Five Card Studs

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On January 10th, 2016 the World Famous Swamis Poker Ride returned to the tranquil shores of Carlsbad unleashing a motley crew of cyclists hungry for barbequed flesh at the end of the journey.

Swamis resident man-about-town Troy Huerta decided on a new race format. Each team was only given the name of the next check-in point, and left to its own devices to navigate to it. Actual mileage DID vary, but most agreed that the successful completion of the event logged approximately 52 miles!

Our ringmaster of ceremonies DJ managed the start of the race and explained the team categories… leaving most participants scratching their helmeted heads.

After a somewhat confused and shaky start, teams picked up speed as they deciphered their routes to stop #1 at Champagne and Deer Springs, where they received the first poker card and some enthusiastic heckling. Several groups seemed unfamiliar with the terrain as they made their way to stop #2 off of West Bernardo Rd, where their 3rd card awaited that could make or break team fortunes. Teams were pointed west to find Nytro, which hosted the final checkpoint.

On a somewhat disturbing note, there were allegations of race fixing by Nytro; some of the early favorites in the Elite category claim to have been given a false 4th checkpoint. After thorough investigation the Poker Ride Insider’s Committee (PRIC) could not substantiate these claims and deemed this to be “whining”.

After 2 hours 35 minutes and 51.4 miles a winner arrived. Los Niño’s (they should have been called Tres Juanes with 2 Juans and 1 Jon on the team) crossed the line and, in the fastest sprint of the day, shot straight for the beer and burgers. They dedicated their soul-crushing victory to Google Maps and good karma.

Team Bob, I’m Telling Brent What You Did, and Team Wolfpack wobbled in shortly afterwards to cry in their beers and spray excuses about how the lost to 4 PhD researchers.

The first Women’s team to get their River Card at the finish was Cycling is in the Cards, anchored by the Queen of Team Fun, Heather Bruemmer. They scorched the lady’s field leading the organizers to wonder if there were casualties on the course.

Over the next several hours more teams limped across the line. Many waited to see if some of the early favorites would ever come back. A betting pool spontaneously formed to guess on Troy’s whereabouts, and whether or not the intensity of his shame would eclipse his love of free beer.

After the prize money was distributed, there were additional awards based on the judges’ sole discretion. Team HGM1 took home the shameful and much-deserved Whiners Awards of fish bowls topped with Sorry Ass Lager. Stephen Lavery was drug tested; results have been delayed due to the disappearance of his B sample.

The picnic area was buzzing as we approached the day’s climactic presentation of the Best Poker Hand Award. Allegedly there was lots of trading and, surprisingly, only one incident of outright cheating by Natalie, who didn’t realize that custom poker cards were pretty easy to spot. The verified winner was RydFast, who received the most coveted award in all of cycling – an original DJ fire poker in imitation 10K gold plating.

The merriment continued as we consumed 100 burgers, 64 hot dogs, 6 cases of beer, and a ridiculous amount of chips. None of that would have been possible with the help of some great volunteers: Ant, DJ, Camilla, Lori, Rob, Jack, and Martin.

There was chatter about making the Poker Ride a semiannual event. Let us know if you can survive TWO of these events each year.

Be sure to check out more photos from the event here.

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Founded in 1989, Swami’s Cycling Club is one of the premier and most recognized clubs in southern California. We are composed of more than 300 male and female cyclists in the San Diego region who participate in the entire spectrum of cycling activities from the adrenalin-pumping action of racing to mountain bike and fitness rides.

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