Sunday, November 15, 2009

2nd Annual Milwaukee Cranksgiving Race

I left work early to get down to the 4pm registration for the 2nd annual Milwaukee edition of the Cranksgiving charity alley cat. The first year it happened I missed it by a week when I stumbled upon the flyer after it had already taken place. This year I was doing it and told the guys at Eighthinch after my fail in Tokyo that I'd partially make it up to them and take 1st at Cranksgiving. I figured that might help make it even since they were the biggest sponsor of the event.

My plan was perfect. I knew the race was all about going to different set locations to buy food, the day before I went to my bank and got 20 one dollar bills for the event and had them stuffed in my Chrome hipster fanny pack so as not to have to mess with taking my wallet in and out a million times during the race. I also had a recently discovered secret weapon of Chipotle's hottest salsa and chips up my sleeve. I have learned through a summer binge of eating Chipotle's while working the bike shop that their hottest salsa jacks my metabolism through the roof for a while and makes me really twitchy, which equates to faster speeds on the bike...doping with peppers if you will. I also stopped at Fuel Cafe just two blocks from the registration point for a double shot Milky Way which is an added bonus for me because I don't drink coffee at all.

With my aids taken care of I rode the last two blocks to the registration point I rode one to it with the coffee in one hand, spilling some on my down tube as I hit a bump resting my hand on the bars. I showed up at Gordon Park, Humboldt and Locust, at 10 minutes after 4 and there were already a large gathering of racers. I strolled up and greeted some of the people I knew and met Noah from Eighthinch. Capt. Jake from MKE Bike Polo's Hero Squad was giving the organizers of the race shit about their time. Apparently they said the race would be starting soon, which struck me as odd as the flyer said the start wasn't until 6pm. Matt had changed his work schedule so he could race planning on the 6pm start. I called him and left him a voicemail to let him know I was at the stop. Soon the planners told everyone to place their bikes on the ground, a Le Mans start was in store it seemed.

We were then told to move over to a part of the parking lot and line up for the A race, which they said was about 30 miles. About a 4th of us out of the crowd lined up for that division, the rest choosing to do the 15 mile B class version. We were given the some instructions and then un-laminated spoke cards (which also resulted in a round of heckles) and our race number. Then they stuffed out manifests in our bags and told us we would lose 10 points if we even reached for the bag before the race started. Before they could stuff my manifest in mine I pulled out my chips and salsa and decided to eat at least some of them instead of being able to stick with my plan of polishing off the bag an hour before the race for maximum effect. I foolishly left the juice I bought at Fuel in the bag and didn't think about pulling it out until the manifest was already hidden. While it was being stuffed in I offered the organizer who did so I nip of thew flask of whiskey in my bag for extra points, he thought I was joking...

I ate only half the chips and pulled the empty coffee container out of my pocket, stuffed it into the bag and prepared to run past the trash can on my way to the bike to throw it out. Instead I asked Noah if he would help out and toss it for me. The B class riders started to get briefed and Kevin from Cog showed up whole walking his dog, he wasn't racing but the Cog guys were providing the Goldsprint fun at the end point. I knew that if Kevin wasn't racing I would have a better chance at winning and Capt. Jake felt so too, which was pretty reassuring. I still couldn't tell if Jake was honestly pissed when I took 2nd at MMI earlier in the year but he's a good guy and easy to talk with so it didn't matter. A few minutes later and they called go and everyone took off. For not running and barely wanting to walk, favoring biking over everything, I have developed some pretty fast running legs and was one of the first people to their bike which was placed near the far end of the drop point. As I ran I pulled the small envelope containing the manifest out and started to quickly scan it for the list of stops.

