[messengers] Alleycat bike race will bring fun, street cred

Date: 7 Apr 2011 15:09:23 +0200
From: Joe Hendry <messvilleto@xxxxxxxxx>

Alleycat bike race will bring fun, street cred

Winston-Salem Journal, April 7, 2011

By David Wainer


What would happen if someone created a scavenger hunt on bikes combined with an obstacle course — and then ended the event with a block party and live bands? 


Winston-Salem is about to find out.


On Saturday, Winston-Salem will play host to the Camel City Cat Outta Hell bike race, an alleycat bike race. Registration begins at noon at the Spring Street Apartments at the corner of Spring and Fourth streets in downtown Winston-Salem, with the race starting at 3 p.m.


Alleycats are informal bike races that began in larger cities and were usually organized by the local community of bike messengers. They put more of an emphasis on participation by the local community than on outright competition (although some of the riders may dispute that point), and revolve around stopping at various checkpoints along the race course and completing certain tasks while competing for the best finish time.


The first local alleycat was organized by Winston-Salem native Alex Smith (who now lives in Brooklyn) in fall 2009. After participating in that race, local bicycle guru Caleb Williams was hooked, and stepped up to the plate to organize his first race in the fall of last year.


Williams said that, although he certainly enjoys the race, he really advocates the community aspect of the day and the friendly competition among friends.


"This is more like a checkpoint or a stage race. Some are for speed, and some have random things you have to do at each stage," Williams said. "This one will have a parking deck stage where you have to ride up and down a parking deck, so that's also kind of a speed race. But it's really all about riding and competing with your friends."


He said that alleycats are often set up as stage races, where riders pass through different stages and complete certain tasks, rather than merely riding at top speed from the start line to the finish line. This adds the element of organized chaos to alleycats that have made them famous — and makes each one unique and bizarrely fun.


Past checkpoint events have included running an obstacle course, throwing darts, a ring toss, and taking a picture of yourself at a specific location — all while on your bike.


Williams also notes that another element that can vary is the start of the race. "Last time we did a Le Mans start, and we're thinking of doing that this time. In a Le Mans race, the driver is on the side of the race track, and he runs to his car and jumps in to start the race, rather than starting in the car. Last time, we had everyone lay their bike out on Spring Street, and once the whistle blew, everyone ran to their bike and jumped on to start the race."


In addition to bragging rights and the super-cool street cred that goes along with winning an alleycat, there are prizes that help to sweeten the victory. Williams said that past prizes have included small items from Mock Orange Bikes, in addition to gift certificates from a host of downtown businesses such as Liberty Tattoo, Tate's Craft Cocktails, and Rana Loca and Breakfast Of Course restaurants. There will also be a special after-party held at Old Winston Social Club on Burke Street, with beer specials for the participants of the race.


"If you like to ride your bike, if you like the bike community, if you'd rather ride instead of sitting around on a Saturday wishing you had something to do, if you want to meet the coolest people in Winston-Salem, then you should come out for this race," Williams said. "If you show up at noon, you'll be doing something all day, and you'll have a great time."




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