Phil's Bike Tour

Monday, July 04, 2005

fat in the city

This is sunday. this is race day.

Last night i was out at the bar watching burley girls tackle and wrestle the drunk boys to the streets. My heart wants to wrestle, but my knee is happy. it hasn't been an issue in months of riding so i think ill keep it. They kinda posted results, my number was not among the top 10 riders in my manifest. I felt like i was close, like i really had a shot.

This morning I make sure to get my helmet camera attachment off my broken camera. I call camera world, they have gotten no papers. They should have come in by now.

NYC Wolf Camera "why don't you have portland camera world fax us your warranty?"
rev "a fine idea. They should be in today."
PDX Camera World "That's odd, we faxed them last week."

and so it goes. Someday I will have my camera and the papers at the camera shop. Someday. I tell myself I am not leaving NY with that broken thing.

Until then I have been fortunate to have teamed up with the bike TV folks. Steve McMacpherson has a small Sony to loan me, for the helmet cam action and other shots that the "outsiders" could not. Funny i should be an outsider. I probably am, but i rarely let myself be aware of such things. My Shit-eatin-grin = other's chagrin.

For some reason I still held hope to race today. Maybe there was a type, a miscalculation... i raced to hard yesterday, almost flawlessly (with the exception of my tube having a blowout during the "flat fix" station.) just so I could use my helmet cam. I think maybe Squid (a primary organizer) will have a change of heart.

his words yesterday:

"You nearly killed me in Portland, that's why i was pissed"
"During that turn" (when he nearly hit me)
"Oh, I thought you were just fucking with me"

On my way to the big show I do manage to waste an hour trying to find media tapes at "J. & R." by the World Trade Center. This is a store crammed to the gills with technology, and yet i hate it so. It is everything about the future I detest. No cool kids. No reused anything. No idea where to get the things im looking for. No FREE GEEK style love. No this place sucked, and before it was over I had to go in and out of the store 5 times to different entrances to find the media for a camcorder. Then it was mine. and i left.

The PATH train out to Jersey City is pretty dope. 1.50 to ride, alas it takes 5-10 min just to get from the entrance and then walk down 4 staircases to the rail. Ahh security. I mean, this is a large hole. I would hate for someone to blow it up.

The race starts, im on the sideline. Maybe it is for the best. I get some good interviews with Orlando from LA, and Butch from Houston who now works in North Carolina. I burn though more tapes playing polo, rolling with Seattle's Messman, the group ride across the GW bridge and during the allycat.

So much alcohol. I try and document the mass intox going on. I hear stories of margaritas and spliffs and reggae music by Red Bull's tent.

Finally I get to hang with sommer just before he gets his skid on. He is in the finals and I want him to rock. He came here just for this event. But in the end, this little guy from Houston named Squirrel set a new world record, 509 feet.


yes that is close to 2 football fields. More results are on the nybma site:

Then a group photo is taken, which, now that I look at it is so packed full of folks there's no real reason to post the url, but clever folk will find it anyway, and be disappointed on their own accord. Randel McMurphy, aka The Zurich connection finds my "unbreakable" bottle of vodka. Within moments we are playing more Vodka Rugby. Let me just say it is an awesome game. Alas the bottle was not meant to be thrown 100s of feet, and dropped by a cameraman who thinks he can catch with his left hand, so once the plastic ring breaks, we announce, "TOPS OFF" and swill.

Then a great group ride. 100s of bikers touring the city. One cat had a penny farthing. He said he makes his own tubes, which is something I had been wondering about for awhile. Pulling up to the George Washington Bridge I see the kids ahead making the turn. But I know there are folks behind me, and I dont know if they know where to turn. So I stop and direct the bike traffic, but sure enough a cop rolls up.

"You cant be blocking traffic, you are breaking the law" (ahh that phrase should be on some biker's tombstone by now)
"yes sir. Im just trying to make sure we dont leave anyone behind. There are lots of bikers and they may not know where to turn. I didn't mean to break any laws"
"its too late for that, biking at dusk without lights..."
"You understand, there are people from all over the world, so it can be confusing."
"you gotta understand... this is Jersey City..."
"..." I give a confused look.
"You cant just be biking around breaking the law. That's why your organization is gonna be in trouble. No one was notified."

I start to defend the NYBMA when I notice the gate leading to the bike path across the bridge is now closing. Another cop standing near the gate puts his head down. I apologize to the cop and bolt for the last seconds of the opening. Im not sure everyone got across but I do know that no one got in behind me. At least not without having to deal with Jersey City's finest.

