The Alleycat Race, the city cycling race | News from cycling
Alleycat Races

Alleycat Races

Urban rides, a little-known development in city cycling with a large number of enthusiasts, nevertheless, and where the right saddle can also make a difference.

The first “Alleycat ” race was held in Toronto, on 30 October 1989, but what is it exactly?

To put it simply, we could say that “Alleycat races” are informal races without a standard formula, which are held in all major cities where you find the classic bike messengers, nicknamed “alleycats”, and the races are often organised directly by them.

We said “to put it simply”, but actually there is absolutely nothing simple about alleycat races. They are often a cross between a treasure hunt and an actual race and can hide a number of traps.

The bike. Naturally, it is “fixed gear”, the undisputed king of urban bikes, although in theory you could use any kind of bike, as do the real pony express riders in their work.

The saddle. Just as in true cycling, this is much more than a minor detail here: what with pavements, potholes and various bumps, the route can be very close to off-road, so the ideal choice is a saddle like the SLR X-Cross by Selle Italia, that has extra padding and a smoother surface and ensures maximum comfort even on the most demanding and “jumpy” roads.

The route. This is almost always revealed just moments before the start, if not actually “in stages” during the race itself at the various compulsory checkpoints, where riders sometimes have to pass tests as well, before receiving the address of the next checkpoint.

Even the start is not exactly simple: competitors have to get to their bikes that are lying on the ground and remove the chain they are secured to, before launching themselves at breakneck speeds along the streets of the city.

Sense of direction. Absolutely essential, just like knowledge of the city layout, so much so that a prize is also usually awarded to the best “stranger in town”, in addition to the actual winner, because he/she will inevitably have greater difficulty than the “natives”.

How to enrol. If you want to try and take part in one of these “wacky races” on two wheels, the hardest thing is actually finding out in time where and when the next race is to be held, and the best way to keep up-to-date is by word of mouth on the web, through social media.

The Winner’s prize. Almost always symbolic: those who take part in alleycat races don’t do so for the prize money, but to feel part of a movement and perhaps, more sincerely, for the “adrenaline transgression” of pedalling like a madman among rails, curbs and pedestrians, without paying too much attention to traffic lights and giving way.




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