Beer, heckling and ‘cross – Part 1 of USGP NJ

Chairs are out and beers are ready
Chairs are out and beers are ready

The invite was simple, to the point and lacked any subterfuge.

“Just quit…But before you do, come do Mercer Cup with a bunch of alcoholics. The plan is to leave the Lehigh Valley after those who have jobs are done: 5ish. We will hit the road, and the booze, promptly. I will stay sober until we reach our destination: Princeton, NJ. Kuklic is scouting some good bars there but if all else fails, the Ivy was entertaining last year. We will either crash across the street from the bar, or if sober enough, drive to the venue.”

The cost of admission was one, 30 pack of cheap, shitty beer and the willingness to do damage to both the kidneys and brain. I was in.

As I wrote in the previous post, I came up a day earlier on Thursday to race/participate in the legendary Fifth Street Cross (aka fsx). I couch surfed at BFF Cush’s place and curled up with his cats as visions of boozing and ‘cross danced in my head. The next day we’d be heading to New Jersey.

Mud and grass from FSX
Mud and grass from FSX

A good wash of our bikes was necessary before loading up the truck. While washing our bikes I was introduced to a drink that is sure to make it’s way to the finest bars and taverns, the Milwaukee Mimosa. This concoction is three fingers of orange juice and the rest is PBR. It’s surprisingly good and helps get your head on straight for whatever the day may throw at you.

With the essentials done it was time to meet the rest of the gang. It was going to be me and four other like minded guys driving to New Jersey in both an RV and an SUV. The reason for two vehicles? The RV, while great for setting up camp and squatting in any parking lot, isn’t the most efficient vehicle to have for driving around town. The plan was to drive to the race, park in the team parking lot, pile into the the SUV and then hit the town. Hard.

After an hour and a half drive we arrived at Mercer Park, the scene of the third stop of the USGP of Cyclocross. In 2008 the race had been reduced to a mud fest. The weather forecast for the weekend promised some light showers Saturday and then dry Sunday. However we knew that due to the damage we were going to inflict on ourselves Saturday night there was no point to registering for the Sunday race. It was race Saturday or nothing at all.

As promised, when the door to the RV swung open, the stairs deployed, the beer was brought out and the drinking began. As someone who has never had an appreciation for the fine art of tailgate parties I can only imagine this is what it’s like. You’re surrounded by fans of the same team and it’s just a celebration of drunkenness. However, instead of being in a parking lot filled with equally enthusiastic fans, it was just our lone RV and SUV parked in the field. We didn’t need the comradery of fellow cyclocross fans. In our coolers we had brought up 180 cans or bottles of beer. And yes, doing the math, I knew that it would be nearly impossible to drink it all.  We figured we’d be giving away as much as we drank and make a sizable dent ourselves. While the five of us arrived Friday night, others were arriving first thing in the morning to race.  They would catch up by drinking before and after their race. This weekend was shaping up to be quite the show.

Man cannot subsist on booze alone. Lord knows I’ve tried. So we loaded into the SUV and drove into town with the idea of eating at Triumph. It’s a bar/restaurant across the street from Princeton University and THE place to be. Unfortunately, by the time we had gotten our act together and arrived, it was an hour and a half wait. We quickly switched to Plan B and looked for alternate places to eat. Somehow as we walked down Nassau Street looking for another place to eat “Cover Boy” Ryan started to do his impersonation of James William Bottomtooth III, which quickly caught on to the rest of us. Soon we were mocking other people, asking for directions and ordering food with a Bottomtooth III accent. This lasted all night as we bounced from bar to bar. Finally we settled into a booth. By this point we had moved on from beer and on to mixed drinks, namely vodka tonics. The highlight of this bar were the locals we encountered. I personally love mixing it up with the locals as you can get a true favor for a town by the people you meet. And for sure, these were Jersey folks.

PART 2 coming soon…more boozing, racing and heckling. Oh yeah, some guy walking his cat


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