Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Blood In Blood Out, or, "why do my legs hurt so much?"

On Saturday I decided to make a half-assed return to doing roadie rides (all lycra-related taunts are welcomed, including, but not limited to "roadie-scum"). Matt and I hit up Elysian Park (past the fixed-gear swapmeet) to the L.A. River trail, and on to Griffith Park, up and over to the Observatory and past the Hollywood sign.

After leaving Matt at Griffith Park, and 30 miles later, I rode home and decided to immediately turn around (sans-lycra) to the alleycat that was being put on by some downtown messengers. This alleycat was themed after the movie Blood In Blood Out, and so was based in East L.A./Boyle Heights, my new neighbourhood. I thought I would just drop by to watch the start, but inevitably decided to race. It has been about two years since I last raced an alleycat ("Cranksgiving") - a few years of bitterness towards "messenger lifestyle" and my continually bad performance in alleycats (getting lost, forgetting to eat before, generally being slow) meant I have avoided these largely. At least I could ride home if I decided to return to 6 year old budge, and just quit half-way without telling anyone, ala primary school.

The race started at the infamous 4th and Flower location. Situated in downtown under an overpass, this is a site best known for smelling like you are down-wind of a giant urinal (and you are), amongst other delights. This made the start of the race even more interesting: after lining all our bikes up across the road to create a sprint start, we were made to take all of our shoes off and put them in a pile, walking through things I dont even want to imagine...

Where are my shoes?

Once we found our shoes and ran across four lanes of one-way traffic to our bikes, it was a sprint to the 6th street bridge to get the manifest that listed all the checkpoints we had to get ticked off (in any order we chose) before getting to the finishing point (the 'Purple Rain' house a few blocks from my place).

Lining up the bikes for the start.

The checkpoints were located at locations that were scenes in the film, and often included certain 'tasks', including eating an entire chili, getting a "Vatos Locos" neck tattoo, drinking a shot of tequila, naming the artist of certain murals, or the name of the only white character in the movie (or if you didnt know the name, like me, doing 10 push-ups). I struggle with eating whole chili's and doing push-ups at the best of times, but after riding at full pace against traffic and running up giant sets of stairs, I was not feeling so well. The race was a lot of fun, and most even avoided arrest or a fine from the cops after some close calls.

After finding that my local liquor store is actually the best in L.A., and one of only two in the state that sells Australian beer that isn't Fosters (this brings me great joy, it even has Pinkus organic pilsner from Germany), we all headed to the industrial wasteland alongside the L.A. River, near the 7th street bridge for bike polo