Rain is usually a participant in the annual Urban Coyote poker ride, but this time around it was pleasantly absent, making for a glorious Saturday cyclocross tour (and light gambling/drinking session) through the parks and streets of Seattle.
More than a dozen riders gathered at Brouer’s in Fremont for the 11am (sleepy yawn) start. Quite a few characters livened up the crowd, such as Mr. Orange Man, equipped with mimosas, Cheeze-Its and other orange-colored fare:
There was Happy Dead Viking Man–
–and Mr. Congeniality:
But the event really got underway when organizer Colin Meagher arrived (fashionably late) to explain the complicated rules: ride to point A, then to point B, etc.; pick up a poker card at key locations, yadda-yadda.
Actually, there were a couple more rules, most of which centered on drinking etiquette: riders could sprint ahead of the pack to vie for a “wild” card, which promised a better poker hand. Best hand at the end of the day won the pot (i.e. all entry fees). Of course, you had to shotgun a tallboy or shoot whiskey to win a wild card, and your performance mattered. So before the start, riders demonstrated perfect shotgunning technique:
Off again, we rode in a motley pack–sometimes a paceline, sometimes a mob–spinning our wheels through Wallingford, the U-district and Capitol Hill, riding on trail wherever we could find it. Dropping down onto Lake Washington Blvd., we followed singletrack along the waterfront all the way to Genesse Park, our turnaround for this year’s course. Then back again, making a round-about Z-line (rather than a B-line) to Kirk Cobain’s house for another shotgun (oops, sorry; too resonant).
A grunt of a climb took us up from LWB up to Plum Tree Park in the Central District, followed by an exhilarating, switch-backing descent along its steep slope. Conscious of the vertical, we navigated our ‘cross bikes along the sometimes narrow singletrack, which was punctuated by slippery steps, roots and rocks that made one a tad wistful for a mountain bike. Near the bottom we stopped for yet another shotgun–whiskey this time.
As we headed towards home, someone had the bright idea to take a short house-party break for beer and Cheeze-Its while we let our bikes take a breather:
Once back on the bike, we couldn’t pass up a lap or two on the XC trails at Colonnade in Eastlake. Then we reluctantly embraced asphalt again for the spin along Westlake over the Fremont Bridge and back to Brouer’s for some grub.
It was a fun event this year, with precious sunshine and plenty of good company. I was particularly happy to stay on course this year (compare my blog post from two years ago), for which I credit the group, which mainly stayed together, only breaking away on a hill or when a wild card was at stake. In fact, that camaraderie was my favorite part. This year, and every year.
See you next year at the Urban Coyote!