The manifest consisted of 9 locations, each location, which was only an address, had a listed item we would need to buy. We also needed to keep the receipts from each stop as the only proof that we got what we needed to get where. I hopped on my bike and started to make my way out of the park slowly while reading the manifest. I homed in on the stop on 100 East Capitol and frantically scanned the other stops to see if that would screw me up for a closer stop. Thinking that I was safe I settled on that and pushed the pace from a crawl to race speed. I hit the street at the intersection of Humboldt and Locust against a red light but no traffic and took off with a solid cadence north on Humboldt, following 3 other racers, one of which passed me on the sidewalk. I over took the first one a block later and paced myself to stay on track with the other two, one of which was a local fixed rider I knew from the few times he did a First Friday and letting me test ride his T1. I passed them as we rounded the bend tat leads to Capitol. I pulled to their left, and then shot across the road and turned left into on comming traffic on Capitol over waiting for the long red light. I'm not sure where they went but didn't look back. I crossed 4 lanes of traffic as soon as I safely could to get on the correct side of Capitol and pounded to the first stop.

Still unsure of the stop actually being Outpost Foods I reaffirmed my manifest decipherment as I passed buildings and noted the addresses on them. I pulled into the parking lot of the grocery store, hoped off the bike at the entrance and leaned it against the wall, not fearing it walking off on it's own. I ran inside and saw 3 surprised workers and asked them where the applesauce was. They told me which isle it was in and I quickly grabbed the first jar I found. I got in line behind one woman and as I did a worker spotted me and had me check out at an closed lane. The scanner said four dollars and some change and I balked slightly and had to pull 3 more dollar bills from my pouch. If all these items kept costing that much my dollar bill pile was going to be a waste. I grabbed the change as the first racers after me showed up, none of which included the two I followed to Capitol. I ran out of the store while stuffing the receipt in my right front pocket, the manifest in my right cargo after checking off the stop, the jar of applesauce in my bag with my juice and hoodie and the pen under my hat.

I came out as more people showed up, including Capt. Jake who cheered me on for being the first to this stop. I grabbed my bike and studied the next stop to hit as a security guard asked if we were bike racing, I told him we where collecting food for the hungry for the race and he seemed really cool with that idea as he smiled at me. I settled on the next stop being what could only be the Sendiks on Silver Spring in Whitefish Bay. I took off ahead of everyone else, pulled onto west bound Capitol headed for Port Road and mild hesitation about my choice in routing. I knew there was an incline to get onto Port and feared it would sap too much of my strength. I also feared that I was going round about to get to Sendiks and wondered if I shouldn't have headed east instead and gone down Wilson Drive/Bike Path instead. I was committed to Port and stuck with my choice. I knew there were side streets that led to Port from Capitol but didn't want to risk getting on the wrong track and faced the unknown incline. The incline proved weak and I also picked up speed taking the decline on Port as I headed north and towards the suburbs.

The road conditions on Port are excellent and I sped along, running red lights as I traversed the light industrial sector that controlled little used feeder roads. I blew traffic away which is a nice feat considering the average speed limit on this stretch is around 35 to 40, getting caught by useless red really wastes your time. The only intersection that caused a delay in my cruise was at Hampton, I slowed up as I approached and busted out my awesome 3 second lifespan track stand was I waited out the turn only sign and took off as the last car turned in front of me. Now traffic passed me but the slight rest at the light helped regain some power and I held my pace as I approached Silver Spring. The aroma from Kopps Custard made me both want to puke and east a burger at the same time, a block later I waved thanks to a yuppie in a minivan for seeing me and not trying to t-bone me to beat on comming traffic to make a left turn. Two blocks later Silver Spring was red, a car pulled in front of me to pull into the gas station on the corner, I took their lead and used it to feed me into traffic heading eastbound instead of waiting behind the track at the corner. I pulled onto the bike lane, slowed a block later at a red light that let sheep funnel east onto Silver Spring from the Bayshore shopping complex, noticed no cars that would threaten my safety and took the red, surely angering and surprising many of the congested motorists who rarely leave their suburban enclave and aren't used to urban cyclist techniques.

