Filtering by Category: Alleycat

Don't Call it a Comeback

by Avi If you're reading this, chances are you're infected with an addiction to racing bikes, or you know someone who is. It's not Saturday night bowling or the occasional 9 holes of golf. The winter, instead of being a prison sentence to be served annually, becomes an opportunity to hit the gym, hit the trainer, and daydream of how your efforts are going to pay off. Take away any piece of the puzzle of the racing season, and the year feels incomplete. My winter was spent nursing a torn rotator cuff, surgery, and physical therapy, and 2011 was starting to look like a writeoff.

Everything I did to get me a decent 2010 on the Track was out of reach, so I just decided to do long, ugly, solo base miles, with a Midwestern "spring" that didn't exactly cooperate. I looked at the calendar a little differently. No tripling up at Snake Alley this year. 100k of gravel? Why not? Some good old fashioned Belgian miles. I thought a top 20 would mean I was on the path to getting some form back. Unfortunately my weekend started with getting hit in traffic by an off-duty cop. For a instant I thought my season would be over again, but I escaped with a bit of road rash. He gave me a ride home and pledged to buy me a new wheel. I made it to the start of the Gravel Metric. Hats off to Half Acre, Robots, the Bonebell, North Central Cyclery and all the sponsors for pulling it all together.

With 120 folks at the start, I wondered if maybe a top 20 was a little ambitious. Lots of familiar faces, most with 6-8 weeks of race legs under them, but still, a lot of cyclo-tourist types, so better to stay near the front. It started with a slow roll out of town. Lots of Half Acre, Iron Cycles, Johnny Sprockets, and all-around strongman CX Masters titleholder/coach Brian Conant at the front.

I didn't set out to attack relentlessly, but it seemed a slow pace, and it was in all of our best interests to thin the herd at the front, and maybe a break would form. The action started at the first checkpoint. It seems that our little group at the front forgot that this was an alleycat and flew right past. I was first in, first out, and despite being alone, attacked. Maybe a couple of opportunists would bridge up to me. If this were a "normal" race, there were enough teammates in the front group to block and let us go.

It wasn't to be, and I was caught, but in a lead group of seven! Maybe a top ten was in the cards! We kept an honest pace, but there were chasers. It was still overcast, and the road was fine gravel. I refused to look at the odometer, but I knew it was still early. I had no idea what was coming.

I had preloaded the course onto my GPS, and was just following a line on a map. Conant had a cue sheet set up similarly on his Garmin. They didn't quite agree. At one point, his route had him going off course, and I thought for a split second "if this were a real alleycat, I should let them go" but I couldn't. I called them back on route. With the delay, the lead group was up to 12. The course flags were agreeing with my route, so we decided mine was correct. A couple other guys had cue sheets pinned up, but with the rain starting and the road names tough to discern, they were becoming tougher to use.

Conant was happily dragging us all along, doing most of the work, when his road tires caught up to him and he flatted out. We kept on, and the rain picked up. We approached the second checkpoint, and a couple other guys started to realize the first in/first out advantage, and sprinted for it. The CP workers pointed us at our route: tractor tracks off into a field. It wasn't a road, it was a mile of wet sludge, ankle deep.

The group exploded. We all tried to ride as far as we could, but it was impossible. I wrapped my chain around my bottom bracket and suddenly had a dozen guys ahead of me, blocking whatever lines I might have wanted. Ted Ramos had coasted further than anyone and critically, seemed to have shouldered his bike while it was clean. He was off the front. The rest of us tried our best, pushing bikes until they were unpushable, then were stuck carrying them, slogged with 40 pounds of mud. I shed the mud by pushing it through the rivulets of rain water, in the tall wet grass, whatever seemed to work. Somehow I got my bike mostly clean and shouldered it, "running" through the peanut butter.

I don't know how long it went on. A mile? 15 minutes? There was Ted and then a hundred meters back, the rest of us. I knew I had to reach him and just kept on. I wanted the lead group to thin out, but I was stoked to reach him alone. I got him just as the mud ended and we started hammering. The madness continued, more mud, knee-high prairie grass, wading through wild alfalfa, scrambling across train tracks, fording a creek, for chrissakes, still, just following the little arrow pointing down the line on my computer. It was ridiculous, and getting more so. I would later discover that most of the lead group went off course somewhere in here.

