I lucked out in that one of the riding jerseys I asked for for Christmas, my parents bought for me and it turned out to be both water and wind proof. It saved me today. My feet were comfortably warm all day, thank you expensive NorthWave shoes, I love you.
Today started with light rain, then morphed into light sleet, then some snow. Then it was clear, then more sleet, repeat as necessary. One thing was constant...wind. Wind-driven sleet made your face feel like it was being stabbed with tiny needles. (Really, even if they were real needles, as long as there is no blood, should you care?) The weather didn't turn miserable until on my way home when slush was actually accumulating on the highways, so the ride was timed perfectly.
My bike is still in the shop, so Matt convinced me that I needed to borrow one of his. I opted for the always-fun rigid Mongoose Single Speed. It's an outstanding ride, perfect for a ride like this. There were at least half a dozen other single speeds out there plus maybe five fat tire bikes. They look like fun too, although I'm not sure when I would really use one if I had it.
There were 50+ people on the ride. (Official door-count at our first bar stop.) It's organized by a local guy (Jeff Jacobi) who just wants to get people together ("mob-style") to take the city by bike for a day, New Year's Day every year. There was no stopping our "mob". We had people in our group out in traffic halting cars. We rode though playgrounds, tunnels, college campuses, parking garages, through paths in neighborhoods, sidewalks, alleyways, up (real) cobblestone streets - AND visited two bars. What an event, I can't imagine ever missing out on this ride in the future.
There were also 3 hill-climb drag races. Winners of each race earned a Founder's Brewery bottle of beer which we all chanted "CHUG" after they were presented with it. At one point, someone blew out a tire and while they were fixing that, they decided to hold a big-air competition. At the bottom of this giant grassy hill, there was this uphill and lip. Maybe eight or so riders took the challenge. One guy landing one-footed, leaning forward...almost biting it. We cheered.
One sobering moment was stopping at a homeless "shanty-town" out by the train tracks after our first bar stop. Wow, I had no idea that this existed. Most of us brought donations to share. I saw cans of food, jackets, gloves and boots all being dropped off. I bought a ten-pack of hand warmers and left those for them. Every little bit helps - nice touch to the ride. It made me appreciate what I have, regardless of my current daily-battles, and added to the excitement of the day. From that point on, every moment I soaked in, the weather was hardly an issue at all.
Happy 2012 everyone!
The Point Tavern. Bar stop #1. The glorious neon OPEN sign drew us in like
mosquitoes in a bright-light trance.
We filled the joint up. Imagine making your largest sales day of the
year on the very FIRST day of the year.
Shanty Town. Buildings made of pallets, tarps, signs and other wood scraps. Only
saw one guy rummaging around and he seemed really happy to get the donations.
There were others scurrying to the drop offs as word spread.
The sign there says "Do not park in the driveway."
It was an excellent day for Guinness, but I opted for Bud Light.
Uphill drag race #1. For this race, this was only the first hill, there were
two more before finish line.
Finish line at drag race #1. This was a common sight...50 riders taking over
neighborhoods. In some cases, we drew people out of their houses from all
the cheering and yelling.
Uphill drag race #3 start line.
Real cobbles. Yes, that is sand between the rocks. The rocks were very slippery
and on a rigid single-speed wanted to throw you off on every pedal stroke.
The 'goose SS in all it's glory. Iced up, mudded down. It's all good!
Thanks Matt, it made my day and was a perfect start to the 2012 season.