The next intersection turned green right as I started to slow down and I hit the gas again. To make sure my guess of Sendiks was correct I payed attention to the addresses and felt a wave of relief when they started to go down then back up again. The burbs which don't like numbered streets can throw me sometimes when I'm not confident in their placement on the cities number grid. Traffic in Whitefish Bay crawls at 25 and as we near the intersection with Santa Monica I pull behind the car I am keeping up with just in case he decides to make an unsignaled right turn in front of me. Not too concerned with impeding the traffic behind me I find I have to apply light braking more than I really should, the cars in front pick up the pace a bit after Santa Monica and I find my self having to push a little harder to maintain speed, 2 blocks later I take a break in oncoming and pull into the cross street and the west end of Sendiks' parking lot. I pull up to the front door to find the guys I followed out of Capitol, they must have hit this stop first or hit this one after hitting one closer to Capitol instead of hitting Outpost first. There was also 2 or so people that are putting the race on with a video camera. I lean my bike against the wall and rush inside as I pull the manifest out to find the next item.

he store is pretty crowded and I navigate my way towards the canned items, I am looking for a can of vegetables. I spot a teenage stocker and he points me in the correct direction for my item like he's been asked the same question recently by a helmeted biker. I squeeze between some strolling shoppers and quickly scan the shelf for a vegetable of choice, partially keeping an eye on the price stickers. I settle on a can of sweet corn and head back to the registers. I play chicken with two women and their urban assault strollers for a second as we all chuckle about the goofiness of out actions, in my mind I'm telling them to get the fuck out of my way. I hit the register and count out two singles from my pouch. The smiling woman asks if I need a bag and instead of saying I have one I just say no, no time for wit. I grab the change, stuff it in my left pocket front pocket, receipt in right front and manifest in my mouth as I swing the bag around and drop the can into it. Close and bag, swing it back and scan the manifest to find the next stop. As I step outside the people filming are still there but the other racers aren't. I grab my bike and hop on it while studying the stops. It looks like the next stop is the Sendiks (I think) on Oakland Ave in Shorewood. I scan quickly to make sue I'm not missing an in between stop. It sinks in that one stop takes me out to 27th or so and North, which I rode past to get to the race in the first place. Another stop also had me worried as I couldn't place the street name, Lyon. I knew I knew the name but was unable to kick the mental GPS into the gear it needed to be to pin point Lyons. I knew it was on the east side, possibly the south end and would be close to the lake...I thought.

As I strolled through the parking lot, going against traffic, the two young mothers with SUV strollers again got in my way, I pulled around them and had to dodge a real SUV trying to find parking. I pulled out onto Lake Drive right ahead of a roadie out for a last afternoon/early evening spin. The weather was perfect and I was very comfortable in my short sleeve jersey and knickers, although I was wishing I didn't have my hoodie in the my bag, adding unneeded bulk. I also remembered my juice and realized how thirsty I was getting. I also cursed myself for removing my water bottle cage earlier this week, which would have solved my juice bottle in bag vs. thirst problem. But knew that I would be in worse shape the other way as the legs of my knickers keep getting caught on the cage and resulting in near crash inducing problems as I roll through my pedals circumference to unhook my pant leg. I take a stall in traffic to turn on the red, presumably upsetting the roadie. I pound down the winding stretch of Lake Drive headed for Oakland.

This is a great stretch of road but because its the ritzy burbs two things can cause trouble, they don't like street lights so there are few and they are dim at that. This darkness makes for trouble in seeing debris in the road which at this time of year means large leaf piles due to all the suburbanites not wanting to compost/mulch their foliage and instead see it go to a landfill. I held a comfortably fast pace as I wind around the bends of Lake Drive, at Henry Clay I worry slightly when I hear my wheels grate on loose gravel. At Fairmount a car threatens to squeeze me against the curb as we both make the curve at the same time, I fear more gravel but pull through unscathed. I also notice that the roadie has been pacing me most of the way as well so I kick up the speed for my last few blocks and signal as I pull right o
nto Oakland. I glance back to see if he follows and slow my pace a bit to regain some strength when I don't see him. I roll through the 4 way stop at Hampton and hit fresh pavement as I pull into Shorewood. With the darkness and lack of activity you would think it was 10pm instead of 5ish. I roll down Oakland which appears as a ghost town, much to my delight. As I hit the commercial strip I pull out my manifest to double check the next stops address, as the street lights are more regular and brighter at the stores. I reconfirm my destination as I scan the passing address numbers and pull onto the sidewalk outside the Pick and Save that resides in an old Kohls food store building, 3 blocks north of Sendiks. I pull up and see the two guys from back on Humboldt huddling suspiciously next to were I park my bike, when they see me they get even more secretive and my first thought is that they are splitting their manifest. I rush past them into the store, pull my manifest and notice I need a can of soup, I run into a teenage stocker in produce and he tells me which isle soup is. I rush to the other end of the store, grab a can and hit the self pay check out. I love these things and wish every single store I hit would have them, but so far its been 1 for 3. With ease and skill from running through these things on record time just normally shopping I have my food, receipt and change and am out the door, stuffing the can into the rapidly growing food stockpile. Receipt in right front, change in left front and manifest in mouth to scan next stop.