The "road" came back and there was nothing to do but hammer and trade. Ted was flying in the tailwind sections and I could barely hold on. I pulled my weight in the headwinds, taking long steady turns. After my chain wrap, I was only able to get back into the big ring by reaching down and manually pushing the chain on, so I decided not risk the small ring for the rest of the day. Some debris in my rear cluster had my chain skipping in half the gears, and I didn't want to pop it, so I found myself with a whopping selection of about three gears to choose from. I was jealous of Ted, spinning merrily along, while I pushed the big ring.

I still hadn't looked at the odometer, but I thought we must be close, we made the turn and were heading back to town. "20 miles to go," Ted said, and I was more than a little crestfallen. Still, the out-and-back leg had tipped us off to the chasers, and I thought we could survive if we just kept at it.

The rest of the race was an hour of this. Blistering rain and 6 miles of headwind, then we made the turn and tried to outrun the storm. Lightning strikes everywhere, fortunately we were surrounded by windmills to take the brunt of them. I remember thinking "if I go out like this, at least I'm at the front of a bike race."

You'd think such a battle would come down to a thrilling and decisive finish, but you'd be disappointed. We both sized each other up in the closing meters, wordless, cautious. But neither of us knew where we were, where the line would be, which direction we'd be coming from, until literally seconds before we made the penultimate corner, and we were 20 meters from where we'd imagined throngs of cheering spectators. The CP workers had waited for an hour, then gone inside. They pestered us, "Somebody has to be first." We decided that it was a photo finish at the line, but with no photo, and no line, tied for first place.

Velo-City Chicago, May 21, 2011

(flier courtesy of Cyclehawk, photos courtesy of Eric Day)

All right people! The time has come! Velodromes all around us are opening up and the early season urge to hang out in damp, cold fields for a night is overtaking all of us. What better way to relay that feeling than doing it on a sunny (hopefully) Saturday afternoon in Kenosha?

The weekend starts off right with a little Downtown Shakedown on Friday night, May 20. Meet at Daley at 7PM to get a piece of that action. Bring $5 as it will go towards the NYC tix.

Saturday has plenty o' racing shootin' for the 1PM - 5PM time slot up at the Washington Park Bowl in Kenosha, WI. The bus departs at 11 AM. We've got a good amount of room so far. Those with automobiles that feel they could offer a ride, please come through to Pickens-Kane (Green and Kinzie) and you can park in the lot and join the bus if demand isn't too high.

The categories are broken into your traditional categories: Male messer Female messer Male non-mess Female non-mess

Women's fields have been combined in the past. We could end up doing that again.

This event list is designed to give you participants and fans a taste of the classics of the track. We will offer a tutorial on each race throughout the week. Be aware that it is subject to change!

1) Sprint

Seeded at random. 2-ups, 3-ups, 4-ups. One-offs, not best of 3. There will be a repechage

2) 15-25 lap Scratch (TBD)

First to cross the line after said amount of laps is the winner. Guts on a breakaway or confidence in your sprint? You decide.

3) Miss-n-out

The last wheel across the line of each lap is pulled. Once it gets down to three riders there are no further eliminations and it essentially becomes a two lap scratch.

4) 30 lap points

A track classic. Always a feature, usually final event. Every x number of laps there will be a sprint to garner points. Distance trumps points. If anyone is beast enough to gain a lap on another racer then they will be scored on a tier above that person. This also applies to anyone that laps the field (majority of riders) vs. anyone that might not have been in the field but might not have "gained a lap".

Stay tuned for more details on possible exhibition events. Such as a Kierin with a pace bike over derny. ALSO an Australian Pursuit for all you tough as nails SOB's! Cash prizes going out for that one!

Awards ceremony will be held at the track. The top Male and Female messenger in the omnium (cumulative) results will get tickets to New York City to compete for the big tickets to Poland and the CMWC 2011!! Of course there are plenty of other bits and gifts to give out to errbody else. Don't be surprised if you come up ill prepared to race and get something. Or else come on up to hang out! Get your chill on, your sip on,  get sun-kissed and get really good burgers and shakes from neighboring drive-ins. It's all good! It's Kenosha, people! It's a beautiful place!

There may or may not be a suggested donation to participate. Any money left on the table will go toward the CMWC 2012. Stay tuned for more updates. Check out some local media on last year's event to get pumped again!


