea it was located in or near McKinley Marina. We all took off to the marina where after a false route and a bit of off road fun we found the breakwater and sped out to its end in the black of night. I grabbed my manifest and followed Eric back to the parking lot and light to go over the manifest. I quickly poured over the stops and decided to head north first. I shot out of the marina’s parking lot and climbed the hill behind Alterra to get into the East Side. I began rolling northward, hugging the top part of the cliff, looking for the first stop. As I went I noticed that another racer was following me. I don’t remember his name anymore but this race was his first one, he decided he would follow me since I looked like I knew what I was doing. I was only partially certain as to where I was going.

We flowed north past Lake Park and he helped me figure out where exactly the first 2 stops were, they were both located just north of the park. We arrived just as another racer did, the one who scored a sweet Shag Bag in August as his reward for DFL during Shaggy’s 8-15 Race. (I took 3rd in that one and scored a nice replica hairnet helmet by Dank Bags out of Seattle) We all worked together to find the answers to the first two stops and with a minimal amount of uncertainty and time wasting took off to head westward for the next stop. As we rolled down the street I scanned the manifest hastily to try and get a sense of the layout of the stops. There were a few in or near Riverwest and the rest of them seemed to be in or near Bay View. Unsure of where to go I followed the other two as we headed north on Oakland…cautious to the route, with a nagging voice at the back of my head saying we were headed the wrong direction. Thankfully I was wrong and the next intersection we were looking for was south of Riverside High School.

The answer was the name of the Porto-john at the end of the street and I made mental note of it and turned around to head back to Locust Street, not wanting to waste time to write this answer down. I pulled back and cut through the park south of the high school and jumped out onto the street, looking for the next stops crossroad. The first time racer caught up to me as I was partially waiting for him while trying to find the next stop. He shot past me and I asked him if he knew where the road was, he said it was further up and I understood what street he was talking about. We crossed the bridge and the next street we came across was the one we needed. I pulled out the manifest to look at the question and we began searching for the answer. We found it and I jotted it and the previous one down and scanned the list for the next stop, which was nearby.

We headed back down Locust and turned onto Humboldt on the wrong side. I hopped onto the sidewalk at the south end of Gordon Park and continued on through the darkness, hoping the shadow covered sidewalk wasn’t hiding any surprises. The next stop was the stretch of alley that was counted as the eastern most leg of Center Street, we pulled down it and headed to the last house to right down the answer. Once that was done I scanned the manifest and did a quick routing for the second half. Told him the path we would take to get to Bay View and took off down Humboldt.

I tucked as low as I could while heading south on Humboldt but I had swapped out my drop bars for a pair of risers I picked up in Tokyo when I returned home. I wasn’t able to get as low as I could normally but I tucked my elbows in and did the best I could. At the end of Humboldt I pulled right into a small stretch of road that runs behind some condos along the river which empties out onto a small stretch of bike path and the Marsupial Bridge. Across the bridge into the east side and then onto Water Street for a straight 3 or 4 mile stretch into Bay View. The timing with the lights and flow of traffic worked well and we barely had to slow through the entirety of downtown. As we pulled into the south side I checked the manifest again for the next closest stops. The next two were located on the same street. Incase one of the stops on the street were before the one we were headed two I motioned to the other racer that we would be pulling off of 1st street and taking our target street instead. Little did I know that it was blocked off the block before Greenfield, out next stop, and we had to back track a block and come around to it the way we would have if we didn’t pull off of 1st.

Turning down the cross street south of Greenfield we began searching the answer to our question only to find the answer to the second question on this stretch. Once that was taken care of we back tracked to Greenfield and continued east searching for the original question, which we found a few blocks later. With that the last 2 questions were located in Bay View it’s self and we headed back to 1st street. The guy riding with me informed me that the bridge into Bay View was closed down so we took 2nd street instead. Going as fast as I dared over the uneven and dangerous stretch of road I was relieved when we pulled off a few blocks later and headed to Bay Street.

I always enjoy riding Bay Street because it is nice and smooth…but because of it’s positioning it tends to be a wind tunnel at times, this time was no exception and the wind was at our backs aiding us towards our goals but threatened to hinder us on the return trip. I wasn’t exactly sure where the next two cross roads were but has an inkling to there where about. My inkling was correct and with in minutes we had both answers taken care of. After getting the final one I looked at the guy who I had been riding with for the race and told him it was now just a sprint back to the Door. We wished each other good luck and had the mutual understanding we were on our own from here to the end, that we had helped each other get here but that it was now an individual race.

I took off and pounded back west on Bay, crouching low to fight the brisk west wind. My relief from the wind wasn’t as sweet as it should have been when I pulled north onto 2nd because I had to deal with the horrible road conditions once again. Because I got caught up in traffic as I neared 1st the other racer caught up with me but once we got onto 1st I pulled ahead and held my pace. That lasted until I got stalled again in the Third Ward. He passed me as I had to cut around a car and I didn’t catch up to him again until we passed under the freeway. I picked up the pace a little further to make sure I was clear of him to cut take the corner at Michigan and swung it wide, pulling onto the sidewalk. A quick scan didn’t produce Eric’s bike anywhere, which was a good sign. I jumped off the bike, dumping it to the sidewalk in front of the Door, fought off a cramp in my left calf and ran inside to check in. It looked like I was the first one back and judging from Flynn’s reaction as he saw me walk in added to that feeling. I headed to the table, signed my name in and turned in the manifest as I noticed the rookie behind me. I asked them if I was the first one in and they said I was. I turned around, locked up my bike and stretched out my sore legs before returning inside to find out I had won the race.

I sat down and got a beer from Flynn and a glass of water. Sat and waited for the race to end and for me to get paid for winning. About 20 minutes later all of the racers, with the exception of Jake had come in. Eric showed up after a while and said once he saw the manifest he decided he didn’t want to race since he had worked long and hard all day and figured he would waste time to make sure he didn’t win. Soon afterwards, with no sign of Jake and it being assumed something happened and he ended up just going home I took off and began to think about November’s race.

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