This year was the seventh annual iteration of our April Fool's event, and we're still just recovering from it. Part of that is due to the fact that we also expanded production to a new space during the same period that we were organizing the race...still, nothing could have really prepared us for the turnout we had. Every year, the race has been getting bigger and bigger. In 2006, we had 184 riders, which we though would be just about as much as we could ever expect...so this year, i made about 220 spoke cards, and ordered a little over 200 shirts. That way, i figured, we'd have enough for all the racers and also our checkpoint volunteers and sponsors. Well, we were blessed with one of the few nice saturdays in April, and as we began registration at 1:30, cyclists were appearing in droves. We had a line of people that went through our back yard, around the corner alleyway, and onto the street a few hundred feet away! And as the time passed and shirt/spoke card packets began to dwindle, i kept running out to see how long the line was at that point, only to find it was still out onto the street.
Well, needless to say there was a bit of a crisis, as we figured to be short roughly 80 or so tees and spoke cards. I just couldn't believe that so many people had come out! It was like a championship event...in fact, I think it was bigger than CMWC Sydney was (to be fair, though, it doesn't cost a lot of money to get to Philly!). In any case, I made the executive decision to appease the masses by making all of the beer free at the afterparty, and allowing anybody who didn't receive a race tee and spoke card to race for free. Luckily, since the race is really more of an overall event, everybody was in veryu good spirits. Also, most riders treat this as kind of a team race..for example, team Brutaltron (pcitured above) actually picked up some sponsors and prineted these ridiculously nice tees for the event. Their motto: "POINTS!" was as loud in the air around the start area and all trough the race as it was on their neon green tees.
We finally got finished up with the registration process, and for once, we were ready to actually start the race ON TIME !! Big thanks to Gerik, Abby, Mayu, and Carrie, who handled all the entrants, got them tees and spoke cards, and took their money so I could go buy a couple more kegs for the after party. Gerik flossing in this pic....
We learned our lesson early on in this race series (ie. after the very first race we ever threw) that if you give a bunch of messengers a manifest before the race, they'll take it and do as much stuff as possible before the race even starts. So we never hand out the manifests until the race has gotten underway. The scene on Green street near our store was out of hand...I'd have liked to have seen a car TRY to come down the street (except for a cop car; that could've been ugly). Take this pic, multiply it in area by about 15, and that's what the start looked like. Once again, team Brutaltron repping.
We take a lot of pride in our April Fool's event being completely accessible to ALL kinds of cyclists, on any kind of bicycle (or tricycle even). We try to be the polar opposite of a hardcore, speed-based race. Consequently, we get tons of riders, because really, it's just an overall great time, regardless of whether you're out to win or if you just want to go to Bob and Barbaras and watch people come in and drink specials. Anyway, I was really glad to see some recumbents and SEVERAL tandems in this year's race. Here's Philly's own Laura Goldberg and unidentified pilot taking off from the start.
Kevin "Squid" Bolger won last year, and this year he showed up rocking his bag. He was clearly in it to hang out and relax, which left the door open for a new champ. Whatever, Kevin's won enough prize bags over the past decade to fill an entire store...
For anybody who's not up to speed on the format of the April Fool's race, it goes as follows: Everybody gets a manifest that has a TON of possible checkpoints on it. I don't think we've ever had less than 50. The race was originally based on the legendary D.C. Mayhem series, which used to take place every year during Memorial Day weekend. Those races, which I began attending in '98, sent riders all over D.C. and even across to Virginia, in search of points. And they always had waaay more checkpoints than anybody could possibly hit within the time limit. The twist with our race - since it IS an April Fools theme - is that a lot of the checkpoints are actually false. I've always had much more fun doing races where the course was up to the rider...meaning you could do the checkpoints in any order you wanted. So we let people go their own way. Sure, if they're smart and they actually look over the manifest a bit and check the times that the unique checkpoints are open, they'll tend to flow in certain directions. But you can tailor your day to blast through certain neighborhoods, or just get your drink on at various bars.
This is a copy of the first page of the manifest. There were five pages in all, with a total of 69 stops. All told, 21 of them were fake. 16 of them involved silly antics with checkpoint volunteers/other racers, and the rest were more about finding locations and/or information. Some of the highlights:
1) The R.E.Load checkpoint, which was only open for one hour out of the three-hour race time limit, but saw a huge number of riders come through. Carrie and Erin Nicole were in charge of this stop, and at first people were supposed to go through a mini-obstacle course on our lil' tykes tricycle...until it broke, that is. Hmm, a plastic tricycle - made for preschoolers - breaking after a mere 20 or so drunk messengers climb on it and try to sprint around a driveway? Go figure....
...so then they switched to a huge game of hopscotch. Apparently, fun was had by all....
2) At Johnny Brenda's bar, Sue, Nate, Jami, Jake, and Clair had a new Macbook (with iSight camera) and a bunch of props. And they were taking pictures of all the racers as they came through. Most stuck around a little bit and had a drink. Brutaltron continuing to rep Points worldwide.
Smart riders chose to pose with the duck...
Although frenching the duck is NOT recommended.
There's about 40 more pics of random foolishness from this stop, which definitely wins the "most heavily-documented checkpoint" award.
3) Simon and Vicky had a checkpoint in south Philly, and they decided to give everybody makeovers. As in, "sit down and let us apply mascara, blush, and lipstick to your face in large quantities, then send you back out on your way around the city". This is what a "light application" looked like. Btw, peep the official race tee (designed by Emily Glaubinger, of course, and graciously printed by Outlaw Print Co.).
