Yesterday, Perez and I inadvertently jumped head first into a 5 hour “fitness marathon.”
The day began with us going to the boathouse for the Dad Vail Corporate Challenge practice. We road our bikes from Manayunk to boathouse row and meet up at #5. On the way there the sky decides to open up and downpour. No warning. Just total drenching rain. Two minutes later it was over. It was like one of those weird summer storms, except it’s spring, and sometimes it’s still pretending to be winter outside. Once we arrived, we got changed and headed out. The moment we put the boat on the water it starts to drizzle again. Next thing we know, there are huge bolts of lightening and the sky opens up again. Then we notice all the crews coming back in with coaches saying how much worse it is up river. Our coach decides to leave the boat on the water and have us stand in the boat bay for ten minutes to determine if it will “clear up.”
The entire time I am dreading her saying we are going to have another indoor practice. Those things are hell. A few minutes later it seems to be clearing up and we head out on the water. Perez was in stroke and I was in 7. Stern pair is perhaps my least favorite position in the boat. I hate being in front of everyone and responsible for setting the form for the entire starboard side. The practice went alright. I was only jabbed in the back once with an oar by someone who fell completely out of time. Better than the first weeks in a novice boat at Delaware. I think we stand a very good chance of beating the other crews.
After we bring the boat in and place it in the bay, Perez and I hurry to get changed and get out of there. We signed up to do the 8th Annual R.E. Load Alley Cat race. The event kicked off at 2pm and it was currently a little after 1. We still had to get down to 2nd and Spring Garden to register and pick up our rider numbers. We get to the back of the R.E. Load store at about 1:35 and find out that the start of the race is back at the Art Museum (where we just were!). Back on the bikes we booked it up to the Art Museum to meet the mass of about 200 people. This was a very diverse set of individuals. You had everything from the messengers with giant bags, tattoos and varied piercings to the crazy guy with a beard on a recumbent. As is typical in Philly you had everyone in cars who were driving around the Art Museum circle beeping and hollering odd things.
At about 2pm, someone who was in charge grabs a megaphone, tells everyone to leave their bikes on the grass and head over to the statue/fountain thing. It was going to be a running start. As she is making the announcements and reading the rules she politely reminds us of what happened in Chicago a few months ago. This resulted in a rule change. It would no longer be a race, but a “fun ride.” With points assigned not for coming in first, but for doing the best at each of the various challenges they had set up at each checkpoint. We were also reminded that this was a highly illegal event. So be careful. After saying that she said perhaps she shouldn’t say that so loud. Moments later we were given the list of checkpoints with the caution that this was an April Fool’s race and a good number of them would be fake. We also realized that most everyone else had brown paper bags and were drinking from them. That should be safe.
We hopped on the bike and headed for the closest checkpoint at Lemon Hill first. About halfway there Perez finds himself leading the pack and climbing up the hill. At this point he remembers that he is on his fixed-gear bike and can not shift. Next thing I know he is hopping off from the front and pulling a u-turn. I asked what was up and learned that he wasn’t going to make it up the hill. Oh well. So much for that checkpoint. I bet it was fake anyway. Next we headed over to 25th and Spruce, which I thought said 25th and Spring Garden. Whoops. After correcting that mistake we were told to write a haiku about our bikes. Mine was something along the lines of:
green frame, red bar tape | (i forget what was here) | don’t fail me now
It was lame, but it let me complete the checkpoint. From what I remember, Perez’s was funnier. At this point we started riding around the rittenhouse area and grabbed some food at Devil’s Alley. (Hey, it wasn’t a race anymore so who cares). After that we were riding down 21st near Cherry Street and the freaking road must have just recently experienced an earthquake. The road is completely broken and there is about a 10ft long, 1 inch deep pothole which I could not avoid quick enough. I go over and quickly realize that I have popped my rear tire. Not having a wrench on me, this was the end of the day. Frustrated I called a friend, left my bike in her garage and headed back to Manayunk.
All in all it was a very good day, and I managed to get some sun out of the whole deal. I realized that I was doing some form of exercise for the past five hours and I felt I deserved a whole lot of delicious food for that.