By late October, the Anchorage cycling community usually finds itself transitioning away from fenders, mud, and pavement to studs, ice and fresh snow. Not so this year, as fall continues to hold us in its soggy grip. The rather delayed onset of winter allowed for some fun autumnal riding this past Saturday night, as three separate costumed events took place across town. No studs required.
I showed up at the first event, the fairly informal Halloween Super ‘Cross IV event planned by John and posted to the Arctic Cross website. I originally intended to be there just to photograph and observe. I made the offhand comment that I wished I brought my bike a few minutes into shooting the pre-ride gathering and suddenly found myself testing out John’s Bianchi C.U.S.S., which he offered to let me borrow for the race. I agreed, dug around my trunk for a passable costume, and handed the camera off to the wife while I rode. I am now officially hooked after my first ride in the world of cyclocross.
This was definitely an informal event. The course was changed a couple of times by some beer-swilling tandem riders who appeared to be seasoned hecklers. A few infinite loops were thrown into the mix, and the final lap led into the lake. Most folks ignored the route changes, especially the water hazard (40 degrees is not great swimming weather), though everyone had a good laugh. As I was sucking wind pretty hard at this point (I have been on a bit of a bicycle sabbatical these past two years), I chose to play up the water hazard and took an intentional dive into the lake. Well worth it – while I wasn’t a championship racer, I did win a conciliatory 22 oz. Pumpkin Ale for being the best swimmer.
I had to split pretty soon after the race, as hypothermia seemed increasingly probable while I cleared flags and tape from the course. After a good long soak in the shower it was time to prep another costume for an alleycat based out of Off the Chain Bicycle Collective’s parking lot. Andy, Carp, and Dane had a solid ride planned out. I found a team at the last minute (thanks Chrisser and Alan), we suited up, collected our four live goldfish, our 18 beers, our first clue, and we were off.
There may be a lack of actual ride photos for this event, as the three of us were too busy dominating it to stop and shoot. Checkpoint one included a decibel-metered yelling competition (and beer), number two required climbing a tree to pull the clue from a hanging corpse (and beer), three involved answering riddles and then scrambling across the mud flats to get a clue from a coffin (more beer), stop four required catching water balloons filled with fake blood (beer break), the fifth checkpoint was a regrouping stop with jungle juice, poem memorization and recitation (did I mention beer?), and then an all-out sprint to the final checkpoint, where we had a fake-blood slip and slide (35 degrees? No problem), a point tallying (bonus points for keeping your fish alive, even more bonus points for eating them), and subsequent dance-off to determine the winner. Team Garret’s Babies for the win. We are now on the hook to add to Carp’s awesome trophy and plan next year’s alleycat.
Most folks went to Anchorage Community Works to enjoy a show, as the alleycat conveniently ended just past their parking lot. I rolled off to Carlos’s Halloweenie scavenger hunt. This annual event is a bit of an institution in the Anchorage bike scene, as it usually kicks off the winter riding season and a bunch of his Frigid Bits rides. I showed up late due to the judges taking a long time to score the alleycat, so I just kicked it around the burn barrel with a couple of folks until the scavenger riders returned. Good conversation, really fun people, and then a short ride down the street to my house for another shower and some quality time with the pregnant wife.
Three fantastic rides (well, two rides and a burn barrel) in one day. I love how supportive and excited the Anchorage bike people are, whether they are racing CX, plotting ridiculously beer-fueled rambles, or planning epic winter rides in the Alaskan wilderness. It feels really good to be back in Alaska after two too many years away.