RACE REPORT: Jake's Graffiti Cat!

a few months ago after an alleycat there was a little discussion with DCBMA-DC Bike Messenger Association and current Alleycat Champion DannyK about available dates for future DC Alleycats

dates were being snatched up...

Dead City Alleycat...
Triple Crown Alleycat...

these were all the primary dates that were being worked around
there were all sorts of dates already taken 

many in preparation of the the Messenger Worlds or maybe the Messenger Nationals...

I reached for dates...
thought... maybe late August around my birthday... but no Brian Clark aka Biggs throws a race for his birthday
then I went for third weekend in July... Jake S snagged that date
Bruce grabbed some later date around elections...

I left empty handed

the third week in July came and went with no Alleycat on that date
Jake Flaked? I had talked before the date... he seemed to be thinking about hosting a race that date

but that did not happen
so... when this past weekend approached... people had their doubts about the event actually happening
including myself

apparently Jake had posted about the Alleycat happening... then posted about it not happening... then posted about it happening

finally I saw Jake in person at a Color of Cycling Social Ride... Jake said he was in fact hosting a race on Sunday
I had fear that the Hate Protest (Unite the Right)  would be an issue and was tempted to avoid the downtown area as a whole

but as the weekend unfolded I felt that an Alleycat would be a good way to spend my Sunday afternoon\evening...
RACE REPORT: Jake's Graffiti Cat
Sunday arrived... Jake had posted one line in Facebook event for the race, "alleycat 2PM Malcolm X Park Upper" or something to that effect

knowing jake... knowing Alleycats... I knew that 2 meant 3 or maybe 3:30... so I planned and approached accordingly

left the house after 2... arriving at Malcolm X Park a little before 3
not wanting to sit around too long... not wanting to miss the start
when I arrived I was excited to see that Jake had a number of Canvases and a dozen or so cans of spray paint... so... thought and prep had taken place
to counter my excitement there was a bit of a let down by the number of bikes\bikers...
not sure of the total count... I do not think that there were a dozen people present

I know the feeling... having hosted an Alleycat previously this year
I experienced that same let down that Jake was feeling

all sorts of prep and planning
people had said they were going to work check points... people said that they were going to race
those people were not in attendance

where were the people?

there are conflicts

there are always conflicts

it is not clear what kept people from attending...
fear of Jake Flaking?

the desire to "punch nazis" at the protest?
another race in another town?
re-runs of Judge Judy on the WB?

either way... no matter the number... there was going to be a race
Jake wanted to give people more time to show up

I was confident that we had the racers who were going to race
some people talked of a "parade ride" rather than a race
I wanted to race...

I wanted someone to say "GO!" and have us take on the challenge

in my Type A Slacker sort of way I tried to work the machine... tried to get Calvin to leave off with his cargo bike filled with canvases so that we could start the race
eventually... I agreed to to the tag option over the canvas option to get the race started

as it turns out we really only had 5 or so racers...

Richie Collins...
Suave Fernandez... who would be racing as Denis' guid

David De La O
and myself...

only having five people racing had me confident that I would be in the top five

my intense personality tried to muscle Jake's mellow personality into getting things started
I had wanted Jake to get Calvin to leave off... but Calvin was moving at Calvin's pace...
so much of the day had already slipped away... I did not want to spend any more of it sitting in the park getting eaten by mosquitoes 

so... after some pushing Calvin was off...
we tried to estimate his droppiing off the first three drops before starting the race

finally Jake pulled out a stack of post it notes that he had the manifest scribbled on...

MBT: Metro Branch Trail.... vague at best...
with the threat of rain there was mention of MTB under the bridge near Gearing Up Cycles...
still a little vague... why do messengers do this?
are packages ever at vague locations?

or are the messengers give exact addresses with exact room numbers?

Garfield Park: Skate Spot under the Bridge...

Skate Park at 11th and Rhode Island

Tunnel under Canal Road North of Georgetown

Graffiti Spot under P Street at 23rd and P St by the P Street Beach...

then finish at Malcolm X Park... same spot we started
with the Manifest in hand we waited for the release...

people had to pee...
people had to fuel up...
why did they not already pee?
why did they not already fill that water bottle?
why did they not already eat that banana?
I was anxious... I had arrived anxious...
it was about to rain... and I wanted to race!