2011 starts with a bang

Red Hook Criterium 4, powered by Eastern Mountain SportsTrack bike crit at night.

by Brean

The Red Hook Criterium has grown into a big-time event over the past four years, and this year the quality of the competition made a huge jump due to the addition of Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS) as a title sponsor, online registration, and it's natural growth through word of mouth and media coverage. I knew it was going to be massive this year when I saw that EMS dedicated its valuable window space to a display for the race on it's Soho storefront. What a cool thing for them to do. Velonews viewed the race last year, and Bicycling had a preview for this year. There were a few pros in this race as well as top-level mountain bikers and dudes from Italy and Spain and Mexico. I used the term big-time already, didn't I?

Also different this year was a new course (due to local politics), and the organizer could not work in cobbles. Instead there were curbs and hairpins.

They did call-ups, which put me towards the back at the start. This is the one area where I think the race could use improvement because I think call-ups are unwise. They make it so that a bunch of inexperienced/slower people are in a position where they feel they have to sprint at the start. Yeah, that's fun. And the fast people get even more of an advantage by being in front for the start. In this race, there is a hole shoot like in cyclocross because the course is so technical, and drafting plays such an important role. Whoever is in front on the first lap should be able to stay there, and I suppose everyone knows that.

So on lap 1, a whole bunch of goofballs were in front of me, in addition to the cream. One crashed directly into the curb heading towards the west hairpin. Fucking scary. Then two guys went down in the hairpin itself. I thought that was was going to be a big pileup, but to everyone's credit and luck, all the other racers got around it. Both of these happened in front me, and my hopes of getting to the front pack went out the window. Then I worked with a good group for a while, moving up, picking off riders dropping out of the lead group. But they had a huge lead and were a bigger group, so we kept losing ground.

It was cold, but there were still so many spectators that the crowd would roar and really keep you motivated. I loved it. It was the biggest crowd I've seen at a bike race since the 80's. But the crowd also swarmed the lap counter so that we didn't know the lap count until the bell lap. With two to go (as it turns out), I saw a group ahead that I took to be the second lead group, which had splintered. So I made a big, big effort to catch them, which took a whole lap. A good guy I know from the track, Aaron H., went with me, though I didn't know it until we were almost on the other group. Turns out that these guys were getting lapped (at least I think that was the case). The organizer announced that we were getting pulled, but Aaron and I thought he could not have meant us. So we continued on and finished the race on-lap. I told Aaron I wouldn't contest the sprint and that I just wanted to keep us ahead of anyone who might be pursuing us. I figure we finished top 20, probably around 15th or so. I'll have to check the videos when they come out.

Dan Chabanov, a working messenger in New York, won the day, beating former messenger Al Barough (3rd) and pro and former messenger Neil Bezdek (2nd). Way to go guys!

I know why the caged bird sings

By Christina NACCC 2010. Dirty South, Hotlanta, or any such name, I had no idea what to expect as Atlanta was one major city I had never previously visited. After a 12 hour red-eye drive from Chicago, we arrived in Atlanta at 10am Friday morning to the welcoming house of Lola and AZ who were still in the process of moving in, after organizing a killer CMWC three weeks prior. As people slowly started trickling in from all over throughout Friday, we started to see an awesome crowd of messengers take shape. That night kicked off the event with a group ride to registration and Goldsprints. Many people turned in early after being given start times as early as 9am.

teenersbnwquali.jpgWhen I arrived to the park Saturday morning, everything was far from set up. The course in Grant Park began to form as a loop just under 2 miles long with 12 checkpoints, and a couple decent hills that my Chicago-acclimated legs were desperately trying to remember how to conquer. After a quick breakfast and a couple pre-rides around the almost entirely one-way course, I began to feel pretty prepared. The whole park began to transform as polo courts were built on the higher parking lot tier, and ramps were brought in for an out and out trick competition. The first heat of the qualifiers went off at 12:15pm, after providing ten minutes of prep to pour-over the manifests. The pick up had to be in order, while you could drop packages at your leisure. I tried to coincide pick up and drop off as much as possible, though the long Fed-Ex tubes were unwieldy and difficult to carry more than two of. Two manifests long, an hour and forty-five minutes (for me) of 80-degree weather, I was sucking down Gatorade as much as possible. I made a few silly mistakes but felt that this type of manifest was actually pretty beneficial to my style of routing. Lots of laps, but with some focused attention, able to hammer it out.

