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Saturday, November 21, 2015


This is probably my favorite alley cat race of the year. Well, maybe tied for first place with Pub N Pedal, but where Pub N Pedal is pure bacchanalia, Cranksgiving is a bacchanalia with a good cause hooked on to it. Normally at the after party I drink hearty but this year, uncharacteristically, I drove to the event. Which meant driving home.

I long ago gave up trying to ride to all the stores on the manifest. The way the rules work, to win fastest rider you have to bring back an item from the listed needs on the manifest (for the St. Peter's food bank), from each of the ten stores with receipts to prove you bought them on the ride. Not only am I not fast enough to compete for the title, but the times I tried to ride to all ten stores I got back to no beer and almost no chili.

So then there's the heaviest load category. The problem with that is I don't have a trailer, and to seriously contend for that one you better have a stout trailer and some decent brakes. Last year a woman came in with almost 500 pounds. It's been won with less than a hundred pounds, but not lately.

But then there's also team heaviest load. So my old friend Eric, a libertarian I've known since the early 90s, asked me to join his team, I was like, sure. You can have up to eight riders, but more than that, we both figured we could make multiple trips. I've inquired about this in the past and gotten the answer, 'Sure go for it.' But Sam, the organizer, this time he said no, we could create a new category for that, but he wouldn't give team heaviest load to a couple of guys who made three or four runs apiece, that would be cheating.

For my part, I think limits make some sense as far as keeping it a competition. Teams can't have more than eight members, so to me that should mean no more than eight runs can count. A two person team should be able to do four trips per rider and count the same as an eight person team making one trip each. Right? Me and Eric probably wouldn't have made four runs apiece, financially that wasn't plausible, but we definitely would have gone back down the hill and brought some more shit up for the food bank.

As it is, we recruited Loni and Micah at the start, a super cute couple who ride a tandem. Then at Aldi we recruited Brandon, who was riding this for the first time. He had a backpack and I think one bag on his bike, so he had a limited capacity for weight but we were desperate. We had to do this in one trip, Eric with a cargo bike (a Big Dummy) and me with a Long Haul Trucker with four panniers and a trailer Eric lent me.

At one point we figured fuck it, we'd make multiple trips and shame Sam into counting it, but the financial burden started to add up. I had budged $100 for this, Eric had a bit more than that. Even at Aldi, and even with buying stuff based on maximum weight per dollar, it adds up. We had about $250 worth of groceries between two bikes by the time we headed our way up the hill for what has to be the most intense one mile workout of my life.

My heart was pounding as I climbed that hill in my granny gear, 26 up front to 34 in the rear, two miles an hour and wobbly as hell. It was epic. And I kept hearing/feeling these sproings and I feared I was breaking spokes, or that the bolts holding my rack on were stripping out or something. We got in and Eric, Brandon and me had hauled 430 lbs. And I'm pretty sure more than 200 of that was in my four panniers, on my rack and in that trailer.

Our purchases were made on a weight basis for the most part, but there was some filling in. We got a case of spaghetti sauce, and decided it was a dick move to not buy any spaghetti to put it on. And spaghetti is pretty dense as dry goods go. Canola oil was like four cents an ounce and came in squared containers so there was very little air space, four cases of that. Then after all that was loaded, I decided there was still room in the trailer, but Eric was worried about the weight, so I went back in and got three cases of Ramen (almost $30 worth of Ramen at Aldi prices), and threw that in the trailer.

So we were the first team back, and by the time our recruits came in we had 499 pounds. Some years, that would do the trick. But last year, Joel Dyke's team, the Insignificant Others, they hauled more than a thousand pounds in. And this year, there were not one but two tribute teams, Team Big Grin and Team Joel Dyke, and Big Grin managed just shy of 1,500 pounds between eight riders. Honestly, I probably would have joined one of the tribute teams, I loved Joel, but I didn't hear about them before I committed to Team Hydra (not realizing I was only the second member of the team).

And the whole event brought in over 5,000 pounds by the time I left. And me and Eric were scheming ways to do it better, bigger next year. If we can get eight riders together who haul 200 lbs apiece like we did, we should be able to set a new record. Or if we can get Sam to make the eight member limit on a team translate to eight runs, and plan a little tithing funds, we might be able to do the damage with a smaller team. Damage being food and necessaries delivered to a food bank.

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