as people finished their final prep I discussed plans with David De La O about his race plans... invited him to race with me... offering up the plan to run the manifest in reverse
rather than waiting for Calvin to drop the canvases... we could hit the first few spots and tag and selfie...
David was good with the plan... pre-race allegiances were created

while David and I created allegiances Suave joke that they were going to chase me...
by this time we had heard thunder in the distance and the overcast clouds started to drop rain lightly upon us
this was an added variable that I was not excited about

so... with a shrug of his shoulders and a "hey whatever tone" Jake said go...
we were off and racing

the first stop would be the foot path towards P Street Beach at P and 23rd

Geared Up and Ready to go... on the bike...
pedaling towards the quickest exit from the park
across the park then down a set of stairs letting us out onto 16th Street
tired to keep my footing as I ran down the stairs with my bicycle over my shoulder in classic cyclocross style
oh man... lots of stairs
there were more stairs than I had expected... but it still seemed like the quickest exit from the park to get us to our destination
onto the road headed down the hill I could see that David was following close behind
we took the quick and easy route to our destination

Down 16th Street... right on Florida Avenue... staying of fast flowing Florida... over 18th Street.. past Conn Ave...
past Mass Ave... then onto the sidewalk... off the bike... and down the stairs at 23rd and P Street

at the location David and I took to the task of tagging this known graffiti spot...
we left our marks... took our selfies... and grabbed our bikes...
before we could get out of the coverage of the bridge Suave and Dennis were arriving
we marched up the stairs we had just marched down while Suave and Dennis marked their territory

once up the hill we were back on the bikes... P Street to Georgetown...

choices were being made... "stay on P and have to pedal up hill or drop down to M Street and deal with traffic"
M Street was the obvious decision... who wants to pedal up hill?

left and then right...
cars all around...
as I am making a right near the tennis courts at Rose Park I hear a sound of what was most certainly the slap of a cyclist hitting the pavement 

a slap and a slide...
behind me David had taken the turn too fast with the wet surface beneath him
he hit the pavement... no injury... no damage to the bike
I waited as David got back on the bike and started pedaling again

onto M Street we worked our way through the wall of traffic through Georgetown then onto the side walk on Canal Road as we pass the entrance to Georgetown U Campus
then finally down the spiraling sidewalk to the tunnel under Canal Road...

we left our tags and took selfies...
exited the tunnel towards the Capital Crescent Trail...
just as we exited the tunnel... Suave and Dennis entered
this was exciting
the race was small... but the race was close

the next stop was Garfield Park...
tough call...
Independence to Penn Ave then over to 3rd Street would be the most direct route

but the traffic... and the close proximity of the protest had me thinking another route

we stayed by the river

exited Georgetown on K Street under Whitehurst Freeway and took to the Bike Path by the Kennedy Center...
then rather than fighting traffic we took the less direct route of Hains Point to Francis Case Memorial Bridge
from their it was Maine Avenue to M Street all the way to 3rd Street

funny enough...
we were on course...
when at 3rd Street I went right on Virginia Avenue for 5 or so blocks before realizing that we had turned the wrong way

slapped palm to helmet covered forehead then looped back to the spot that we just passed


We looped back... at least it was downhill going back in the correct direction

again... we left tags and took selfies...

David also took a pee break and socialized for a bit
there was a photo shoot at the Bridge Spot... David knew one of the models

Come on David... THIS IS A RACE!

back on the bikes... 3rd Street to the Metro Branch Trail

oh man...
on the Metro Branch Trail... I was trying to scratch my head through my helmet
"where is this canvas going to be??
it was raining... we were under the bridge near Gearing Up Cycles
there was no canvas
"but the canvas would be under the bridge if it were raining... and it was definitely raining"
we each left a tag near a homeless camp... not tagging near the street art
got to respect the street art

then pedaled up the MBT where we saw Jake and Richie...
they pointed us to the canvas....
we tagged the canvas that was in a spot where we would have never looked had we not seen Jake and Richie

one more check point and then the finish... what to do?

David and I had a quick discussion...
did we want to break allegiances and start racing each other

or would we finish as a team
we agreed to finish as a team


what is the best route to get to the skate park at 11th and Rhode Island?

we jumped on R Street... took R to Florida

then Florida to Rhode Island
up to 11th and RI where there is a skate park

my insides started to smile
the finish was in sight
we were nearly done

as we approached the skate park I could see the canvas
the skaters were using the canvas as a shelter from the rain

we rolled into the skate park and made our tags on the canvas
then we hustled to the finish 