At that evenings after-party, one of the organizers, Matt, read the results aloud to the crowd. Of the 90 racers, they decided to qualify 37-32 men and 5 women. I was dead middle of the pack at 14th, with Nico nicely ending the qualifiers in an impressive 4th place seat, with first place clocking an impressive hour and a half time. The evening also featured a dunk tank courtesy of the Chrome sponsors, with the dunkees receiving some pretty impressive prizes. Luckily the night had not cooled off too much, and the endless stream of free PBR took some of the edge off.

Sunday morning’s events took off with a very successful Open Forum. I like to stress that an hour, maybe two of serious time during a weekend of debauchery is completely worth ensuring a repeat of said fun. A lot of racers came out and really positively contributed to a conversation on changing the voting to a two-year, multiple city system and where to have NACCC in 2011 (AUSTIN, TEXAS! Wahoo!).

lemanstart.jpgThe finals began almost two hours after the scheduled time, but actually mitigated the peak noon heat a bit. A Le Mans start kicked off a long 26 (or more depending on your routing) lap final, again with pick ups in order, and intentionally forcing you to do extra laps to be able to get all your packages on. Lots of Fed-Ex tubes, lots of water bottle and Gatorade and Red Bull hand ups and lots of awesome heckling/encouragement from all the amazing checkpoint workers who sat out for almost 4 hours, spectators, and racers who hadn’t qualified but came out to yell along. This manifest just clicked pretty well with me, and I continued to hold on to packages until I had to stop at the specific checkpoint anyway for a pick. This led to a couple laps with a full bag of 3 Fed-Ex tubes, but it also smoothed out the stoppage a lot. Toward the end, you had to really be aware of what you were giving and getting from the checkpoint workers since you could be picking or dropping up to three at a time to workers who had been seeing riders at all different progressions of their race. Also just to be aware of the packages you were still carrying when you would not have to stop at the specific checkpoint again. Towards the end though, I hooked up with another rider from LA that we kept swapping spots with and we rode through the course together, keeping each other on track which I know helped me immensely and I hope was mutual! We pounded through the final 6 laps just feeling really composed about how I was feeling in the heat but still keeping it mental. Apparently learning how to enter the pain cave of cyclocross has extended benefits. augdflog1.jpgWhen I pulled into the final stop at Girl.Bike.Dog, they said only one rider had come through ahead of me. I thought I was up there, but not doing THAT well. As we took off together, it was clear if it came down to some sprint finish, Derek was definitely going to take me, so I cruised down the final hill to clinch third overall and first female. I ecstatically realized the one rider ahead of us was none other than Stu Louder, a fellow All-City rider and all around good dude. The rest of the racers started pouring in, Nico coming in 11th after a forgotten pick up and an extra lap, Mike Malone at 19th and none other than AugDog cinching a repeat DFL trophy and rounding out our Chicago contingency in the final.

wienerswithbag.jpgSo despite some personal mishaps and some late start times, overall the NACCC went off really well and was a total blast—all in perfect weather. Atlanta surprised me with a ton of yummy vegan food, lots of good people, and a smaller city vibe I was totally into. And it didn’t hurt that the organizers snagged some killer sponsors who really stepped up the prize factor. Big ups and thanks to the NACCC organizing crew who seemed to have a lot on their plates--Congrats to Matt and Maggie on their wedding next week!

(All photos courtesy of people. Such examples of people would be Eric Day. He's real good people.)

A little recap of my time in Guatemala


by Jeff

Nico will be providing a better story on the trials, tribs and treasures of our shared journey through Guatemala for Cog magazine so be sure to keep an eye out for the next great issue. Otherwise, here is a recap of some of us Chicagoans' experiences through the land of fine rum, tequila, cobblestones and tortillas.

