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Sunday, March 3, 2013


A Stupor Bowl-er takes a breather. Photo by Erica Nicole
If you said to a normal person, “Hey, let’s get on our bikes and race in freezing weather, and drink heavily while we do it!” he would probably laugh in your face. But bike messengers and hardcore cyclists are not normal people, and for the past 16 years they’ve been coming from all over the country to gather in Minneapolis to do just that. The event is called the Stupor Bowl, it happens the Saturday before the Super Bowl, and the most accurate summary of it probably came from Brian Lorei, a 23-year-old bike messenger from Chicago, when he announced shortly before the race, “Guys, I’m gonna fall down a lot.” 
The Stupor Bowl didn’t always have the drinking component—that came in 2002, five years after the first race, when a bike messenger named Chad Selberg had the bright idea of putting the checkpoints at bars. From then on, being able to ride in a straight line after a dozen shots became as important as riding fast. This year, cyclists could either treat the event as a normal (albeit cold) 50-mile-long bike race that takes them all over the city, or they could embrace the true spirit of the event and down a shot of liquor or a beer at each of the nine checkpoints.
Surprisingly, all of this is 100 percent legal, since it’s not a crime to ride a bike under the influence in Minnesota. And a spokesperson for the Minneapolis Police Department had never even heard of the Stupor Bowl when I asked whether there had been any incidents this year. That's probably because organizers like to keep the Stupor Bowl hush-hush and don’t publicize it widely; the race’s website doesn’t mention the drinking or when it takes place. See no drunken bike race, hear no drunken bike race, speak no drunken bike race. Or something.


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