Easy Peazy...
R Street to 15th

on 15th Street at 15th and U we passed my buddy Steve and his wife Madeline

they had protest posters strapped to their backs
it amused me to see Steve... Steve had worked a check point at the alleycat that I hosted a few months back
Jake set up an alleycat with essentially 5 of his 6 spots were in my alleycat... but since he worked a check point at my alleycat... my checkpoints were not known to him... and well... we each chose these spots for the same reason... because they are epic spots in this concrete jungle

at the base of the hill on 15th I thought about the finish...
the agreement to finish together
then I thought about something else

how much I hate to climb

in the road rather than the bike path David and I started up the hill fast
cruising fast through a series of green lights
but we slowed quickly... gravity and the miles behind us slowed our bikes
we moved from the street to the bike path as we moved up the hill
I drifted back a pedal stroke as David pulled forward
as David muscled the last few steps of the climb

I stepped off my bike at a spot where the wall is low
the perfect shortcut to get to the finish faster

threw my bike over the stone wall
lifted my leg and felt it try to cramp as I climbed the low wall
over the wall... in between the bushes
up a few stairs... the most direct route to the finish

at the Finish... at the finish alone... no Jake... where is Jake?
David rolled in seconds after me

we were done... we finished first

relief... it was done
we finished

we finished first!

now... where were Dennis and Suave... how far behind would they be?

thirsty I offered up a "I Buy - You Fly" option to David
David took off on a Jack and the Beanstalk trip to the corner store
returning a long time later with refreshments... returning before Jake or anyone else returned to the finish

Calvin would appear before Suave and Dennis

turns out Suave and Dennis bailed at the Metro Branch Trail unable to find the hidden canvas... slackers...
they should have selfied as proof of their arriving at that point and moved on

finally Richie and Jake showed up
Jake for some reason decided to do the alleycat himself 

while also Richie and Jake decided to put some serious time into their tags
leaving David and myself wet and cold at the finish for longer than made sense
hearing that had me regretting not going straight home after the finish... I was wet cold and getting very hungry

we gathered
Suave and Dennis never showed
we exchanged tales of the day

the race was good... original idea... 
the cans of spray paint really "upped the fun factor"
the messenger race already has an "outlaw" feeling

adding tagging only took the outlaw feel to a higher level

sure the race could have used more people... more people would have been more fun...
but... that is who showed up... that is who raced... that is very much the way that these things play out

a good time was had by all
I think... I have not spoken to Suave or Dennis yet


ah... Trump

Some FISHEYE Shots from Chinatown in Washington DC

more FISHEYE... out front the White House!

POTSQUATCH Outside the White House

What is Potsquatch?
Who is Potsquatch?

Fun with the FISHEYE Lens: People with Bikes in Washington DC... Messengers and whomever passes in front of the camera

Race Report: 420 Themed Alleycat

ah... the race report
Paul Lagoy - DC Photog
yesterday's pleasure on yesterday's venue for social media - Blogger
nobody blogs any more
nobody reads blogs any more

this is the time of Tweets
in the era of the Tweeting President

yet I blog on
I do not blog not often... yet I still blog
maybe more for myself than for others
yet things are shared here for others just the same

here goes
lets see what comes up when I slam the keys of the keyboard


excuse me...
RACE REPORT: FSmoke Week 420 Themed Alleycat

ah life... life and its responsibilities... life and its opportunities

as the weekend approached I weighed my options
having just finished my week with the kids
I was free to do as I chose on the approaching weekend... some sort of biking would fill my dayligh hours... but what?
mountain biking is always a great lure, but all this rain?
the Alleycat is often another attractive option... ALLEYCAT! HELL CAT YEAH!

there is a window of opportunity
how will I approach it

earlier in the week I felt a hop in the rear wheel of my Trek 2.3 road bike... the contact to the brake that was felt was not so much just the wheel being out of true... but the seam on the rim was contacting the brake pad on each rotation

this wheel is cooked... braking surface is well worn... wheel in a fragile state... that rim is at risk of failing at any moment... DO NOT RIDE THAT WHEEL!

this wheel needs to be replaced...
not safe to commute on
definitely not safe to race on
needed to find another rear 10 speed wheel or an alternate bike option

dang... really need to fix some shit

lots of bikes
all of them broken
nothing to ride

down in the basement I took a quick glance at my two cyclocross bikes

the Jamis Nova has a known bottom bracket issue
not ride-able... needs a new bottom bracket
but what about the Specialized Tri Cross with the flat bars?

