|Team Garage 707 Crashers at the finish line|
It's the morning of Friday, July 25th--essentially Christmas eve morning for us heathens. I hop in the car to pick up some last minute provisions (ie beer, salt, fat, sugar) for this year's Riverwest24. I get about a mile down the road and start to smell gasoline. When I pull into the parking lot another block down, I realize the smell is coming from my car. After inspection, I discover the resident chipmunks in my yard--which are cooking in a large pot as I write this--had eaten holes in the fuel hose and gas had been sputtering all over the engine. Well shit. In three hours I was supposed to have the car loaded with bikes, one of my five teammates, gear, and be on my way to Milwaukee. The auto shops of course can't fit me in, and the auto rentals are booked on my side of town. I start making emergency calls and thankfully, an angel loans me her Mountaineer. I haul ass across town by bike and comically find myself in a hulking V8 SUV--mind you I drive once a week, and it's a Toyota Echo--but it's big enough to carry everything and the kitchen sink and it will get us to Milwaukee.
Once we make it through the cluster construction around the zoo interchange, and we find ourselves in Riverwest, I begin to relax, as well as get excited. Those who have seen me at events, know I start doing this funny little "hop thing" when I'm excited. I actually start bouncing like a bunny...and bounce I did. I had no idea what to expect from the event this year, I never do, but I was excited to be hanging with two teams of friends for over twenty-four hours while riding, eating, drinking and NOT sleeping.
|Lining up for the start|
|Waiting at Locust with a friend on the first lap|
As in years past, half our team were RW24 veterans, half were newbies. Our cycling experiences ranged from triathlons to gravel to trials riding. We were bonded together by our love of cycling and our love for acting like kids. I got to lead out the first few laps since I was the only one present with RW24 experience (our other two veterans were on their way from Madison after work). Nothing unexpected, which was such a nice surprise after last years downpour and multiple crashes due to the rain, just hurry up and wait and while waiting, chat with friends at stop signs.
|Midnight manifest hand off. The purple bike is the one that was stolen--if you see it, let me know.|
|Part of team Riverwestfalia doing their first Beers for Volunteers laps|
The laps, bonus checkpoints and riding shifts clicked by. Evening turned into night, the course became a wave blinking red lights, different music could be heard from every corner along with the stream of "thank yous" to the selfless volunteers for helping keep the major crossings safe and all was good until...
Somehow, in the middle of the night, around 1:30am, my husbands brand spanking new bike was stolen. It had been leaning against the garage we were all stationed out of, lit up by garage lights and in plain sight, but just in the shadows enough to be snuck away by someone coming through the alley. I was out on course when it happened. I came back to hand off the manifest, did the quick switch, and noticed my husband sitting on the curb with a queasy look on his face. He told me what happened, and I didn't believe him. How the hell could this happen? I knew each year at least one bike is stolen during RW24, but we were so safe. Also, for some stupid reason, I thought my love for Milwaukee (I openly gush about it on a regular basis) and my love for RW24, would shield us from something like this happening. Besides, I had already paid my dues with the car trouble earlier, we didn't need this--it's supposed to be a happy weekend!
As the thoughts about this incident began to fade, either due to lack of sleep, busting out more laps, being around really cool people who wanted to help or just needing to enjoy an event we look forward to all year, I began to have fun again. Yes, we were still down a bike, and that sucked the big one, but we were in it with an extended family who fed us, kept us liquored up and got us to smile again.
|Getting my first Riverwest24 tattoo|
|Me after hitting three foul balls while playing soft ball|
|Jake showing his love|
|Finishing a previous haircut from bonus checkpoint "snip snip"|
|Twizzler hand ups|
|Our "family" just kept growing|
|I do love surfing|
So now, I sit here in my kitchen, and instead of licking my wounds from the shitty things that happened during and before the event, I get to baby my tattoo and graze over all the pictures people posted. I am so happy to have once again been a part of this magical event. Thank you Steve, Wendy, Jeremy and all the other organizers who gave up so much time and energy over the last year to make this happen. Thank you to the 400 volunteers who made the event a possibility. And thank you to my team, as well as the team who housed us yet again. As Dan would say, through a construction cone of course, "You are winning!"
|Most of team Riverwestfalia--their other member is in the formal finish line picture|