If you haven't heard by now, Air Mexicana filed for bankruptcy... down to 3 days before some of us were set to leave. Not entirely awesome but everyone was still determined to get something sorted out for the trip. A few just rebooked with American and a couple rolled the dice to see if someone would bail them out. All in all, everyone that was originally going still found a way to get down there. My trip kicked off from Guatemala City into a tourist rich town named Antigua. We got our footing through a friend of a friend (thank you Sandra and the Urizars!). A major highlight of that trip includes a free breakfast and tour at a badass coffee farm that's run by Paolo's uncle. Secondary highlights include squirt/tequila combos and Jake Blaze teaching some local college kids how to chug a beer followed immediately by an explanation of what the middle finger means in the U.S.

The next day, we were going to have to make the most of Antigua as the mudslides prevented us from getting anywhere near Panajachel. So the cultural exchanges extended through a 7 hour long happy hour that concluded with a bar trivia MC threatening to smash a bottle on Mikey's head right before the bar gave us 6 free coronas in a plastic bag for nailing the music portion. We stumbled home to decide no matter what the conditions were, we would brave the next shuttle willing to make an attempt to Pana.

derrumbameredith.jpgArranging a vehicle for passage was not easy given all the crap we had and the only conceivable reason for the delay was this foreign concept of mudslides. We arranged for a shuttle to San Pedro, a small town across the lake from Panajachel. From there we would take a boat across the lake and finally be able to unpack our bikes and reunite with our friends. Our plans of partying another night in some strange city were thwarted, however, as we were stuck on the highway for 4 hours in the middle of the night as cleaning crews tried to come up with safe methods of clearing the highway. There wouldn't be any way to get through for the next 16 hours so we turned back and found a hotel for super cheap.

The next day we arranged a ride with a Pana local who had an empty van and backdoor route. It was pretty intriguing to see the landslides in the day time and finally gain a perspective and respect for the severity of these sorts of disasters. There were stretches where one lane of highway was completely left floating on the sides of a mountain because much of the earth just washed away from underneath it. Not only did crews need to clear massive amounts of dirt off the road, they also had to be certain we could get safely over the concrete. It was an intense realization of a completely foreign (to me) natural disaster.

We got in to Pana fine enough and it was pretty cool. The "roads" more closely resembled a rock pile at a construction site but it certainly added to the town's character. There was a "Headquarters" which would house the next few evenings' reunions and act as daytime base for announcements and cheap drinks. One of the many great things about this group is the conscience most messengers have for our surroundings. The tip jar at HQ was devoted to raising money for the locals that were set back by the rain, floods and landslides. By the Wednesday night leading up to the main race, well before the majority of racers arrived, there was reportedly 3,500 Quetzales raised in the tip jar alone.

school_dayAnother wonderful experience in Panajachel was the day spent at the downtown school. Someone figured since there would be tons of weird looking gringos on bikes we might as well confront that fact with the locals and play a role in a bicycle themed project day at the school. We all got to hang out with some of the most adorable kids as they drew bicycles and colored pictures. Eventually the pictures were put up for auction to raise money for the school and supplies were purchased with registration money and donations. The smiles and laughs from all the kids as we towed them around and jumped and played with them were, for many of us, the biggest highlights of the trip.

nicoswinningpitch.jpgThat was immediately followed by the first of two open forums, Nico took spokesperson status to place a bid for Chicago to host the 2012 Cycle Messenger World Championships and we put feelers out there for who was interested and what it would take to pique that interest. The seed was planted and it was planted well by an honest man and really the best spokesperson anyone could ask for when it comes to making a positive and solid impression.

As for the bike and the races, well, yeah. All that fun was fast approaching and when unpacking I discovered I found a way to forget my saddle, seatpost, AND pedals. Not only that but once I bought/borrowed enough to get rolling I found a way to strip my seat collar and finally break the most emo part of a bicycle... the tiny ceramic (?) anchoring piece for spoke nipples found in the sharp rim section of Mavic wheels. The shop was not about to have a replacement for that but luckily Allison Peck is a huge sweetheart and she gave me her wheel to use for the races. My first ever experience of actual, legitimate climbing was cut short but at least the racing was not going to be missed.

