By Jeff Perkins
“Daryl! You were supposed to have started over a minute ago!”
Daryl gets his bike ready to roll, pauses, turns to me to let me know his thoughts. “Thanks Perkins! You fucked me!” Mr. Van Essen shares with a smirk before embarking on a 23 mile joy ride through a wind tunnel.
I guess I get a little chatty and lose any sense of time. Who knew? I invited Daryl on a warm-up ride, we got to chatting, one thing led to another and boom! He misses his start! If it wasn’t for his smirk, I would have seen it as a sign to panic. A few peeps on the crew went out for a warm-up ride thinking eternity was on our side but our start times were quickly approaching and a few cats were still out riding or hanging in the warehouse.
Andrew was missing. Stan was chilling out away from the start. At least I could see Adam was around and ready. I figured I was in line in time and all that had to be behind me. Lucky welcomed me to the starting line, counted down, talked smack for me to Jon Gatto, and then shouts out a “GO!”
The tailwind helped push me down Pershing to MLK as I made that small blip of the man in front of me, Mike Morell, get bigger and bigger as I slowly reeled him in. As I passed him I reached out to give him a pat on the back greeting and kept pushing on. It felt good to say hi to him and I did the same as I approached my next friend, Jen Greenberg. Eventually I made a theme of it, I liked seeing everyone come out and ride, it ain’t easy turning out early on a cold Sunday morning.
A long and smooth ride brought me to the first Checkpoint. I was nervous about having my manifest in my cell phone pocket of my pants but it was still there when I reached for it. First CP down, time to flip the whip and face the wind.
That’s when the fun stuff really began! There are many types of winds in Chicago. There’s the hideous whirlwinds; only in this city will I regularly see flags that are right across the street from each other blow in the exact opposite direction, today was no exception. There’s the tourette’s wind; that big gust when you turn a corner and it puts you at a stop causing you to shout profane things as everyone around you thinks you’re crazy. And then there’s that relentless wind; when the lady of the lake gets stubborn trying to convince you that hills aren’t necessary to make it suck to bike in Chicago.
I was convinced. It was in your face going straight North and West, and god forbid the long ride straight Northwest. Not many options away from just mashing at the pedals and deal with it better than everyone else.
I got caught at a light turning North onto Stony Island, a halfway point from the first CP to the second CP. I got the dead legs moving again as soon as I had the opportunity to cross only to be greeted by more merciless wind. Whatever.
Everyone is suffering just as much, it’s time to get into it. Right when I was about to feel sorry for myself this burst of insanity blows past me like I’m standing still. I hear a loud “YEAAH DOOOD!” and see a flannel jersey on the shoulders of Adam Clark as he dogs me on his tick-tick-ticking road bike. I get spirits broken a bit to be passed but buck up knowing it’s Adam. It felt good watching him cruise by on a bike that is a mechanical wonder of sorts.
It made me start smiling seeing him get back into his crazed attack mode. Then I panic a bit because I start to worry that Adam might fall victim to his usual handicap: direction. I keep him in my sights through the next checkpoint and feel two reassurances. 1) Adam should be fine from there to the finish and 2) my manifest was still fine in my cell phone pocket.
After the second CP, yours truly gets the brilliant logic to take the manifest out of my cell pocket and put it into my jersey pocket. I won’t need to access it anymore so I’ll put it somewhere it will DEFINITELY stay safe, right?
I weave my way back towards the finish. Vomiting came to mind over the last stretch into the wind over the bumpy patch of westbound Pershing, but it probably wouldn’t be fun to throw up last night’s beverages, and besides, who wants to ride through that? I get to the finish where everyone shouts “CROSS THIS LINE!!!” to be technically done. As I cross, Lucky shouts “1:40.58!” I started 37.30 into his stopwatch so I reach to pull my manifest out to write down my time and start to subtract.
It must have been a wonderful experience to have been able to reach into your pocket and grab your manifest. I guess I’ll never know because when I reached in to my super secure pocket to grab my manifest, it definitely wasn’t there. Yup. Seems like it must have felt pretty nice.
Panic hit me as I start to realize I could be disqualified for all of my troubles. People around me assure it won’t be too big of a problem, “Just write down your times and give them that info.” “Checkpoint workers can vouch for you.” “It’s only a time trial.”
All true. It is a time trial structure, the wonderful volunteers could vouch for me, I should write down my info. Most alleycats are completely reliant on the manifest. I’ve seen people lose bike frames due to the technical side of this issue. It’s always one of those “Sucks to be them” situations that you are glad would never happen to you. Only this time, it happened to me.
That crappy feeling of possibly wasting my time really wasn’t sitting well. I was antsy to find out the final judgment call. When they tallied the times and results, all 80 of them, they discovered a few other people had the missing manifest issue.
Mike sat back and posed the question to Lucky, “Should there be a time penalty for a lost manifest? What would it be?”
“How many were there?” inquired Lucky.
“Three or four. I was thinking a penalty of two minutes.” Mike said.
I jump in excited to say, “My time was sixty-…”
“OP!! OP!! OP!! I don’t want to know your time!” Mike says over me in his anxious way.
“Yeah sure, two minutes sounds all right,” was Lucky’s decision.
Mixed feelings. I lost a few key positions with the penalty but I also didn’t get DQed so I had SOMETHING to show for the days labor. It was a good day to see 5 of our guys come top ten. Adam got 2nd to what must have been an absolutely possessed Nico West. Molly got third female, right in between the talents of Anzie Nelson and Jen Greenberg, Julie Asherman won. Everyone else on the crew did the 23 miles with horrible wind in under 70 minutes. Everyone except Daryl I guess, and technically he would have a better official result if it wasn’t for me…
“Thanks Perkins! You fucked me!” Ha. Yeah man. That makes two of us…