Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Messenger Snow Day '07


I see that I am being chastised by one of the old guys about not posting often enough, so I better get on top of a Snow Day post.
The morning had gone quite well so far. I woke up, barely enough to see the white flakes coming down. With a big stretch, and almost in the same motion, I reached up towards the window sill to look out, and grabbed my cell phone to call my mom.
After a cautionary call to her, and like wise texts to Operation Fabulous, I settled back down for a long morning of music, and falling in and out of sleep, repeatedly....
And this was going well, until I realized, with my eyes still closed, that it certainly was sticking.
This is when I jumped up, threw on some clothes, and took first one bike, then the other out for test rides around the block.
My Fat Chance Mt. Bike turned out to be the best suited for the job. Having made it past the great obstacle that bike selection is, I could move back up to my room, prepared for what might happen.

And happen it did, as just after lunch General disarray called, asking what was going on.
But he knew what exactly what I was doing, which was nothing, so suggested the best idea heard in weeks.
They were getting a bottle of whiskey, and heading up the hill to the Mac Club park, to jump bikes in the snow. This idea would blossom into many good and bad choices, and strangely up hill, then down.
When I arrived in the park,there was a good little crowd. Lahar was there, as was Slackjaw, Spence, Thud, Mange, and El Dupe. They had already constructed a little jump. I have to give them credit, the really made a good attempt. It was just unjumpable in reality, which is not the favored place for this crew to be.
I had a drink, looked at the park, and decided to step it up a notch.
The MAC Club park contains a little run (trail), with four or five small jumps and bump along the way.
It was along this path that I started breaking trail. It required a track stand in the beginning, to knock the snow off of the cleats.
Down a little four or five foot hill, hoping you got you foot in the pedal quick, as snow does not allow for mistakes.
At the bottom of the little hill, it was a shallow right turn around a tree, then across the first level of the park.
There is a nice little ten foot roll in there, which puts you peddling and partially sliding towards a tough pole, and a jump right on the other side.

Spence had piled some snow on the spot after the first time I hit it, so it got progressively better and better. Eventually I was able to cross up off of it, and move towards the final lip, which puts you out of the park, over the sidewalk, and into the street.
This run was very fun, and didn't have many takers, which was sad.
I recall turning around, and seeing Lahar peeing in trail we were trying to ride. Knowing full well how imobolized one is while peeing, I took the opportunity to shove snow down the neck line of his shirt.

He took it very well, and held out for a while before the wrestling started.
I got my feet up into his chest, and basically held him off well, while the others dumped snow all over me.

Right after this I took the chance to take mange down fully and quickly into the snow, with out even much retaliation...
He must have been tired from riding his little bicycle all morning.
We, after an unsuccessful beer run, decided to move on up the hill, into Washington Park, and the Rose gardens.
Along the way we encountered some hooligans, who were planted at the top of SW salmon, with snow saucers.

One of the girls already had a bloody head from hitting a car, and the other one handed me a saucer, saying "The Bike Boys should do it".
Instead of the locally adopted "sit on the saucer and be pushed down the hill", I choose to pull a Flyin' Hawaiian, running a little ways down the hill, jumping into the air, and landing on the sled with forward momentum. I might remind you that this is a serious hill...
We were already split up at this point, and had time to kill.

Tad headed down the stairs to Zupan's to refuel, before we moved up the hill to the Rose Gardens.
This ride moved onto un-traveled roads, and the going got a little slow, and Spence, who seemed to be leading us, was getting a little drunk.
Eventually we got him to just stop, and relax. We had a great view of the snowy city in front of us. That, combined with another great view, our intended route through the snow down the hill.