checkpointwapjaquinbici.jpgTruthfully, the racing had been quite an afterthought given all the awesome things going on. Alas, Andrew and I got into the qualifier and did well enough to make the main race on the first try. I remember Nico had to gain passage in the second round and he did it with a roar. They did a neat thing by making you race the qualifier to be eligible for the sprint and I got into that decently enough. I also did the cargo race with my new giant coupler bag as built by Cory of Dank Bags. I spent more time just filling it up than I necessarily needed to (it sure looked pretty cool, though) and got done 4th out of a good handful. Regretfully I did miss a turn by a few meters and did an illegal uturn to get back on the right path. My conscience couldn't bear it so I snitched on myself and got a lovely little "4th place/CHEATER" on my manifest. Wamp-waaa. Kai, a German that has taken up residence in NYC and rode his track bike from New York to Panajachel for the trip ended up winning the cargo race. On said track bike. Dude ruled.

sprintqualifierleah.JPGThe next day's sprint was interesting. I donned the State Champs jersey just to be an ass but then I was totally outdone by Toronto's Brooks. The man brought his Guru, zipp disc, speedplays, rollers and carbon bars down to go for the sprint title... Round 1 I drew Brooks and a few others. I wasn't quite feeling the match-up equipment wise but everyone else was in the same boat. We got the go ahead and surprise, surprise I got smoked and 2nd. Top 2 still advanced, though. Round 2 I had Brooks again and 2 more, faster guys. I got a better start and got within a few feet of elbow to elbow but then Brooks just took it on in and I got the bridesmaid role again. The final round I got to switch out for road shoes and pedals and I was feeling giddy about the better starting. Once we got the "GO", however, the cleats/shoes combo gave way easier than wet toilet paper and I ended up clipping out twice. Bummer. 4th place in the sprints, Brooks took the W.

Main race was fun. We were started by a long barrel .45 magnum being shot into the air. I routed myself well enough. Made an annoying mistake like everyone. Wiped out pretty harsh on the rock to gravel downhill transition, bent my borrowed 4x touring wheel, and eventually front flatted with no replacement wheel in sight so I had to repair it in the middle of the race and slowly rolled my way in to a 24th place finish (?) Either way I spent the rest of the race gingerly in the shower, regrettably missing Nico's 13th place finish and Christina's SECOND PLACE!!! Fucking brilliant! Craig who hails from Seattle took the overall win and he was super classy about it.

closingnightnicosargentlunch.jpgThe afterparty was a blast and of course the impromptu dance party sealed the deal that Chicago demands your A-game when it comes to partying. Although I'm not trying to say we totally ran the floor. Gotta give credit where it's due... If there ever was an Olympics for partying, Australia's traveling bike messenger contingent would undoubtedly win the gold medal every time. Those Aussies can fucking rip it.

Either way, at the closing forum where they held the final vote, we convinced the world courier community that Chicago deserves the right to test all them boys and girls at their own game and the Chicago couriers are on the hook for throwing our group's biggest annual party. We will be the proud enablers of the 20th annual Cycle Messenger World Championships come the year 2012. To be honest, we've got plenty of work to do and lots of sleep to lose but that will have to wait until after we celebrate at this weekend's Classic and Prom.

The trip back was fine enough. Everyone except for Allison and Mikey found a way to get really sick from one thing or the other but whatever. Things are still crazy in anticipation for the CMWC Chicago planning process. There's a lot of work left to be done and a lot of buzz and excitement going around about it. I'll leave the glorious details to Nico and fine print but we'll be sure to have a good contingent for 2011 in Warsaw and then it's on like Voltron in 2012!


Photos courtesy of Meredith Begin, Joaquin Bicimensajero, Biker Bill, and Sargent Lunch, Leah Hollinsworth.

Quick update

What a trip so far. Photos and the like to come. (Edit! The full monty's been published. Go here for the details!) Immediate news includes Nico´s 13th place finish in the main race and Teener´s claiming world´s 2nd fastest female messenger!!!!!

Oh. And thanks to a little initiative brought about by Nick, Dylan, and Nico. A bid was reignited for Chicago´s hopes to host the World Championships in 2012... we all win that one.



si quieres ganar, tienes que hacerlo en la tierra*

*If you want to win, you've got to do it in the dirt

It's a good thing the Cuttin' Cruiser didn't make the trip. In case you're not keeping up with current events, the first wave of Chicagoans arrived at Guatemala's Messenger Worlds, at the tail end of a nasty stretch of rain. They went to sleep during a stormy night in Panajachel, and woke up to discover "the river had taken everything" - mudslides buried parts of the Pan-American highway, homes and parts of villages were washed away, and sadly, nearly 50 have perished in the storm. Our thoughts are with the families of those that were lost, and everyone trying to put their lives and homes back together.

