Saturday, November 25, 2006

Busternut Squash

I rode in a race today. No, not really. That is to say, I did ride, but it wasn't really so much of a race. I guess I should say that I participated. OK, I participated in Busternut 2. The ride started and ended in Market Square downtown, so I headed over there after eating lunch with Mrs. Guy nearby.

If you are familiar with Alleycat Races, Busternut is loosely based on something that might somewhat resemble something similat...maybe. It really turns out to be less of a race and more of a good time. Today's ride was like a scavenger hunt in a way, in that you had to go visit several different (four) places around downtown, do something, and then get a stamp/mark/scribble/coffee stain on your map sheet. I don't think the coffee stain was intentional.

Most of these types of events are done on either weird home-made bikes or on fixed-gear bikes. I don't have a home-made bike, but I do have a fixie, so I took that. I needn't have bothered. Most folks showed up on everything from mountain bikes to cyclocross bikes to road bikes et cetera, including the lone BMX bike. I counted maybe three other fixies.

There was, for the most part, a team format going on. I didn't have a team, so I just planned on riding with Phillip and his wife. When the "GO!" came, people took off in all directions and we were pointed toward the Old City, along with Eric N. and Dianne. We got to our first stop at a hair salon at about the same time as ten other riders and went inside to figure out what we had to do.

Being a hair salon, they were cutting a small lock of hair from everyone before giving the requisite stamp on the map. I asked the lady with the scissors if they were collecting DNA samples for some secret database or something. She just gave me a truly wicked smile, so I'm not really sure what to think. Maybe they'll be making voodoo dolls?

The next stop was the statue of Alex Haley. A lot of people didn't know exactly where to look, but only to go to the general vicinity shown on the map. I knew where it was, and I owe that to cyclocross racing. Huh, you might say? The statue is in one of the parks we've used for 'cross races for several years. The stunt there was to have a picture taken with the statue. I was going to climb up onto his lap for the shot, but I was concerned that I'd slip on the way up or down and bust my butt (or something worse).

Leaving there, I found that we'd somehow left Phillip and his wife behind, so I ended up teamed with Eric and Dianne by default. We headed for one of the downtown cemeteries, only taking one or two wrong turns along the way. Once we got there our instruction was to find the marker for James White. Eric and I might still be there looking were it not for Dianne, who found it after we'd gone pretty far past it in the wrong directions.

The Library was the last place we had left to go, so we headed there along with most of the people who heard Dianne telling us she'd found the marker back at the cemetery. We got to the Library right as another group was getting their maps marked. One of the station workers thrust an atlas into my hands and said look up the Capitol of Alberta. Some guy behind me shouted "Calgary!" "No, that's not it," the station worker and I said at the same time. I stood there a few seconds trying to remember it and then started to flip through the atlas. Almost at the same moment I opened the book, it came back to me. "Edmonton." "You got it," she said.

Eric and I took off toward Market Square with Dianne right behind us. We ended up being 11th, just out of the top ten. We consoled ourselves with a beer over at Preservation Pub.

One quick note: If you are riding a fixed gear bike, watch out for the hills. You can't coast, so you have to keep your speed low enough on the downhills that you can actually keep up with the pedals with your legs. It isn't so hard if you have brakes, but if you don't you have to keep back-pressure on the pedals to slow you down. That ain't easy, folks, especially when you aren't used to doing it (like me right now).

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