The Iron City Icepick

Saturday afternoon was the Iron City Icepick, the year’s last alleycat. The winter storm held off for a few hours, and the weather was actually quite nice for a ride around the city — temperatures around 40 degrees with little wind. The clouds even parted for a bit for a nice little sunset. The race wasn’t as well attended as the previous one — there were perhaps 25 people who started — but a group of messengers made the trip from Philadelphia, and there were some new faces in the crowd of usual suspects.

The format was simple, and very messenger-like: you got one of two manifests when you registered, describing two pickups and deliveries. Once those were finished, you headed back to the start area (Duke’s bar in Oakland) to get the other manifest. I started (as did most people) with the black manifest — two pickups in Bloomfield, with deliveries in South Oakland and East Liberty. I was hanging with the lead group until the mayhem at the second pickup. I fell off the back of the first group, but stayed well ahead of the second group, meaning I’d probably spend most of the race alone. I lost time when I had some problems finding the South Oakland delivery — the best reason to stay with the lead group, but I think I made some of that up when I swung back into East Liberty. After the delivery it was back to Duke’s to get the pink manifest.

It wasn’t much different than the black — a pickup and delivery in Bloomfield, a pickup in South Oakland, and delivery at Dee’s Cafe in the South Side. Bloomfield went quickly, and at the South Oakland pickup quickly as well, but I knew I’d lose some time getting to the South Side, just because I wasn’t sure of the most efficient path. The trip there did provide one of the nicest moments ofthe race — riding across the mostly dark Birmingham Bridge after dark, with the city glowing all around. The ride back to Duke’s was hard, as expected, but I survived and was soon on my way back to Duke’s.

Final score? I finished eleventh, which has been my best finish so far. I know I could have cracked the top ten had I stayed with the lead group, but, oh well, and at least I managed to keep the second group behind me.