A few locals in Panajachel were swept away, but the townspeople immediately sprang into action the next morning, starting to repair local roads and the bridge out of town. The mayor presented the key to the "city" to Nadir, and the festivities continue, albeit on a somewhat somber note. Some messengers are still arriving on foot over the mountain, some are stranded in Antigua, and apparently several have flown back to the US in an effort to get new flights to the area.

It seems all the messengers are accounted for, and the racing will continue, with at least one modification: the storm turned la Ocho (the eight), the over/under banked track, into 'la Tres' (the three), but not before Señor Andrew Nordyke turned in a couple of hot lap times, just missing the cut for the finals. More results here, and more news to come. They say la Ocho may rise again...

It's that time of year again

The Cycle Messenger World Championships are upon us. This year it is in the exotic locale of Panajachel, Guatemala. The CMWC's are such a beautiful thing and a great treat for those that get to travel to it. Our team's first one was the maiden voyage with the cruiser and that was just a short hop to Toronto. Last year it was an incredible trip that took many of us to Tokyo. This year we're looking to be well represented yet again in Guatemala.

Hopefully we'll have plenty of chances to communicate the (mis)adventures. Don't be surprised if you get the abridged twitter-esque version because, well, we're gonna be enjoying Guatemala (bitches!!!)

Preliminary reports reveal lots of rainfall bogging down some of the roads and making for rather "interesting" conditions. It apparently won't be ending any time soon, either. It is of no significance because, well, we're gonna be in Guatemala (see previous aside.)

I hope everyone is enjoying their 3 day weekend. Quick reminder - September 25 is a date to keep the calendar clear...

Good is mediocre and boring. Be great.


RW24 was just an outstanding experience on so many levels. A trip like this is really the reason to start a bike racing team with friends and pile them into a school bus for the weekend.

It is readily described as a tour through the Riverwest neighborhood of Milwaukee. There is a loop of 4.5 miles bounded by 4 checkpoints that everyone needs to stop at in order to receive credit for a lap. Categories are split by gender into soloists, 1 team-1 bike, 1 team-multiple bikes and tandem. There are also bonus checkpoints that are set up in 2 hour time slots all throughout the 24 hours that showcase neighborhood businesses, community activities and characters. The beautiful thing about this is the random hours of the night these checkpoints would always be staffed and anxious to see you roll through.

As a group of people that have been racing alleycats and several variances of bike races for many years now, the prospect of nailing down as many laps as possible on a set course in another city for the sake of frivolous bragging rights was just too much to pass up. Of the 500 registrants we, and our like-minded competitors were in the minority. And that is still way cool by me (written by jeff, by the by).

One of my many great memories will undoubtedly be that stretch between 4:30 AM and 7:00 AM when the rain was pounding down for the 5th straight hour and I saw more CP workers than riders. The sun was starting to shine whilst the streets were practically empty and I was just really into chipping away at this wonderful task of riding to no conceivable end. It was a remarkable moment when it felt as though all of this organizing and persistent volunteering was done just for me. (real or not, you certainly don't enjoy that feeling in the "sanctioned" racing world).

Eventually we all met the end of the time crunch and the bus occupants fared VERY well at the task of hitting the bonus checkpoints and the lap count. No one's trip was gonna be sold short, that's for sure. Incredible accomplishments all around. Callie completed 44 laps on what must have been an exhausting brakeless fixed gear ride. She got the most out of any female soloists. Nico, trippz, Blaze, Philly Jeff, and C Norris came on super strong at the end to seal a tie for 1st in the mixed bike category and 2nd overall with 74 laps. I spent the time sharing a bike with Bradley, the Augdog and Candles Nordyke. The lattermost man was the one going apeshit to ensure we collectively took the most laps out of everyone else. And we did. 79 laps and all the bonuses. 350+ miles of straight checkpoints alone. Not too shabby.

(thanks to fonscy)

There really are too many great things and feats within and without this team to highlight from the trip. Free lemonade, free champagne, fresh oatmeal cookies, free dinner, free breakfast, free couch, you name it. I could probably talk your ear off about it but I'd rather conclude with saying I had an absolute fucking blast and I'm very happy to know there is a place in the world like the Riverwest neighborhood of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.