Eventually we make it to the video night at Riverside Park. It's over 100 blocks north, so Im guaranteed to have a nice long ride home to Brooklyn. No time to relax though, my batteries need charging. But the barrista is weird about me plugging in my camera. UGH! these people and their "heightened security". Eventually the manager comes back and also thinks its a bad idea.

"This plug cant be out where we would trip on it"
"why dont we follow the cable back to the wall"
"well ok."

sure enough there is an outlet. And I get fresh batteries and just in time too, the race starts and for the second time tonight 100s of bikers tear out of the park, carrying their bikes running up several staircases. I follow. I shoot. I awesome.

We weave in and out of traffic. one way streets mean "our way" streets. But before I know it my tape runs out, and since im double drinking at stops it slips my mind.


This race is only supposed to take a hour or 90 min. We go all the way down to the finical dist, then over the Williamsburg bridge... But this is where i get messed up. I get dropped by the pack at the Rockstar bar, so although I know I should go north to the 59th Street Bridge, I follow the other slowpoke back across the Willamsburg. bad idea. Then I gotta go across the 59th St bridge to make a paper airplane. But the guys there look at me and keep on asking, "should I put you on a subway?"

Now sitting down in a cool subway sounds nice, but even in my stupor I know that i am in no condition to figure out what stops I would have to make, never-mind having to carry a bike on any more stairs. So I roll back into the city with these guys working the stop, as they are sure no one else will be coming though at this hour (i guess im way behind). So I try to make up for being late by flying down the bridge hitting all the green lights, but I see up ahead a wet patch on the asphalt.

"No prob, my cyclecross tread will make short work of..."

I am down.

The wet spot happens to be a thin layer of fat/grease that has been dumped across the lane. The road rash on my knee and elbow smells delicious.

Then when going though a park i come upon Orlando and El Jimmy, and sure enough El Jimmy is decked out in his bike tube armor. Full on rubber smock, and a bloody chain ring in his head. A great costume. Really the only one i have seen thus far.

They are also blotto and crunk, so together we decide to try and get to the finish line. Even though we both live in the opposite direction. Finally we arrive and moments after I turn in my manifest a bullhorn goes off: the police are here, everyone has to leave right now.


Still I try to go find the crew at the bar. Yeah its late, and yeah im tired, but if its on the way home, maybe one of the 2 girls i kissed today are hanging out waiting for a well lubricated reverend to come walking in.

Ted Shred (the brakeless freewheelin' turntablist) is rolling with his lady as well. Sure enough there's bikes a plenty, and parking is scarce. So after several min of stumbling around trying to lift up the bike to lock it up (literally up) I am refused at the door.

"we are closing it down."

Its just as well. I am sick of being told that I am lucky to be able to pay only $3 dollars for a Budweiser.

I was so irate by the absence of booze, and folks lameness I decide to rock it down to where I know I can be treated well at 430am: Punjabi

The only Indian food cafe I have ever been to with Motor Oil available for purchase. For $4 they pack the grub. My eyes are big now, I am famished. At least my exhausted body tells me food is the answer. Better add some Samosas to the order.

I get a smile from a girl with her friend as im leaving and she is ordering. Sure enough we get to sit together on the stoop outside. I am tired I dont want to have to work hard to find a place to sleep. I am totally prepared to just crash in a park a few blocks away, but a bed would be a fine alternative.

We make nice for a few min, and then a Puerto Rican guy walks up and starts with his rap. He is definitely high to be able to talk that fast at 5am. He has a good wit, but i can tell the girls are not interested in taking him home. They decide to hail a cab.

"We would put you up, but we really cant bring anyone home without consulting our roommates first, they are already pissed at us."

"Well if im not on your couch they wouldn't know."

One girl smiles at me, the other grabs her arm, "we gotta go"


Back to plan A, find a public park, sleep, enjoy the hot night. Which all the sudden has gotten significantly colder. All the benches in nyc have an "arm rest" looking thing every 4 feet or so. A cleaver way to prevent folks from stretching out, but I am not daunted. I just lock up the bike and try to position myself. The sun is rising but Im cold. I look though my bag for heat options. Having my helmet on helps some, more than the shin guard I got at the freestore. I find some sunlight to warm myself in, then lay down, then im cold again. So I keep this up for awhile until the sun is on a bench then I lay in the sun. Around 8 or so the park is hopping with martial arts and dog walkers. If only i had a sparks. Then this whole "sleeping" thing would irrelevant. Conveniently, the toilet paper I bought for the Chicken Hut is still in my bag, so at least I had a nice pillow.

The next day I noticed my rear brake started rubbing again. I wonder how long it was like that. The real danger in drinking in not injury, it's missing out because you are too far gone to know that your brake is stuck.

I really need to shower.


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