The next location I home in on is the Sendiks on Downer, the two conspirators are long gone and I fly down Oakland. As I approach Capitol a ghetto white girl pulls out in front of me and frantically tries to figure out the best way for herself to get around stalled traffic. She gets caught trying to turn left onto the street just north of Capitol and I pass around her, I run along the left side of south bound traffic, pull into the north bound lane and turn left onto East Capitol just as the green arrow hits, checking the cars I just skirted for turn signals. This stretch of Capitol is a little old and rutted but nothing to hinder me. I push forward and run the red at Maryland after making sure there are no cars. I think to myself that Whitefish Bay and Shorewood are bad places to run reds so nonchalantly as the cops are plenty and bored in these sleepy burbs. I don't run into any problems and smile internally when I spot a fixed gear locked to a bike pole at a trendy cafe. Two blocks later and I pull south onto Downer and utter darkness as once again I enter a residential stretch where the street lights are few and dim/blocked by intense foliage. I start to wish I had a high lumen bike spot light that my commuter coworkers keep trying to convince me of. It would be a great idea but I cycle through the city were people love street lights and barely spend any time in the burbs at night. I do turn my bright led headlight to full mode to pretend to give myself some warning about pot holes as Downer at this point is old and heavily traveled, but still not too bad.

As I hit Milwaukee the street lights return to sane mode and I pull out my manifest to double check my route. I stuff it in my mouth as an SUV frantically pulls in front of me to park near UWM, I skirt around them and shake my head and resume my manifest studying. I have been getting good at reading these things on the fly and in the dark and remember a race a long time ago when I knew I didn't yet have that skill. I confirm my next stop and the one following which I at first think is Whole Foods. I also go back to the Lyon's stop and entertain the idea of calling my wife to have her google map it and text me a close by major street. Sendiks comes up and I hop on the curb. I notice at least one of the conspiratorial riders and another one who is either the other conspirator or not. I put the bike against a pole and mentally tell it to stay put, for fear of it falling over. Two girls hanging out in front of the grocer reassure me they will watch it...I'm not concerned with it walking away. I rush into the store as the other guy is in the check out. We appear to be the only patrons and the 4 person check out staff is enjoying the hectic scene. I ask a guy at the meat deli who apparently has just been asked the same question were the item I'm looking for is. I grab it (I forget what was at this stop) and rush to the check out. The other racer was outside and the cashier looked at me and said I've got you. I had a faint idea to toss him the can so he could scan it before I arrive but hand it to him as I round behind him. I pull out a few bills and get my change, recipt and can. Can in bag, recpit in right pocket, change in left manifest out. I head outside to see the other guy take off down the street. I doulbe check the address for my next stop at Farwell and realize its Koppa's foods. I hop on the bike, the two girls wish me luck and as I pull onto the road the other bikes is waling back with his bike and says something about a light. Im not sure if he asked if I lost mine or if I saw him lose his, I said no and kept going, happy that I got past him.

