A (very) detailed race recap and photography by Kenji Edmonds.
Escape from New York: How the race was won.
For years now, I've dreamt of participating in Escape from New York. I haven’t done so because, A. I’m a dad, B. i'm getting old and C. these days I’m not really accustomed to pulling all-nighters like I used to when I was a young buck.
That said, a few weeks ago, I received a text from Jason:
"Hey would you be into doing Escape From New York next Sat w/ me and Tijon? It'd be fun... we'd need one more for our team. Someone who'd be fun to roll around the city with and get drunk and have fun! hahaha."
I promptly replied "say no more, I'm in and have the perfect fourth man in mind." I hit up my buddy Chris and he agreed before I could even finish explaining what the event was... the squad was lined up and ready for fun. It was Jason, Chris, Tijon and myself.
We didn't really know what to expect, all we knew is that there were points awarded if the whole team was in costume. I took the lead and ran to the corner store to buy anything that would work…. eye-patches, beach wraps and florescent scarves. Tijon immediately saw potential and cut the beach wraps and scarves into pieces and we all tied them around our heads. We cut holes in our clothes, used Phil Wood hub packaging as arm bands and became Team Iron Cheeks!
After a solid two hours of pre-gaming it was pouring rain outside. We weren't sure if the ride was still a go and to be perfectly honest we were already getting better acquainted with some small batch bourbon I had been saving.
In the end, we all voted to roll out to to the start in Dumbo. Squid aka Cycle Hawk was registering teams. It turns out that 18 teams were registered and were ready to roll over the Manhattan bridge and kickoff Escape from New York.
We had zero expectations going into this... a few days before Jason hit me up and we discussed our game plan:
"Are we trying to win this thing?" I went on that Tijon was rocking his fat bike, Chris had a front rack and I’m on my Broken Arrow cross bike… and we’re bringing flasks of Four Roses Bourbon. "Let's just get crazy and have a good time."
Just before the start we discussed a very loose strategy. Jason would ride off to do the solo check point and receive the list of bonus point tasks, while the rest of our team b-lined it for the tattoo checkpoint to try to avoid the long lines.
Tijon stepped up and snagged 100 points for with an epic battle-axe EFNY tat.
Jason finished the first three checkpoints, and even pulled off a win at the arm wrestling challenge. Team Iron Cheeks reunited and rolled east to hit the acting challenge.
From the get-go we knew that Chris was our man for the acting challenge. Chris has been a professional union extra for the past five years... yet somehow, this was his first major speaking role. We weren't sure who our second actor was going to be, but once we saw Jason acting the fool (Four Roses Bourbon), we threw Tijon into the supporting role and the two of them nailed it, even scoring us bonus points.
At this point we’d finished the five mandatory checkpoints and realized that we still had quite a bit of time left.
Jason's natural competitive edge kicked in and out we went to complete as many extra bonus tasks as possible... we hopped in a cab for a quick team selfie (50 pts), then headed north to snag a team picture in front of a chandelier (don’t ask) yielding us another (50 pts).
As we were flying up park ave. we spotted another team taking a pic in front of a restaurant with chandeliers. They reluctantly agreed to take our picture, then we took theirs… little did we know that they would be the team we’d battle it out in the finals. With all of the tasks completed, we made our way to the finish at the steps of the NY public library.
We arrived and found out that we were the top team for overall points. Thinking that we had won the whole event, we immediately started celebrating and finished the last of the Four Roses Bourbon.
After the last round of shots, we came to find out that we would now have to race the second place team to the top of the 59th st bridge to determine the overall winning team. I panicked… they must be joking… I mean, what were we doing all evening?
Squid gave us the details… we’d be racing another team to the top of the bridge while transporting a stuffed life-sized "president." Ha!
After a quick team meeting we came to the consensus that Tijon would go alone to the bridge on his fat bike while the remaining three strapped the "president" to Chris' front rack, then make a dash for the bridge.
Squid yells "3, 2, 1, GO!" and we quickly strap the president to Chris' front rack and ripped east across 42nd street. Two blocks in I realize that I was going to have a problem. My ridiculous costume was making me seriously overheat.
On 1st ave. Jason spotted me slowing and dropped back to literally push me up the 1st ave hill on our way to the bridge. I was managing maybe 16 mph on my own, but with his monster push I easily hit 23.
We I arrived at the base of the bridge together, but then he took off up the hill. Chris was in front of us and I hoped that Tijon's head start got him safely to the top before us… that meant that I was the last person in our team, and shit I had to drop the hammer!
Suddenly, I look up and saw a pile of bikes on the path in front of me. I recognized Jason's bike on the ground… he went at it with those guys and went down.
As I approached I could see that one guy was holding Jason's rear wheel and wouldn't let go... I slowed down to offer Jason any "assistance" he might need, and the opposing team member reluctantly released his grasp on Jason's bike.
Up ahead I saw Tijon and Chris at the top of the bridge and sprinted as fast as I could. Jason’s chain dropped so it took a second to get going again… all the while the other team was on their way to the win.
In the final moments of the race, Jason got his bike fixed, jumped on and squeezed by the other two guys struggling up the bridge to snag first place in a very unexpected victory!
The finish on the bridge was a battle to the end and we are beyond thrilled to win Escape from New York.