Tuesday, November 10, 2009

First Friday Alley Cat - November 09

November’s race was one I was not going to be taking part in as I had won Octobers and was putting on Novembers. At first I wasn’t sure what I was going to do but as October flew by I started to worry I wasn’t going to have a good race. Initially I had a basic idea of what to do but the last week of October had nothing more then that. So I finally took some time away from work and rode around town to solidify my game plan. I put all the stops together, felt confident in the questions and length and printed everything up. Still being a fan of having racers have to get the manifest instead of it being given to them at the start I employed a friend of mine to help me at the manifest pick up location.

The idea behind the route was stuff that related to my life, jobs, apartments, etc. The original idea was to have the manifest stuffed inside of a copy of the Journal and have my friend Pat hand those out. Then as the race started to solidify I changed my plan slightly. I had the manifests sealed in UPS envelopes with the address of the location Pat was stationed. The racers would still go out to meet Pat and get a copy of the paper but they would have their manifest the entire time and not even know it.

I also came up with another twist for this one as well, two different manifests. The manifests had the same exact stops just different questions at the stops. While this could be used to hinder people working together and splitting routes the idea was just to add a twist in and make it a little different. So with the final plans in place I was ready to throw the race.

After work on Friday I had to make a run to one of the stops and place a sticker at the stop that told the racers to call me, which added another twist to the race. This stop they had to write down what the sticker said on the manifest and then call me and I would give them a stop not on the manifest. The original idea was to have them meet up to finish the race at the parking lot of the Aurora clinic in Schlitz Park. Once everyone had shown up we would do a 10 lap race around the parking lot. The idea sprang about between Flynn and my self after I told him about an article in the recent issue of Cog that talked about a similar thing they do in Boston. I was worried about the logistics of doing the race at Aurora that early in the evening with their being customers/workers/security about and came up with a backup pick up instead.

I rode hard out to the sticker point, slapped it to the pole and headed back to the Door. I passed by Aurora, noticed a fair amount of activity and decided to scrap the plan to race there. One of these days we will try to do it but later in the evening and hopefully it will work, or we can find another location to race at too. I also scrapped it because I didn’t feel like riding from the bar back to Aurora to check on the lots activity level after the race started then go all the way back to the bar…I was going to be lazy.

I got to the bar to find Flynn conducting business outside as he was trying to help Julian deliver a package in the south side. We headed into the bar and I lit up a cigar I had bought earlier in the day, celebrate a little bit. After food and a few rounds of beer a few more people showed up including Matt who made a point to take off of work to race. He hadn’t raced since the summer and had been busy with school/work/wife to get out much so it was good to catch up with him. As start time approached I decided to call it with only 4 racers, 1 of which being Shaggy who I harassed into racing. As we piled outside I spotted a bike I recognized from work. The day before I attached a note telling him to come race and he decided to come out. So after a few years of seeing the fixie parked near mine I finally met its owner in a member of the newsroom named Ben. He arrived just as things were kicking off so he didn’t have time to gather his senses.

Everyone was gathered around and I handed out the UPS envelopes with the manifests sealed inside. I told them they needed to deliver the envelope to my friend Pat who was at the address written on the outside. Pat would then give them their manifests. I looked at the light on Michigan and Broadway which had just turned red and said that when it turns green it would be a go. Everyone got ready, I got antsy and decided to yell go and they took off heading for the East Side. I went back into the bar and handed out copies of the manifest to people inside who poured over them. The response was positive and when they found out there were two different sets of questions there was some approval for the race. Too bad more people weren’t able to do it.

I knew that it was going to be a small race, most of the people who had been racing lately were polo players and the weekend had them all in Columbus for the fall installment of the biannual Midwest Bike Polo Championships. 1 or more of the members of Cog Magazine were also in LA over the weekend and other people were generally not racing lately. The races have entered into a semi-dormant state as of late which is mildly depressing but I’m still going to show up each month and race or put one on if no one else is around to do so.

I continued to drink and socialize with everyone who stayed and waited for the phone calls to come in. The first one was from Pat at the first stop who wanted to reconfirm the number of racers as he had only seen 4. While I was reassuring him there were 5 the fifth one showed up. I told him to come down to the bar once he was done and I’d buy him a drink. Before he arrived at the bar I received 4 calls in a row from racers who had reached the call-in check point. The third call actually came while I was still on the 2nd call. The stop I gave them was to pick up a take-out menu from Pizza Shuttle. I went back into the bar and waited for the 5th call that never came. Instead Shaggy called me to tell me that the electronic sign needed for one of the stops was turned off. I told him to scratch that one.

Pat showed up, shots and beer was purchased and we waited for the racers to turn up. The first one through the door was Shaggy. He wasn’t able to get one of the items as all the locations he checked were empty. Coming in on his heals was Matt followed shortly by Chris. Shaggy had to leave and said to use his winnings if he took 1st to buy people beers. I figured if he won I would get it to him next time I saw him. We sat and waited for the other two, 1 of which still had not called me. After about 15 minutes everyone told me to check the manifests that got handed in for the winner, I did so after relenting. As I checked them Ben from work showed up as well, now there was only one racer left. I checked through them and found that Matt was in the lead with Chris followed by Shaggy then Ben. Matt had one incorrect answer and Chris was missing his Pizza Shuttle menu as he had dumped it in a free newspaper box in haste to get the copy he needed. Technically since there was still a racer out on the ‘course’ the race was not over with. Chris bolted out of the bar to get his menu and try to take first. Matt caught on a bolted out to get the correct information for his missed answer.

Matt arrived back before Chris did, but barely and clenched 1st place and most of the pot. Chris won a Dura-Ace hat and just as I was about to award Ben with DFL the final racer, the guy who took 2nd last month, arrived to clench the $5 prize. After that more beer was had and the race was gone over. It was Ben’s first alley cat and he did the manifest in the order it was listed instead of geographically ordered. He knows better now. We talked about mistakes we have all made in races, such as my riding all the way to Shorewood to find out I was thinking of the wrong Chinese restaurant. I took off after a while to get home and relief Pat of his house sitting duties with the race left in Matt’s hands to organize for December and Saturday the 14th’s Cranksgiving in my sights with hopes for 1st in the A class and a swank prize cache.

Here is the list of the stop, each one had 2 sets of questions, 1 on each manifest.

2978 N. Bremen - old apartment

1841 N. Farwell - restaurant that shares it's name with my daughter

309 N. Water - contains a law firm that shares it's name with my son

1731A N. Franklin - old apartment

1118 N. 4th - parking structure for the Journal

2315 N Murry - restaurant I used to work at

3132 N. Downer - book store I used to work at

1731 N Arlington - bar I used to work at

Get a copy of 'Autotrader' or 'Employement Guide' - for fun

Plus the call in where they had to get a menu from Pizza Shuttle.

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