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