At first I was dismissive, but then I realized something: hey, I could win this thing! Granted, I hadn't been invited to participate in the first place, but that has never stopped a true champion. Plus, I haven't won a bike race since I was about 12, and after sizing up the competition I decided this might be my only chance to quench my epic-length victory drought.
According to the TA site, the race would begin in Fort Greene, Brooklyn at the Connecticut Muffin on Myrtle Ave. at 7:40am and end at Union Square in Manhattan at 8:10am. It was immediately obvious to me that the biggest challenge would be the early start time. It may come as little surprise to many of you that a person as bitter as myself requires a lot of alone time in the morning in order to come to grips with the fact that I am a) alive; and b) must once again eventually interact with other people at some point during the course of the day. Having to be in Fort Greene at 7:40 would mean that I would lose precious morning sulking time. Not only that, but I moved not too long ago (by which I mean within the last five years) and to this day I refuse to adjust for the extra 20 minutes it now takes me to get anywhere. As such, I'm always 20 minutes late to any destination or appointment.
But this was a race! I would have to rally and move. And rally I did. I left my house early, and when the 7:40 start time rolled around I was ready to go. Unfortunately, I was still about 10 minutes from Connecticut Muffin. Instead, I was here, on the wrong side of Atlantic Avenue:
By the time I got to Connecticut Muffin it was about 7:50 and I knew I was in trouble since the only people around were from News 12. If I was even later than a shoddy news operation like that, what chance could I possibly have against a bunch of bright-eyed and bushy-tailed TransAlt eco-nerds?
Still, though, I was determined to press on. Unfortunately, I soon hit a wall in the form of my own indecision. Which bridge should I take, the Manhattan Bridge or the Williamsburg Bridge? In theory, the Williamsburg Bridge seemed the faster route. In practice, though, I'm scared of it because of all the graffiti and fashionable young people. However, I didn't wake up early to be thwarted by my own personal demons. So I finally stopped riding around in circles on Flushing Ave. and headed towards my fate...
...only to be confronted by another delay: temptation, in the form of my secret bike-washing spot. My bike was pretty dirty, and there wasn't even a line at the pressure washers. But no! I would press on!
There it looms, the dreaded Williamsburg, like a giant hypodermic needle mainlining trendy 20-somethings right into Manhattan's bloodstream:
As I approached the bridge, I was confronted with the horrifying specter of the Hulk's ghost bike:
More delays! Will misfortunes never cease?!? In the steel cage match of trenditude that is riding the Williamsburg Bridge bike path, I am stuck behind an Old Crappy 10 Speed and a maintenance vehicle:
Finally! Manhattan! Oh, Village Voice, you're incorrigible. You won't find that kind of wit in the suburbs:
As I approach the run-in to Union Square, I suddenly realize hope is not yet dead. It's only just 8:10! Could it be possible that I would...? No, I dare not think it. Just keep my head down and pedal.
Promptly-ish at 8:10-ish I arrive at Union Square, only to find a media frenzy already taking place. Dammit, that could have been me basking in all that glory! I could even have given a pro cyclist-style interview: "It was super hard today, but I felt super strong and my team was super." Yada, yada, yada.
Grudgingly, I congratulate the winner, cyclist Jamie Favaro, who graciously poses for a photograph:
And there it is. I've lost the Tour de France of commuter races. I think the subway guy was already there, too. I milled around for a few minutes dejectedly and talked to a friendly bike messenger with facial tattoos to rival David Clinger's, and then I finally left, my head hung low in shame. Oh, well, at least I beat the car.