Hideouswhitenoise,Issue 33, Summer 1997
The Daughter of Elephant bike and I had some misgivings about headingdown to the Big Apple. Neither of us had ever gone before and all we knewabout the place was based on second hand information and the popular media.According to one camp, New York was one big bike eating pot hole. The othersaid there was nothing to worry about and we would both have a good time.
New York state is quite beautiful and the Hudson River took us completelyby surprize. One monment we were driving through forests and rock cutsand the next thing you know your crossing a bridge with the towering spiresof Manhattan just down the shore.
Upon getting off the freeway, the first thing that came apparent wasthe lack of bike eating potholes. The streets looked sweet to ride on andI wanted a piece of them. I could hear the GDofEB moving restlessly abouton the roof. She wanted to get on those streets as much as I did
Upon arriving we got in contact with Eli and Corinne, she of WonderWoman fame and he soon to become gain his own little claim to fame courtesyof a beer bottle, for our living arrangements. They were happy to hearfrom us and it wasn't long before we had a floor to crash on.
It wasn't long after that The Granddaughter of Elephant Bike and I hitthe streets of the Big Apple. Thirty seconds later we were assimilatedto the streets of and in less time we were blowing reds NY style, whichbetween you and me is the same as doing it anywhere else except you'redoing it in New York.
Time began to speed up and we soon found ourselves meeting messengersfrom Chicago, Minneapolis, Boston, Washington, Montreal, Phillidelphiaand New York...oh yah and those other messengers from Toronto, .in TompkinsSquare. Some messengers had arrived that day, while others had arrivedthe night before and spent the night in Central Park.
Around 1:00 p.m. a tour of out of town couriers went for a practiserun of the course. The ride from what is basically 8th St to 110th St,turned from a playful run in mild traffic to an all out race, catchingdecades and decades of streets on an avenue of greens that went on forever.The mad dash through traffic finally ended at the gates of Central Park.It was at this point most of us realized that we were going to be participatingin a race in less then four hours and the tour hadn't even begun. Needlessto say the tour was taken at a slower pace then the ride to Central Park.
Skip to 5:30. The north gates to Central Park are jammed with 114 racesand those people working the race. At the back of the pack is a NYPD 4by 4 with its lights flashing. At first they are just curious, but thenthey start to move in. The call is given and the race is on.
Half the pack takes to the streets, while GDofEB have to make our firstdecision. Which way to go. I want to take the park route, but GDofEB decidesit's going to be quicker on the street. Not in any position to argue, Ihold on tight as she charges out into the traffic. We all scream and yelldown Central Park west, cutting off traffic and blowing lights.
I hit the first checkpoint in Times Square and right after that theentire two and half hour pretour of the course disapears from my brain.I had no idea where I was or where I was going so I fell back on plan #2.Follow someone who knew the way.
I caught up to a pack and followed them until they all turned rightand I went straight and missed the checkpoint at 101 Park Avenue by tenblocks and had to double back.
I only missed the second checkpoint at Washington Square by about fiveblocks. By the time I arrived the Park Authority was forcing everyone outonto the street and not through the park. While I looked about, someonetook my picture and handed me a polaroid.
The entire race reminded me of one of those old movies with the chasescene in the hallway, of people entering one room and then coming out ofanother room down the hallway. But in this comedy there were too many cargrills that came uncomfortably close.
Checkpoint 4 was the Federal Hall, where as one New York Courier commentedwas where all the corruption had originated and spread out to envelopethe rest of the planet. Then it was across the rickety old, or it seemedold with its metal speed bumps every ten feet and the steel plates thatslapped up and down as you rode across them like bacon on a hot griddle.
Once over the other side, I had no clue to where I was going. LucklyI was not in the lead, as if and I saw some people ahead of me so I followed.I am not the most competititve person, but I knew I had to get them orall was lost, so I whipped the elephant bike, she likes that, into actionand we sprinted ahead. Her trunk came erect as we passed not one, not two,but four people before we crossed the finish line in exhaustion.
Squid shook my hand and said that Toronto had come in First and Second.I thought he was telling me I was the first person from Toronto to comeover the line. But actually Alex Vaughn of No fixed Address in first, buthe's living in Toronto so he's ours and Toronto's Own Joe Nunn right behindhim. Bobeck from Boston came in third, while the top female rider was Amberfrom Minneapolis.
We started to party in an abandoned warehouse until news came that aphalanx of uniformed NYPD closed off the street and we were told we hadto move our butts. So we went out the back door and onto the riverbankwith a lot of other people that I didn't recognize from the race. Aftera few minutes I came to the realization that they and the boats that filledthe East river were there to watch the fireworks for the Fourth of July.And what fire works they were. The sky above Manhattan was illuminatedfor a good hour as a cornicopia of explosions rippled across the sky incelebration of America's b-day
Once the fireworks subsided everyone headed to the squat where the afterparty party was happening. Messengers moshed and drank to the wee hoursof the morning. At this little swaray there were more people injured thenduring the race. The worst of the lot was Eli, our esteemed host gettinga bottle in the head by some ad exec from the upper east side and of coursethere was the battle of the bands between the New York Droogs and Toronto'sBoozass. But no one died, so the race can be termed a success.
The next day a convoy of couriers from different parts of the continentheaded out to Coney Island for fun in the sun. The day was filled withoverpriced rides, drinking greasy food and cold beers on the Boardwalk.For those of you who are interested in geography, Coney island is not anisland, but is a straight piece of real etate where medical garbage andother bizarre creatures float up on the beach. This does not include thepeople who were swimming there.
At eight o'clock about thrity messsengers assembled under the traintracks on a dead end street to see who was the fastest sprinter. Howlingand screaming up and down the track it finally came down to New York Yakand Boston Josh. After a grueling best two out of three Yak was victorius.
Next came the longest skid and I'm not talking about the one in yourshammy. One after another messengers locked up their rigs as they skiddedacross the pavement. When it looked like Squid from NY could not be beat,Santana from Boston ate him up and came out the winner.
The final event of the night was the Track Stand officiated by ChicagoJack. Contestants steadied themselves within the parameter of a taped outbox on the pavement with fifteen track bikes and riders well you know,track standing. It first started out with two hands on the bar and thenone hand and then no hands. In the end the track stand star was none otherthen Squid, the man who put the entire week-end together.
The second biggest blast of the event happened with the mini-criticalmass from Coney Island. While half the messengers took the train back tothe East River, a handful of couriers blocked two lanes of traffic allthe way back into town. We were messed with by no one. In fact cars werepasssing us in the third lane hooting and hollering at us in good fun.We were the kings and queens of the road and nothing detered us from celebratingwho we were.
The ride ended at Squid's place where we gathered on the stoop and waitedfor the other's who had taken the train back to arrive. We all said ourfarewells and went off to end the week-end in some bar in Manhattan.
Before we left though, Squid looked around and said there wasn't evergoing to be a championship in New York, because it would just be to muchto put together and that the race that happened on the Fourth was theirchampionship. Invitations were given out and sent all over the world, buthardly anyone responded, especially no one from Europe. But thats all rightbecause they missed one of the best alleycats ever put on.
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