[messengers] Bikers stray far in Madison alley cat

Date: 27 Apr 2010 12:20:05 +0200
From: "messvilleto@xxxxxxxxx" <messvilleto@xxxxxxxxx>

Bikers stray far in Madison alley cat
By By Victoria Statz
The Daily Cardinal, April 27, 2010
When crossing State Street, it’s generally a good idea to look both ways before stepping off the curb. This precaution holds true not only for buses, taxis and delivery trucks rumbling from Lake Street to the Capitol, but also for all of the bicyclists weaving between vehicles. Including the speed-hungry bike messengers and delivery riders who expertly maneuver around all obstacles.
Reverently hailed by those in need of a nimble delivery and oftentimes slightly despised by pedestrians and drivers alike, these bike jockeys throw caution to the wind in the name of speed. What most don’t know about these bikers are the jocular rivalries that exist between them, with the question of who can deliver the most the fastest at their root.
An “alley cat” is an opportunity for the speed- and shortcut-inclined to unite in a relatively friendly, yet rather competitive challenge of speed and strength. Akin to a race-paced scavenger hunt, these events draw many aggressive bikers, though others prefer to leisurely imbibe along the way, picking and choosing which checkpoints to stop at. These races are a way to bring the biking community together in a mock-up of a typical workday.
Madison hosted its largest alley cat yet Saturday, dubbed “Don’t Kill the Messenger,” with participants not only from the city itself, but also from other cities such as Chicago. In fact, the winner, Nico Deportago-Cabrera, is a member of the Chicago Cuttin’ Crew and the winner of the North American Cycle Courier Championship men’s race. For his pains he won a golden Arrowspoke wheel. As for local contestants, Madisonian Manny Wagnitz of Scram Couriers earned himself a pair of Velocity Deep-V rims for  his third place finish.
The event started at 7:45 p.m. in a misty Burrows Park with the distribution of manifests, checklists of tasks to be completed for points. The lists included various checkpoints, which participants biked to in order to gain points, as well as items that could be collected or completed for more points. About 60 riders braved the chilly, wet weather conditions and their myriad blinking bike lights could be seen racing throughout Madison’s streetscape.
The checkpoints sprawled around the city, from Picnic Point to Warner Park
At the infamous Bascom Hill, riders arrived at the Abe Lincoln statue and were given two options: bike downhill, over the pedestrian bridge, around the third level of Humanities and back up, or walk the same route minus the Humanities loop. For an extra point, participants could carry a gallon of water with them on their trip. Due to the slippery weather, many riders chose to walk, though some persevered to conquer Bascom by bike.
At Tenney Park, tennis court lights emanated like beacons for riders who came to try to score on a seasoned bike polo goaltender, in hopes of crossing off not only a stop on their manifests but  also gaining a five-minute bonus.
Among other stops, participants could venture out to a windy Picnic Point bonfire, write four lines of love poetry at Espresso Royale’s lower location and “tip” cow-costumed humans. On the way, riders could carry cardboard boxes, pick up flags in a desolate cemetery, search for irreversibly ruined bike parts and tear envelopes off popular establishments for extra points toward their total. Once found, these items had to be carried on their person to the finish line, the Come Back In on Wilson Street. Upon arrival, riders handed in their wilted and water-stained manifests to be tallied.
The mood was jovial as they waited for announcement of the top scorers with beers in hand, exchanging stories and complaints of cramping muscles. As winners were announced, prizes distributed and proper congratulations made, the general disposition of the group didn’t waver much, as another gathering of Madison’s bike community and a few transplants ended.

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