Tuesday, September 7, 2010

First Friday Alley Cat - September 2010

As the year has been quiet in regards to posting about the races I have been in this year, I felt I should get back into that mode since another big out of town race is around the bend and post about the September race that I ended up winning.

The year has been a bit on the slacker side when it comes to training. My form has been off and I have felt out of touch all year. This years MMI was somewhat disappointing as I didn’t feel I had the energy in me that I normally do and du to a few errors I placed 17th, which is still good, but I could have been top 10. Oh well, it was a fun race and I left myself out there so I can’t regret not giving it all I had, what I had to give though was lacking.

Riverwest 24 this year was also lacking and our team, at my suggestion, pulled out with 3.5 hours to go in favor of partying instead. We rolled well for the first 12 hours, sticking in the 3rd/4th spot for our division but the sudden loss of a rider and the relentless rain took its toll on most if not all of our determination. As we watched our standings slide so did my moral and after a while I just didn’t want to mount the saddle any longer.

The First Friday races have been up and down through the entire year with turn out being abysmal for the first half of the year. Due to being the winner, being out of town or being injured I have unfortunately only been able to participate in a portion of the races. On top of all of that I was riding a bike that I didn’t even own as my bike is in parts due to problems with the crank.

Augusts’ race had been won by Capt. Jake and I had slid into 2nd due to answers, not speed. The race was part of an effort to help raise funds for the Berlin bound MKE Bike Polo team (who also went the on next weekend to take 1st in that world championship!). The race kicked my ass and I wasn’t the fastest one in but I still grabbed a podium spot. So Jake put on Septembers race.

A good sized group showed up, around 12 or so, including many faces that have been frequenting them this summer, hopefully they will still come around in January. The manifest was handed out and we all had a chance to plot our route before take off. Working with Matt and another frequent race partner Dan we plotted a route. I decided to leave the bag at the bar and ride with only my flat repair hipster pouch. I grabbed my bike from the alley and took off as soon as the start was called, pulling onto a dead Clybourn and turning at a green onto Water Street, as with so many other races.

The majority of the riders headed south as well and we flowed between slowed Friday night traffic through the 3rd Ward, summoning a few car horns, on our way to the first stop, the Circle K on Water. I was the first to pull onto the sidewalk and up to the mart, franticly scanning the window ledges along the west face for a sign of silver colored pennies. As we searched more racers showed up until someone noticed them on a higher ledge. Matt grabbed one for me which I snagged as I shot north to go down Chicago to hit the next stop which intersected with Broadway. This was the only stop I was unsure of as the cross street was unfamiliar to me.

The cross street is Menomonee and it is the street that exists for about 2 blocks and is near the southern terminus of Broadway…right in front of a small park. I flew through the park, not even finding a street sign for Menomonee, thinking it was the name of the street on the other side of the park. Dan was following and when we go to the other side and I didn’t see it I said to hell with searching and kept going. I pushed forward across the river and onto the southern leg of Water Street for the next stop. At this point I lost Dan I believe but still had 2 racers following me. I put my head down and pounded down the desolate industrial area south of the 3rd Ward.

I almost missed the next stop at 700 S. Water and came back around to mentally note the answer, before pulling out to National. As I circled around one of the racers following wondered what I was doing, saying the stop was right there. I didn’t answer and shot off towards the next stop. I took National to Barclay as the next stop was Barclay and Greenfield. As I approached Greenfield 1 of the racers had caught up with me. I also noticed that the answer was on the other side of the street and needed to take 1st to get to it. I quickly swung west then rode against traffic southbound to Greenfield and to the stop. As I approached the intersection I could spot the answer and added this one to my mental list. I did a u-turn and headed back to 1st and on my back north to the next stop.

At this point I realized I needed to write an answer down as I was beginning to jump up the first one in the queue. I jotted down the last stop as I rode down 1st, which was easy to do since it was just a number. Then I continued to go over the other answer making sure I remembered it correctly. As I neared the 5th stop a group of about half of the racers were headed south to the Greenfield location. Among them was Matt and he shouted something out to me about the stop I missed but that was all I could decipher. A few seconds later I pulled into the parking lot of the large gas station next to the HQ of American Taxi and started to scan for the answer.

As I did the two racers who were following me since the 3rd ward arrived as well and I realized it was my buddy Flynn’s rookie named Devon and a cat from Minneapolis. As Devon got closer I asked him to reconfirm the answer for the stop on Water Street and jotted it down finally. We all tried to scan for the answer to the question; I circled around the other side of the store to make sure I didn’t get the wrong one. As I came back around the other 2 guys had started to head north again. I came back around and had to get right up to the window to find the answer and as I did they came back. I shouted out the answer to them and asked if anyone had gotten the one I missed. I noted that down and took off to the next stop.

