Weekend in Philadelphia for SSCXWC2013

So, I did a bad job with juggling bike racing and taking pictures. I mean, a lot of problems actually happened on this trip unfortunately.

My train was supposed to get into Philly at 8pm on that Friday. After police boarding the train to escort an, uh, imbalanced person off, and severe delays from freight trains in the way, I didn’t make it in until midnight. This was really just an inconvenience, as no one is expecting to get anywhere fast on a train in the first place. Don’t take the train if you’re in a hurry. But, my patience was really tested when my race bike, which I boxed and checked for this trip, wasn’t on the train with me when I arrived in Philly’s grand 30th St. station (which is really, really gorgeous by the way).

It showed up the next day at 5:30pm on some other train. I don’t know why it was on that train, but whatever dwelling is boring and the future will always be cool. But, my bike showing up so late on Saturday meant I didn’t have a bike for the Bilenky Junkyard Cross race. It’s legitimately the most awesome cyclocross race of the year, and really I went to Philly more for that race than anything else. After some desperate tweets and texts, Dave of Scum City Cycles in Cleveland was dumb enough to let me borrow a bike, which I promptly punctured the rear tire and jumped over the car both times. Competitively speaking, jumping the car was the fastest way across that part of the course. Two racers misjudged how fast to hit it and how hard to pull up, and while their wrecks were really awful to watch, the internet has told me they’re both doing well. After the second wreck, the organizers made the responsible decision to dismantle the jump before anyone else hurt themselves. On a more positive note: in 2012 I was the sole representative for Chicago at sscxwc, so I was really happy Tati came out also to flaunt their Correct orange kits.

The festivities afterwards were rad with gold sprints and a huge, sweaty dance party fueled by comped drinks and a DJ who really impressed me by seamlessly mixing Mariah Carey into Meek Mill. But, by the end of the night I killed the battery in my x100. On Sunday I didn’t want to leave my bag unattended for an hour during my race, so I decided to leave the big camera behind.

Not surprisingly, that last morning in town I woke up exhausted. Two days of bike racing is probably enough, but the hours and hours of celebration each night coupled with a surplus of vegan fried foods had finally caught up with me. That morning I said goodbye to new and old friends and made promises to see them in a year in Louisville. In a lot of ways it felt like saying goodbye to family.

I had a few hours before my train, but I was going to curl up in a dehydrated ball and die if I didn’t get something healthy in me. The organized rides and bar crawls for the weekend mostly ignored the west side, so I wasn’t about to turn down an offer to meet up with a new friend at Satellite Cafe for kale smoothies. Dedicating so much of my time to traveling the past few months has given me a wealth of memorable experiences which, like, I do my best to share here. But, I’m honestly surprised by the wealth of new friends its offered me as well. It’s cool to meet new people every month and become instant friends with them.

Post-smoothie, I tacked across the west side, just kinda following anything that caught my eye, while generally heading back towards the Amtrak station. It was super-nasty out, with all of yesterday’s snowstorm already melting and grossly mixing with Philly’s salt-defense . Traffic was thick, cars were aggressive, it was a usual Monday morning in a city. My bike managed to get a flat (my second for the weekend) but I didn’t want to bother with repairing it until I got back to Chicago. With each block it became more obvious that the weekend was over.

Luckily, Chris King’s Dylan VanWeelden got some amazing shots. See the photos here