I pulled out the manifest as I rolled towards North and start to realize that everything is falling into place routing wise. Lyons instantly comes to me as the East Point Pick and Save. From there I figure the best way to hit the ghetto stop is to get to Fon du Lac and take that to North. At first I thought that stop was on 27th or so, on 20ish street and Fondu Lac is Lena's Market, so I though that was the stop. The manifest produces 35th street. Furher out then I originally was anticipating but still managable. My mental map of the area tells me there is a large super market of some kind in that area but the store name is drawing a blank. I also notice that my 27th street stop is actually on the south side, deep on the south side, followed by the Pick and Save on Holt avenue. This was going to be a long race still as the second half of the manifest was going to be large distances between each stop. I had it set perfectly though and waspleased with my on the fly instinct. I could do this, I have a chance to win or at least podium, which is my goal.

I pull onto North past St Mary's ahead of traffic and push it down the street to beat them to Farwell, the light at Prospect is green but at I hit Downer it that one is red, no problem I pull into the empty east bound Land of North, check for south bound traffic and cut into the left lane of Prospect just as we get the green arrow, perfect. I pound down the decline and use my momentum to carry me up the slight incline to Koppas. I hop off, no one else is there except one of the race organisers with a video camera. I pull out the manifest and run into the empty store. I interrupt the cashier as she is chatting idly with her customer and ask her where the stew is. I get to the isle and start scanning the shelves for something that says stew, like beef stew, to no avail. The other racer with the light question comes in too and we both start looking for stew. The cashier comes to help as well as we ask her for stew. She tells us a bunch of other racers were already here and asked the same question, she shows us the hole they made and we both decide on stew looking cans and check out. I glance at mine and ignore the small text on the top of the label that says soup...the picture shows what could only be stew and prepare to fight it if need be. I check out first and follow the standard routine. I rush outside, grab the bike as the guy continues to film me as I double check the manifest. I take off down Downer going over the rest of the race route in my head, feeling more and more confident in my pace and routing. Everything is lining up. I figured out the one questionable stop and start psyching myself for the grueling long distance legs.

I hit a red at Brady street but am able to rush traffic before the green as the intersection clears out. I pound down the last stretch of Downer and pull right onto Ogden. At Van Buren I hang a right to double check that Lyons is the next street north, when I spot to sign and make out the 4 welcoming letters I cross the empty street and mount the sidewalk. I pull into the sidewalk that runs along the entrance and remember the last time I was here was two years ago for Newsies 6-pack race and I got burned at this stop when Armahn got harassed by his boss for all the racers coming to him for cans of beer. I park my bike against a garbage can and run in while looking at the item I need, a can of cranberry sauce. I ask a worker which isle and he points me to the one I passed to get to him, I start scanning it and at the other end I ask an extremely overweight stocker were it is and he points back behind me, all I see is apple sauce. I ask him again as I neared his digit line and scan the shelves...more applesauce, then, bingo. I grab an inexpensive can and hit the busy check out line. I get behind two women at the self check out. Notice they aren't moving to the open one and take the lead...scan, pay, receipt...I'm out again. I stuff everything where it belongs, scan the manifest to get the next stops address in my mind and to make sure all I have left is what I am planning. Three stops to go, I am burning up the race and feel incredibly good. The climb I'm going to have to make into the ghetto is not looking so good but my routing is perfect from here on out and I'm not going to let it stop me. I hop on the bike and leave Pick and Save with out seeing any racers. Wondering how Capt. Jake is doing as the last place I saw him was the first stop. I start to think about the two conspirators and how you can do it but if I was running the race I would scrutinize the time stamps on their receipts. How an one person be in two spots at such close times...oh well, not an issue, I might win this race with or with ourt cheating competition. Besides, alley cat races are anything goes, if you cheat do it to be right and win. I have split manifest my self and don't care if anyone else does.

