This one in from our man Corey the Courier. And by “in” I mean he sent it to me two months ago.
From: Corey the Courier
Subject: Rocky 8
There was an alleycat in Philly on July 10. It was a two person relay race where one rider sprints up and down Ben Franklin Parkway (think Champs Elysees) and the other rides around the city to various checkpoints. I won it in 2006 before I moved to New York. Maybe, I thought, I could do it again.
The sky was grey when I rose that morning. The forecast was thunderstorms. Whatever. I had been talking trash about whooping ass for days. It was time to step up to the plate and either dish it or take it. I took the Chinatown bus from NYC back to Philly. The rains began once we got on the Jersey Turnpike.
On arriving in my old stomping grounds, I bought a helmet liner and gore-tex gloves so I could endure the bad weather. Half off? Thanks Bike Line Arch Street! I went to La Colombe for a cup of coffee. There were a few bikes locked in front of the cafe, but I didn’t recognize any faces. I ordered a cup to go. That stuff is real electric black. On the house? Thanks again!
I rolled to the start at the top of the Art Museum steps as the rain stopped. After four years away I could barely recognize any of the racers. I had no idea who to watch, who to follow or who had won the previous year’s edition. Did I still remember the shortcuts around my hometown better than the latest crop of messengers?
The race went off with racers running down the steps to their bikes and blasting to the first checkpoint. The fast group quickly formed, flying along Spring Garden Street. I sat in the draft waiting. Drunk Jeff, a former winner of the event, said something about catching the green light at Broad Street. Although I will run a red light to win an alleycat, it is easier to just make the green.
I shifted one click and increased my cadence. I easily put a small gap on the fast group. This was going to be easy.
One of the fast guys who lacked the typical beard and beer gut of most messengers caught up to me. I slowed a bit. No need to provide anyone with a draft. At a crucial point he asked if I knew where I was going. I nodded no. He began pedaling onward and committed to going straight. I punched it hard and made a left. He may be fast, but he didn’t know the city off of the central grid. I am merciless when out for a win.
I left the first checkpoint with a comfortable lead. I even made the turn onto 2nd Street just as the wave of cars destroyed any hope of flying across or along that street. Then the roar of the wind stopped. I heard the sound of my chain skidding down the street…
I had won the 2005 April Fool’s Alleycat, vowing to easily repeat in 2006 only to have a mechanical eliminate me from the race. I was dreading a humiliating repeat of the curse.
I pulled off of the road and out of the path of cars and racers. I took off my gloves, removed a link, threaded the chain through the front and rear derailleurs and reconnected the ends. Making the most of the day, I resumed riding without followers.
Over the next several checkpoints, my teammate Dominican Crihs and I tracked down each and every competitor. By the last checkpoint we even had a few seconds on 2nd place. The ride to the finish was a flat out 4-man drag race to Doobies Bar. Crihs, not knowing Philly missed the turn for the bar. Team TJ and Justin won by a few seconds. Damn.
What should have been a blowout was an exciting nail biter until the very end. We won second place and first out-of-town. Deep in the bottom of the bag of prize schwag: a chain.