That’s the podium for the Medusa’s Revenge alley cat race, er, scavenger hunt in Norfolk on Saturday. I’m in the middle with the “Helm of Hades” (the cap of invisibility used by Perseus to slay Medusa), David in second with Adamantine Sword and Liz in third with the mirrored bronze shield. Kurtz came up with a cool theme and course, calling for visits to statues in across Ghent, ODU and downtown Norfolk and Portsmouth. Well done, young man.
I rolled on my new fixed gear Specialized Langster to level the playing field some. I’d been riding my cyclocross bike on the last three of these.
After meeting at Colley and Harrington, we started over beside Blair Middle School, locking our bikes up and doing a LeMans style start. After riding 40-some-odd miles hard in the morning, I was not sprinting for my bike. We started at about 10 ’til 4, so I had 25 minutes to collect information from assorted statues in Norfolk before the next ferry left Waterside for Portsmouth. Since the wind had shifted around to the north I decided to start against it and rolled up to the St. Mary’s Cemetary, near the zoo, where I needed to get some dates off “the biggest Jesus.” He was easy to find. Liz rolled up as I was leaving. I rode down Monticello, then Armistead to Princess Anne and Elmwood Cemetary, where I had to find out when the Confederate Dead Memorial was erected.
Then I shot downtown to the MacArthur Memorial to find out when the general was born and over to Main Street to the big Civil War monument to learn when was the final reunion of veterans of that war. I hadn’t seen anybody since leaving Liz at the cemetary, but they were all waiting for the ferry when I arrived. Liz caught up in time to catch the ferry too.
We enjoyed a peaceful ride across the Elizabeth. For some reason the ferry makes two stops in Portsmouth within blocks of each other. Kurtz assured us that we could hit the three Portsmouth monuments in time to catch the ferry back to Norfolk at the second stop. He and I rolled down High Street, hitting the statue of William Cra(w)ford and another Confederate monument ( lot of those around here), then up to North Street and what I can only presume is a Spanish-American War monument, since the answer we were looking for on it was “Cuba.” Back to the ferry and we actually had to wait for it.
Another pleasant boat ride, though that north wind was getting cold, and we were back in Norfolk. Quickly collected the name of the sculptor of “The Tourists” outside Waterside, then rolled along the waterfront past the Wisconsin to the “Lone Sailor” statue. Back into Ghent, I hit the big statue in front of the Chrysler and the carved saints on Christ & St. Luke’s before making the haul into the wind up Colley to 24th St. then Killam Ave. through Park Place. At Norfolk Machine & Welding on 41st St. I found the number on the “Iron Man’s Hat,” then scooted onto the ODU campus to see how many columns supported the Monarch Lion at the end of Kaufman Mall. Again, I hadn’t seen anyone since leaving Liz at the “Lone Sailor,” where she asked that I just not finish a beer before she finished. No worries, Liz.
With all the answers I needed I beat it back to the finish line at the Tap House, scrambling down Bowden’s Ferry, across Hampton and through the underpass on the sidewalk. I locked my bike up, went inside, bought a beer, visited the boy’s room and went back outside to enjoy my St. George Porter. As I was sitting down David and race organizer Kurtz rolled up nearly five minutes after I arrived.
Liz came along almost 10 minutes later. Then the rest trickled in slowly. Wes came along with Abby in tow having hit all the landmarks and borrowed a memento from one of the Confederate sites.
Liz was elated, remarking that this may be the only podium she makes all year and proudly showing off her bronze platter, er, shield.
A little local knowledge and quick, sound planning go a long way in alley catting. It really is a fun way to race. Heck, it would just be a fun way to ride, even with a bunch of slow folks or newcomers to cycling. It’s a great way to learn more about where you live, see some sights and get more comfortable on your bike. It’s a shame more people don’t come out for these because they really are a lot of fun. We started with about nine or 10 people. Tried to get a group shot at the Tap House, but this is what happens when you let someone else take a photo (I manipulated it as much as I could):
Oh, Kurtz was real creative with the prizes. He scored the “Helm of Hades” at Goodwill. Check it out: