Clumsy Girl Found Adventure. Also, bruises.

MMI and Kenosha Spring Training Race #3


by Molly

Photos were either stolen or taken without asking. Thanks Ronsta36

Friday was going to be a long and arduous event. The board was particularly busy while other companies seemed to be slow. It was a welcome change from the in-house position I had to fill Thursday, which left me sitting around reading most of the day. Eighty miles or so later I finished the work day adrenaline rushed and excited about the road trip I was asked to partake in earlier that morning. We were taking the team van on her first long trip to Wisconsin. No windows, no heat, no working sliding door, eight miles to the gallon, masking tape and bungee chords holding the front panels together; the van has, well, character.

Departure time was set Saturday morning at 8:00am from Adam’s place. The roster included Jeff (driving the van), Andrew, Bradley and me. Knowing that 8am was a bit optimistic, I arrived at Adam’s around 8:30am. This was fine, I don’t believe we had everything packed until 9:45 or 10 anyway. The first race on Saturday, the Milwaukee Messenger Invitational (MMI), was going to be around 1:00pm so we had plenty of time to get there and meet up with the rest of the guys who arrived the previous night for the kick-off party.

All of us piled into the van

The MMI is a long-time running alleycat located annually in Milwaukee. We make it to Milwaukee unscathed, blasting the tape of James Brown from our sweet blown-out speaker system located on the floor. Everyone who stayed at Mike and Megan’s house the night before was either hung-over or still kinda drunk. They all came out of the house to greet us and were ready to leave for registration within 20 minutes. They are all impressed with the novelty of the van, myself included. The only thing missing is a couch or an airbrushed mural on the outside. Don’t doubt that such things are in the works.

We rode down to Breakaway Courier for registration and in the process dropped Bradley on a wicked descent/right turn. I would of missed the turn too had I been riding a brakeless fixed gear like he was. After some tracking, we end our trip by going through an icy alley where I fall and end up bruising my knee/ego and throwing my chain.

Walking inside, I see the usual looking suspects. Smoking messengers, track bikes (one with a fake ball sac hanging from the saddle), Brooks saddles, Candy Colored Deep V’s as far as the eye can see (OK, not that far). I also find there is a Kegerator - for those unfamiliar with this contraption, it’s beautiful in its simplicity. Keg + Refrigerator = Kegerator. Ah, more novelty.

The MMI hardware...

My love of racing alleycats has been tainted a bit in the last months – not to say I’ll never race one again, but I didn’t want to ride hard in a city I didn’t know with the Kenosha Criterium the next morning at 9:00am. I was glad to find out two of my teammates felt the same way. It was kind of funny; we were the only three wearing road shoes and rockin’ SPD-SL – who wants to be that guy in an alleycat with road shoes anyway? Instead we high tailed it to a local bike shop, Ben’s Cycles. Jeff had to replace his pedals as his Miche pedals were giving him troubles and shin bruises. It’s always interesting to check out and compare bike shops in other cities. What cyclist doesn’t love the smell of fresh rubber? The fellow working the counter was personable and helped Jeff into some nice new pedals after talking with him about our trip up from Chicago. We also left with three free copies of COG magazine which happened to feature a story on Chicago messengers. All of whom I’ve known in the past or currently see on a daily basis. Chicago rolls deep, yes?

Riverwest Co-op

Pedals changed we had to race back to the van as there may have been a wallet MIA. With a head wind and a mighty steep hill (us Chicagoans are not used to that hill stuff), we finally made it back to the van, found the wallet and an appetite. Al and I are vegan and well, Jeff was out numbered for once (insert evil laughter here). We picked a Co-op spot on Clarke where we subjected him to vegan and vegetarian fare. The Seitan Philly was deviously delicious; hitting the spot while still reasonable in price, I totally recommend it.

Turned out the end check point of the race happened to be across the street from the Co-op which was a block away from where we were staying. I’d noticed and appreciated the closeness of everywhere we had been so far. Even “across town” didn’t seem far at all. When walking to the finish, we found out that Stan got 2nd overall and won first place out of town for the second year in a row! Bradley got 3rd right there with him and first fixed. The minutes passed and more people began filtering in and handing in manifests. Chairs and tables filled up with racers enjoying the free Chili and open bar. I held off a bit thinking about my race in the morning, but eventually thought it okay to partake in a beer or two which, in the end, turned in to one too many. I played pool and at the end of the night sang karaoke with Megan at another bar named Frank ’N Steins – why, oh why did I agree to do that? Damn you beer!


I woke up Sunday morning spooning Augie (sorry Augie). It was probably a self defense mechanism to stay on the bed as there were four of us crammed on it together. Hazy and feeling like 10 bucks I scrambled to get my stuff together for my second Crit race ever. Jeff was on top of everything - he had my bike and lock in the van and was ready to go while Bradley, Andrew and I were still inside looking for odds and ends. We made a quick stop for espresso, water, bananas and an ATM for $$$. At first I didn’t think we were going to make it in time for my race, but the guys got me there with just enough time to change, register, pin my number on and get to the starting line. I didn’t get to ride the course or warm up, but Andrew and Bradley were (I think) trying to make up for that by rubbing my legs and giving me pep talks while I stood over the bike. I couldn’t stop laughing and the girl next to me said “Wow, you’re famous!”

“Nah”, I grinned ear to ear “that’s just good team work.”

“IT'S NOT ABOUT THE EXPERIENCE! IT'S ABOUT WINNING!” Were Bradley’s last words of wisdom. My spirits were light and I felt better already.

We were off and I got near the front feeling the course out and taking the turns more towards the outside. After a couple of laps it seemed like I was pulling the pack up the slight grade and into the wind more so than everyone else. I tried to slow down and get some one else to pull, but they just stayed behind me. Three girls broke off the front and I tried to bridge it only to find that it was a solo journey. I backed off thinking I wouldn’t be strong enough to catch them without another girl's help. I led up the windy upgrade and the girl Sue who spoke with me at the start said “good pull” as she passed to relieve me of my position. We started talking and taking turns working. She said I seemed strong and asked me my category, she was a Cat 3. I said it was my second sanctioned race. She began to laugh and expressed her amusement about using “sanctioned” in front of race like there was any other kind. It wasn’t a malicious or teasing laugh but friendly.

“How many unsanctioned races have you been in?” was her next query.

“A few” I replied.

She then told me if we were in any other races together we could team up and work with each other. I was flattered and speechless. She seemed to be looking out for me. Telling me to let some of the other girls do some work! Eventually I was able to express gratitude in a proper fashion. Sue and I were in the front and she jumped, I jumped after her and together we put some distance between us and the other riders. She told me that she was helping me get a better placement since she wasn’t in my category but knew she couldn’t catch up to the other Cat 3 girl ahead of her. Her second place was a guarantee if we just maintained the gap.

We had a lap to go…or so I thought. I was on Sue’s wheel as we approached the start/finish and then she dropped back. I kept going thinking I had another lap. I heard the guys yelling at me but that was nothing new considering they were yelling and banging that huge cowbell the whole time. I came ripping around the final corner on my extra lap and was riding right at them thinking I was still racing. Silly me, the race was over. Oops. Oh well, I laughed it off; ended up taking 3rd place in the Cat 4 and 5th place overall while making an ally in the process. I couldn’t have been more delighted or surprised even if I won first place. The guys and I walked back to the van where I changed under a blanket in the front seat, drank some much needed water and ate the blueberry cliff bar I bought the night before at the Co-op.

Pride swelled up in my chest. Not about my placement, but from the support of my team. Getting me up there hours before their race began, standing out in the cold shouting for me, giving me encouragement, making me laugh my hangover away, I feel like the luckiest novice around. I’ll keep these memories forever. Even though it’s still cold out and general morale always seems low this time of year I’m more confidant than ever that this will be a great and eventful season with Chicago Cuttin‘ Crew. Thanks y’all. Thanks Soosie!