Thursday, May 28, 2015

West Side Invite 2015

Date: May 24th, 2015
Distance: 41 miles
Song of the Day: Gojira - Bottlenose Koffins

It has been in the works for a while, but the West Side Invite was in Seattle for 2015. This is like NACCC or CMWC, but for people from the west coast. Then again, it isn't like people were going to be turned away. I was really excited to see Smokin' Joe from Australia there. Allan from Glasgow was also down. (But he is living in Vancouver B.C. now, so that is a bit easier trip.)

I only just got back into town the day before the main race. I went and helped out with the Out-of-Towner's race. Then rode around with those guys most of the evening. Saw Joe again. He was joking with me on about how he was going to come in first in the main race and I could follow him to second place. Fun times, but we would see how everything went the next day.

I arrived right at noon on Sunday for the race briefing. Allan lent me a copy of the race rules. I am glad that I had a chance to read them. This was one of the most complicated races I had ever seen. There was a required manifest with four sections. Each section had to be completed before the next one could be started. A second manifest with rush jobs and long haul jobs. Then after 90 minutes racers could pick up a third manifest for short jobs. This was also the longest race I had ever seen. It was three hours and thirty three minutes long. Unlike NACCC or CMWC, this wouldn't be on a closed course. It would be a race through traffic, pedestrians, and lights. And for once, it started right on time at 1:00 PM.

I thought I was doing pretty good at the beginning. I was racing right and generally making good choices. Well, except I went to Kerry park one more time than I needed to. Oh well. But I did a decent job of conserving elevation. I rode both the Aurora bridge to Wallingford, and the I-5 bridge back to capitol hill. (It may sound weird, but Aurora is actually worse.) From then on I was just hitting stops and trying to race through the required manifest. Most of the stops were in the downtown area. That didn't make them easy though. Downtown has lots of hills in it. I did Back Alley Bikes in Pioneer Square to 6th and Seneca a half dozen times. Even getting the required manifest was tough. I only completed that stuff with 3 minutes to spare.

By the end of the race, I was worked. I had a little food and took a nap on the ground for about half an hour. That evening everyone re-grouped at Mobius in SoDo. The part started off pretty chill. People mostly relaxing and recovering. We had an open forum to discuss the location of the next West Side invite, and also anything else messengers might have to discuss. (There is a race in Vancouver at the end of June...)

Then the part kicked off with Fred's band playing. They were really cool. Very fun to watch. Then really got jumping with Bottlenose Koffins. Like literally jumping. With all the shirtless dudes slamming around I thought the band was going to get wrecked. The BNK guys seemed to take it in stride and played on. As long as their stuff wasn't smashed I think they enjoyed the energy of the crowd.

After that it was award ceremony time. Allan won the Out-of-Towner's race on Saturday. So that was rad. Smokin' Joe came in third for the main race, that was also cool. I was shocked to come in 2nd place. Frankly I didn't believe I had done that well and almost didn't believe they were calling my name. I was really happy about it. I even won a brand new Dank bag. How cool is that?

Smokin' Joe and I
Remember how Joe was talking about winning the race the night before? Well after the awards he was giving me crap about how I was supposed to have let him win. I shot back with the fact that I had come in second like he said. It wasn't my fault he didn't win. We both had a good laugh about that. Joe, good to hang out with you again man.

I would also like to thank Fred, Face, and everyone else for putting this on. It was such a great time. The race was fantastic. The toughest race I have yet done, but I enjoyed every minute of it. Then a great party and good times were had. Well done.


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Ben Country X

Date: May 9th & 10th, 2015
Distance: 160 miles (over two days)
Song of the Day: The Boys are Back in Town - Thin Lizzy

Well, it is time once again for Ben's annual birthday ride. Full of the same kind of joy and shenanigans as always. This year we had 63 riders and a few more in support cars. It is so fun to be ridding around in such a big group and having fun on bikes.

Like last year the route headed west onto the Olympic Peninsula. That meant a ferry ride to Bainbridge island. I have crossed the island a few times on a bike. We must have had a good tail wind because that was the easiest/fastest I think I have ever done it. What fun.

From there the group headed north and crossed the Hood Canal bridge. Then a few back roads, finally onto some gravel forest roads. I stopped to wait for one of the guys to fix a flat. So there were four of us who were left behind. I had to use my tracking skills to figure out where the group went. Fortunately the gravel roads showed the bike tracks pretty well. We met up with everyone at the Quilcene.

After that it was a big climb and a decent south along the 101. We took a right onto the Doeswallups road, and stayed on that until it turned into gravel and then vanished into the river. Ben is good at finding washed out roads where bikes can pass, but cars can't. This time though, the bike path involved a bunch of steep switchbacks. I can't say that I minded too much, but I know there were a number of other people who at the end of a long day weren't feeling it. But everyone made it, and there weren't really any complaints.

Plus the camp site was great. Big enough for us to spread out, which is important when you have 70 people. It was also right along the river. As soon as I was done hauling gear around, I went for a dip. Cold but refreshing. The evening had the usual camp craziness. Three different fires and a bunch of goofing off.

The next day I was the last one up. Everyone else had already packed up. For a second I almost wondered if I had dreamed the whole thing. But Mike, Kara, Ross, and Sweeny were waiting for me. We rode back into town and got a bit of food. After bunch the group headed south along Hood Canal. Kara, Ross, and Sweeny went off to spend one more night at a cabin in that area. Mike and I headed for Seattle. I split off from him at Belfair to bust to Southworth. That road was longer and steeper than I expected. In total I did 88 miles on the day. Still it was a lot of fun. Great weekend all.