Friday, June 12, 2009

We Play The Roles That They Assign Us.

Given that I scored my second ever DNF in today's Northern Combine race at Gisborne South, I'll concentrate instead on reporting back on last night's Puzzlecat. I don't really think I'll be giving the best picture of what occurred, however, especially given I was drinking coffee and ferrying beer around while everyone else was out smashing themselves and looking in awkward locations for impossible answers to cryptic clues. Best to also look at the thread to see what everyone else is saying.

Nath and I rocked up to the museum carting a huge load of swag at around 5.45. There were already people there, which augered well for the final turnout. We'd copied a few more maps on the way and spent the next twenty minutes putting them into envelopes with the spokecards and stickerpacks from knog and crumpler. At that point Tara Jayne was still saying she wasn't going to race, so I enlisted her help, and ignored her obvious advantage when she changed her mind and handed in her ten bucks.

When I started talking crap at around 6.30 there were 47 participants - an amazing number, given the freezing cold. Another bloke rocked up a good twenty minutes after the start, but still wanted to race, taking the final number to 48. They shivered and - for the most part - resisted the temptation to open their envelopes and sneak a peak at the diabolical schemes inside.

Riders were instructed that in their envelopes there would be a map with a series of checkpoints marked on it. Each checkpoint had a cryptic question to answer, based on the location. Checkpoints were optional, and each was worth an amount of points. Riders had to return by 8.30, and were docked ten points for each minute they were late thereafter. The rider with the most points at the end would win.

At 6.45 they were on their way. The furthest point was Brunswick Velodrome, with a question based on the plaque on the base of the lightpost at the 300 metre mark. The closest was on a currency meter at the front of the Exhibition Gardens. There were questions based on graffiti, advertising posters, names on benches and shoes slung over electric wires. I had told folks at the beginning that if they couldn't find an answer they should just move on, but surprisingly most people found the answers once they arrived. As such I wasn't bombarded with calls asking for hints, and spent quite a leisurely time waiting for the riders to return.

The first group appeared at 8.15. I insisted they had enough time to hit another checkpoint, but they seemed more interested in the beer and hot chips Nath and I had procured for public consumption. As folks came pouring in we realised that the adding process would take longer than we'd thought, so some poor riders were enlisted to pick up the slack. Blakey, Nik Cee and Denison deserve special shout-outs for this.

Third place went to Alex 4.0, who actually scored the most points by a considerable margin, but arrived twelve minutes late and so lost a good deal of them. Second place went to Michael, who was riding in his first alleycat ever, but who picked a good bunch of riders to stick with. And first place went to X-Campbell, who would've got a special prize anyway for deciding not to ride in his yellow pants. At this point we discovered that our sorting system allowed no provision for figuring out who else was awarded other prizes, so I relied on rider honesty and gave out prizes for first noob, youngest rider, oldest rider, best stack (Nik Cee, again), furthest checkpoint (Pip!) and out-of-towner (Rich!). Sasha from Pony Bikes was at hand to give out the prize for first girl, which - perhaps not surprisingly - was won by Tara Jayne. And the special DFL prize of the ugliest jersey ever and a Gu Energy Gel was won by Trigger, who suffered three punctures and was the only rider to score a negative amount of points.

Folks then retired to Little Creatures Dining Hall, where they were filled full of more chips and entertained partially by flaming hippies, but mostly by their own shared tales of derring-do. At about 10 I headed home to bed, preparing for the aforementioned race that I eventually failed to finish.

Special thanks have to go to Nath, Zoe, Nik Cee, IRide Bikes (for so much stuff!), Shifterbikes (for the rare merch), Pony Bikes (for coming down and presenting some awesome prizes), Sweet Source (for cupcakes, even if I forgot to award them and had to run around handing them out afterwards), BSC Bikes (for billions of puncture kits), Stussy (for a Masters prize that will make a certain 42 year-old totally hip), Crumpler (for continuing to support the fixie scene, as they have done for, like, forever), Knog (for blinky things in abundance, and for stickers!), Commuter Cycles (for being nice guys, and for the free service for first noob), Cranky Sundays (in particular Hans, for sneakers), Yellow Ghost Records (for cds!), Genovese Coffee (for... well, you can figure it out) and Aqto (for the coolest bike designs I've seen on a t-shirt). Also to the security staff at the museum for not cracking it at us, and The Kid Campbell for taking photos and getting them up on the internet in record time.

Next race from The Future: Drags. Stay tuned!

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