We (Joshy and myself) arrived in Milwaukee after midnight on Friday and immediately headed out to the bar. At the Uptowner, we danced (a little), drank (a lot), and spent time with some folks whom we hadn't seen in a while. Our buddy Wayne Wallner, the owner of Breakaway Courier and the namesake for All-City's Wallner Pro pedal, was kind/dumb enough to let us crash with him for a few days.
Saturday was race day and after a leisurely breakfast at Corazon, we headed down to Breakaway to register and get ready for the tenth running of the Milwaukee Messenger Invitational. Much to our delight many of our Milwaukee homies and the crew from Chicago were already there, including Nico, Christina, and Stu who came all the way from Richmond. All three are on the AC courier team, so I was pumped that the company was being represented in such force.
the prize bag, done by Shag Bags
looking up in the men's room
mine and Nico's All-City's. Since I had a new bike and AC helped out with gas money I was in full on photography mode for AC purposes
this Dropout was sporting some of Shaggy's fenders
The above image was at the start of the race, notice the snow. The snow plays a huge factor in how my race went as because it was wet out I put my cell in my backpack so as not to have to worry about it (it'll come into play later).
From the get go, since James LaLonde didn't show up everyone knew the guy to beat was Kevin Sparrow of Cog and Breakaway. Since none of us know our way around MKE the logical choice is to follow a fast local, in this case Kevin.
There ended up being five of us in the top group as we were joined by a young courier from Chicago (name escapes me). On the way to the second stop Kevin's radio started going off, it was Wayne and he was pissed because apparently my phone in my backpack kept pocket dialing him over and over. On the radio he asked for me to fix the problem, but since I was eye-of-the-tiger at that point there was no way I was going to stop and take my bag off and lose the group.
Kevin was clearly getting bummed at having a posse, but since none of us knew where we were going and Kevin wasn't into working with us he was left out in a nasty wind on the front most of the time. Which meant we could have gone faster if we were trading leads, but because of the situation were left to spin trailing while our leader suffered on the sharp end and did his best to shake us with unannounced playful turns.
I should mention that during this time, Kevin's radio continued to be filled with Wayne sqwauking about my blowing up his celly. At about the halfway point we were leaving a checkpoint as Wayne's group pulled up, and he started berating me. Now Wayne's a super nice dude, but the look in his eye made me think he was going to knock my teeth in. (at last count I had dialed Wayne's phone 18 times) With my lodging for the weekend on the line I had no choice but to watch my companions speed off as I dug around in my backpack for my phone. Wayne said "We'll help you catch up" to which I replied tersely "I don't need your kind of help" and took off on the chase. I was pissed that my opportunity to ride with such an elite selection was getting away. When I get into competition mode, I get full on and can be a real asshole.
I started clawing back some of the distance and got it down to about three blocks when I decided to drop my head and sprint for it (there was a big headwind). This move proved to be a classic blunder as when I picked my head back up, the group was gone. I later learned that they had taken a shortcut into a parking lot. Not knowing where to go next I had no choice but to turn around and ride back to Wayne's group which included Joshy and Mark$ter.
For the next fifteen minutes I was inconsolable that my race was essentially over. It's not that I thought I could win it, I fancy myself a gentleman racer and would never ever have sprinted Kevin for the finish after he routed and pulled us. (Last year at MMI I pulled a similar move and followed Jade around, after telling Jade the finish was his he allowed me the honor of finishing ahead because I had spent a lot of time on the front that day) I also wasn't going to race Nico for it as I owed him one from Stupor and had let him know early on in the race that I was working for him. Not that he necessarily needed my help, but it was fun to keep an eye on him and make sure he didn't get into trouble and a couple of times I was able to drift back and make sure there was no chance of him coming off the group. It made me feel like a rider in a grand tour looking out for his leader. I like feeling useful.
So the best I could have finished had I stayed with the group was third, and my man Stu was in it too so who knows what would have happened. So it's not missing the podium that bummed me out, it was missing the opportunity to ride with those guys. To hang with the best, to represent Minnie, to rep Bike Jerks and AC. I knew I had legs and I knew I could hang.
Kevin ended up taking it with Stu second and Nico third. Congrats to those dudes, Kevin put in a huge effort on the front while battling an absolutely brutal wind. I ended up a respectable 7th.
the top four bikes and mine at the finish
Nico after the race with a proto AC Aluminum track frame on his back
First female, Coco
Second female, Shea
Nico on the podium
The next series of photos are Josh and me three sheets singing Coe at the top of our lungs at the Polish Falcon. It's tradition.
Thanks to the organizers, Shag and Jade, thanks to Wayne, thanks to all our friends in Milwaukee, and thanks to Kevin, Stu, and Nico for a great ride.
I love racing my bike so much.