Sunday, February 05, 2006

The Impossible Victory

(photo caption) "Well, for starters, you have to purify yourself in the waters of Lake Stupor Bowl" (photo: courtesy MBMA.net)

For bike messengers in Minneapolis and beyond, the first Saturday of February marks the date of the now-renowned Stupor Bowl.

The Stupor Bowl, the brainchild of the Minnapolis Bike Messenger Association (MBMA), is now in its ninth season and draws messenger-racers from as far away as Milwaukee, Chicago, and Philadelphia. Along with messengers, other bicycle racers and non-racers often join in.

This year's Stupor Bowl IX offered four different races for participants. The "Overall" winner would reach as many destinations (read: bars) as possible in the three hour time frame from 3-6 pm. The "Points" winner would score as many points (read: beers drank) as possible during the race.

Another race was a medallion hunt, wherein contestants would use clues gained from four saloons to locate the prized medallion.

The fourth and final race was for the best poker hand. Racers would collect one playing card from five different bars to put together their poker hand, with the best hand winning.

Stupor Bowl IX marked the debut of Category 6 Racing Squad's Tuffy, who already was a neophyte in the Minneapolis racing scene.

"I've never even ridden a Minnesota Cycling Federation race, and I'm sure as hell not a bike messenger," Tuffy admitted.

Race registration was held at the uber-cool Minneapolis bike shop, One on One Bicycle Studio, a business that serves as a cafe/bicycle retailer/bicycle repair shop/bicycle junk yard. Racers were provided with the secret starting point for the race at 2:45 pm and had until 3 pm to reach the site.

After careful race instructions manifest distribution from race organizers "Dispencer" and "Superrookie", someone yelled, "Go!" and the riders were off.

"I was going to ride with two guys from Cat6 -- 'Fil' and 'A-to-the-B'," Tuffy stated. "We were each going to race to different destinations for medallion clues."

"I was the first rider to get to the Hexagon Bar to get my clue. I called Fil and we discussed clues -- his from Grumpy's in Nordeast and One on One, and mine from the Hex. We decided that it had to be at the Sculpture Garden by the Walker," Tuffy recalled.

"A couple of minutes later," Tuffy explained, "A-to-the-B calls and says that his clue from the CRC cafe (A-to-the-B was the first to arrive there, as well) specifically says 'the Walker'. From thereon, it was a dead sprint to the Sculpture Garden."

Heading into a wind out of the west on his way into downtown while on the Greenway, Tuffy slowed to the point that he thought he had a mechanical problem, but went on anyway.

"I was at about 7th and Chicago and Fil called and said there was a note that read 'Gone' where the medallion should have been," stated Tuffy. "We were pretty down, but decided to switch gears and do the Poker race instead. I was near Hubert's, so I stopped there and told the other two to meet me at Mackenzie's."

Fil and A-to-the-B picked up their first card at the Red Dragon and their second at Mackenzie's.

"I scored a King of Hearts at Hubert's, then I got a red Ace at Mackenzie's," Tuffy recalled. "I thought, 'Well, this could be gravy.'"

After doubling back to Hubert's for Fil and A-to-the-B, the trio made their way to St. Paul Dubliner Bar for the next card. The trek included a cyclocross-style bike carry up some stairs near the Washington Avenue bridge.

"We roll into the Dubliner, and I forgot to take my glasses off, so I'm walking around squinting and stumbling like a zombie trying to see, and some guy says, 'All the way in the back," recounted Tuffy.

"And then the dude handed me another King," explained Tuffy.

With only an hour left in the game, the Cat6 crew sped towards the next stop, the Sunrise Inn, in south Minneapolis.

"I was the first in the door, and the guy threw me another Ace," said Tuffy. "So, now I had two pair -- and high cards at that. I knew I was sitting pretty."

At this point, Fil and A-to-the-B had their full five cards, and really bad poker hands, according to Tuffy. The trio decided to put together a paceline to the Red Dragon in Uptown so Tuffy could retrieve his fifth card.

"The paceline lasted about two blocks. We were all really tired," Tuffy stated.

The group rolled up to the Red Dragon at 5:45 pm with the game's end time of 6 pm looming.

"I didn't know if I needed to have all five stops on my manifest to win the Poker competition," explained Tuffy. "So I wanted to stop just to be sure."

The volunteers at the Red Dragon presented Tuffy with his third King. Full house.

"I was like, 'No way,'" recalled Tuffy.

Leaving Fil at the Red Dragon, where he was going to eat dinner, A-to-the-B and Tuffy raced to Grumpy's in downtown.

"When I got in the door, the bouncer asked me for an I.D." recounted Tuffy. "My hands were so numb that I couldn't feel anything, so the bouncer had to pull my wallet out of my jersey pocket for me."

The finish check-in line wrapped halfway around the bar area.

"When I finally got to Dispencer, I gave him my manifest and asked him what was the best Poker hand he had gotten, and he whips out a straight flush -- 7,8,9,10, and Jack of Diamonds," Tuffy explained.

"Bullshit!" Tuffy remembers exclaiming.

"I was just kind of pissed, but if them's the cards, them's the cards, you know," acknowledged Tuffy.

But rumors began to leak that Dispencer and Superrookie were going to disqualify the straight flush, a rumor confirmed during the awards ceremony by Superrookie.

"All of the racer's confirmation stamps were written with the same ballpoint pen," explained Superrookie.

The disqualification put the prize on Tuffy.

"It was just a Bianchi bike bag full of swag. A couple tires, t-shirt, socks, and the like," recalled Tuffy.

"It made me feel good to win the gear, especially because my body felt like crap."


Blogger fil drummond said...

"The paceline lasted about two blocks. We were all really tired," Tuffy stated.

I recall something more like this, Fil and A to the B taking pulls and turning around and seeing Tuffy on the horizon and having to wait for him which we were happy to do given that he was looking to have a good hand.

Sun Feb 05, 11:50:00 AM 2006

Blogger T3 said...

i wish i could have joined in. i would have gladly taken a few pulls for you.

Sun Feb 05, 02:33:00 PM 2006

Anonymous super rookie said...

tuffy. any photos of your victory salute on the podium?!?!?!?!


Mon Feb 06, 01:00:00 PM 2006

Blogger Lunatic Biker said...

I just love Cat 6 controversy. Maybe we'll buy you warmer gloves for Christmas. Come to think of it, it was kinda balmy on Saturday.

Tue Feb 07, 06:33:00 AM 2006


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