Saturday, May 3, 2014

Picking Up Points

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

So when I left for my walk this morning, hitting closed roads within blocks of home, I did the only logical thing. I followed the bike race route.

I passed a girl watching the riders and she commented on my "Wicked" shirt, saying she and her Mom were going to see it Sunday.

I told her my shirt was from a Baltimore production in 2006, not a Richmond run. She one-upped me  by saying she'd already seen it in San Francisco.

The match went to the stranger.

On 2nd Street, an angry-looking young woman came out of her building and approached a cop, asking how she was supposed to leave her house.

"You can't," he said solemnly. "You can never leave." He gave the joke time to register before steering her out of the lot and to freedom.

Passing a couple of black women standing on the sidewalk, I heard one of them say, "I meant to tell Nell that I saw one black guy riding in the race. But at least there was one!"

Fair enough.

After seeing bicyclists dressed so improbably - flip flops, jeans,backpacks- I asked a cop what was going on. Where was the spandex?

"This is just the warm-up," she explained. "The real racing won't start for half an hour."

I was pleased to see hand-holding couples, families with young children, groups of friends taking seats in the bleachers along Broad Street near the announcing station.

Walking west on Franklin as the bikers headed in the same direction, we were coming up the hill toward 5th Street when I heard one biker tell another, "This is where you pick up points."

His riding companion thought differently. "This is where you lose energy."

When I got home from my walk, it was to a message from my lunch companion instructing me to meet him at Dutch & Co. in half an hour for back door dogs.

I was wise enough to take Leigh Street and avoid the road issues that seem to have far too many people whining endlessly this weekend (for goodness' sake, people, we've known for a year that this race was going to happen this weekend!), arriving moments after he did.

Bartender Aaron came out to chat with us and I asked how crazy business had been in the past couple months. Surprisingly, he said it's the weekdays that are slammed and the weekends aren't too bad. Good to know.

Within minutes, Chef Caleb came out, hung the hot dog flag out and before long, I was the happy recipient of a mutton merguez dog with golden raisin and fennel chutney under a sprinkling of Feta right off the grill.

Dogs in hand, my friend said his cousin lived two blocks down the street and he had full permission to utilize his porch whenever the need arose.

The spicy fresh sausages in our hands qualified us and we were soon ensconced in Adirondack chairs on the shady porch loving life.

There really is nothing like a freshly grilled homemade sausage on a sunny day and the contrasting spice of the dog, salt of the cheese and sweetness of the chutney was the best use of six bucks I could think of.

And that was just the warm-up. The real eating won't start until tonight.

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