As per usual going into the Stupor Bowl, the nights previous were restless and my nerves turned my stomach sour and blessed me with the trots. So it goes whenever I get excited/nervous about an upcoming event. I felt the same way prior to the race last year, so I wasn't worried too much about being able to ride through it. That's just how it goes for me.
The bike I chose for the race was my Croll road bike, the bike that I had ridden in Stupor 12 and 13. The city streets here in MPLS are at an all time shitty and are littered with wheel crushing potholes so I fitted the largest tires that would fit into the frame. A 25c in the rear pumped to 130psi and a 28 up front at 105.
Since the temp for this year was in the same range (mid 20's) as the previous two Stupor Bowls I wore the exact same outfit as last year. Medium weight wool socks, regular riding shoes, knickers and leg warmers, a ls wool jersey, arm warmers, vest, and a headband.
The evening prior the race at pre reg we were given the first of three manifests so I was able to prepare my route for those stops.
*my cheat sheet
Because I knew I had to go from Nick's house up on Grammercy to Halek's I scouted the route out on Google and ran it on my way down to One on One the morning of. At One on One it was the usual prerace madhouse.
photo by J.R.
At the start Nico let me know that he wanted to ride with me. Nico is one of the AC team riders, a former NACCC champ, and a serious threat in any race he enters. I knew he was fast, but his high tops, lack of water bottles, cross tires, and single speed bike lead me to tell him that although I was stoked to ride with him if we got separated I wasn't about to wait. Little did I know that he would be my saving grace in the late stages of this race and pull my spent ass to victory. (dude I'll never doubt you again on any setup, and I'll sure as shit never make bold statements about not waiting up for you) Nico was clearly the strongest man on the streets that day.
The mystery start was announced as Kenwood park, so we rolled out en masse.
at the start, photo J.R.
If you'd like to follow along, check out the Gmap pedometer of my route to the best of my recollection. Total mileage was around 40, and this was easily the longest and most brutal alleycat I have ever ridden.
The race started on a snowy hill and I was first down the icy path to the bikes. During the sprint my leg warmers ended up around my ankles and would be a pain in the ass the entire race as I was constantly forced to keep pulling them up.
Nico, Skinny Randy, myself and a tandem duo lead the break down Franklin ave, we crossed Hennepin on a red, busted down the hill and Randy was first in the door at Mortimers. He had his manny in a ziplock though, so I was first with the stamp. The group stayed together as we flew down Lyndale to the Alt and was still together as we came back down Lyndale and crossed onto the wrong way in front of the Walker to make the long wrong way to Glendale. At the intersection where we jumped lanes, the tandem had a slight gap and Nico skitched a car to catch up to them. They routed poorly and turned onto Kenwood parkway, Nico looked at me and I shouted "No!" but he went with them and at that point his chances were shot. Randy and I busted the wrong way down Lyndale and I was able to shake loose on the icy hills.
I pulled into Nick's with Randy nowhere in sight but we bumped shoulders as I was leaving the stop. At this point I figured the race was mine to lose as our route seemed the obvious best choice and I now had opened a gap on my chief rival. I shot across to Olson Memorial Highway, and headed to Washington ave and Halek's. I was out the door at Halek's and onto Broadway without seeing Randy so I figured it was pretty much over.
I grabbed Behind Bars and Grumpy's NE and still no sign of anyone else doing the speed race. I headed up University to Varsity and ran into Nico at 3rd and Uni. For the rest of the race I now had a partner, as Nico had missed some stops and lost his manifest, and he did me the huge favor of holding my bike as I was getting stamps. For those not familiar, when you're riding with an escort your partner picks up your dropped bike and aims it in the direction of your getaway which makes the process of getting into and out of stops quicker.
We were given rims to carry at Varsity, so for the rest of the race I had to lug around a 700c rim. I later found out that Randy was smarter and grabbed himself a 26" rim which was much less hassle.
As we closed in on Trash Bags and the completion of manifest one I saw a rider carrying a rim on a black IRO heading away from the stop. Not recognizing who it was I paid it no mind figuring we had this shit on lock as all the fast guys seemed to be behind us. At Trash I was shocked to find out that this mysterious rider was leading us and I was sitting in 2nd place.
As I ran out the door to Nico my words were something to the effect of "There's some fucking kid beating us. What the fuck?" It was extremely hard for me to fathom that anyone could possibly be doing this faster than we were since we were on what I thought was the optimum route and had seen no one. I still have no idea how the fuck he did it and would be quite curious to know his stop order.
On the stairs at Trash Bags I had seen Randy and Brandon so I knew that those dudes were breathing down my neck. The second manifest consisted of stops that had to be done in order and were all downtown. From Trash we went to Mackenzies, where I got directions to 19 bar. It was the same story for all of the second manny, Brandon and Randy were in the door as I was out.
We headed to Playgirl's where I saw the first place rider riding away from the stop which meant he was a few blocks ahead. I recognized the rider as my buddy Nate White, which totally floored me. To my knowledge Nate has never won a race, and is not known to be particularly fast and here he was kicking everyone's ass at the biggest race of the year. (Nate eventually finished 3rd after having messed up on the way to the sledding hill and overshooting it)
Next to One on One, then Trash for the third manifest. When I got the third manifest my jaw hit the floor "You've got to be shitting me is this a fucking joke?" (I swear a lot while racing) We had to go to the sledding hill on the other side of the lakes at 46th and Upton, then over to Sunrise. It was a huge third manifest and we had already put in around 28 miles, so I was starting to feel pretty spent. Luckily, this is where Nico picked it up and put it down as we blazed bumper to bumper traffic up Hennepin to the Lakes. (weaving cars with a 700c rim on my back is an experience I won't forget soon) The large amount of race left also gave us plenty of time to catch up to the leader.
We made the sledding hill with no one in sight and I was very relieved that we didn't have to sled down and walk back up as at previous Stupor's. We went back the way we came and took 36th to CRC, then across 35th to the Columbus stop, then Angry Catfish to Sunrise. During this span we didn't see anyone else on course so I figured the lead was secure, but as we were leaving Sunrise Randy was entering. This was bad news but it also gave us the motivation to haul ass on the long run down Minnehaha to the Hexagon.
Nico was out in front and I was trying desperately to hold his wheel, several times having to yell "Comeback!" to get him to ease up so I could latch back on. We made it to Hex with no Randy in sight, hit the last house stop, and knew it was done as we rode to the finish at the Nomad.
I sorted my mani's, double checked my name, stapled them together, turned in my wooden nickel from the Alt and the rim and it was over.
Huge thanks to Nico, without your strength it wouldn't have happened, thanks to the organizers, and thanks to my fellow racers.
Hardest alleycat ever, 40 miles, fucking ridiculous.
Only a few of us finished within the 3 hour time limit and the organizers had to extend it as no female's had showed a complete race at the cutoff time.
outside the Nomad
The All-City team took 3 out of the 4 races with Christina Peck winning Stupor Female
Chelsea winning Women's Speed
and myself taking Men's Speed