The windows were all up, but there was the distinct sound of wind rushing into the van, and the temperature had dropped suddenly.
"Please no," I thought, casting a sidelong glance toward the back. "Please tell me that......"
At which point it happened..... the rear passenger door slid wide open.
On the freeway.
In the rain.
I didn't even bother to register the looks of surprise and bafflement on the faces of my fellow traffic jammed travelers, too preoccupied as I was with the declaration of displeasure that manifested itself only as "FUUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCKKKKKKKK YYOOOOOOUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!" yelled at the top of my lungs.
Tapping the brakes, I was able to slide the door forward, but not enough to lock it closed. And as I slowly and blindly made my way through rain and traffic toward the exit, it worked itself back open. I pulled off onto the ramp, and as I accelerated across the busy intersection toward a parking lot, the door flung itself wide open with abandon, and locked into position.
This time I did make eye contact with a driver and lip read an unmistakeable "what the fuck?"
What the fuck indeed?
It's been a problem. Something up with the locking mechanism on the door. If it's not shut exactly right, it just.... magically opens.
That was probably the most extreme case, save for the time I had Mango the Superfreak in the back seat.
|I'm a little freak. Call my peeps.|
Needless to say, shocked and awed by my godlike powers to open doors with my mind, he shut up. For like.... 30 seconds.
Depending on which map-app you use, Philly is either seven or eight hours away. Pissing rain and bad traffic got me there in just under eleven.
I had time to pull up at the punk house I was staying at, bring my bikes in, and jog down the street to Keswick Cycles for the opening party and art show.
|Dave Pryor, the man with the plan.|
|Randy Shoogs Larrison of the Cadre bastardos.|
|Mike Cushionberry of DirtRag.|
|Joey seemed ok... but then he lifted his shirt, and as it turns out... he's not.|
You can tell cuz of the massive outie.
|Selene and her Ke$hirt.|
|Ricky and Ted of The Industry Nine.|
|Kelsey and Nate of Hodala.|
|Ryan and his Wu-Tang Can.|
|Or as Mike insisted on calling them throughout the weekend... "Ho-Doola.".|
Fact checking, dude. Fact checking.
"Word is you have the Grail."
I steeled myself for some roughhousing.
The Grail is the cup that is supposedly passed from winning city to winning city, but that is more likely stolen outright by whoever has the biggest balls. Last year, North Carolina showed up with its balls swinging low. In a dramatic scene, the Grail was taken forcibly and with an angry mob in pursuit, hustled into a waiting van, disappearing to the Cackalacky mountains.
I admit to knowing little about it's history or the nuances of such a move, but from the tell of it, there were some involved who were threatening bodily harm. Whether in jest or in earnest, I know not.
I admitted to total ignorance of it's whereabouts save for whispered rumors that it was, indeed, in NC at some point.
A history lesson on the Grail proved unenlightning, as my level of drunkety was escalating quickly.
Not soon after, the cup in mention was escorted in by Dave Pryor.
At which point there was a bit of a tussle for possession.
Regardless of grudges that meant something somewhere but were beyond my level of comprehension or attention, things cooled down pretty quickly and we got back to the party.
| Hey Vicki, Remember our make-believe wedding?|
So many amazing memories that I'll never forget making up.
|Before even saying hello, Bruce Dickman was shoving a thermos full of moonshine at me and everyone.|
Which we drank.
|Randy and Joey.|
|As you can see, we were all helping each other out.|
|Because after all.....It's the city of brotherly love.|
|What?! It's only the first night, Tiny-Viking?|
How's your liver going to survive tomorrow, much less Sunday?!
The next morning I made coffee, gathered my belongings and rode my bike out to Bicycle Revolutions for the Feats of Strength Qualifiers.
While I'm extremely bummed to have missed Bilenky Junkyard Cross, and this I'm happy that I opted for the Tour of Philly. We had a great crew and tons of fun as Charlie and Mark led us around the city for some urban cross action, punctuated with ridiculousness.
Among the feats of strength:
A shouldered-bike race up the iconic Rocky Stairs.
A shortcourse cx crit under a bridge.
A hotlap around an abandoned resevoir (wherein someone rode off a cliff and avoided grievous injury only by clinging to a tree)
A run up a hundred slickasshit stairs.
A stop at a bar.
|Getting ready to roll out.|
|Where on earth are we going?|
|Anchovie wrapped capers and Belgian chocolate.|
And Trackstand Karaoke to Queen's "We are the Champions." (I totally won the trackstand, and as far as I could tell, the singing, though when the scoring was broken down, I admit to not understanding any of it.")
