Saturday, February 05, 2005


I'll preface this post by saying "I'm drunk." Or at least "I have a buzz on." This has been the case ever since about 3:30 when I had that shot w/beer chaser at Palmers in Cedar-Riverside midway through the race. Toss in several more beers at the after-party downtown, and the fact that I'm such a lightweight and well, you get the picture. And just for the record, a shot at Palmers isn't really a shot - it's more like 6 oz of liquor in a juice glass. Should have just ordered rail, since I just slammed it anyway.

So, the Stupor Bowl pretty much kicked ass. Rumor has it there were 170 riders (compare that with counts of 50-80 in past years - apparently the addition of The Onion as a sponsor helped goose participation up this year.) Nicollet Mall was abuzz with energy during pre-race registration, with bikes chained up everywhere and people riding, trackstanding, and generally milling about. Overheard a non-biker couple comment "Wow, lot's of kids out here ..." referring to all the bikey people, most of whom are of course adults. Another manifestation of the general attitude that once old enough to drive, most people consider bikes to be toys? The scene outside Grumpy's after the race was the same ... bikes everywhere, chained up, chained to each other, chained everywhere. So many beautiful bikes!

I was very pleased with my race performance, given the fact that I put in very little time plotting a route, and was on a mtn bike. I hit all but 4 of the 27 stops (stops missed were OneOnOne Bike Studio, Grumpy's Bar Northeast, Pizza Luce Downtown and Behind Bars Bicycle Shop.) Didn't ride the light rail out to the Minneapolis stops (could have, since there was a train pulling up while I was in Cedar-Riverside, but somehow I felt like that wouldn't be in the spirit of the whole affair, so I was compelled to pedal despite the fact that riding the train would have saved some time.)

I hit all of the furthest-out stops, including the Dubliner (on University in St Paul), Sunrise Inn (at 34th Ave and 46th St in SE Mpls) and the ice-fishing stop on Lake Calhoun. I feel really bad for the minnow that spent the last hour of the ride dying in my breast pocket, but I really needed the bonus points alloted for anyone who turned in bait from the Lake Calhoun checkpoint. They also offered bonus points for many other things, including downing a cup of coffee at Birchwood Cafe, but the coffee was so freaking hot that I had to toss a handfull of snow into it to cool it down, then I slammed it and took off :-)

Had a great time talking with the volunteers stamping manifests at the various stops as well. Super friendly and fun. So here's a shout out to all the volunteers - you rock!

So I think I did an OK job of representing the triathlete-turned-urban-rider crowd. In the end, I missed 2 stops in downtown, and 2 stops in Northeast. Not too shabby.

I can honestly say that it's been a long time since I've been mentally and physically "in the zone" for 3 solid hours. I mean, I was cruising hardcore and really pushing myself, and the 3 hours totally flew. And I don't think I've ever ridden as aggressively in traffic as I did today. Any car that threatened to turn in front of me without signaling, or to not let me into their lane got a verbal warning. Accidently clipped the passenger-side mirror of a moving car on Hennepin while threading my way between it and the parked cars on the side of the street. (Not proud of that one, but I don't think there was any damage?) Chided pedestrians who jaywalked in front of me without looking. And I loved every minute of it. I mean, I almost feel bad about just how much I loved it. For those 3 hours, I felt just slightly above the law. And (right or wrong) it was exhilirating as all hell.

Riding around town these past few months paid off, since I knew many of the stops (despite the fact that I'd never set foot in most of them) and I didn't need to consult any of the Mapquest maps I printed out (I did occasionally consult the map provided in the Onion, however.) Which also isn't to say I didn't make mistakes ... my connection between the Sportsman Pub (on Como) and the Dubliner (in St. Paul) left much to be desired as I hadn't planned it in advance, but I made it there without consulting my map. I ended up taking Kasota, which seemed far from direct. But it did the job.

My general plan was to hit the campus stops first, then out to the Dubliner for the big points, back through Cedar Riverside, SE Minneapolis, round to Uptown, while saving downtown and NE for last, since they'd be nearest to the finish anyway. This worked fine, except that I ran out of time while up in NE. I left NE with 15 minutes remaining, and had to fight the wind to make it to the finish at Grumpy's downtown before the 5PM cutoff. The wind was out of the NE earlier in the day - but apparently it switched direction? In the end, I made it with less than 1 minute remaining ... and my legs were total jello at that point. While waiting in line to turn in my manifest, I realized just how empty my stomach was. Downed 3 energy bars in line. Felt a little better.

That's about it. I'm beat but proud. My bike computer died many weeks ago, so I don't know how many miles I rode in those 3 hours, or what my pace was. But in the end, it doesn't matter. I feel really, really good.

Stupor Bowl prep

Well, it's 2 hours 'til kickoff. Of the Stupor Bowl that is. I've never done a race like this, and I'm a little apprehensive. Just a little. I'm heading downtown in a few minutes to register, which is where I'll find out start and finish locations. The checkpoints were published earlier in the week, so I've spent just a little time looking at maps. Supposedly, the race is 3 hours to hit as many checkpoints as possible and make it to the finish, via any route (and disobeying any traffic laws) you choose. Checkpoints have different point values based on distance and I assume difficulty in getting there. Yea, a little apprehensive is right. I wish I knew the town a little better. Wind is from the Northeast ... I'll have to somehow factor that into my routes as well.

The good news is I spent the morning tuning up the bike and swapping out the knobbies and installing my slick tires. Took it out for a spin, and it's amazing how much faster I feel with the slicks. Of course, most of the other riders will be riding single speed or fixie road bikes, so I'm still at a disadvantage. Plus, 3 hours will be pushing the limits of my winter endurance. I have no illusions of winning, but I'd like to not finish in the back either.

So, wish me luck.

In other news, my neighborhood is a total clusterfuck right now - dumptrucks are hauling snow onto the streets to get set up for the Loopet cross-country ski race tomorrow. If you're smart, you may want to avoid the Hennepin/Lake area for a few days.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Feeling less sluglike now

I feel much better now. Previously, I was feeling the way I feel when I haven't exercised for several weeks. Which is actually pretty strange, since I did get out for a roughly 26 mile ride with Darkling Child on Sunday, which was much needed and fun. But I had planned on going to spin class last night (got held up at work - goddamn Oracle database) and planned on running over lunch today (didn't - lazy?) So when I went to pottery class tonight, I packed my running clothes and told myself that I wasn't allowed to go home until I got a run under my belt. So I headed to the YWCA after class and spent 1/2 hour on the treadmill running an interval workout. I thought that treadmills maxed out at 6 minute/mile pace, but mine went faster. Not that I ran more than a 1/4 mile at a faster pace than that, mind you. But that fast last 1/4 mile allowed me to just complete 4 uphill miles in 30 minutes (including my warmup). Not too shabby for not having run for more than a week.

Pottery class is really cool, by the way. I think I've found an art form that meshes nicely with my technical nature. Unlike some other forms of artistry (like painting, drawing, etc) it's tactile, three dimensional, and includes elements of construction and design. I'm liking it a lot, working with my hands. Of course, so far I've just made (OK, I'm 3/4 of the way done with) a sort of crappy bowl using the coil method. But I tried to be methodical and focus on technique, rather than just trying to rush into a cool project. Other techniques like slab and draping seem even more interesting and cool, and I'll work on them next time, hopefully.