I hit Schlitz Park and painfully climb out of the downtown valley. The miles and pace I have put on are hitting me hard and my line slows as I head towards Fon du Lac. I'm still holding a respectible speed but it's hampered by the stiff west wind and my exhausted legs. I gladly pull north on Fondy and welcome the cut in the wind. As I near North traffic behind me gets crazy and tight and I sware at a car for forcing me onto a sunken sewer grate. As soon as I can I pull into the left lane and then turn onto North at the red light and begin swiming against the tide of inner city drivers. A block later on North and I safely pull over to the proper side of the road. I also see a racer flying like a bullet east bound and I signal to him. I'm not worried about him, I have not seen him at any of the other stops and I know my routing is impeccable. I'm also not worried because if he's following a north south route like I am he just screwed himself into a longer trip to hit the south side stops. I breeze to 35th and follow a cop car north then pull into the parking lot of Pick and Save. I lock up to a pole and rush in while a pan handler is trying to get my attention repeatedly. I tell him I don't have any time a few times as I'm rushing inside. I ask a man at the service counter which isle has the stuffing and he apparently has already been asked this question by crazed white people recently. I grab a box and hit the express lane, cursing the ghetto stores for never having self check out.

I'm two people deep and they take forever to wrap up, but this down time allows me to rest up and I quickly get my item and stuff everything in it's place. I hit the door unlock the bike and cruise out of the parking lot. Two stops left, I am on fire. I pull onto North again at a red and have to swim upstream. As I turn the corner Capt. Jake and a cohort come around on my outside and I grin and laugh mockingly at him as I roll away from the stop. It's settled, if I can keep ahead of Jake I'm good as gold and I've got a good pace on him now. I cross over onto the correct side of the street and take a tight turn onto 27th, notice the gapping pot hole right arouind the corner, clear it with my front tire but hit it hard with my rear...POW, dead. I swear really loud and jump off my bike. I throw it on the ground and pull off my bag, franticly pulling out all of my tire change gear. As I'm changing it two of the organizers run up to video tape me. I told them what happen and they say they saw at least one other racer have the same problem here. I ask them if they can take my old tube and box and toss them for me, they grab them and leave me to finish my job and wish me luck. As they leave and I continue a creepy red neck in a creepy pick-up pulls up and ask me if I'm ok, not wanting anything to do with the guy I tell him just changing my flat and I'm ok...weird shit.

With Capt. Jake breathing down my neck I get the tire back in record time, check the centering in the drops and tension of the chain, lock down the nuts hop on and go 200 feet and BANG. Blow the new tube. I spout a string of profanity as I have now just blown my only spare, cursing myself for not having both with me and search my bag on the off chance for it. I rip off my helmet and consider what to do. I call my wife to tell her whats up but just as she picks up I tell her I have to go and hang up as Jake and cohort round the corner. I run out into the street and ask both of them if they have luck. I watch my lead and win go down 27th. Before I flatted I was at least 5 minutes ahead of Jake, now that number was rapidly going negative. I called my wife and told he my situation. I asked her is she could come get me. My plan was to have her bring my spare tube and drive me to the end location, skip the last two stops and just end the race. She agreed to help me out and I waited it out while wondering who was going to mess with me. A few minutes later I brainstorm the idea of my wife just bringing down my Leader and tube. I call her, ask her where she is and when I find shes on the road I tell her my plan at which point she blows me away by saying the bike is already on the rack as she thought it might be a better idea...I am floored with her love and intelligence and suport. Giddy as a school girl I quickly remove the brake from the Eighthinch and prepare to mount it to the Leader.

During the race my phone had gone off a few times, but I was in race mode so no answering or looking at phone calls. I take the down time to do so and find Matt has been trying to reach me. I tell him where I am and what has happened and he tells me how pissed he is that the race started before 6 and no one told him and the organizers sucked for changing the start time on him. I get off the phone with him and wait form my wife. She shows up a few minutes later with shocked kids in the back seat. I smile and wave wildly at them, they are dumbfounded. I swap bikes, tell my wife I owe her big time and she asks for me to pick up smokes on the way home. I quickly mount the brake and the rear light, unable to mount the headlight to the over sized head tube on the Leader so I shove it in my pocket and off I am. I am leery of the low tire pressure as it has been a while since I maxed the tires out, but no time for that now. I had to keep going and make up my time, while I was no longer able to podium...I at least wanted to finish.

