no matter how thrilled i was with the idea, i doubt i ever could have predicted the reaction i got to the raid californie-orégon. i throughly expected the competitors to reach the finish wanting to kill me, and never wanting to do it again - especially the messengers amongst them. no way could i have seen it coming - "it" being that they would not only thank me, but riders who abandoned would be bummed that they did, even apologetic, and that it would start to spawn similar events and ideas. after not being able to show at the start line due to injury, the dutch messengers had to sate their appetite for long distance mayhem somehow, and came up with the 24-uurs race, a 470 km alleycat hitting all the major cities in the netherlands - and they're considering an amsterdam-paris race next year. insane. i couldn't be prouder. chicago held a 90 mile alleycat to milwaukee earlier this year, and i've heard rumors of some other ideas out there.
long prior to my move to portland in mid-may 2005, my twisted little brain, inspired by this reaction, began to come up with ideas for large-grain alleycats along the same lines. that is to say, long, plan-your-own-route, mutant randoneé and alleycat progeny. the idea is to do 1, or maybe (big maybe) 2 of these a year, and build up a little bit of a following in the northwest randonneur/messenger overlap zone. you know, the zone where all the insanity is? yeah, that zone. it's nice, cause it puts each a little out of its element - messengers aren't used to the big distances, and randonneurs aren't used to the whole "race" concept. but they both have the endurance/recovery thing going on, and that's key.
there's a few basic ideas forming in my head right now, and as i thresh them out, i'll post them here. no dates are set, no guarantees that any of these will actually happen, just a bunch of brainstorming for the moment, but i will do this. something along the lines of these concepts will happen, hopefully starting sometime in the realm of fall 2005. remember, the basic rules are still: no maps provided by the organization, no outside support allowed, once you start, you're on your own.
that being said, here's what my naughty little brain has come up with so far:
codename: "my own private idaho"
i think you can figure out where i'm going with this one... basic concept? start in portland, first person back with a receipt from idaho "wins".
but really, that's too simple. there's got to be a wrench we can throw in this works. and here it is: several other checkpoints in eastern oregon and washington, no required order.
codename: "it hasta be shasta"
a two-stage race, touring/camping gear required. stage one, everyone heads to shasta. once everyone's arrived, we camp for a day together, and then for stage two, we head back. best combined time "wins".
codename: "it's the water"
may also be called "voyage to the center of the earth" (in reference to the mythological greek mount olympus rising from the, yes, you guessed it, center of the earth).
up from portland to do a circuit of olympic national park, with checkpoints being at the end of all the roads heading into the park from the loop of hwy 101 that surrounds it - hopefully i can get 12 checkpoints out of this, the number of greek gods resident on the mythological mount.
codename: "rose city tag team"
not so much the randonneur bit here, but the endurance aspect qualifies it... for years ive had the idea of a 24 hour alleycat lurking in my head. i havent gotten around to doing it in sf, so portland itll be. 24 hours, midnight to midnight or noon to noon. 2 teammates, a base of operations with sleeping area aplenty, and about 20 manifests, each with 10-15 checkpoints on them - enough to make them take about an hour and a half each to complete. team member a heads out with the first manifest, completes it, returns to base, has it checked, and if its complete, tags off to team member b. lather, rinse repeat. team with the most manifest completed in 24 hours wins. if manifests take an hour or hour and a half, thats enough time for people to rest after their time riding, maybe even eat or sleep. this could be huge.
another relay event, possibly a yearly thing
the idea is to take what i learned from the bay city relay cup and run one of these up in portland, perhaps with slightly shorter legs, and more wildcard checkpoints per leg. i've got ideas for a perpetual trophy for this one. if i can manage to build the trophy, i'll do this.
in the 1920s and 1930s, cyclocross was more like cross-country running than it is now. bigger runups, steeper descents, more running through thickets, mug bogs, throwing your bike over big logs and ledges... like nor-cal cyclocross used to be. oh yeah, and it was bigger loop, or point-to-point. catch my drift? yeah, that's right, it was even more sadistic then. so i figure a nice outlaw old-school cx race will do nicely. no mountain bikes though - drop bars and skinny tires only.
you'll note my use of quotes around the word "wins". while i am labelling these proposed events "races", i'm meaning that rather loosely - in that they are timed, there will be prizes for the fastest riders, but thats not the point of the event. hell, there'll be prizes for other things besides fastest time, and i won't at all guarantee that the prize the fastest rider gets will be better or bigger than any of the others. with the raid, i managed to give prizes to everyone who finished, everyone who didnt finish, and most of the volunteers. it's more about bragging rights than some big prize, and its more about sharing the experience of having done something kinda crazy with your fellow riders than it is about the bragging rights. there's really only so many people you can brag to about doing these types of rides - the rest will want to check you into an asylum.
in addition to the "races", i'd also really like to do a few smaller, less epic, rides during the year, minus the pseudo-competitive aspect. looking at the basic maps of oregon and washington i have, i get really tempted to do slogs along the gravel and dirt roads that all read "closed in winter" through the cascades... ill do more thinking on this later, though. the bottom line is that i am convinced there's an overlap out there between messengers and randonneurs, mainly in the department of simply loving to ride, and willing oneself to do so in the (sometimes) most absurd of circumstances - and i'm determined to find that overlap and make something of it.
if you have any ride or "race" ideas, please don't hesitate to get in touch - bear in mind that everything will be centered around portland, oregon, and all of this is still quite some ways into the future.