We amped up with liquid courage, and one by one pointed it straight down the hill, through one obstacle, and then another.
Everyone was tumbling in the snow, and cheering loudly. It was very fun, and even at the end of the hill, someone slid out and across 18th, near the path of an oncoming train.
The decision was made to go to the XV, and celebrate our successful celebration.
Many beers were had, and at one point I couldn't operate my lock, a sure sign of at least partial inebriation.
I left the XV, and moved across town, and up the hill, to warm open arms, and dry clothes.
This had been, in everyone's mind, the best "Messenger Snow Day' here on record.
And judging from the list of attendees, the record goes back a mighty long time....
And, yes, I was nominated by someone for the Alice B. Toeclips award.
I guess in such a great cycling city, even a cantankerous old guy like me has the possibility of being recognized.
By some one.

Friday, January 12, 2007

My Bike Is Fixed, My Mind Is Broken.

Once again, the following is a possibly hairy, probably long winded account of my personal race and routing in a hotly contested messenger alleycat. There are places in this route YOU SHOULD NOT GO ON A BIKE! Ever.
That is my disclaimer... I digress.

I spent the afternoon drinking a lot of water, and eating. Then eating some more. Followed by some more eating, and more water. Putting it on, in order to be able to burn it off.
I rode my fixed gear, a very light machine, more like a rocket. It stops on a dime, turns itself, and flows like butter off toast.
It needed a once over, which I quickly gave it. I put it's weight at just over 14 pounds.
One of the great things about a track bike with all sealed bearings, the upkeep is so simple you can do a thorough job in 15 minutes.
Patches of ice and snow littered the ground as we left the house. Bjorn seemed amazingly optimistic, even though ahead of him lay the daunting task of beating yours truly.
I mean, come on, he is from Corvallis! He works with computers. That was not going to happen. I like Bjorn, heck of a polo player. But there was no way I was doing anything but winning.
This is the mantra going through my head as we move into town, chatting about is what to come, trying to figure out if my deficit in points could even be made up.....
Oh the Ash Street. Somewhere deep inside me is not a love of Ash Street Saloon, but more for the building. I used to eat there in the mid 80's, in fact that is where I bought my coffee beans.
Now it is the home to the "lowest common denominator", the young messenger.
And for the past month, these poor saps have been meeting here for a chance to win not only a days pay, but more importantly, Glory....
. All the usual suspects were there. Fox, in second overall, Dan, who has placed in a few of the races. Mason, who just won't give up.
He is such a dreamer, you have to love that. Carl from Car Free, and many more.
Scottie was of course there, having won all four weeks in a row. The cash was good, and he is pretty fast. I have thought about riding with him the whole way. During the West Side Alleycat, I rode the first half with him, through the NW, and felt strong.
But, my summer off has taken a toll on my speed, and the best bet was to go for the over all win, with all bonus points possible.
And tonight's would be a doozy, as Slackjaw pulled a fast one on me. After reading my blog, he learned of my dislike of the tire in Seattle, so he threw that in as one of the bonuses. Also he offered up 5 points per empty recyclable can (this was later contested, as Drew told some people about bonuses, and expanded on them for others, ie; double points for full cans,). And the safe delivery on one, unbroken egg.
There were also two bonus stops, The Brooklyn Bridge, that crosses the track to SE Powell, and NW Lovejoy Station stairwell.

7:00 came, and we were off. The manifests were available much ahead of time, something I do not think is so great. Part of the deal is routing, (notice Drew's great spelling. Do they have school in Yakima?) and more importantly, routing on the fly. Not staring at maps for a half hour ahead of time. On the move. Pick and choose.( This is my cheat sheet, and routing guide for the race)

