An odd feeling: relief that Monday morning comes, so you can settle back into a quiet routine for a few days and let the fatigue drain. Cranksgiving
was on Saturday and wore me out - the race, the afterparty, and showing up sweaty, gross, drunk and a little bit impolite at a Very Respectable Housewarming party. And then back to the Bronx, where I woke up the next morning feeling like I fell down a flight of stairs: awesome.
Fatigue feels great.
I met up with somebody I've ridden with in the past, at the registration point by the Jacob Javits Center, and we sat around and talked about bikes while an awkward photographer from some newswire - who said he was doing a piece on messengers - snapped pictures and asked awkward questions. More and more people show up, including a bunch of people from Hartford and New Haven, some of whom I know, some I was just meeting. One guy came with a seriously bent fork - an accident about thirty seconds after leaving the train station found him on the hood of a cab, and as we were shooting the shit, five or six guys were standing around his bike offering advice on leverage for cold-setting his fork into something rideable.
We get our manifests. We've got a lot of choice of routes for this race - we need to hit 4 of 8 grocery stores (buying food to donate instead of standard alleycat checkpoints), but we need to hit one in each listed area - east village, battery park city, upper east side, upper west side - and we've got to do them in a figure 8, with a midpoint at columbus circle (where we are told the finish line), which means lots of going crosstown, in nyc, on a saturday early afternoon. Our first stop must be a store in the east, our first option is to go north or south. We decide to go south (a bad decision; 2/3ds of everybody went North, including the winners, who are also faster so that's not really the point).
"Go!" the organizer yells after saying some thank-yous and ride-safes. We break for the crossstreets with grunts and that slight sound that your chain makes when you're accelerating from a stop; we hit the street and immediatly have to dodge a tractor that's rumbling down, and we laugh as we fly East. A sprint over to the East 20's, picking up potatoes at a grocery (a realization: yeah, bad idea to hit up the store where we had to get potatoes, the heaviest item, first). Then down to Houston and over to Broadway, hammering down to a store on South End Ave. Where's that? It's West of the west side highway. Who knew? Then 3 of us in a paceline (riding with wheels so close they're almost touching - you've got to be careful, but it cuts down so much wind resistance for everybody but the leader) for several miles going up the West Side Highway bike path, occasionally yelling to clear the way of pedestrians. One guy preferred to just yell like an animal; I tried the "charitybikeracecomingthroughsorrytobotheryouthankyou!" which was only marginally successful.
A stop at Columbus Circle and then a haul into the headwinds going up 3rd Avenue. A stop, then through the park to the West Side to our last stop, then back down toward the finish, which required weaving through madness on 59th street and a last haul down 2nd avenue, which produced the worst, tightest, most maddening traffic I've ever ridden in. I got knocked down on 59th street (just hit a mirror with my shoulder at moderate speed and couldn't recover), and I lost the two guys I was riding with in the traffic on 2nd. Made it down to 35th street & East River for the finish, and was a little disappointed to see so many finish before me. Oh well.
The course was 20miles, maybe a bit more, with long hauls uptown and crosstown between checkpoints. It was a tough time of day for an alleycat (but really, what's not?), a pre-holiday Saturday, midtown-heavy traffic. I'm eager to see the results, when they're compiled and put out over the internet.
Anyway, after a beer and some snacks at the finish line, I and some others took off to run an errand and grab some bites to eat. Then to Brooklyn to drop off the food - a little odessey of its own - then back to Alphabet City for the afterparty, where I got to recognize people I've never met and introduce them with, "oh, hi, I recognize you from the internet," to which one guy responded, "Oh, awesome! It's always nice to meet people I spend all day at work with," referring to the nyc fixed gear message board. Bike dorks with day jobs and computers...
People also talked about crashes and injuries. There were a few too many for a charity bike race. A Connecticut pile-up (thanks to a pedestrian crossing between cars!) that resulted in a broken Spinergy carbon-fiber front wheel and a damaged keirin frame. One nyc guy got clipped by another rider - knocked down and broke his elbow - and the other rider didn't even stop. That's foul, really foul.
By the end of the night I was tired and buzzed enough to accidently get the name of a friend of a friend Very Wrong (oops!) and generally be socially awkward at this Housewarming party. Left for the ride home to the Bronx, and completely hit the wall on the 3rd Avenue Bridge, absolutely crawling in the face of the cold winds. I fell into my bed - not even late, at 1 AM - but tired as hell, and slept for ten hours.
Anyhoo, woot. Back at work. Time to rest. I'll either boast or swear to improve, publicly on this blog, when results come out.
Labels: alleycats, bikes, races