The rims on the Leader are different than the Eighthinch so I left the caliper on the brake open resulting in my having to aid my stopping with my legs more than normal. My pads were also off line on the Leader and they were rubbing against the tire its self. At the red on Vliet I stop and quickly adjust the pads, noticing the strong burned rubber smell emanating from the pads as I do so. With them set I take off and answer a call from Matt, he is wondering where I am as he is now at North and 27th with a tube. I tell him were I am and notice that the road condition gets hellish in front of me at State. Traffic is forcing me to ride the curb and as soon as I close my phone I hit a crack hard and blow my front tire, dropping the phone in the precess. I jump off the bike in the middle of the street and notice a car is about to turn left onto my phone. I run towards them with my hand held out in the stop sign and start pointing at the phone. I grab it, show it to them and smile and wave thanks as I get out of their way. I call Matt and tell him I just flatted and to meet me at State. Again I pull out everything and start changing the flat. There is more foot traffic here and I get leery of the people around me. The house at the corner expels 3 teenagers and I greet them to make sure they know I know they are there and I know whats up in the neighborhood I am changing my flat in.

I get it changed as Matt arrives and start recounting what happened while he grills me about the start time. Everything is set and just as I am about to mount my headlight to my fork the tire blows. I swear loud and Matt is awestruck at my string of horrid luck. He quickly produces a spare and I start again in replacing the tire. He grabs the old tube and hits it with his hand pump. We check the hole against the tire to find out why it blew and find a nice sized hole in the sidewall. I grab the electrical tape I thankfully started to carry in my bag and patch the hole. As I mount the tire Matt produces a spare CO2, much to my relief as the only other option was to use the hand pump and run 60psi max for the rest of the ride which would undoubtably result in more flats, which just wasn't going to be feasable anymore as both Matt and I were out and the last thing I wanted to do was drag my wife out again for ride support. I filled out, mounted the wheel and we took off. My goal now was to take A-class DFL and hope for a swank prize. We rode easy as the street continued to be a mess of concrete death until we crossed the freeway into the south side.

The ride all the way to 27th Street just south of Loomis was enjoyable as it has been since the summer that I have ridden with Matt. We held a comfortable pace all the way as we talked about random things and I tried to explain how the address grid works. We arrived at Pick and Save to find a large group of bikers. I asked them what manifest they were doing and all but one said B...for them to run this short of a manifest and be so long into the race was staggering...but these were people who probably never did alley cats before. I found out the other A rider had the same last stops I did and I told him he better pick up the pace so I can win DFL. We strolled in and grabbed a box of instant mashed potatoes each, Matt figured he's help out with some food too. Checked out at the self check lanes and I hit the bathroom, relieved my need to urinate that I had had since I was in Shorewood. We walked out of the store, loaded up and rode with some other people out onto 27th. We puled past them and turned east on Morgan to hit the final stop.

Morgan was fast and easy, with us having to wait at the red light at 6th street. We pulled into the Pick and Save and found more B manifest riders. We strolled in and got our cans of corn, Matt picked up a bunch of them, checked out and headed to the end point. Matt sprinted out of the parking lot and I strolled behind him. He hit construction on Chase and I opted to walk the bike over the gravel rather than risk another flat. More racers caught up with Matt and unskillfully cut between traffic, rookies. I mounted the sidewalk, feared more gravel and caught up with Matt as he waited out the traffic. We took off towards 1st street. As we turned onto 1st I asked Matt if it was ok if I referred to him as my Domestique from that point onward, after I explained what a Domestique rider is he came up with calling him a Sherpa which seemed more appropriate. We rode the last few blocks to the Horny Goat brewery on south 1st and pulled into a parking lot filled with bikers. I found the check in after asking and began to tell them my tale of woe. I told them my plan to win A class DFL and they told me there would only be one DFL. I took my time, made my 9 receipts look presentable, some of which had started to fade from sweat absorbition, and stuffed them back in the envelop my manifest came in. I then unloaded all of my food stuffs onto a table that was rapidly filling up and went in search of beer. Before hitting the bar we took a celebratory nip of my whiskey filled flask and were told by a hostess that we had to go around the building to get to the race party...they wanted to keep us separate from the yuppie clientele. We got in after getting ID's checked and greeting Kevin and Peter who were setting up their Goldsprint machines. We quickly found the beer and Capt. Jake, who explained to me what ran down. He said he technically got 3rd even though the first two guys, the conspirators, split their manifest and took 1st and second. So by the idea of completing the manifest successfully Jake was first, which means I would technically have been first since I was 5 minutes ahead of Jake before all hell broke lose on 27th. This made me bitter about the guys splitting the manifest and my technical problems, but I wasn't bitter about Jake making the podium, I was happy to see I was on the right course and was kicking ass, it was good to see him rock it too. We got beer and food and waited it out while talking with various people.