It changes everything, but we all had a route picked out. I flew down Third Avenue, following Mason across downtown. I let him lead me out through the intersections, saving stress and energy. The lights time so well in this town.
We crossed over to First Avenue, across SW Arthur, and up to a left turn, basically dropping us at our first stop, the "Hooker Street Bridge", that takes pedestrians over SW Barbur Blvd. The clue there was "floor pump".
This stop puts you directly above what I can only describe as some sort of DMZ, with heavy things going really fast.
The Ross Island Bridge could not be less bike friendly. Tom followed me through here in an alleycat, and while I will admit I was trying to shake him off me a little, I was worried about him. He claimed that I was trying to kill him....
The approach is down a little, closed road for about 100 feet, then up and across the grass (read as mud hole). There is a very high curb to jump off of , which puts you right into oncoming bridge traffic, which you must ride through fast, in order to have the speed to merge with the east bound traffic, from the middle of the bridge.
The endorphine rush here is great, and needed for such a harrowing maneuver. Across the Ross Island bridge I go, now by myself. I had already lost my pen, so I pulled into a Shell station off SE Powell to borrow one.
I went into the office, which was empty, strangely. Good thing I am not a burglar, because I theived nothing but the crappiest pen on the desk.
When I left, the guy was walking up, I said thanks, for what he did not know, and rode off towards the tracks off Powell and 16th, and the Brooklyn bridge, where I know of a cut in the fence, that allows you to ride right down the tracks off Powell to the bridge. Here I wrote down the next clue "58176".
It wasn't far away to the next stop, The power box near the roses in the middle of Ladd's Addition. I saw some others who appeared to be looking for it, so I turned off my lights and snuck in, writing down "Sun Does Not Shine Here". The others never saw me, and were still nowhere near the clue when I rolled out quietly.
I took one of the sweet spokes of the wheel that is Ladd's Addition across to the Barley Mill to get an egg. How did I know I would get an egg here?
Dabby McCrashalot, son of a brilliant salesman. All you need is a pitch, as mine must have been great. I was even offered the cheat of a hard boiled egg, which I considered heavily. After deciding not to risk the past four weeks worth of work, I took the raw one and rolled off towards Laurelhirst Park. I was cheered as I ran out the door of the bar with my bike on my shoulder.
On a side note, I made the decision to get the egg early in my race. I had a plan to get an egg, and the cans from right across from the Ash Street, at the Chop House. Maggie is the Exec Chef, and an egg was a lock.
I decided to get it early, in order to keep myself in check and on task. I still had many chances to replace it, and the focus is exactly what I needed, ass the benches at Laurelhirst were dark as hell, and the clue wasn't going to find itself.
It was here I ran into Scottie, and I showed him where the clue was, He and I were running our races differently,and did not affect the others outcome at all. I realized at that point that I was on a fast pace, doing much better than I thought.
I wrote down the clue "Toxic Algae Bloom", and rolled off to the Hollywood library, which isn't far at all. "Fresh" was the clue, and did was how I was feeling, being about halfway through, and at the farthest most point in my journey.
Here I made another Crux Move, and headed back across NE, to Fremont, and the entrance to a big, undaunting behemoth.
I will let your imaginations talk for me, and just give you a clue.

The back side of this is a long, long downhill, and I was rollling it so fast that I was occasionally bucked up, and almost off, my bike.
And bunny hopping road debris on your track bike, basically at it's maximum speed, is down right scary.
I rolled fast and true up onto NW Vaughn, having been dropped mere blocks from my next clue.
Once again, the Monkey Park clue was hard to find, and Fox rolled up and helped me.
Drew had mentioned that if you finished on someone else bike, you got their points. I there was no advantage in Fox taking my bike, and pointed this out to him.
I did consider taking his bike and mine, throwing his over my shoulder. This would give me my points and his. Realizing I still had a chance to do this, as the next stop was not far away, at Lovejoy Station, by the Broadway bridge in NW.
On the way there, my friend called me up. I asked where she was, and luckily she was right on the East Side.
I asked her to meet me in her Jeep, so I could get her spare tire right at the finish line.
Crossing the NW can be fast and fun, and even though Fox left Monkey Park before me, I arrived at the next stop well ahead of him.
I still had to rally it up and run the stairs at Lovejoy, finally writing down the clue "Nate Owens". Fox and I here discussed whether this was a old clue, from the first week. I quickly pointed out that this was five winter weeks ago, and this stickers shows no age.
We rolled out and over the Steel bridge, for the clue that was on the East Side Esplanade. I wrote down the clue" Unionize", which appeared to be some sort of statement by Drew.
Back across the river, I started formulating my pitch for cans, as what I was planning is not exactly legal by OLCC standards.
An unmentioned bar, now my new best friends, sold me $5 dollars worth of recycling. I actually procured 130 some cans this way, at 5 points each. Down the street with my goods, I met Karen at the bar, pulled the spare tire off her car, and rallied into the Ash Street, my hands full.
I began setting stuff down, and racking up points. The egg came out of my bag, fully intact. This was certainly going to be the case anyway, what with my positive mental attitude. Did I say mental?
I counted out my cans, and only got credit for 126 of them. Somehow , Slackjaw's math added it up to 236 points, but luckily C Murder was there to straighten him out.
I got fourth place in the main race, and all possible bonuses. It didn't seem that here would be any way for me to lose.
Of course controversy reared it's ugly head when Drew claimed that Fox was the only one to get one of the clues right.
Bjorn and I quickly took care of that, and Casey handled the supposed "Double Points" for full cans, which Slackjaw claimed to , but never did announce. ( he just told who he wanted to win, apparently. I was warned by many that he was going to do everything in his power to make it harder for me to win. He obviously does not understand my resolve.)
Scottie won the main race again, taking home a trophy and a handful of cash.
I ended up getting first in the series by 45 points, securing the big trophy, with Bjorn ,then Fox trailing me. (Dabby Wins It Big!)

