Monday, July 21, 2008!

on Saturday we raced in a 100-mile, mixed terrain Alley Kat. Lauren, Katy and I decided it would be fun to do this together, although we also decided the fun quotient would decrease over 50 miles, so we planned an early bail-out. I called it the official "girls" course, and since we were the only three women who participated, I think that counts.

so, what's an alley cat, you ask? it's a form of urban racing that mimics a bike messenger's job -- ride from the start to a check-point, get a new assignment/map to the next check-point, ride there, get some more directions, ride, check-point, ride, check-point, you get the idea. of course, this race also included beer and food and some games, too (at least on the long course, or so we hear).

being neither a messenger nor a hipster, I wasn't sure what to expect. I'd never done anything like this and didn't want to stick out as a nerdy roadie (even though I am one). so, I got a pair of skate-boarder shorts that matched my team kit and tried to look all urban-like (FAIL). most of us seemed to be on cyclocross bikes. there were a few mountain bikes, some single speeds (silly boys) and even one daring dude on a road bike.

the starting point was kept top-secret until midnight on Friday. we met at a cold and foggy Golden Gate Park on Saturday morning. as everyone gathered, it became clear that there was a wide mix of folks -- some I know from the road racing world, some crossers, and some urban hipsters. there were lots of cute boys in spandex. and three girls -- me, Katy, and Lauren. we declared ourselves the winners and decided our day would be fun together -- "one for all and all for one!"

after a brief racer meeting, we were sent off to our first three check-points in San Francisco: Roaring Mouse Cycles (where we had our official race portrait taken), a parking lot on the top of a 20% hill (with a run down stairs at the end), and the house of the race organizer (where the race would also finish). at this third check-point, we were given three HUGE maps that detailed the rest of the course. all three of us dropped our jaws and went "huh?" didn't they realize that we're girls and that maps are meaningless?

it was Lauren's first bike ride over the Golden Gate Bridge so we stopped to take some photos to commemorate the event. we also made a quick stop at Mike's Bikes in Sausalito to fill our bottles and use the restroom. luckily, Katy and I could navigate us out to our first check-point in Mill Valley (without looking at the maps). but we never found that first check-point. were we so slow that they left? we later found out that the person running the check-point never showed up. we couldn't find the turn-off to the first dirt section -- Old Railroad Grade. we studied our maps made a couple of attempts and finally asked a hiker who pointed us in the right direction.

by this point, the sun had broken through the fog and the climb up Old Railroad Grade was fabulous -- all fire road and not too steep -- finishing at the West Point Inn (on Mt. Tam). we alternated climbing through redwoods and open, sunny spaces. the views of the entire bay area were expansive and overwhelming. the race organizer called us on the cell a couple of times to make sure we were okay -- I guess we were a little slow compared to the guys. he also gave us clues on how to get to the next check-point.

from the top, we could see the fog rolling in again. and as we descended the Coastal View Trail, the fog was obscuring our view of the ocean. we made it to the Ranger Station but then couldn't figure out where to go. luckily, it wasn't the trail with the 50 "learn-to-hike" students.

we skipped the second big loop, knowing that we wanted a shorter ride, and headed down the bumpy single-track to the Pelican Inn near Muir Beach, where the second loop would intersect with our route. we were excited at the prospect of meeting up with the rest of the racers (guys) at that point. lost again, we engaged the assistance of a cute boy on a mountain bike. bombing down the trail, trying to impress the boy with our mad cross skillz, I hit a big hole and went down pretty hard. after crying like a baby, I dusted off, posed for a crash simulation photo, and we continued down the single-track. but when we arrived at the Pelican Inn, the race organizer and his crew were drinking beer and eating french fries -- no boys in sight. apparently we were still ahead of them.

we got lost (again) trying to find the trails out of Muir Beach so we ended up riding part of that section on Highway One. and then it was back to Mill Valley and Sausalito and the final windy, foggy climb up to the Golden Gate Bridge. Katy was a perfect navigator and got us back to the finish line in no time.

we were the first riders in, completing 50+ miles with almost 5,000' of climbing in just over 5 hours. about an hour later, the first group of men -- Steve, Hans, Matthias, and Morgan -- finished: 89 miles with a lot more climbing!

much, much fun, but only because we chose to ride together as friends. it was a great opportunity to try something different and ride some trails I'd never ridden. and the post-race party was....well, let's just say it was a lot of fun, too!

thanks to everyone who organized and volunteered to make this a great day.

oh, and more photos here: clickity-click the linkity link


Kimberly (aka. DrKim) said...

that's awesome! It sounds like so much fun to do with your friends. :)

lauren said...

fun, fun and more fun.

kickass katy said...

I am emailing this quote to everyone I know.

"Katy was a perfect navigator and got us back to the finish line in no time. "

Yes, it was fun day with the girls.

velogirl said...

you're not going to be able to use the "lost & clueless" excuse anymore, Katy.

A.Fog said... time you do something like this let me know - it sounds like way too much fun!