Race Report: Bruce's Hard Knockers Alleycat

ah... here it is Thursday... 
the Alleycat was last Saturday...
hard to recall any details

yet I will try to dredge something up just the same
the images will help... maybe

maybe the John Dinn Spoke Card and John Dinn's Manifest will bring some memories to surface
maybe not
I will just start typing and see what comes out

RACE REPORT: Bruce's Hard Knocker's Alleycat
ah... Alleycats... I am really a rookie to this whole Alleycat thing
I do not know enough about Alleycats or their promoters to try to surmise the various identities or each race in relation to their designers
but I would say... Bruce likes to have a high number of check points in his Alleycats
for Bruce's 60th Birthday Bruce threw a 60 Checkpoint event... this alleycat had 64 Check Points with the desire for all racers to be done in roughly 2 hours

in a messenger's day... I bet 40 runs is well beyond what the average messenger handles in this modern age
heck... having to lock your bike three blocks away... then enter through the back door... sign in... then only have access to the freight elevator
that certainly decreases ride time

alleycats tend to have very little locking of the bike and very few elevator rides

as the weekend approached I took a look at my life and its responsibilities
my boys would be with their mother's this weekend wrapping around into the week which allowed me to do as I chose with my weekend

the first thing I did when I got home from work of Friday was cut the lawn
the grass was getting so tall that I feared that I would have to harvest it rather than cut it if I allowed it to get any taller

there was a moment's thought to race my mountain bike at Schaeffer Farms but the Alleycat stole my focus

in recent days I have been commuting on my Jamis Nova Cyclocross Bike... the small frame, small front ring, and fat tires are fine for commuting but maybe not the best choice for the desired speed of an Alleycat

so I figured I would ride my trusty Trek 2.3 

when I woke on Saturday morning I swapped out my tires while my coffee brewed

slapped on some used 28mm Gatorskins that I bought at the Westminster Bike Swap this winter past
then I putzed around the house
making breakfast... lunch... and then a snack

with the tires swapped I threw some lube on the chain
the brake pads were worn... but I usually wait for metal on metal before changing them out
sure the front derailleur is not working... but I am fine with being locked into the big ring

in short... I aired up the tires with fresh tubes... lubed the chain... spun the tires and tapped the brakes

the rear wheel ended up needing to go into the trueing stand
then the rear wheel did not hold air after the tire swap
so I threw a new tube in the rear and was ready to roll

fueled up... packed my backpack with a change of clothes...

charged my camera battery to snap some pre-race\post-race shots
then left out the door timing such to get to Dupont Circle a few minutes before 4:30

I arrived at Dupont a little confused
the usual suspects were in the usual spots
was the Alleycat starting at 4:30 or was registration\meet up at 4:30
as it turns out... 4:30 meet up and 5:30 release

ah... there was more time
time to shoot the shit
time to bullshit

I tried to take a few photos as we all waited for Bruce to arrive and for the race to start

it was a small gathering in the park on this day
the Red Hook Crit in NYC had lured a number of the fixed gear folk
some to watch... a few to race

news later that week showed that therer was serious chaos at this years Red Hook Crit
there was a stalled out moto on the course
this caused a serious pile up
really messed up
this event has a history of crashes
this crash could have been easily avoided... hate having the road culture have ammunition to discredit this element of cycling 

Bruce arrived at the race start in Dupont and we gathered for a pre-race meeting
the theme was HARD KNOCKERS... a play upon DOOR KNOCKERS
the image on the spoke card was a clever nod to the mural in Adams Morgan at Madam's Organ as designed by Andrea Kondracke a woman I went to high school with a woman whose father was on the Mclauglin Group

we would be racing around the city inspecting strangers' knockers
what could go wrong?

the numbers were low...  I felt good about cracking the top ten
a glance at the racers had me thinking who I could chase

Fhar was a good option... he is fast and knows the city better than any of the racers on this day

then Brian Clark would be an option... if he would slow his pedal stroke a bit so I could keep up
who else would be a top contender... who is looking for a top spot that I can hide in the shadow of?

interestingly enough... I had not considered Bang... even though he finished right behind Bruce and myself in the last alleycat I participated in...  spoiler alert... early in the race Bang and I would form an allegiance 

there was more waiting... no more racers showed up

there may have been as many check point volunteers as there were racers
oh well...