All in all, it was a great series. A few gray areas here and there, where it should be black and white, but over time, Slackjaw will develop his races.
I am waiting for the Stairmaster Race, next Sat. the 20th, 1:00, at the Vern in SE.
El Dupe thinks he is going to take that one, and I have helped to propagate that rumor. Leave's me nicely in the shadows to sneak up and win it for myself.......
One more thing;
I am happy to announce that my father, having had a stroke and an anuerism on Tuesday, has made a fabulous recovery.
My family supports me in what I do, no matter how much it and I may frustrate them. This is what you call "unconditional love", and I am the lucky recipient of such.
(This pic of my dad is weird. My young neice Lilly took it on my birthday.)

These are the final results in the Series:

1Dabby 1385
2.Bjorn 1340
3Fox 850
4Scott 500
5Chaz 445
6Dan 385
8Mason 325
9Brady 300
10Sean 205
11Jen 195
12Gary 195
13Carl 160
14Danger 155
15Ian 145
16Scott K 140
17Lelah 115
18Andrew 55
19Emma 50
21Maty 50
22Matt 50
25George 50

Race Five Winners
7Mason DNF (But did more Backwards Circles than all y'all)
8Carl DNF
9Sean DNF
10Jacob DNF
11Amanda DNF
12George DNF





Friday, January 05, 2007

Cash Money Series Week 4.......