From there I took of west through the parking lot to 2nd street and realized with horror it was under construction, selective memory I guess. I turned off of the street as soon as I could which ended up being Virginia which worked out perfectly due to the road having fresh blacktop, being essentially dead and dropping us off directly at the 6th street roundabout. We flew up the bridge to the viaduct and slowed down as we approached Canal. The question called for 133 S 6th street. The guy from Mpls mentioned something about people saying it was Harley, but I knew it couldn’t be if the manifest was correct because Harley would be an even number. We went back and forth scanning the two grain warehouses on the west side of the street for anything. I ended up heading back to Virginia to check on the address for the building that used to house Il Mito, wondering if it wasn’t one of the buildings off of the road and along the river in that area. I went back north and another racer showed up to help in the search. Everyone decided it had to have been the ad council based on all the ads in the bus stop but I held off on deciding. We shot north on 6th, up the viaduct and into downtown on our way to the east side.

The 4th racer pulled off on Michigan and I lead the other 2 guys to Wells. We hung a left and took that all the way to Water where we used a break in traffic to head north on a red light. At Kilbourn we shot east again and started zig-zagging north and east once we crossed Van Buren. We salmoned up Franklin for a block passing by one of the stops, the Shell station on Farwell. As we passed I shouted to the others following me that we would hit that stop on the way back downtown. We headed up 2 more blocks to the next stop and I mounted the curb, scanning the building and taking a mental note of the answer then off north to Brady Street.

I pulled onto the sidewalk just before Brady and was a bit shocked as I turned the corner to see the large group of racers gathered in front of the next stop. We all tried to get the answer and many of them were telling us it was 3. I was in doubt and scanned as closely as I could. I was kicking my self for wasting so much time at 6th street that the mass majority of the riders were putting my podium placement in jeopardy. They all took of and I continued to scan for the answer, trying not to get close to the dumpster that hid the answer as it reeked of garbage. I finally found it and called it out. The 4th rider who met up with us at 6th shot off like a rocked back towards were we came to get his last answer and we rounded out to Farwell to get our last one. I pushed as hard as I could down the street, slowing down as I neared the gas station and spotted the answer. The question related to which of the 2 Blues Brothers was on the left side. They had statues of them sitting there.

For the life of me I couldn’t remember the characters names…at least Belushi’s. I thought Aykroyds was Elway but that was throwing me off. We all kind of agreed as we rolled south on Farwell that it was probably John. At this point I wasn’t confident in my placing, all I was trying to do was not be DFL. I had 1 answer that was questionable, 1 I didn’t verify and 1 I didn’t even have an answer for. Over half of the racers were ahead of me and I was worn out. As we crossed Mason on a red, cars angrily honked at us and I smiled as I pulled into the left lane and tucked into the corner for Wisconsin, I hung left at the next street then right onto Michigan, pounding as hard as my worn out legs could go. At about Jackson Devon pulled ahead of me and I feared he would overcome me but as he pulled off to get around a block or so later he lost time and I shot past him and onto the crowded sidewalk in front of the door.

Everyone was surrounding Jake, who was on the ground trying to organize everything. In a last ditch effort I wrote down Harley on the manifest for the missed 6th street question and left it all to fate. A minute later Jake announced that the 6th street question was being nullified as it should have been 1333, instead of 133. I quickly sent texts to Matt and Dan to let them know as they were not back yet. A few minutes later they showed up and we went inside to beer up. Jake came in as well to begin going through the race results and questioned my answer for the blues brother’s question. I explained my reasoning that I was sticking with John because it was Belushi’s first name, that’s when it was pointed out to me that Aykroyds characters name was Elwood, Jake and Elwood…it instantly came back to me. Oh well, tough luck. Apparently you could have scanned the statues knuckles for aftermarket tattoos to match their name tattoos in the movie. Jake said he would deduct ½ point from my total and I was fine with that. I went out side to drink and converse feeling confident I ended up hitting the podium after all, convinced the mob had at least 1 wrong answer while I had ½ of a wrong answer. I was pretty sure Steve, who was the 4th from the bridge, had taken first.

We stood around waiting a little longer for the last racer to come back, a diminutive messenger with STS (or what it is now). When she got back she instantly threw her helmet to the ground and shouted that she was only 5 fucking feet and that Jake was a bastard for putting a penny up on a ledge she would never be able to reach. She ended up finding one on the ground anyways, but it was one of the funniest moments in race history. Soon after the winners were announced and too my surprise my name was called off first, so I figured at first it was 3rd place. But when he handed me a wad of cash and told me to go talk to the rep for Bern helmets, which had stopped by unexpectedly, to get a new free helmet I knew I truly had won.

Now it was time to plan the October race…I still have a few ideas to incorporate but this one might be a little more simplistic than past ones, no multiple manifests…or maybe I will. For me the next race I have to look forward to is the Cuttin’ Crew Classic in Chicago, which I am extremely stocked for, even if I am out of form. It’s going to be a great time and my liver is already building up a hatred for me thinking about the after party…the Messenger Prom.

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