As is the case with alleycat races, the format & destinations are not known beforehand and the course is generally any way you want to go, so area knowledge is very important. I did some course recon on Wednesday & Friday from the MASH SF store on 14th & Sanchez to the top of Twin Peaks and was convinced that 14th to Roosevelt was the much better route than Sanchez to Market to 17th Street. I showed up about an hour before the start with teammate Greg McQuaid & Jacob from Dolce Vita who had a couple teammates there too. Also there though was Keith Hillier from MarcPro Strava who had found out about the event from my tweet a few hours earlier (D'oh!). In total there were only 12 of us on geared bikes (the freaks) and about 45 on fixed. It was kind of funny how different we looked. Us geared riders in our dorky corporate spandex & helmets and the hipster fixed gear messenger crowd in cotton shorts, t-shirts with lots of tattoos & piercings. But everyone was real friendly (I think they were all drunk) & it was a great atmosphere.
There was no entry fee, no entry form, just a waiver we all had to sign about 15 minutes before the start where we were given a manifest of the qualifying procedure. This consisted of a 30 min period where we were to ride to Buena Vista Park, a 300 ft climb & back to the start as many times as we could in 30 min taking any route we wanted. At both the top and the bottom we had to have our manifest stamped. The top 8 & any ties in both fixed & geared would make it to the final. Any fixed gear riders with a hand brake were given a 1 stamp penalty, just thought I'd mention that even though it didn't affect us geared riders.
To make this even more *fun* though, the guys stamping our manifest at the park were sitting about 20 steps up from the road, so we had to dismount, run up the stairs, get our stamp & run back down the stairs (all in cleats mind you), then jump back on the bikes for the descent. This really started to hurt after the 3rd hill sprint.
And so, as advertised, we were off at the stroke of 2PM with a mass start of fixed riders starting first and the geared riders starting 1 minute behind.
We started off blazing fast & I was about 5th wheel, but about halfway up I moved into the lead when it got steep & I was the first to reach the park in the geared division, but very slow to dismount, run up the steps to get my stamp and run back down & Keith Hillier was right there. He passed me on the descent then slowly pulled further & further ahead on each round trip up & down the hill. But this was just the qualifier & I was safely in 2nd with a big gap on 3rd so I backed off to save something for the final. The whole time though I was moving through the fixed gear field and was amazed at how these guys took the climb often hanging onto cars and the steep (15%+!) descent often removing both feet from the pedals and using both of them against the rear wheel as a brake!
At the end of the 30 min qualifier, Keith had 6 round trips (12 stamps) and I had 6 trips up & 5 down (11 stamps), so I was safely in the final with Greg (10 stamps), Jacob, Joe & Appel. We angered more than a few drivers & the SFPD showed up at exactly 1 min after the 30 min qualifier. But everyone told him we were done & he said "OK, just be sure to follow all the traffic laws" and drove off.
While the organizers tallied our manifests to see who made the final, Los Compadres taco truck pulled up and gave away free tacos to all participants & spectators. I think us geared guys (the freaks) were the only ones who did not take advantage of this.
So, onto the final! This time trial would be a mass start with all geared & fixed finalists starting together, except those fixed riders with brakes were given a 10 sec penalty at the start. Also, this time we would be going all the way to the vista point lot at the top of twin peaks, a 1.9 mile 700 ft climb. We were off & 4 fixed riders took the lead & I followed in the draft until it started to get steep & they started doing the paperboy, so I went by 3 of them, but one guy was still grinding away up ahead. As we approached Castro with a green light I could see the pedestrian signal counting down, 5-4-3-2-1, so I put in a sprint & hit the intersection just as it turned yellow and was across safely. I took a quick look back to see that no one else had made the light, but Keith ran it anyway, not wanting to let $500 slip away due to bad luck, so I pressed on with full gas hoping to open up enough of a gap so that Keith would lose sight of me and not know which way to go but he kept me in sight all the way up & I think I had about 20 sec when I reached the checkpoint. This one was a bit stressful though since the lot was crowded with tourists & it took about 10 sec for me to find the official stampers, but I got my stamp & left just as Keith was coming into the lot. I took the descent fast, but was worried about the 3 stoplights & 8 stop signs between me & the finish, but traffic was light & I made it through Clayton & 17th quickly and was on to Roosevelt with only the stoplight at Castro to worry about. Of course, it was red, but as I slowed to almost a stop I could see it was yellow in the other direction & no cars were coming, so I went through and onto the finish with a total time of 14:12.
I took a look back and Keith came through about 20 sec back. He told me he had taken 17th on the way back & it was sketchy (no shit!). Joe Mulvaney (Dolce Vita) was 3rd & Greg was 4th. The first fixed rider was a kid named Kyle & he was only about a minute back and came screaming through the line at about 250 rpm. There was some controversy in the fixed division as the top 2 riders had taken a shortcut up to twin peaks by running up the weeded hillside instead of riding up the switchbacks. I think one of the riders didn't take his bike with him, but no one was DQ'd or relegated for crossing the centerline.
The awards ceremony was real quick & I got a big ol trophy, some cash and an Incase messenger bag, not too bad!