Here's Craig Etheridge refusing to fucking lose, coupled with Brian Meyer's boyish soprano.
What had been touted as a 3-4 hour ride ended up being 7, and I was woefully deficient on calories, so the Hodala crew and myself made our way to the Perch for some beer and food.
After which I rode back to Sarah's, cleaned up, and passed out on the bed, watching Ghostbusters with her and Homer.
|Sarah, seen here holding a naked picture of herself and some dinosaurs.|
|Homer. Who's my pretty, pretty boy?|
...Until it was time to party... this time at Lucy's Hat Shop... where there was a shitshow of a dance-party going on.
Yes.... I might have been a part of that.
I can't even say how much I loved the disconnect of a bunch of bike punks getting down (with reckless abandon) to some top-40 garbage. It would only happen in this kind of setting. I knew none of the songs, but I had fun dropping it like it was hot.... or something.
|Wow.... great pictures, Watts.|
I tried to sleep in as much as possible the next day, adjusting as much as possible to the schedule of the nightowls I was staying with. Nonetheless, I was awake by 7 and gathering up my scattered things set off for a day of "racing."
Standing in line that morning to get my race number, I saw the first few flakes start to fall.
When the "everyone's a winner" field went off(, having not qualified for the main event (lucky bastards)) it started coming down pretty hard.
By the time I'd pulled on my gear and race time was approaching, it was coming down pretty hard.
|Sally just kept repeating, "what the fuck.... what the fuck."|
|The humans are dead.|
I can't even begin to say how great a race this was.
The course was super fun. Some great sections of singletrack, wide open straightaways, an optional "toilet bowl." There were two pretty brutal climbs: one up the grass hill to the start/finish and one up "parachute hill."
Parachute hill became a veritable gauntlet of human obstacles, beer, booze, yoga balls, more booze and bacon.
I had no idea it was possible to get that drunk in that short a period of time.
Check out Chris King's Dylan Van Wheelden's gallery on Prolly's site and Adam Newman's gallery on Dirtrag.(Whew.... That's a lot of possessives.)
Meanwhile, the snow just kept on coming and the dusting turned into a solid few inches of cover.
Dismounting for any reason meant a long process of knocking the frozen earth out of your cleats so that you could clip back in. Just in time to dismount again.
As it happens, by the fourth lap I couldn't have clipped in if I wanted to, inebriated as I was.
|photo cred: Rob Lochner|
Finishing the race and being handed part of a super-secret mega-stash of Heady Topper, I proceeded to fall down in the parking lot, not once, but three times, as I tried to make my way to parachute hill to heckle the ladies.
("Watts! That's the worst beer angel I've ever seen!" Sally yelled from nearby.)
If the conditions for my race were intense, then the ladies' were insane.
Vicki Barclay took a decisive lead over the rest of the field, and after considering sitting up, went for it.
Her victory was not without controversy, however.
See.. love Vicki as I do... she raced on a geared bike. The shifters were zip-tied so that she was unable to shift, so technically she raced one gear.
But here's the problem.... riding in one gear isn't the same as riding a singlespeed. It's not a committed, one gear bike. Riding the course, you can decide what gear makes the most sense and lock it in, completely forgoing the fun and frustration of guesswork and running too stout or easy a gear.
So... does it matter?
Yes and no.
Yes!.... because this isn't some local singlespeed race where on a lark you can give it a whirl... this is the WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS!
And NO!.... because in the end we're just mites scuttling over a rock as it hurtles through space.
(I just blew your mind... admit it.)
And as this race is more about fun than just about anything else on this orbiting hunk of rock, I'm not going to sweat it, and neither should anyone.
That said... next year you gotta ride a real SS, Vicki. (Love you, ya bonnie lass.)
After recovering feeling in our extremities, we all descended on Moshulu for the final party, wherein it would be decided which city would take SSCXWC for next year.
|I'm on a boat.|
|Ugh, man. Just.... Ugh.|
After drinking the last Pabst I want to see for a while, Dave, Selene, Randy and myself made our way to Khyber Pass Pub. Soon the memo was received, and everyone joined us there for some of the best food, beer and company I'd had all weekend. An amazing end to a weekend long party.
|Dave getting his well due props for putting on a hell of an event.|
I'm stoked to say that Louisville took it, so I won't have to haul my ass across the country. Because I'm going.
See you bastards and bastardettes out there.