Decisions will be made in life. Many of them regrettable, many of them unforgettable. It is the decisions that combine both of these horrible realities into one hour of fury that haunt you in your sleep.
I have not gone to bed yet tonight. It is 1:00 am, and I am going downtown in the morning, so bed should be in the works right now.
But the memories of this evening will flash across the insides of my eyelids, keeping me awake as long as possible, and work on my brain after I finally fall asleep.
Once again, to the Ash Street Saloon for the "Cash Money Series", week 4.
The standings were posted on line the other night, and lo' and behold, I sat in a tie for 2nd place, for the series win.
It had been proven in the last couple of weeks that winning the race was great for some fast cash, but it takes something else to win the series.
Bonus Points.
In your standard alleycat, bonus points are small, and sometimes make no difference.
I did the "Bad Nugget Rising" alleycat thrown by Rob (Track King) Kittlson, in Seattle. The base was the top of Bycracky park, which sits on the top of Queen Anne Hill. A bonus was thrown out at the start of the race that anyone who brought a car tire to the top of the hill got bonus points. This sounded great.
Until you take into account that Queen Anne is a serious hill, and tires are heavy, and must be carried in hand, they don't fit in a bag.
I dragged that goddamned tire up Queen Anne hill on my first manifest. I was rolling fast, doing great, but....
When I got to the top, there was already a pile of 4 tires waiting for me..... Those Seattle Kids...
I finished 10th place, and first place out of towner. It was a 4 hour race, in which I had it coming out of both ends at the same time within the last hour. It was hard to tell, in that race what, if anything, the bonus tire did for me. I did make it to the top of the hill just in the nick of time. The race ended at 6 exactly. I found myself about ten minutes from the finish, in the U district, with Queen Anne Hill and the finish in my view.
But not close..not even ten minutes close. I was running up the hill with my bike on my shoulder, and near the top, a lady drove up next to me, asked me what I was running for, and I told her I was in a race, blah blah blah.
She told me to sit on her hood (it was a Mercedes, I love the german cars, so I was carefull not to scratch it) and she drove me that way with my bike in my hand the last 4 blocks to the top of the hill.
I made it to the top at 6:00, and 45 seconds. barely in time.
Flash back to the Future.
Cash Money Series.....
In the first race I went for no bonus points. No one really did. Except Fox.
Fox got all the bonuses that race.
Scotty won, but Fox was well ahead of Scotty in points already.
In future races, I not only got all the bonuses, but rolled fast and worked on getting extra points for placing decent.
So, tonight, in the "Library Race", sitting tied for 2nd, I am looking hot to do well. This puts the focus on placing in the middle, getting all the bonuses, and making no mistakes.
Slackjaw told us the rules, yelled some more (he loves yelling), and said go.
I immediately turned down third avenue, heading for the library downtown at 10th and SW Yamhill.
Within these ten blocks, I took four to five of them going the wrong way, in the middle. Downtown traffic was light and fairly easy to move through, so I didn't get stopped all the way to the library.
I wrote down the clue "The Sky Is Falling", and rolled down the hill towards the Morrison bridge.
Due to the horrible construction, I took many streets the wrong way again on the way to the bridge. I was preparing myself for what was waiting later in my ride, as my trip was already fully routed in my head, and I dreaded what lay ahead.
I searched and searched the stairwells on the east side of the Morrison bridge, then found Bjorn, another of the top three, looking for the clue too. Up and down stairwells full of trash, needles, and Tootsie Rolls........
In the process of looking for said clue, I:
Had a car weave at me, head on, at like 45 miles an hour. I swerved. Luckily.
Was passed by a cop car, going the wrong way on the Morrison, Right before said car swerved towards me.
The Policeman sped up, heading west.
So I sped up, heading east. I knew he was going to flip a u turn on the bridge, and come back across to the east side looking for me.
I was still searching for the clue, so took the roundy ramp that goes from the east bound approach, to the west Bound approach. The wrong way. I did this knowing the cop would have to pass me, then flip another u turn or something.
I rolled onto the span into the path of one car after another, and right pass the cop car racing the other direction (looking for me).
I took my focus off of him, and back to the bonus points.
After at least 20 minutes of looking, we agreed it wasn't there, and took off east.
This was horrible for both of us, since points right now are everything.
Up and over the hill past one of my favorite places, Col. Summers Park. The next stop was the library at 39th and SE Yamhill.
Right before that, I stopped at Zupan's, found the bulletin board, and got a for sale ad, which was just a business card stapled to a flyer.
This would turn out to be a good bonus for me, as the next one would be increasing difficult to score with.
I wrote down the clue at the library, "Hiccups", and rolled fast across 39th to the Hollywood district.
The library there is at 41st and NE Tillamook. This is a land of dark roads, big sewer projects, and huge holes in the road, most covered by metal plates.
I worked my way through this virtual mine field, wrote down the clue "99599", and waited a moment, allowing myself to breathe....
This was the beginning of what is known as a crux move. A turn around of events. A point that, when surpassed, leads to a nice, smooth flow to the finish.
Instead of rolling down Broadway, across the bridge and into the NW, I went straight down Tillamook to 24th, then across to NE Fremont. 30 some blocks down Fremont and I turned onto N Williams, stayed right, and pedaled hard onto the Fremont Bridge, or I405 bridge. This is a nightmare to ride during the day, and I was on it in full dark, with a black bike, and a little blinky back light.
It has a long approach ramp, followed by 5 full lanes of I-5 traffic to be crossed.
I negotiated this no problem, but due to debris on the shoulder, I had to ride in a manner not many are accustomed to riding freeways. I rode the white line, all the way across.
The downhill on the northwest side is very, very fast, and I was peddling as hard as I could. It spits you out 1 block from the next stop, the library at 23rd and NW Thurman, where I saw the clue "Orange".
Off I went, down Thurman and onto Front Avenue. On my mind now was not only peddling fast into downtown to the Ash Street, but finding the last bonus points for tonight.
This being a library race, the hardest thing to get out of a library is a reference book. And this is what was needed for the last bonus points.
All Libraries had been closed but downtown. There was no way in hell I was carrying a big reference books, when un needed yet, so now I had to find one.
When I pedal hard, my mind works wonders. The brainstorm started with a thought search for books we use all the time, are reference books, but not really recognized as such.
And it hit me.
Phone book.
I will beat Drew at his own game, using one of last week's bonuses as this week's bonus.
When I got back to the Ash Street, I strolled back to the kitchen. Already knowing where they kept them from last week, I grabbed a phone book, ran back to Drew, and handed it all in.
Much went on about the phone book not being a reference book (which it is), and not being allowed cause we used it last week, ( but that was crap too), so I won the battle, and the battle for the Morrison bridge bonus points, as Fox didn't find it either.
I sat back with a single beer, and waited for the last racers to come in. This group contained the two people in front of me, Bjorn, and Fox.
Fox went home and " borrowed" his roommates big dictionary (really, if a dictionary is a reference books, so is a phone book) since it was on his route.
Scotty got first, and I know Mason got third.
In the end it boiled down to the same three of us in first, second, and third (in the series). With Lucky not showing up tonight, it put fourth place out of the running, which guarantees us placing and supposed trophies.
How fun is that?
In order to win the whole series, I figure I must place next week in the top 5, with all bonuses...
This is very do able......