There were a bunch of other amazing checkpoints, like the "Abby and Abby" jailhouse stop at Tattoed Mom's, where racers had to sit for a period of time that was determined by what number they drew from a hat. While in "jail", they were forced to write "essays" detailing how amazing the Abby's were and how glad they were to be there with them. Then, at Leo's house, riders were greeted with a super-soaker. At Trophy Bikes, all racers had their rides weighed in in a separate contest to see who's bike was the lightest (the winning fixed-gear came in at roughly 16 lbs), and at Taryn's house, riders were forced to chug a full can of Monster energy drink. With a few more stops at bars, and a couple more outdoor - but still drinking-related - stops, everybody showed up at the finish/after party, shall we say...."feeling good".
Getting a place to throw an after party is always a problem...Philly is a city that's somewhat devoid of large spaces that allow you to serve alcohol, but bring in the alcohol yourself. So usually, it's a choice between having the party at a bar that serves Pabst, in which case we supply them with the beer that Pabst gives to us as sponsorship, and then they sell it at a discounted price (usually $1 a can), or paying a bunch of money for a spot (which destroys our budget, since we're already giving out 4-color tees, spoke cards, and throwing the race for only $5 per rider). This year, we actually got lucky and found a venue that was sympathetic to our cause. They also just happened to be throwing a party of their own later that night, so they let us do our thing in their huge warehouse beforehand. Anyway, we had six kegs of PBR, DJ's Weez and Lexx on the wheels, and plenty of space for everybody to hang out while we added up the points and figured out the prizes.
Amazingly enough although we've always used a complicated points system in our race, we've never actually used a computer to figure out the results...this year would be different. Thanks to a high-tech and incredibly involved database I made up the night before (aka Appleworks), we conducted registration and results with previously unheard of speed and precision. All told, i think we had the results in about an hour or so...as opposed to the two and a half hours we had been known to take in the past. Additionally, we went with a formula that would allow us to weed out those who had no chance at all of getting a prize fairly easily. Basically, there were two sets of points. Primary points were calculated first, and came from all of the manned checkpoints. If you didn't do well on these, then you had absolutely no shot at the crown. After that, secondary points from the unmanned checkpoints were added to those riders who qualified in the top tier of primary points. In the picture above, Sharky, who usually greets me with a hearty "I hate you, Roland!" after our April Fool's events, comes up to collect his prize.
Philly's own Jeff O'Neill won yet another race! He took top prize in the Hour of Power a few months back too, so right now he's pretty much the rider to beat. For his efforts, among other things, he won a R.E.Load custom Deluxe (designed and made by Gerik) and a Fuji Pro track frame and fork. Not too bad for three hours "work". Jeff scored a whopping 2180 points! The average was about 1000.
Since he was also first fixed gear rider, Jeff was absolutely DRIPPING with prizes. He also won a pair of Level track hubs, a Fabric Horse utility belt, a custom-printed Gerikmade hat, a free wheelbuild from Bicycle Revolutions, a New York Fuhgettaboutit chain lock from Kryptonite, a shirt from Cadence Clothing, a handmade wallet from Randl, and a sweet hoodie from Depot in Japan.
All in all, it was a great day of bikes and beer in the city of brotherly love! I'd like to thank all of our wonderful sponsors: Pabst, Level, Fuji, Outlaw Print Co., Fabric Horse, Kryptonite, Gerikmade, Jetsetter, Randl, Deller, Cadence, Depot, Giant Dwarf, Jake Kilburg, Bicycle Revolution, and Trophy Bikes. I'd also like to thank all of the volunteers, most of all: Carrie, Gerik, Mayu, Sue, Abby, Jake, Jami, Erin Nicole, Pat Gaffney (aka Playboy Pat), Taryn, Leo, Clair, Nate, Marco, Steve Ferrell, Santana, Lex, Esher, Chris Broughton, Simon, Vicky, Abby Dub, Abby Snakes, Krisada, Mike from Trophy, Brims, Jamie Dillon, and of course Steven Squires, who hung with me all day and ran around with me getting all the extra beer, cups, setting up the party space, and generally helping out wherever possible. This event is tons of fun for the participants, but a ton of work and stress for everybody involved, so I really really appreciate all the hard work that all of these people put in towards making this all possible. None of it could happen without dedicated friends like these. Anybody who I forgot, I'm sorry!
Also a big thanks to DJ's Lexx and Weez, and to Lee for letting us invade the space. And thanks to Erin Nicole, who let us use a lot of her pics. Here's the results (below). Sorry for the haphazard layout, but transferring the Appleworks file to Illustrator to Photoshop to Acrobat was about the only way i could figure out to display it even this well. And this is as good as I could get it. The basic columns go, from left to right: Rider name, rider #, home town, type of bike ridden, primary points, secondary points (if calculated) and total points. If you don't see your name or rider #, it's most likely because you forgot to put them on your manifest (an overwhelmingly large amount of people STILL don't know to do this first and foremost before riding away!), or there's a small chance we messed up. A very small chance. Or you just never handed in your manifest, or it was mangled beyond comprehension. Whatever. In any case, if you 'aint there, trust me, you didn't score enough points to get upset about it anyway. Thanks to everybody who came out!!! Next year will feature preregistration, hopefully a really big sponsor who will pay to rent a huge space, and lots more prizes!
BTW, there's a youtube clip of the bike parking situation at the afterparty i found when googling. I'm assuming that's ok to share, seeing as how it's on youtube and all.