Last year I got bupkis. This year I got's Boozleys and a small child and that was for 4th place! Ya see, once cross season ends, there's not much to motivate in the off-season. I usually schedule some idiocy mid-year just to give myself something at which to throw darts. Enter the East Bay Rally Cat. My favoritest "race" of that other season. Why is it so great you ask? Do tell.
Great Location? 5 miles from my house!
Great Course? Check!
Great Promoter? Got it!
Great Prizes? Did I mention pickles and kids?
HUGE Purse? BANG!
Great after-party? Yeppers!
Great crowd? in Spades!
Even an illustrious dignitary and PuddinPie!
oh, and entry fee was a fin!
This year was the 2nd annual. 86 bandits. Gone were the unmanned checkpoints, but an ad hoc route between checkpoints 3 & 4 was added. This would prove to be my Flutie. For those unfamiliar (mainly my sisters, the only ones who read this rag), an alley cat is to formal bike racing what a hash run is to the Olympic 10k. You're given a map (Sorry Mary, no ham sandwiches) with checkpoints and sent on your way to navigate a route somewhat of your choosing, collecting stamps along the way. Hopefully you arrive back safely at the keg, er finish line. There are no race numbers, no team tents, no PA system, no race officials. Go Hard, have fun, don't get run over. That's about it. There is always much discussion before the start as to the best routes, the subtle difference between cheating and being cheeky, and how to pull a Rosie Ruiz without getting caught. Successful execution of the latter at this type of event is to be lauded. And while a party atmosphere abounds, the race can be anything but a picnic if you so choose. This year again sent us straight up Tunnel Rd (a 4+ mile climb) and again the pace was brutal. Krishna, Kea, Jon (you bastard), James and a few other nutjobs (Fred?) were killin' it at the front. I clung about 20 meters back. I tried to go with Mark as he bridged up to the lead of 5 or 6 and paid dearly. I backed off, got passed by a few, regrouped, passed a few back, and hit the first checkpoint in about 9th place, maybe a minute back of the leaders. What followed was the crazed mud slick decent in Sibley. I completely forgot how to go downhill, got passed by Murphy, Blake and probably a few others, but passed Murphy back on the butt-steep climb to the water tower (another 2 mile buster where the 1st mile averages 9.5%) . I could see a few other riders strung out on the ridge, but the leaders were now all but gone. At the trail turn off to the tower, I saw a few heading up the ridge, missing the split. "HEY, YOU'RE GOING THE WRONG WAY", I whispered. There, I tried. Once past the water tower, I tip-toed down Pinehurst and settled into tempo trying to save something for the final 6+ mile climb to the third checkpoint. I knew Adam had passed Murphy as well up to the tower so he couldn't be far back. I looked to see him at about 300 meters. I sat up a tad, waiting for the catch so we could work together along the false flats. A minute later, as I looked to check on his progress, a freight train come barreling past. HOLY CRAP! Adam AND Murphy had latched onto some HOSS of a roadie who was driving the pace Hard. I jumped HAAARDerrrr and barely become the caboose as we steamed at 28MPH through the rollers. Didn't have to take a single pull. It was worth it. I was one very Happy Noodle. At the base of south Pinehurst, no one pushed it. We all knew what was coming...the self mortification that is Eastridge trail. Once there, Murphy poured it on and took off. Mercifully, the climb wasn't the wet clay mess of last year so my choice of file treads made me look like Wile E. Coyote. Adam and I yo-yo'ed a bit as two young upstarts had the nerve to catch AND pass us (and Murphy as well). Adam dropped off the pace as I tried in vain to keep those three in site. I was also cramping bad and there was something in my jersey pocket pressing like a rock on my lower back bugging the heck outta me! What the hell was that thing?! Oh Jeet Sweebus. A water bottle. Yeah, now I remember. I'm suppose to be drinking that. Somehow, four of us regroup at Skyline Gate. Click the link. See. Don't I just look daisy fresh. I'm now running 13th. If you remember, it was from this point on that you were on your own. Anyway you could get to checkpoint 4 was fair game. If you followed the map, you were in for another 3+ miles of rolling trails and some hairball decsents. I had no intention of doing any such thing (like last year). I hopped on to Skyline with Murphy and the two youngsters in tow. As we rode along, I was wondering if they were thinking what I was thinking...bust it down Castle and come at the cabin from the opposite direction? Only one way to find out...play dead. I was looking the part anyway. As we approached Moongate, I upped the tempo, took a pull , then faded to the back as we rounded the bend. They held the pace and I faded a bit more. As they swept left, passing the point of no return, I grabbed a handful of binder and dropped it hard right down the descent. A quick look back...Nada! MUWAHAHA! I flew down as fast as I dare, not wanting to miss the unmarked exit of the trail. There it was...with lots of fresh tracks to boot. No sooner had I headed in when Krishna and Kea came flying out...a few seconds later and here came Jeff, Matthias, Mark and a few of the others from the original lead group. So I wasn't the only one with this tidbit of knowledge. I stormed to the cabin trail, stashed the bike, ran down, got the stamp and scrambled back up. I flew back out and rode the last miles to the lake solo, 9th overall! But wait, what,s this...Mark and Jeff had missed the water tower, which put me 7th! Matthias, Kea and some other freak of nature were on SS cross rigs and in a category of their own. That put me 4th in the gear afflicted! Be still my heart! Was I in the "money". Was there enough schwag to go that deep. I decided to use the Force. "You do not want the Bread&Butter pickles". "They will only aggrivate your diverticulitis". "That De La Paz Coffee smells sooo good". Sunshine, CX, Pickles, Family, A very good day. Tip hats to Evan and Jason. Thanks Everyone for the photos.
Check out the streams.
Jon flickr set
Jenny flickr set
hotMARK Flickr set
p.s. PuddinPie, I really didn't want to go that hard. Jon made me.
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