I talked with Peter about he and Eric's trip last week to LA and he told me about how insane bike theft has become out there. He said there are little 13 and 14 year old gang runts rolling around with bike tools and stripping whatever they can, stuff like cranks, so they are rolling with crank pullers...who would have thought life in the street gang could set you up to be a bike mechanic? He said that everyone they ran into has stuff stolen from them and people were getting desperate enough to start super gluing ball bearings into their allen screws heads to stop people. New York used to be the most ungodly place for bike theft but LA appears to be blowing it out of the water...everything's always bigger in Hollywood I guess. makes me happy to live in the Midwest where all I usually need to do it lock my frame to something and not leave a bike outside over night. I should do an alley cat some time were you have to rol to locations that have abandoned/stripped bikes and tell me what the frame type is.

Soon the after events started, with strip track stand hitting it off. This was actually rather boring compared to the track stand comp in Tokyo and the heckling ensued. I noticed, as I did at registration, that I didn't know any of the kids that raced, they were mostly locals but because all I do is race as opposed to roll around like a fashion model and hang out at trendy bars I don't know any of this crowd. The strip track stand started getting mildly interesting when they started to remove stuff below the waist. Once the shirts were off only two people remained, one being on of the co-conspirators. He ended up winning by being the only one able to take his pants off while staying on the bike...nice. Next was foot down which I decided not to do, due to the large amount of carbon on the Leader. I'm glad I didn't either because no one seemed to know the rules and started pushing people over. Kevin survived to near the end and called fowl when some one pushed him...because as far as it's supposed to go is to keep your hands and feet on the bike. Once that debacle concluded it was time for the award ceremony. Evershed took 3rd, Capt. Jake took 2nd and the other co-conspirator (I think) took 1st. While the prizes were nice I only really would have made out with first as one of the prized was a sweet Seagull messenger bag, but alas it was not mine to be had. There was some upset participants as One of the only girls who did A class got burned by the organizers only doing a overall first female prize which went to a girl in B class seeing as she only had to go half the distance...bad planning on their part. There was also no prize for DFL, even though I wouldn't have gotten that either as more B class racers straggled in after I had been back.

Once the awards were handed out everyone either left or participated in Goldsprints. Matt and I went head to head and he beat me by a whole second and a half...nice job. We both made good enough times to get into the semis though and Matt got lucky with that one as Kevin accidentally deleted him so he didn't sprint again. I unfortunately had to sprint again and put my self in bad shape by doing so. I had biked all over town, partied hard the night before and had been partying. Just being in good condition and sober Goldsprints makes you want to throw up. I could already taste my dinner after the first round. the second time around was even worse and the results put me in a haze the rest of the night. I joked I was going to throw up while sprinting the second time around and Pete begged me not to do it on the bike/rollers. I cranked out a better time by under 2 seconds the second time around but lost out to the guy I rolled against, I was done and happy for that. Matt and his wife, who has showed up half an hour previously, graciously gave me and my bike a ride back home, which was a god send seeing as I wasn't in much condition tube or stamina wise to make the 8 mile trip back home even before I did 2 Goldsprint rounds. I had to maintain my mental fortitude on the car trip home to keep my stomach from upending. But I made it home and unloaded. Next year...I will dominate.

1 comment:

  1. haha, hope there's no bad blood. Awesome post.