Zac wanted to see this pic, so here it is.....Wish I was in it, but someone has to have *cough* artistic control...

By the way, any and all comments regarding the content above and below is welcome, and actually well appreciated...
Give me input, or give me death!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Mud Bowl 2007

I could hear nothing but rain upon waking up today. This did not seem to be a good sign, depending on how you looked at it.
Considering I was going to be some sort of dirty by the end of the day, it was really down to how dirty...
The noise outside made it seem like "very dirty" was going to be the answer.
I hadn't even looked outside yet, when Bjorn came around the corner. A ride in the van now secured, we were off to the park.
There were a handful of people when we got there, but Ringer was one of them and he brought the bikes, and some vodka.
Lucky soon showed up with a score of $2.77 on Miller 6 pack tall boys, but it was quickly discussed that the price reflected the strike, and, should we be drinking it or not?

The heads started rolling in, and the rain stopped. Instead of being the swampy mire it usually is, the field was grassy and dry, and didn't get muddy until after a couple of games.
Ringer became indisposed, and got a ride home early, but not before playing one hell of a first game.
Kerrie from SF was there, and a member of the City Bikes crew. Luckie's brother James from the east.......General Disarray brought a thermos full of courage

The field got really slippery part way through the afternoon, and just staying on your bike became a challenge. But we prevailed with some great scoring, until darkness came.

We were back on our home turf, and the lights were coming on in the tennis court, so we moved the debacle over.

By this time my front wheel was missing 8 spokes, and my brakes had some sort of grass mud mixture wound throughout.
My body was still fairly clean, and I never really had a good crash.
The tennis court was rolling fast, even with my messed up front wheel, and we had some great games.
All in all I must brand "Mud Bowl 2007" a success.
I took many pics, as you will see...
If you click on a pic, it gets really big.......