I stole a few parts off the Jamis Nova
turned a few wrenches... an allen wrench twist here and there... worked out some stiff links on the chain... maybe I should have just replaced the chain
and BAM!
I had a working bicycle

Wednesday through the rest of the week I rode the Specialized Tri Cross to and from work

Paul is over the Fisheye Lens 
the bike felt good
each day I scratched my head as to why this machine was sitting on the sidelines in an unride-able state
each day I rolled in and out of work on the Specialized Tri Cross with no issue

like most any fool I do not practice what I preach
even with the lessons I try to teach my sons

life would be so much easier if I approached each day prepared
but instead... I wake up and make things happen
solve problems as they come

it can be stressful... being more prepared would offer a calm that my life currently lacks

Saturday morning came...
a mellow Friday night allowed for plenty of sleep... there was time to prep bikes and gear... but that is not how I handled things... figuring the 1 PM start gave me all morning to get ready

I woke up slow in the am
woke up to the sound of rain


the evening prior I had ridden home in a storm
wind... hail... and an onslaught of rain... heavy violent sheets of rain...

Saturday morning was not as intense but just as wet
I made my morning coffee and slowly gathered my gear to race in this 420 themed Alleycat

the glance at the bike did not offer up what I was looking for...
the FSA Gossamer crank arm was loose again
that is problematic... the crank bolt needs to be replaced
I had pulled the crank bolt off the Jamis Nova with matching cranks... but did not swap parts
I tested the original parts on the Specialized... things had held up all week
but at a closer examination... that arm was loose again
so... I tightened things up... same old bolt and then crossed my fingers
it it lasted three days of riding... it should last one race

then I took a glance at the weather and took a measure of my day
the things I NEED to do
things that I SHOULD be doing
the notion of racing in the rain did not appeal to me
the hourly forecast called for rain... the doppler was a big green mass of rain

so... I sent a text message to race organizer Brian Clark aka Biggs

Brian was on the same page... Re-Schedule was his plan
Brian posted on Facebook and Instagram that the race would happen same time on Sunday


that freed me up to handle some adult responsibilities

Saturday was productive... the house got cleaned... well some of it... laundry was done... well some of it... and I scored some cool shit at the Estate Sales all to be topped off with a cherry on top... date night

then came Sunday morning... still not race ready
again I woke up slow out of the gate... again
coffee pulled me through the morning haze

repeating the routine of the day prior I glanced at the bike...
selected some gear for a rain-free race on Sunday
left out of the door in Manor Park with the plan to arrive at P Street Beach by 1:15

when I arrived at the P Street Beach I was a little bummed about how few people were in attendance... a handful at best

it was a good collection of DC' Finest
while also missing a few of the heavy hitters

Where was Bruce?
Hmmm... I feared that Bruce may have showed up the day prior in the rain... being that Bruce is not computer savoy he would have missed the rain data announcements on Facebook and Instagram

then Where was Coach aka Cargo Mike aka Mike Pearce?
oh yes...  father hood... the new father had other responsibilities and usually only comes out of retirement for the larger events and the same would go for AZ as well... AZ is the master of the Alleycat... but tends only to attend the more major events

as time passed people started rolling in...

the usual suspects of the day were in attendance
some of the Chocolate City Cycling regulars
Brian would not be racing... but John Shack and Cassidy would fill in for him
then DannyK  would be representing DannyK and Associates

those six legs alone would offer up some strong competition
throw in Salim Riley and a few others and we have a real race with some serious competition!

in messenger terms the race was pretty much close to starting on time

no worries
people were content catching up and tossing the frisbee and the race organizers ironed out the kinks then there was also another issue.. my crank arm was loose again


I now know why this bike is on the sidelines
there was definitely a reason why this bike was not sitting in the quiver ready to be pulled out and sent into flight
so... I tightened things up and crossed my fingers
thinking... I would race it until the arm fell off and then go home

at roughly 15 minutes after the hour Brian Clark gave a pre-race meeting
in a very pro way he mentioned and thanked all of the sponsors

Brian may have even gave some advice about safety
when asked about needing a lock he told the inquisitive racer that he was not going to tell them how to live their life
all funny stuff

the racers staged and then were given a manifest

in each manifest there was some tobacco and a rolling paper
each racer had to roll a joint and hand it off to Brian to start the race
to be honest... this was my first attempt at rolling a joint... it may not have been as

cylindrical as some of the others product... but I passed it off and started rolling

the race format was a series of ROUND TRIPS
each racer would roll the dice... the number on the dice was associated with one of six Check Points

each racer would do all the check points... so order did not matter
each racer would race the same distance... only in a different order
this would effect some racer's strategy... less ripping off another racer's line this way