Bruce made things easy for us... the addresses on the manifest were in order
logical order
we were instructed to run things in order
no one was to run this in reverse
only a fool would try to organize this better than Bruce had already laid it out
as Bruce is a seasoned pro!

with the answer to the first Check Point given to us at the release we all mashed the pedals in an effort to get to Check Point #2
the first few check points were crowded
people approached from different angles and arriving nearly at the same time

I was chasing Fhar and Brian Clark
thinking if I wanted to be competitive I would have to hang with them
with Bang in my shadow it made more sense to work together than to fight

Complete image set on the Gwadzilla Facebook Page

it was frantic
it was fantastic
it was at times... a tad confusing
tough to balance the high heart rate experience of sprinting in traffic along with orienteering

but that is Alleycat Racing
and well
this is my home town
I went to a party or knew someone who lived on just about every block that each Check Point was on
too bad for Bang got to hear this play by play as we pedaled

as we cruised through Georgetown I avoided the cobblestone and took to the sidewalk
a man's hose had me dismount and cyclocross hop over the barriers
as I passed I made mention that the film Chasing Legends was filmed in that backyard
and that my younger son Grant played a young Mark Cavendish in the dream sequence that opens the film 

Chasing Legends on the Gwadzilla Page

some of the addresses threw me off

I knew where the street was... but on a few occasions I over shot the approach
headed to an address on California Street we had to dismount and run up the Spanish Steps
this brought us past a point where I had camped outside of Felix Bloch's (Felix Block?) house as a motorcycle messenger for CBS News 

Gwadzilla Mention of CBS

we raced around the city
migrating to more personal residences than offices
seeking out doors with door knockers
at each address we would identify the type of knocker and fill out the blank on the manifest

is that a cat? what is that? star? starfish? whale tail?
those are spurs... there are no spurs on the list... oh HORSESHOES!
GOLDFISH? that is not a GOLDFISH!
in a rush I would scribble notes on my manifest with the thought I would clean things up at the finish

the 2 hour time limit was coming to a close
I had visited roughly 60 of the 64 addresses
on Capital Hill foolishly making small talk with a cycling friend I reunited with Bang
we had worked together for the first 50 check points
but broke allegiances since there were some issues... WE HAD DIFFERENT MANIFESTS!

we hustled from SE to Bardo for Beers at the finishline in NE

the North Carolina address had cost me some time since I misread the N. Car as North Capitol

there is also no North Carolina in SE 

that address is in NE

either way... I had to hustle to the finish

did not want to lose points for showing up after the cut off

at the finish I found Fhar and a few others
Fhar was well rested a a good bit into his beer... maybe his second beer
it stands to figure that a messenger would win the messenger race

Bruce got to work grading papers
fewer racers made it easy for him
fewer check points would have made things easier for everyone involved
I know I got downgraded for not filling in a few of my Check Point answer
as I did not review my notes and fill in the answers that I had left blank

when all the tallying was done
Fhar finished first
Bang edged me out for second
I (Joel) landed in third
and other filed in behind us

John Dinn played it old school and completed his manifest
had he arrived a few minutes later
he would have been the only racer in the room
I will let John Dinn and Matt Newman fight over the 5th Place Finish

Good Times... Good Times for sure!
Good People!
Good Race!
Time Well Spent!



my Thrid Place Trophy
not everyone gets a trophy

and then this guy
no that is not Matt Newman

I try to be sympathetic
but I have a hard time when people make public space private

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