at "base" Brian would be giving racers a challenge before they left
10 Push Ups

Either Slam a beer or run up and down the stairs
1 minute of Hacky Sack

and then a few other similar such tasks

the luck of the dice had me leave off for the first Check Point with DannyK
Danny may be a little faster and a little more fit
but he seemed like he could be a good person to chase\team up with for the day
that said... it would prove unlikely that we would roll the same roll for the second check point... then the third and so on

so I let him leave the first check point alone as I pulled out my camera to get a shot of Salim
or maybe that was the second check point... 
it is all already a blur
it is already a very jumbled memory

either way the race had begun
we were in race mode
no allegiances to be made
every man or woman for themselves

the 420 theme was all over the place...
all in Northwest DC... but all over the place just the same

a Selfie at 420 7th Street
a signature from the man behind the counter at Capital Vap Supply at 10th and U
then a series of stickers at various locations... we had to find those stickers and write down the 420 related word inscribed on the USPS sticker
then another selfie at Capital Hempand then another selfie across the street from the 930

then pick up some junk food for the MUNCHIES at Five Below in Columbia Heights

Each being a round trip... each demanding heading back to the P Street Beach before hitting the next stop

the Five Below Round Trip was my last of six jobs on this manifest... when leaving out for this Columbia Heights destination I was informed that there would be a second manifest... A SECOND MANIFEST!  ah Brian... you are trickier than I anticipated

at Five Below I lost time to a long line and slow service... others had grabbed stuff for a buck and thrown the money at the woman at the register...
but not quite
I was not so lucky... more time lost
I feared that not having a Five Below bag or receipt would leave me without proof of that destination

I returned and passed off my junk food for the munchies... trading for the second manifest

the second manifest had another six or so stops... but not round trips
and not in any order
Brian recommended the 21st and H destination as my first stop
I listened to his recommendation, but ended up going to 1200 New Hampshire first

I felt like I was somewhat competitive
assuming that the things holding me up were holding everyone else up

I was hustling... not FIXED GEAR AND FURIOUS but moving like a diesel... steady and strong

at 21st and H there was confusion... not just my confusion in looking for the USPS sticker

but some other commotion
there was a protest going on... and some action on top of that
a woman with her dog was calling my name... she looked vaguely familiar... but I was not sure if I recognized her

Oh Tina! I remember her... ya younger her... Tina gave me a fat lip when she punched me a Cagney's 20 some years ago... I remember that Tina
then Lacy... Lacy McCauley...  what is going on here?
what is all the commotion?

as I looked for the USPS sticker Tina was talking about how my friend had been arrested
arrested? who? my friend? who are you again?

"the kid with the neck tattoos!"
oh... SYD!

thanks tina.. yes... that is my friend...
so I walked over to the police cruiser only to find Syd in the back seat with handcuffs on.. apparently there was some altercation with a Nazi
the man claims Syd hit him... others say that Syd was trying to stop him from filming him and tried to knock his phone out of his hand
either way... a tough moment

I asked him if I should call anyone...
Syd was mellow and told me not to worry
so... I re-entered the race.. again slowed down... this time for good reason
this time I was slowed down in a way that did not effect the others

video of altercation from the perspective of a Nazi

more details about the arrest on YOUTUBE

back on the bike
back in the race

at the next check point I texted Brian about the Syd situation

here is where things get EXTRA F_ed Up!

two of the check point questions got mixed up...
the sticker was in the alley by Urban Stems... when it was listed as being by Sunrise Diner which is not visible from the street.. shades drawn
the yellow caution sign was not at Urban Stems Alley... but on the door to the unmarked

Sunrise Diner


Oh Man!
not cool... walked around like a fool for tool long looking for that shit

then up to Glen's market... and well... another WRONG ADDRESS!
WRONG ADDRESS? Can we bill the client? 

Glen's Market is 2001 S street... manifest sent us to 2001 R
right at the corner where Alice Swanson was run down by a garbage truck on her bicycle a few years back

after all the confusion I finished the second manifest
the heavy hitters were done
a few people had opted out of the second manifest ending their race after the first manifest
I was done... the race was done...
I was DFL... but not far behind the leaders

these shots by Paul Lagoy

the podium
then... everyone else
Great Race!

thanks Brian Clark for hosting
there were some glitches
but all in all a good time
yes - a good time shared by all

hopefully Syd sorts things out
hope it is nothing more than a fine and some community service

my Fisheye shot
Paul Lagoy's shot of the same moment

and of course
goto the Gwadzilla Facebook Page to see ALL THE PHOTOS

thanks Brian!
thanks to all the sponsors
I wish I had the list 
if I did... I would thank them here


We Appreciate You!

Strava Map of the Ride to the Event and then the Alleycat itself